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To France I Must - A Determined American with a Family
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Theory



Joined: 21 May 2012
Posts: 19
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2012 12:20 am    Post subject: To France I Must - A Determined American with a Family Reply with quote

Who I Am: Hello everyone, I'm an American currently living in Japan and wanting to move to France in the future. I'm about to finish my first year teaching ESL as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) in the JET Program. I have a BA in English and a CELTA and I've signed up to teach at least one more year here in Japan.

What I Want: I'm trying to put together my next '5 year plan' and I'd like it to end with a job teaching in France. Any help or input on what I could do to help make this happen would be very much appreciated. Other things I'd like to accomplish: 1. I'd like to start and hopefully finish a Master's program in TESOL and/or get a DELTA. 2. I'd like to pass the N2 of the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) which is the level generally needed to prove 'fluency'. 3. I'd like to start studying French and become a low-intermediate speaker. My wife would like to have a child.

Questions I have:
1. Does anyone have any experience teaching a language that wasn't their native tongue in France? Is there a chance I could teach Japanese in France if I weren't a native speaker but was considered fluent or near-fluent?

2. Assuming I have no debt and savings to cover upfront costs, what are the chances I could find work in France with a CELTA, a MA in TESOL, several years of experience in Japan, and no EU Passport that would support me, my wife, and a possible baby? (My wife could also teach or work part-time if her spouse visa would allow it.)

3. If I moved to France as a student (Either to learn French or to pursue a Master's or DELTA) would it be easy to get a spouse visa for my wife? How costly is education in France for foreigners?


I understand that moving to France to teach is not an easy thing, especially for an American with a family. But I am willing to work very hard even if it might take 10 or 15 years to do it instead of 5. I love teaching and want to make it my career. I know I'm going to need French language skills, some savings, and a Master's to have any chance of reaching my goals. Is there anything else you think I might need (besides luck) that would make my quest more likely to succeed? Is there anyone who has moved to France with a family to teach that didn't have an EU passport that would be willing to share their story or some advice? Thank you in advance for any help you can offer.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9511
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2012 12:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
2. Assuming I have no debt and savings to cover upfront costs, what are the chances I could find work in France with a CELTA, a MA in TESOL, several years of experience in Japan, and no EU Passport that would support me, my wife, and a possible baby?


The problem is that hiring laws require EU member citizens to be considered first. France is a popular destination for UK/Irish teachers, many of whom have related MA plus significant experience teaching European students (very different from teaching in Japan).

To hire a non-EU member citizen, a school has to make a case to the national authorities that 'you' have some skills/qualifications which they need, and which no EU member citizen candidate for the job could offer.

Without a specialist qualification (and here I mean more than a related MA, but some niche sort of thing that some school happens to specially need), local contacts, and a local reputation (meaning that you know people who will be willing to jump through the significant legal hoops for you), your chances are near-nil.

So far as supporting a family on a teaching salary, I can say that my friends in university level positions in France are obliged to have two incomes to support a family in anything other than very limited circumstances.

I would say your dream is near-impossible, I'm afraid. Maybe others will have a different opinion.

To be clear where I am basing this on, I have not lived or worked in France myself. I have been at an international university in a nearby country for about seven years now. We have partner universities in France, and I work with other teachers from the country on a fairly regular basis.

You could not even consider teaching at regular language schools - firstly, they would not be able to get you a visa (because they work with general types of English, they cannot make a case for requiring specialist qualifications). Secondly, because the rate of pay is barely subsistence level for one teacher, much less a family.

