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Guide to Teaching EFL in France

An EFL teacher shares her experience of teaching in central France
by Nadia Zehni

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

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

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

The following are a few things which I wish I had known before I left for France:

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

2) Medical -- you will probably have to have a medical check up to ascertain that you're fit to work. Once you are working you will be entitled to health benefits although you will have to pay upfront and be reimbursed later.

3) Cost of living -- It is generally cheaper than the UK, possibly between 25%-35% according to some sources. Food is very reasonable and the French will often eat a full meal at lunch as opposed to a quick sandwich on the fly as in the UK. This will mean though that they will work extra hours to compensate for lunch breaks etc...

4) Property -- French property are classified as T or F (which means apartment or house) with a number alongside it indicating number of rooms (plus kitchen and bathroom). For example a T2 could be a 1 bedroom apartment, with living area, kitchen and bathroom. If you're only staying for a short period of time you may 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 lessons -- If you plan to give private lessons in your spare time (they are in great demand) in addition to your main job, you can ask for about 20-25 Euros per hour. I was lucky in that I lived with a family and in exchange for food and accommodation, I gave their 3 children English lessons every week.

6) Travel -- Make the most of France when you're there, it's an unbelievably 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 journey. If you're in the North of France near Paris you could also hop over to Brussels (2 hours) or Amsterdam (4 hours). You should definitely try to visit the Southern region of Ardesche. It's a popular tourist destination, but well worth the visit especially in summer. The French (despite how people may stereotype them) are really friendly and know how to enjoy life. Working there will be an unforgettable experience professionally, socially and gastronomically!

Good luck!

© Nadia Zehni 2006.

Nadia Zehni has extensive experience teaching English as a Foreign Language in England, Malta and France. She is a regular contributor to EnglishForums.com, a resource for EFL teachers looking for information about grammar, phonetics, EFL jobs and teaching tips. English students can learn English by posting questions and getting help from volunteer EFL teachers, as well as speaking with other learners. Sign up for free at www.englishforums.com.

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