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Teaching English in Paris, France: Q&A with Catherine Rose Mountain
Written by: Catherine Rose Mountain
Last Updated: July 19, 2021
What is your citizenship?
What city and state are you from?
How old are you?
What is your education level and background?
Have you traveled abroad in the past?
If you have traveled abroad in the past, where have you been?
Italy, France, UK, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands
What sparked your interest in going to teach English in France?
I had considered it right after graduating from college, as I was very interested in living in France, but a few years later some things shifted in my life and I decided it was a good time to go.
Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy?
I knew I needed a TEFL certification to teach abroad. I chose the International TEFL Academy for a combination of reasons including the thorough description of the high level course, the price, and the timing.
Which TEFL certification course did you take?
Chicago USA TEFL Class
How did you like the course?
I liked the course - the instructors were great, and it was good to have real students to teach.
How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?
It was helpful in that it covered a wide range which helps me state that I'm trained to teach children, business English, etc.
Which city and country did you decide to teach English in and why?
I decided to teach English in Paris, France, - I speak French and Paris has the most job opportunities in France.
How long have you been teaching English in France and how long do you plan to stay?
Five months; until they kick me out (ha).
How did you secure your English teaching job in France?
I emailed my resume and the company invited me for an interview.
What school, company, or program are you working for?
Business Talk France: businesstalkfrance.com
I got a student visa. It was very expensive and I don't recommend doing it the way I did. Don't expect to work under the table in France; all job postings require you to have permission to work already, and even most childcare/at home tutoring positions require papers.
Tell us about your English teaching job in France!
I work between 5 and 20 hours/week. The pay is around 17-18 euro/hour brut. I am not saving anything. I am working on a more stable work situation, but when you can't control how much you work, it's very difficult to control your finances at all. I work for a private language school teaching adults and am starting a new contract teaching children as well. I do get time off but it is not paid.
Things to consider: How many hours will the company guarantee you? If students cancel, will you still be paid and how much? Many companies care more about your experience than your TEFL certificate, although it's still extremely important to have.
How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like? Do you have roommates?
I found an apartment through personal connections. I am very lucky to have it. I live alone.
Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, travel opportunities, etc. about your country:
Paris obviously has all of these things in great quantities. There are museums, music, shopping, theater, movies, tours, etc etc etc. The metro is amazing, and if you have to travel at all to teach in company, your company pay offer partial reimbursement. A Navigo pass is currently 65 euro/month for unlimited access to metro, buses, and trams in zones 1 and 2 (in Paris, but not the suburbs or out to the airport - those zones cost extra).
Do not ride the metro without a ticket - you will be sorry when you get controlled and have to pay a fine. There are a million bars and restaurants and expats and people to date. Healthcare is cheap (even without government reimbursement), bread is cheap, wine is cheap, peanut butter and Mexican food are expensive. Expect any interaction with French bureaucracy to be frustrating - every single person you talk to will probably give you different instructions and be as unhelpful as possible and you will want to cry afterwards. It's not just me - ask any expat.
What are your monthly expenses?
- Rent: 400 euro per month (this is VERY unusual, usually you're looking at at least 600 or more).
- Food: 100-120 euro per month (if you eat out or buy frivolous grocery items, expect to pay more).
- Social Activities: 40 euro or less - in warm weather, there are lots of cheap/free things to do in Paris, and meeting someone to chat at a cafe should cost you less than 2 euro. Again, if you hit the bars every weekend and order a lot of drinks or partake in expensive activities, you will obviously spend more.
- Transportation: 65 euro/month.
- Communication: 20 euro/month -includes internet and free calls to the US
- Travel: 100 euro/month - obviously, when my job cut my hours down to nothing, I stopped all extra travel, but with a 12-27 discount card, you can get a round trip TGV ticket in France for under 100 euro most of the time.
How would you describe your standard of living?
I am perfectly comfortable but I am in the habit of being very frugal.
In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?
1200-1500 euro a month.
What advice would you give someone planning or considering teaching abroad? Would you recommend teaching in your country?
If you want to teach English in France (at least in Paris from my experience), you must have permission to work. Experience is very important for many positions, and often it's important to speak French. There are a lot of jobs but there are a lot of teachers too, and none of us seem to work enough. You have to be persistent and watch out for yourself - jobs don't always deliver what they promise. If you have an EU passport, you will have a MUCH easier time.
Catherine Rose had always considered teaching English abroad after college, but life got in the way. Fast forward a few years, and some things shifted in her life which gave her the opportunity to make this dream a reality! She took ITA's Chicago In-Person TEFL Course before moving to Paris, France to teach English. France was an easy decision for Catherine Rose as she already spoke French!
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