Another issue that will apply in many cases in Europe overall is that your experience in Japan won't be considered the same here as experience with European students. The teaching contexts, student motivations and expectations, and expected classroom approaches and methods are very, very different.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
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Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2012 12:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry; I should probably add that I'm an American with related MA and have taught on a special-case visa in a different Western European country with similar laws to France for some time. I've recently gone through a renewal process. That's why I know how difficult it is for a school to make a case for such a person -

I work with quite a few other Americans, but they are all married to locals. That's probably not an option in your case Confused
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Theory



Joined: 21 May 2012
Posts: 19
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2012 1:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

spiral78 wrote:

Another issue that will apply in many cases in Europe overall is that your experience in Japan won't be considered the same here as experience with European students. The teaching contexts, student motivations and expectations, and expected classroom approaches and methods are very, very different.


Yes, I'm aware of some of the differences in the systems. Japan is VERY teacher-centric in everything it does from Martial Arts to business to ESL. I taught ESL to European high school students at a summer camp and adults at a language school in NYC briefly before coming to Japan. Thanks to the CELTA I'm familiar with student-centric learning and other styles of teaching which don't involve drilling vocab and grammar in order to pass a very specific test (and not necessarily learn English).

I have full control over my elementary classes and weekly adult conversation classes, and I teach in a very student-centric, task based approach. My middle school is a different story. There I often suggest different styles of teaching and student-centric activities, but I am sometimes successful and sometimes not.

I may return to America (or another western country) to get my Master's and get more experience teaching outside of Japan.

spiral78 wrote:
Sorry; I should probably add that I'm an American with related MA and have taught on a special-case visa in a different Western European country with similar laws to France for some time. I've recently gone through a renewal process. That's why I know how difficult it is for a school to make a case for such a person -

I work with quite a few other Americans, but they are all married to locals. That's probably not an option in your case Confused


Thank you so much for your help and advice. I know my dream will be very difficult and perhaps I will have to settle for saving up and spending a year as a student in France. Although I am glad to see that you have been able to find work as an American in Europe. How were you able to find a job initially? Did you start as a student or just fly over and start knocking on doors?
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
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Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2012 1:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For Western Europe, I started out on a spouse visa (married to an EU member citizen) and worked for a few years at university level.

Later, I finished the MA with an emphasis on the approach/method applied by this particular university. After this, I did some serious work writing and publishing in this specific field.
All this outside of Europe

Ultimately, I had the local contacts and reputation, so people were willing to make a case for me and I've worked nearly four years now on my own specialist visa.

It was a combination of luck and hard work, but again, it all started out with a spouse visa, which allowed me to to get started on an even playing field with the UK teachers - which won't be an option for you.

Flying over as a student or just knocking on doors are both very, very long shots. It's possibly worth a shot if you're single, but with a family to support, neither approach is recommended. That's partly because you have only 90 days in the Schengen zone before you have to leave for 90 days...the good old days of border hops re-starting your tourist visa are gone (google Schengen zone if you aren't already familiar). Basically, once you land in the zone, you have max 90 days to land a contract with a school that will start the legal process for you. If unsuccessful, you have to leave for 90 days before returning to try again. It's not really a feasible approch!

By the way, US citizens can still get legal work permits for Central/Eastern Europe. The problem for you will be that jobs there, even with related MA and experience, simply won't support a family.
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Theory



Joined: 21 May 2012
Posts: 19
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 1:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

spiral78 wrote:

It was a combination of luck and hard work, but again, it all started out with a spouse visa, which allowed me to to get started on an even playing field with the UK teachers - which won't be an option for you.

Flying over as a student or just knocking on doors are both very, very long shots.


I wonder if I will have an easier time trying to teach Japanese. I'm sure I'll have far fewer EU natives to compete against, but demand is probably weaker for Japanese teachers as well. And not being a native speaker would be another disadvantage, probably.

I was researching Switzerland (because it's close to France and parts of Switzerland have many French speakers) and it looks like anyone who graduates from a secondary school there is given equal consideration (legally) for employment six months after graduating. But I can't find any MA TESOL programs there. I wish there was a Switzerland forum. Does anyone know if France has a similar law?
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riverboat



Joined: 22 May 2009
Posts: 115
Location: Paris, France

PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 12:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RE: 1, teaching Japanese when you're not a native speaker. Even putting the work visa issue aside, I think the fact that you would be neither a native Japanese speaker nor would you speak fluent French would be very unfortunate. If it was one or the other you'd probably find it easier to get around, but with both factors...ai.

