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Guide to Teaching English as a Foreign Language in France

Living and working in a foreign country is never easy at first. I have just returned from a three month contract teaching EFL in central France and would like to share what I learned with others planning to teach there.

EFL is extremely popular in France at the moment, especially within companies. English is not introduced in school until quite late in high school, so there is a lack of fluent English speakers in the workplace. Now that business is growing in Europe, English is often the language needed to communicate with foreign customers (besides German).

While in France, I worked for a private company teaching EFL to managers, sales and administration executives. This is a common place and there are several language schools that offer workshops to different companies. (They definitely need more EFL teachers, so this might be an interesting avenue to explore!)

The following are some things I wish I had known before going to France:

1) Taxes: I will not try to explain the French tax system to you (since it would be practically impossible!) About 23% of my salary was deducted in taxes, which includes health and pension. I think $1,300 is roughly the minimum gross salary per month, so you can use that as a measure of how well you’re earning. (Salaries in Paris, of course, will be higher.)

2) Medical: You will probably have to undergo a medical check-up to make sure you are fit for work. Once you are working, you will be entitled to health benefits, although you will have to pay up front and be paid later.

3) Cost of Living – Generally cheaper than the UK, possibly 25-35% according to some sources. The food is very reasonable and the French often eat a full meal at lunch rather than a quick sandwich on the go like in the UK. However, this will mean that they will be working overtime to make up for lunch breaks etc.

4) Property: French properties are classified as T or F (meaning apartment or house) with a number next to it indicating the number of rooms (plus kitchen and bathroom). For example, a T2 could be a 1-bedroom apartment, with a living room, kitchen and bathroom. If you’re only staying for a short period of time, you might want to consider making a deal with a B&B or staying with a host family (which in turn will help you improve your French too!)

5) Private classes – If you plan to give private classes in your free time (they are highly demanded) in addition to your main job, you can ask for around 20-25 euros per hour. I was lucky enough to live with a family and in exchange for food and lodging I gave English classes to their 3 children every week.

6) Travel – Make the most of France when you are there, it is an incredibly beautiful and varied country! Trains are relatively cheap and frequent. You get cheaper deals when you travel at certain times and days, so keep that in mind when planning a trip. If you are in the north of France, near Paris, you can also go to Brussels (2 hours) or Amsterdam (4 hours). You should definitely try to visit the southern Ardesche region. It is a popular tourist destination, but it is worth visiting, especially in summer.
The French (despite what people may stereotype them) are very friendly and know how to enjoy life. Working there will be an unforgettable experience on a professional, social and gastronomic level!

Good luck!

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