Get Paid to Travel: How to Teach English in France

Did you know you can get paid to sip espressos and snack on chocolate croissants?

Well, not exactly. But if you’re interested in teaching English abroad, that’ll be a perk that comes with being an English teacher in France. 

Here, we’ll share what you need to know before becoming an ESL teacher in France, how to find a teaching position and information about French visas.


What You Should Know Before Making the Move to France

As an ESL teacher, you have dozens of countries looking for professional English teachers.

France is an ideal option if you want to be in the heart of Europe, or if you’re looking to learn more about French language and culture in your free time. But before you pack your bags, it’s important to make sure the country is really the best fit for you.

Here are some things to consider before booking your one-way ticket to France:

  • Food: Arguably, France has some of the best food and recipes in the world. From crêpes and bœuf bourguignon to the iconic baguette, you certainly won’t go hungry. Meat, such as rabbit, duck, chicken and beef are popular; artisan breads, vegetables, fruits and cheeses and other dairy products are also commonplace. However, if you suffer from food allergies, you’ll need to be extra vigilant in restaurants. It may be safer to prepare food at home until you learn what to avoid.
  • The weather: The weather in France is considered temperate and has four distinct seasons. However, because of the varied landscapes, the country is divided into four climatic regions and you may wish to take this into consideration when choosing the city in which you’d like to live and teach. The oceanic climate of western France produces quite a bit of rain, while the central and eastern areas have a continental climate that boasts cold winters and hot summers. In southern France, there is a Mediterranean climate which promises hot summers and rainy, damp winters. In the more mountainous regions, you can expect colder year-round temperatures and snowy winters.
  • Expenses: The cost of living in France for one person is anywhere from $1,800-$2,400 USD per month. It’s perfectly reasonable to live comfortably off an ESL teaching salary and even afford to travel a bit. However, don’t expect to save much money. Unlike many Asian countries where ESL teachers can live well and save money, it’s nearly impossible to build a nest egg in France on an ESL teacher’s salary.

The First Steps: Budgeting, Job Applications and Interviews

It’s recommended that you travel to France with a start-up budget of about $3,600 USD to sustain yourself for the first month there. This will allow you the chance to find an apartment and live comfortably before you’re given your first paycheck.

Once you’re ready to make the move to France, you’ll need to start looking for a job.

Fortunately, the international demand for ESL teachers has made it easier than ever to begin your career. Here’s how.

Find an ESL job online

One of the best ways to find a decent teaching job is to first look online. There are several websites that post open positions.

  • The website ESL Base lists the language schools in France by region, linking to individual schools with vacancies.
  • The French Yellow Pages, Pages Jaunes, also lists teaching positions as they come up. You’ll need to have a basic understanding of French to navigate the site, however, as it’s primarily written in French.
  • Go Overseas has a section on their website dedicated solely to working in France. They list everything from long-term positions to seasonal teaching programs and camp counselor positions.
  • You can check Go Abroad as well. There, you’ll find information on becoming a certified ESL teacher, as well as leads to tutoring and teaching positions in France.

Check out this post for more useful resources you can use to find high quality ESL teaching positions online.

Apply in person

If you’re feeling a little adventurous, you can show up in France and do the job hunt in person. Some schools actually prefer to hire English teachers who are already in France, especially during June and July, which is when most schools and educational institutions hire new staff.

Just make sure to have an updated CV translated into French before you arrive. And keep in mind that a four-year university degree is almost always required to teach English in France. Further qualifications, like a TEFL, CELTA or DELTA will make you even more marketable, and could even help you negotiate a higher salary.

ESL teaching job interviews in France are often carried out in English or French. The language that is used in the interview may depend on a number of factors such as the individual job requirements. For example, if a position requires applicants to have an intermediate level of French, they may want you to speak in French during the interview. In any case, make sure you prepare by researching the most common ESL teacher interview questions and answers, so that nothing takes you by surprise. 

Types of ESL Teaching Positions in France

Now that you’re ready to begin your exciting new career, it’s important to understand what teaching in France is actually like so you’ll know what to expect on your first day. You’ll have plenty of different teaching opportunities and experiences from which to choose. From public schools to business institutions, you should be able to find your ideal teaching position.

There are several types of schools in France. Each school offers a different teaching environment and experience.

  • Academies and private schools: Private schools and academies are quite popular in big cities. Some have better reputations than others, so it’s recommended that you do a little research before signing your contract so you don’t agree to irregular or extra-long hours. A large language teaching company like the British Council is a good place to start, as it has built a solid reputation.
  • International and bilingual schools: Another great option for teachers, international and bilingual schools offer great salaries for serious teachers. With that said, these positions can be quite competitive and you’ll likely need significant teaching experience to get the job.
  • Business institutions: English continues to hold the position of the language most spoken internationally and in the business world. As such, there are several chances to teach business English for companies looking to hire an in-house English trainer. With this type of position, you’ll have some flexibility to negotiate your own contract.
  • Public schools: One of the best ways to teach English in France is to become a teaching assistant through the French Ministry of Education. The TAPIF program hires United States citizens between the ages of 20 and 35 to teach English to students in public schools all over the country. Teaching assistants are responsible for their own housing and are paid a stipend of around €800-1,000 per month.

Check out this useful video to learn more about the TAPIF program. This video covers everything from French accommodation and salaries to the TAPIF application process.

  • Private tutoring: If you’re feeling entrepreneurial, you might want to consider working as an entrepreneur instead. This requires a lot of paperwork, but once you establish yourself, you can often ask for better rates than you’ll find at regular schools and academies.
  • Summer camps: If short-term commitments are your thing, try teaching English at a summer camp. One of the more popular summer camps is the International Language Camps. There, you can work as an English counselor while getting to see some of France’s beautiful countryside.

Also, keep in mind that the average work week is 35 hours. However, teachers usually work fewer hours and ESL teachers tend to work irregular or rotating hours. You’ll want to check your contract carefully regarding weekly hours, holiday time and pay.

What About French Visas?

To work as an English teacher in France you’re going to need a visa.

In fact, it’s very uncommon for French schools or companies to sponsor work visas for non-European citizens.

If you’re from the United Kingdom, there are a range of ESL teacher programs, but the most common option is to apply to work for the British Council as an English language assistant in France.

As an American, your easiest route to becoming a teacher is through the TAPIF program. Alternatively, you can also work on a student visa, but you’ll need to actually study something. Why not take some French lessons!

If you’re from Canada, Australia or New Zealand you may be eligible for a 12-month working holiday visa. This allows you to work and vacation in France for the whole year, but you must be between the ages of 18 and 30 years old.


Teaching abroad is an unforgettable, often life-changing experience. You’ll be making a difference in the lives of students and you’ll have the chance to explore a new place.

France has so much to offer ESL teachers, from culture and art to the opportunity to immerse themselves in the French language!

So, are you ready?

Does teaching in France sound exciting?

Then pack your bags and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!

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