Finding English teachers for France’s language schools ‘practically impossible’ since Brexit

For a long time, France's proximity to the UK meant there was a steady stream of English speakers looking to teach in France. Now, language schools are feeling the combined effects of Brexit and Covid-related travel restrictions.

Finding English teachers for France's language schools 'practically impossible' since Brexit
Photo: Loic VENANCE / AFP.

Since the British government decided to end freedom of movement within the EU for its citizens, most Brits now require a visa or work permit if they wish to move to France.

This was already the case for Americans, Canadians and Australians, leaving the Irish or people with dual nationality as the only native English speakers who can move to France under EU freedom of movement without needing complicated paperwork.

Many business such as ski resorts now advertise for EU passport holders only, filling the gaps left by vanishing Brits is proving more complicated for private language schools, which often promise clients they will be taught by native English speakers.

‘There’s nobody’

And companies outside of Paris have found it particularly difficult. Isabelle Huart, manager of the Berlitz language centre in Lille, told The Local it had become “practically impossible” to recruit native English speakers.

“I would like to recruit Brits, but it’s complicated, there’s nobody,” she said.

With demand for adult classes returning to normal in September following months of Covid disruption, Huart said she hoped to recruit three or four native speakers for face-to-face classes, but applications have come to a halt. “If I have two more tomorrow, I’ll hire them on the spot,” she said.

Berlitz recruits English speakers from all over the globe, but was used to hiring Brits who, along with Irish citizens, were able to live in France without a visa.

“Before, I didn’t differentiate between England, Ireland, Scotland… To me, it was a single unit, and now I find myself saying, ‘No, I’d like an Irish person’.”

Luisa Miller set up the Enjoy English language school in Montpellier with her husband in 2010. She said many of her employees decided to return to the UK, first because of Brexit, and then due to the Covid pandemic, and there has been no new wave of Brits coming to replace them.

The gaps are mainly for English speakers to accompany children on extracurricular activities on Wednesdays, Saturdays and during school holidays, roles usually performed by young graduates or students looking to learn French and discover the country.

“That has completely dried up. I’ve had pretty much no CVs from Britain for at least a year and a half.”

READ ALSO What are the post-Brexit rules for Brits wanting to work in France?

With the usual word-of-mouth method no longer working, the business has taken to advertising on recruitment sites for the first time.

“Now, instead of receiving so many CVs I don’t always reply unless I have an opening, any CV I do get sent is very carefully filed away and I try to interview people as soon as possible.

“One of the promises we make to parents is that the teachers are native anglophones,” Miller added.

Brexit or Covid?

In 2018, Enjoy English took the major step of opening a bilingual primary school in Montpellier, but the combination of Brexit and Covid has also had an effect on student numbers.

“Montpellier is a big research, scientific and medical centre,” Miller said. “We have families from London, etc., but all of that has stopped. I’m hoping it will start again, but for the moment there are no applications from families moving from the UK.”

And it’s not just people who no longer enjoy freedom of movement.

Miller was accustomed to using “British suppliers for food, some types of biscuits for the children to have that immersive feeling, as well as a lot of textbooks and story books”, but these have all been disrupted by Brexit, frustrations which will be familiar to many Brits living in France.

“I’m reduced to having to use just Amazon because of customs charges and delays.”

READ ALSO From TikTok to K-pop: How French students are learning English online


For those Brits who were already in France before December 31st 2020, things are more straightforward, since the Withdrawal Agreement means they are entitled to a carte de séjour residency permit.

Therefore companies that have a lower staff turnover have encountered fewer issues. Like English Room 101 in Paris, whose teachers have all received their residency cards.

“People who are here teaching have already been set up as an autoentrepreneur [self-employed], a status they’ve had for a while, and Brexit hasn’t changed that,” said president and co-founder Lee Mitchell.

“We’re not a huge school so haven’t had many problems,” he added. “As the company expands and we need to look for more teachers I might encounter issues.”

Online teaching

But another mitigating factor is the way a lot of language teaching has moved online during the pandemic, a method English Room 101 will continue to make the most of for the foreseeable future.

According to Mitchell, 95 percent of classes booked through the compte personnel de formation – the state allowance every employee in France is given to spend on professional training – now take place via video, which he says has changed things for the better.

“It means teachers can be employed from anywhere in the world. It’s often difficult to find teachers after 6-7pm at night when people finish work, but we can find teachers from other countries, and it could be morning for them.”

Lucy Allardyce, director of studies at Araxi Formations, agreed that this was one positive outcome of the pandemic. “Even if some trainers have left because of Brexit, we’ve been able to compensate by drawing on people from all over France,” she told The Local. Although the company continues to recruit only France-based teachers, online lessons mean they do not necessarily need to live in Paris, where most of Araxi’s clients are based.