RE: 2, finding an English teaching job that would support a whole family. I think that's highly, highly unlikely. It's certainly never going to happen in or around Paris because living costs are just way too high. You'd have to get extremely lucky and find a high-paying job in an area of France with very low living costs. I don't know if such jobs or places even exist. I certainly haven't heard of them.

RE: 3. I don't know the rules, but based on what I remember from an acquaintance who was in this situation I *believe* that if you had a student visa, your wife and child would have the right to enter the country and stay in the country with you, but not to work, not even part time.

Working as a full-time teacher in the public university system is basically impossible, I believe you have to go through a special exam that requires native-level French.

I imagine that the rules for private universities are different, though again I don't know. I think it's highly, highly unlikely that without any contacts, without fluent French and without any obviously niche skills, you will be able to achieve what you want. But, if I was to take a shot in the dark and give you an idea of SOMETHING to try....well, I have seen a few vacancies advertised over the years for profs wanted to teach university courses in American culture, language and civillization. These were only part-time though, not full time posts. And I imagine these posts go to Americans who already have the right to work here (ie married to an EU national or have an EU passport through a branch of their family). But MAYBE some private universities want Americans working for them full-time to teach such classes. And then MAYBE there aren't enough Americans to go round, and MAYBE some universities would want Americans badly enough that they may be prepared to sponsor visas. I really don't know. I think your best bet would be to sell yourself as a hybrid English language/Japanese language/American culture specialist. You could try contacting some of the private universities (aka grandes ecoles: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grandes_ecoles ) to see if there's any interest. I think it's an insanely long shot though.

Oh, and there's a mailing list for university jobs which you might as well add yourself to if you haven't already, you can find it at: www.tesol-france.org. Most advertisements are for part-time work though. Working full-time in public universities as an English teacher here is a whole other, very complicated, ball-game.

(And one final thing: you could try the international colleges/lycees I suppose. I know less than nothing about working for these schools, but it would only take a quick google search to find the few American schools in France.)


Last edited by riverboat on Mon May 28, 2012 12:55 pm; edited 2 times in total
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riverboat



Joined: 22 May 2009
Posts: 115
Location: Paris, France

PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 12:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I actually just looked at the FAQ on the tesol-france site just to see if they had any helpful suggestions that I hadn't thought of, but unfortunately...

I am an American looking for information about getting working papers and a job in France.

While we belong to a large teaching network our main goal is not to find teaching jobs for potential applicants. Therefore, the answer to this question is not an easy one.

The short answer is, if you are not:

-Married to a French national
-A European resident
- A US Citizen who has lived in France for an eternity and managed to get grand-fathered into the system,

obtaining work papers is next to impossible. And even when you fall into these three categories, there is no way around the headache-yielding French administration.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9511
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the idea of Switzerland, I can chime in based on info from my colleagues there (I have researched this on my own behalf). Again, another insanely long shot.

It's a bit unlike France, though - Switzerland is a country in which the regular English language education is very well-done through the public schools (which employ local teachers). They therefore don't very often seek general English instructors, and the concept of 'native speaker' isn't particularly important.

It would again require serious niche qualifications and some instititution that specifically wanted them, to land anything. Never mind the problems supporting a family - it's highly unlikely to occur.

Switzerland mirrors the Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands in its relative (lack of) need for native English speaking language teachers.
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Theory



Joined: 21 May 2012
Posts: 19
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 12:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you riverboat and spiral for your advice. France sounds like such a difficult place to immigrate to, I'm surprised that immigration seems to be a big political issue there. How can there be so many foreigners in France that it has become an issue if immigration is so difficult? Perhaps illegal immigration is the real issue?

