By Paige Lee
NOTE: This article was originally published on March 2, 2015. After direct consultation with the French Embassy in the U.S., this article was updated for new information in December 2019 regarding the 2020-2021 TAPIF Program.
An Overview of the TAPIF Assistantship Program for Americans to Teach English in France
TAPIF, which stands for Teaching Assistance Program In France, is a program run by the French Ministry of Education and the Cultural Services of The French Embassy that places Americans between 20-35 years of age as assistant English teachers in elementary and secondary schools throughout France. Though similar programs are offered for Canadians and other English speakers, TAPIF is specifically for Americans who want to teach English in France.
TAPIF Program Overview
- Americans between ages 20-35 (the age range was expanded in 2016) are placed as assistant English teachers in elementary or secondary schools in France;
- Assignments are 7 months long and last from October 1 - April 30 (no exceptions, no shorter contracts, no alternative dates);
- Participants work 12 hours a week as assistant English teachers in up to 3 schools;
- Participants may submit preferences for where they want to teach, but assignments are determined by TAPIF and are given in April, when acceptances are announced;
- Assignments may be given in school districts in mainland France or in overseas departments such as French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Réunion;
- Participants receive a stipend (net 790 Euro per month), health insurance and a long-stay work visa for France covering the duration of their assignment with TAPIF.
Eligibility for TAPIF (including French language proficiency):
TAPIF applications are evaluated based on a list of criteria that are indicative of a candidate’s potential for successful participation in the program:
- French-language skills (applicants must demonstrate a proficient level of French equivalent to level B1 on the European Framework of Reference for Languages)
- Previous teaching experience
- Experience working with children or young adults
- Experience living abroad
- The level of the applicant’s university studies
- TEFL/TESOL Certification – improves a candidate's chances for acceptance
- American citizens between 20-35 years of age
The Application Process for TAPIF
Applying to the TAPIF program is much like applying to a university or graduate school program. The applicant will be expected to provide information on their academic background; French language level & experience; experience working or teaching children and young adults; and experience with living abroad. Applicants will be expected to submit a 500-word “statement of purpose” in French. Paperwork applicants can expect to submit will also include:
- A scan of a current passport
- A scan of your university transcript
- A language evaluation from a University French professor
- A letter of recommendation in an academic or professional capacity
- $60 application fee.
The application process to the 2020-2021 Teaching Assistant Program in France will open in October 2019 and close in mid-January, 2020.
Applicants receive notice of their acceptance and their assignment in April.
Please consult the TAPIF website for more details.
Is the Program Competitive and is Every Applicant Accepted?
It’s important to note that TAPIF is a competitive program and meeting basic criteria does not ensure acceptance. For the 2015-2016 program, for example, more than 1,850 eligible prospective teachers applied and 1,100 were accepted. 400 applicants were placed on the waitlist and approximately 300 were able to join after slots opened during the summer.
What is it like to teach English in France through the TAPIF Program?
Check out this Q&A with ITA grad, Anne Donnelly about teaching in TAPIF in Marseille
Is a TEFL/TESOL Certification Required for the TAPIF Program?
A TEFL/TESOL certification is not technically required for the TAPIF program. However, program applicants are encouraged to pursue the certification as acceptance is becoming increasingly competitive and holding a TEFL/TESOL certification shows that an applicant has invested in and studied the methodology behind teaching English as a foreign language. It is also useful to have gained practical teaching experience included in your TEFL/TESOL certification as practicum. Here is a quote taken directly from the official TAPIF website:
"A TEFL or ESL certification is NOT required to apply to TAPIF and in fact, most program participants do not have this certification. That said, a TEFL or ESL certification can nonetheless give you an edge during the application process because it shows that you have studied the theory and pedagogy behind teaching English to speakers of other languages, and that you may also already have TEFL/ESL classroom experience."
Some other factors to consider regarding the question of whether you should get a TEFL certification if you want to teach in TAPIF (or elsewhere for that matter);
- Your teaching experience will be far easier and more rewarding if you possess basic teaching skills in areas like classroom management, teaching methodology, and error correction. A primary complaint and reason for drop-outs in programs like TAPIF (and similar assistantship programs in Spain and Japan) is that participants without training feel lost and unable to cope with their classroom assignments because they are totally unprepared.
- Your students will learn more from you and respect you more (as will your colleagues and peers) if you are trained and possess professional level teaching skills.
- TEFL certification will provide you with the skills and qualifications to gain employment teaching English in up to 80 other countries worldwide and could very well qualify you for other teaching opportunities in France and elsewhere in Europe and around the world.
One of the major benefits of the TAPIF program is that it provides U.S. citizens with a viable and legal way to teach English in France on a long-stay work visa. Outside of the TAPIF program or working on a student visa, Americans typically find it very difficult to find work as an English teacher in France because there is a strong preference by French employers to employ European Union (E.U.) Citizens who hold a legal right to work in France and unlike in some other European countries, like Spain and Italy, it is not common for French schools to employ American teachers "under the table" without a work visa or residency in France.
Canadians are fortunate enough to be able to get a working holiday visa that enables them to travel and work in France.
Stipends & Health Insurance for the TAPIF Program
TAPIF teachers receive a net stipend of €790 euro a month (approximately $845 USD - exchange rates do fluctuate). This is typically enough to live modestly. Some teachers, particularly in bigger cities like Paris, find that it really isn't enough to survive comfortably on. Even though their long-stay visa does not provide a legal right to accept other jobs, many participants earn extra cash on the side giving private language lessons and/or babysitting.
Participants also receive basic health insurance through the French national health insurance system. Teachers are responsible for their own airfare and housing costs. Most TAPIF teachers arrive in France with a minimum $2,000 USD to help with start-up costs like their first month's rent.
Learn More About the TAPIF Program & Application Process
Interested TEFL certified teachers can apply to the TAPIF program at https://www.tapif.org
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About the author - Born on a snowy Rocky Mountain-side but reared in the Chicago suburbs, International TEFL Academy Admissions Senior Advisor Paige Lee is an avid lover of travel and learning with a decade of experience in the fields of TEFL & international education. She’s lived and worked in Shanghai, China where she taught English and explored the Asian continent, as well as the "Land Down Under" in Australia.