Teaching Traveling: Here to discuss the hot topic of how to find a job teaching in France without an EU passport is Dana Wielgus. Tell us about your background, Dana.
Dana: Bonjour! My name is Dana, and I’m a twenty-six year old American originally from Milwaukee, WI. I have been living and teaching in France since 2013. I completed my undergraduate degree in French and English as a Second Language Education, and am now certified to teach both of those subjects.
During my time at university, I spent one summer teaching English at a language camp in Japan through an internship with USA Summer Camp (Guy Healy, Japan), as well as spent a semester studying abroad in Normandy. Both of these experiences confirmed my itch for travel and my desire to teach and live abroad after graduation. As a self-proclaimed Francophile, I had my heart set on France. So, after teaching ELL for six months in the States, I left for France in September 2013 and have been here ever since.
TT: When people think of living and teaching abroad, many think about visa restrictions, as it is extremely difficult to get sponsored. So, how were you able to legally work in France as a non-EU citizen?
Dana: As far as I’m concerned, the most well-known and easiest way for non-EU citizens to teach in France legally is through the Teaching Assistant Program in France. The program sponsors your work visa. In order to qualify, you must be between the ages of 20-35, have a fairly good level of French, and be a native English-speaking citizen of one of the following countries: Australia, South Africa, The Bahamas, Barbados, Canada, OECS, the USA, the UK, India, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, Trinidad, and Tobago. For Americans, there are approximately 1100 spots reserved per year. However, the program has gotten quite competitive over the past few years, so having a university degree, teaching experience, and strong French language skills are almost a must these days.
The duration of the TAPIF program is 7 months (October-April), during which you teach 12 hours per week, have eight weeks of paid vacation, and are given a modest monthly stipend of 790€ net per month. Nowadays, if you are lucky and start the process early, you can apply to extend and/or renew your contract once (although this is not guaranteed).
The application process for TAPIF is pretty straight forward: you need to write a statement of purpose (in French), provide transcripts and details regarding your education and teaching experience, and provide two letters of recommendation. TAPIF is a great way to get paid to live and work and travel around Europe while also gaining international teaching experience. I participated in TAPIF during the 2013-2014 school year (when I was apart of the program, it wasn’t possible to renew your contract.) I taught in a high school in a city between Marseille and Nice, right on the French Riviera. I also gave private lessons on the side and was able to fund some of my travels. I spent seven months exploring the Côte d’Azur region as well as traveling internationally to Turkey, Morocco, Italy, Great Britain, and Spain.
Although the contract is quite short, and the pay isn’t the greatest, this program is a great way to get many feet in the door in France. The best way to make connections are by being physically present, especially when you do not have necessary working papers.