For now I will continue to work towards my goals (becoming fluent in Japanese, getting a Master's in ESL, and becoming fluent in French). These are things I want to accomplish whether I can move to France or not. One day I will move to France; maybe it will be as a teacher or maybe it will be as a student, and maybe it will take much, much longer than I had hoped. But I will get there someday, somehow. Thank you again everyone so much for your help.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
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Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 12:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No. It's not illegal immigration. It's legal immigration from the former colonies in combination with general EU rules governing hiring practices which give preference to EU nationals over others.

Some countries specifically have language in their national hiring regulations limiting English language teaching to EU member citizens; I am not sure if this is the case in France, but it is in Belgium and the Netherlands. To go around this, schools need real reasons that no UK/Irish teacher can do what you can.

On general attitudes toward immigration, I can direct you to current news sites. It's a very big issue in the entire region; not just France. I don't know if you're aware of what a hot-button issue it is in the US these days (features daily on most news shows), but it's no less an issue in the Euro region, I can assure you.
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Theory



Joined: 21 May 2012
Posts: 19
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 12:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

spiral78 wrote:
No. It's not illegal immigration. It's legal immigration from the former colonies in combination with general EU rules governing hiring practices which give preference to EU nationals over others.

Some countries specifically have language in their national hiring regulations limiting English language teaching to EU member citizens; I am not sure if this is the case in France, but it is in Belgium and the Netherlands. To go around this, schools need real reasons that no UK/Irish teacher can do what you can.

On general attitudes toward immigration, I can direct you to current news sites. It's a very big issue in the entire region; not just France. I don't know if you're aware of what a hot-button issue it is in the US these days (features daily on most news shows), but it's no less an issue in the Euro region, I can assure you.


Oh yes, I'm completely aware of what a hot-button issue immigration is in almost every developed nation. Here in Japan it's about protecting cultural identity (at best) or racial purity (at worst). In America it's mostly about the effect that illegal immigration is having on jobs/the economy. Though I also think there is a fair amount of worry coming from the current (white) majority about losing their majority status and the privileges that come with it. I recently hosted some couchsurfers from France, so I knew that it was also a big issue in the EU region, but I didn't know that it was because of intra-EU and former colony immigration.

I really wish we could just drop all the borders and let the free market take care of immigration. I think the best person for the job should get it, regardless of what patch of earth they were born on. But I know it will be quite some time before enough people agree with me to make this a reality.
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firebird



Joined: 10 Apr 2012
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Location: France

PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2012 5:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Iím American with French nationality (Iím not married so itís not through a husband) and teach in France. Hereís a breakdown by teaching category:

1. Private language schools Ė you could come on a student visa and teach on the side. There are Americans without EU passports who do this. However, they donít last long because of the need to pay for course enrollment fees and living expenses which can usually outweigh teaching salaries (and I use the word Ďsalaryí loosely here since itís not like what you might consider a year-round salary a la Americaine). Which means you need savings in the bank to finance this kind of arrangement for however long you plan/want to stay. Through my own experience I have found private language schools happy to have Americans because of the influx of Brits/Irish and because some parents/students/school directors prefer American English/culture. However, these jobs are not year-round since the French go on vacation July-August and contracts end in May/June. You could supplement with private teaching/tutoring, but thatís putting together a meager existence at best. Also, most language schools offer on average 5-20 hours per week and it depends on student enrollment and your availability. If youíre teaching at several schools, scheduling becomes an issue. Very rarely do I see ads for 30+ hours of teaching and those go to those with experience teaching in Europe. Pay is also low; some schools can start you off at 18-20 euros/hour with no experience (was the case for me for one school I worked for), while others demand 2 years experience for the same pay.
2. French public schools Ė off-limits to non EU citizens although I came across an American womanís blog once and she passed the national exam to teach in private schools because she had obtained French naturalization, *but* she could only teach in the private school system because she was not a French-born citizen. Iím looking into the national exam for public schools and per someone elseís response, you do need to speak French at the native level and be a native French person. You can google ĎCAPESí for more info.
3. French universities Ė hit and miss. The TESOL listserv will give you an idea of whatís out there and what the qualifications are. I came across another Americanís blog and she had found a post as an English teacher at a university in the south and from my understanding she got a visa (presumably student) that she then showed the school as proof of legal status, and they employed her. But those jobs are not full-time nor long-term unless you have a higher diploma, have worked at the university for some time and can pull strings, know someone, or be lucky. They also donít pay well, usually minimum wage which is around 1200-1300 euros/month (before taxes and France is known to tax its citizens heavily).
4. American/British private schools Ė you could try the American International schools, but they seem to favor those with American teaching credentials (i.e. Masters of Education or BA in Education + state certification). I donít consider the British schools because I assume they will only hire their own people in order to keep up with their own curriculum.
5. Private business schools Ė if you had an MBA or significant business experience you could try the French business schools since I see job ads for native English speakers to teach Finance, HR, etc. I think they would be open to sponsoring a visa if the person was qualified and they couldnít meet the demand locally even with British candidates.

