Wednesday, February 21, 2007
First things first, the E.U. question. Yes, it's true, you must hold an E.U. passport to qualifiy for any job position in the territory. Unlike its neighbors, Spain & Italy, the French mostly follow this rule.
However, it is still possible work in France if you are non E.U. if have can obtain the "Carte Sejour". As a non E.U. person, the easiest option is to enroll in a French language school in France. Once enrolled, the language school will issue you an "attestation" stating that you have committed to lessons with them and you can use it to get a student visa. The student visa allows you to work 15 hours a week. At the end of your visa, for however long it is, if you have a job at that moment you can renew your visa as a carte sejour. With this you can legally work full-time. This is probably the easiest route no matter what your age.
If you have mastered the French language and/or have absolutely no interest in long term lessons of any kind, the other option is to become a "Profession Liberale". It means a free-lance professional. While you can do this in any domain, "English Teacher" is probably the easiest to break into as you are a native English speaker, so it will tempt potential clients to choose you over a French person. To do this you apply for a long term visa, similar to the student visa process but longer, stating that you will support yourself as a Profession Liberale. Once in France you can register yourself with URSSAF the government entity that oversees profession liberales. The registration is actually the easiest part of this entire process. Then you are free to start looking for work. BUT, looking for work means looking directly for clients. You're not going to be able to work for a language school unless it's a short term contract deal. You are working for yourself so it would demand a high level of French. So again, if you're not there yet on the French, opt for the student visa choice:)
All in all, the E.U. issue does'nt have to be an obstacle to living and working in France. However, it does mean that more work and money will be required just to set up. Also know that there is no way to avoid the visa paperwork in your home country before coming to France and without a doubt, it will continue when you arrive.
Where to start...
Finding an ESL teaching position in France is not the same as in many other countries. It requires more rigor during the job search and some significant money for the start-up. Despite France's high unemployment rate, it is however possible to secure a job but it will take a longer to find.
France is not the country to live and work in if you want to spontaneously show up and immediately earn cash. You need a game plan. The first component is where in France, do you want to based? If you want an ESL job, it means you must chose a city where there is a demand for English. Unfortunately, the small romantic village in the middle of the country, where most of us would love to live, has a population with an average age of 60. That means low demand for work, let alone English. You want to be based or live near a large city. Paris is ideal and offers by far the most options for jobs. However, many people don't want to live in a city so large. If you are one of these people, here is the criteria for a workable city(not village)almost anywhere in the world.
1. It has a university- University towns equate with young adults who might need English for their studies, for a semester abroad or just because they enjoy speaking with foreigners.
2. It has an economic center that depends on the international community- Cities with office parks for technology or transportation, for example, are good because it insures a base of young professionals who need English for their job.
3. It is a dynamic city- Cities that are/and promote a cosmopolitan attitude are best because ultimately our potential clients are people who are interested in foreigners or foreign things. Cities or towns where there are already a lot of foreigners and where there is constant change for improvement are ideal.
Next, arm yourself with the appropriate qualifications. As a general rule, ESL employers look for a college degree of any discipline and a TEFL/TESOL certificate. Yes while there are exceptions, lacking one or both of these items makes your task woefully more difficult. For those of you who already have qualifications for teaching in main stream education in your home country, French employers typically disregard them unless said qualifications were obtained in France. (I didn't make the rules...don't shoot the messenger)
With credentials obtained, you would next incorporate them in a C.V. written in French. In most other countries in the world, that I know of, where English is in demand, this is not neccessary... a C.V. in English would be suitable. At any rate, I suggest you have a C.V. and cover letter professionally translated if you are not fluent in French.
Lastly, get the English language school addresses for your target town and send them out. Hiring times are early September, late March/early April. Forget looking for a job in the summer, its vacation time in France.
Ironically, even though a C.V. should be written in French, it is most likely possible that the interview can or will be conducted in English. So you don't need to be a fluent French speaker to get or hold an ESL job.