Wednesday, February 21, 2007

How to Teach English in France

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.

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