It seems to me like you would be overqualified with a MATESOL since most job ads I see require at least a BA + CELTA or TEFL, and not emphasize experience. Iíve been scanning job ads for 2 years and I look on the French national unemployment website, various job hunting websites, the TESOL listserv, and through my own contacts. Of course, an higher diploma opens more opportunities and if you start your European journey elsewhere, it would be helpful. Iím unsure if you were thinking of getting a MATESOL in France, which I donít think exists because of the nature of the degree (i.e. getting it in an Anglophone country).

As the others mentioned, it would be very difficult to do what youíre proposing. Anything is possible Ė when I was in the U.S., no one believe I could make it to France. But it would take a lot of effort, time, and dedication. The French donít make it easy for their own people and not for foreigners. You have to show youíre willing to eat rocks for them to take you seriously.

Also, cost-of-living is high compared to pay, and you would want to consider this if bringing a family, especially if your spouse cannot work because of visa restrictions (I have met American men who were sponsored by French companies and given a work visa but their spouses were not allowed to work at all even if she was given a resident permit). The average French person makes on average 1600 euros/month and salaries are paid monthly, which means you need to budget wisely to get to the next paycheck. Similarly, housing is tied to your job status. If you were coming alone, you could rent a room, but if you want to come with a wife and possibly a child, you would want your own place. To rent from a French landlord means having a salary of 3x the rent and in most cases a co-signer (who also needs to have a secure job contract and make 3x the rent). Thereís more flexibility renting from say a British person, I seem to have found. If your teaching salary is at the minimum wage (to give an example), youíll get 1000/1100 after taxes (if you have a contract and are not self-employed and paying your own taxes). Which means you can afford an apartment of 300 euros/month. That will get you a studio in the Parisian suburbs or anywhere else in France. It will get you nothing in central Paris.

I wonít repeat whatís already been said since it pretty much sums up the situation here. Iím just giving a different perspective because these are the things I wish I had been told prior to relocating. Getting your legal status is the first step, but actual info on the job market and important things like housing seem harder to nail down when thereís no one on-thr-ground to provide insight.
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Theory



Joined: 21 May 2012
Posts: 19
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2012 4:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for so much detail Firebird. Everyone's advice has helped put the risk/reward scale of living in France and teaching ESL into perspective for me. I still plan an pursuing a Master's because I really enjoy teaching ESL, but I think I will have to form a different plan for moving to France.

Because moving to France is much, much more difficult than I would like, I think I will have to wait much, much longer that I would like before I can live there. And I will probably have to go there as a student or perhaps as a translator or Japanese teacher if I can get my language skills up to par. Maybe I can live in a nearby Francophone country/region. Maybe I can find an international school to hire me after teaching in the American school system. I won't give up on the dream.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9586
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2012 6:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quebec!
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