“More and more face-to-face lessons are coming back, so potentially we will have a problem with recruitment,” she said, adding that video classes will nonetheless continue to be far more prevalent than they were before 2020.

In fact, according to Allardyce, the biggest challenge in terms of recruitment has nothing to do with Brexit or Covid.

“We’ve had quite a few trainers retire in the last few years and we’re not seeing young trainers coming in. That could be Brexit related but I think it’s more related to the cost of living in Paris,” she said. “Word is getting round that Paris is unaffordable for teachers.”

While most applicants are already based in France, Allardyce said she even raises the issues of the cost of living and the difficulty of finding an apartment in the capital when people do apply from abroad. “I try very hard to dissuade them. Unless they’re joining family or marrying a French person, it’d be a nightmare for them.”

Member comments

  1. If you go to the Berlitz website and look for Current Employment Opportunities in France it says, “We don’t have any open position at the moment.” Seems odd if things are really as dire as this article makes them out to be.

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French government clarifies post-Brexit rules on pets for second-home owners

Brexit hasn't just brought about changes in passport rules for humans, pets are also affected and now the French government has laid out the rules for pet passports for British second-home owners.

French government clarifies post-Brexit rules on pets for second-home owners

Pre-Brexit, people travelling between France and the UK could obtain an EU Pet Passport for their car, dog or ferret which ensured a hassle-free transport experience.

But since the UK left the EU things have become more complicated – and a lot more expensive – for UK residents wanting to travel to France with pets.

You can find a full breakdown of the new rules HERE, but the main difference for people living in the UK is that that they now need an Animal Health Certificate for travel.

Unlike the Pet Passport, a new ACH is required for each trip and vets charge around £100 (€118) for the certificate. So for people making multiple trips a year, especially those who have more than one pet, the charges can quickly mount up.

UK nationals who live in France can still benefit from the EU Pet Passport, but until now the situation for second-home owners has been a little unclear.

However the French Agriculture ministry has now published updated information on its website.

The rules state: “The veterinarian can only issue a French passport to an animal holding a UK/EU passport issued before January 1st, 2021, after verifying that the animal’s identification number has been registered in the Fichier national d’identification des carnivores domestiques (I-CAD).”

I-CAD is the national database that all residents of France must register their pets in – find full details HERE.

The ministry’s advice continues: “If not registered, the veterinarian may proceed to register the animal in I-CAD, if the animal’s stay in France is longer than 3 consecutive months, in accordance with Article 22 of the AM of August 1st, 2012 on the identification of domestic carnivores.”

So if you are staying in France for longer than 90 days (which usually requires a visa for humans) your pet can be registered and get a Pet Passport, but those staying less than three months at a time will have to continue to use the AHC.

The confusion had arisen for second-home owners because previously some vets had been happy to issue the Passport using proof of a French address, such as utility bills. The Ministry’s ruling, however, makes it clear that this is not allowed.

So here’s a full breakdown of the rules;

Living in France

If you are living in France full time your pet is entitled to an EU Pet Passport regardless of your nationality (which means your pet has more travel rights than you do. Although they probably still rely on you to drive the car/book the ferry tickets).

Your cat, dog or ferret must be fully up to date with their vaccinations and must be registered in the national pet database I-CAD (full details here).

Once issued, the EU Pet Passport is valid for the length of the animal’s life, although you must be sure to keep up with their rabies vaccinations. Vets in France usually charge between €50-€100 for a consultation and completing the Passport paperwork.

Living in the UK

If you are living in the UK and travelling to France (or the rest of the EU) you will need an Animal Health Certificate for your cat, dog or ferret.

The vaccination requirements are the same as for the EU Pet Passport, but an ACH is valid for only 10 days after issue for entry to the EU (and then for four months for onward travel within the EU).

So if you’re making multiple trips in a year you will need a new certificate each time.

UK vets charge around £100 (€118) for a certificate, although prices vary between practices. Veterinary associations in the UK are also warning of delays in issuing certificates as many people begin travelling again after the pandemic (often with new pets bought during lockdown), so you will need to book in advance. 

Second-home owners

Although previously some French vets had been happy to issue certificates with only proof of an address in France, the French government has now clarified the rules on this, requiring that pets be registered within the French domestic registry in order to get an EU Pet Passport.

This can only be done if the pet is staying in France for more than three months. The three months must be consecutive, not over the course of a year.

UK pets’ owners will normally require a visa if they want to stay in France for more than three months at a time (unless they have dual nationality with an EU country) – find full details on the rules for people HERE.