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A Guide to Paris by the K Dog

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The K Dog

Joined: 27 Feb 2003
Posts: 24
Location: Paris

PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2003 7:33 pm    Post subject: A Guide to Paris by the K Dog Reply with quote

Even though I can think of wiser career choices, I know very well that there will always be a higher number of people in Sydney/Toronto/Wellington/Denver or wherever who will sit back and think, "hmmmm...the best friend of my great-great-grandfather's stepmother's uncle was born somewhere in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, perhaps, I can get an EU passport based on this and go teach in Paris where my life will take a new and wonderful turn." Allright, so, you want to teach in Paris, and I suppose it's only fair that I help you as I know a thing or two about it having taught EFL there for two-and-a-half-years.

1. You need a place to live, of course. Now, this can be difficult because many places require three months of rent up front, and it can also be difficult because some areas are not all that safe, i.e., certain parts of the 18th to 20th arrondissements, and a few of the suburbs, which you can read about in guide books, such as Lonely Planet and Frommer's. Another problem is finding a place if you don't have a steady income which many language schools don't provide as they pay by the hour and summertime is a bad time for work. Now, I have a partial solution to your problem. It's a place called La Residence, where I lived for ten months. It's located in a respectable (for now, that is) suburb called Savigny-sur-Orge twenty-five-minutes from Paris on the RER C. You can rent a small, private room with shared bath for 380 Euro per month with a deposit of only 300 Euro. It can be noisy, it's definitely not clean, and you have to be sociable to live there, but it also has its good points: the people there are an interesting mix of foreigners, mainly students and interns, it's a lot of fun, particularly when you have nice people to go out with on weekends, and there's no shortage of interesting discussions. La Residence is located at 39 Grande Rue, Savigny Sur Orge. It's advertised at Locaflat, which, I believe is posted on the net. From St. Michel metro you can take the RER C directly out there. So, that takes care of your housing needs for now until you can save three months of deposit, get a steady source of income and find something nicer. I had a 14 meter squared studette in the 5th arrondissement (an absolutely beautiful area right across from Notre Dame) for 457 Euro per month obtained through word of mouth. Other places to find lodging include FUSAC Magazine and the weekly (every Thursday) lodging classifieds obtainable at every newstand ( I don't remember its name, but it's a big journal filled with classified).

2. Getting a job. Well, you're on this board probably because you want to be an English teacher. I'll tell you what I know. If you have a Ph.D, you stand a chance to compete for a position known as Maitre de Conference (I apologize for the lack of accent over Maitre as my computer does not have this resource), if you have a bachelor's degree or a master's you can get a position known as lecteur. Here's the difference between the two: a Maitre de Conference is a full-time university position whereas a lecteur has a contract of two-years, non-renewable (it's the same at the universities all around France. I was offered a lecteur post at Strasbourg University), and the pay for a lecteur is around 1.500 Euro per month. The catch is that, as a lecteur, you are not allowed to work a second job (what I was told by the hiring committee). So, this could work out if you only want to spend two years in France; otherwise, another way into the university scene is as a Vacataire. A Vacataire is similar to being an adjunct at an American community college. The pay is good (around 40 Euro per hour), you teach around 200 hours per year, but you must have a full-time job elsewhere, i.e, a private language school for a period of 350 hours per year minimum (if it's a non-teaching job it must be 1.000 hours per year). The most likely venue for your EFL skills will be at a private language school. This is not without its pitfalls. I worked for Telelangue, which is a reputable outfit, but owing to some budget constraints I went from a standard monthly salary of 1. 410 Euro (liveable if you don't have debt, family or extravagant habits) to an hourly rate, thus one month I ended up with a mere 900 Euro. My students were great. I found them interesting, eager to talk, willing to learn, and happy to be corrected and have grammatical points broken down for them. It was very rare that I got a disagreeable student. Management are reasonable for the most part, it's just that there is a tendency to adhere to the policy of "no news is good news" which can be unnerving if you want more constructive criticism. Basically, if your students don't hate you, you won't hear anything, which can be bad if you're a young teacher and you want to see some evaluations pointing out things you could improve. The problem: lack of feedback. You could be a good teacher, but have a minor fault or two that should be pointed out. Another problem with language school teaching is having to go from place to place on the metro (thank God Paris has a metro, imagine trying to do this in Los Angeles) to teach in-company classes. Fortunately, you get half of your metro pass (the carte orange) reimbursed. I don't know much about the other outfits. I know that Inlingua only pays by the hour, but the hourly rate is better than Telelangue. I hear mixed reviews about the Wall Street Institute. Comptoir des Langues is a mystery to me. Some say that it has strong links to the Church of Scientology. This is unsubstantiated, and you would have to investigate further (they also pay by the hour and you must be able to interpret French for the interview). Another option is teaching in the secondary school system. For this you need a CAPES certificate, obtainable after a series of difficult exams. I don't know much about this certificate, only that some have told me that it is very challenging. I can't vouch for public high schools in France. I imagine that they are not without their social problems, just like in the United States. I know absolutely nothing about Catholic schools in France. Perhaps, like in America, you don't need the certification to teach in them, but this is something I cannot verify. If not, perhaps, that's an option. There is an educational exchange that places Americans (I don't know about other nationalities) in French schools for a period of less than one year. If you can find more details, it may be your way inside France. So, Maitre de Conference, Lecteur, Vacataire, and language school teacher are your options.

3. The work visa: Can't help you here. I am the son of an Irish immigrant, so I have an EU passport. Italy and Ireland grant passports if you have one grandparent born in those countries. Germany, from what I have heard, does not recognize dual citizenship. You should contact the embassy of whatever nation you have an ethnic affiliation to find out more about the possibility of getting a second passport. Ten new countries are joining the EU in 2004, so having Polish or Czech ancestry could be a factor.

4. Carte de Sejour: sorry to be so negative, but French bureaucracy can really drive one to distraction. This is not French bashing, it's true, and, yes I know that the situation is even more dire elsewhere, it's just exasperating. This card is your residency card used for identification. You know what, I lived there for two-and-a-half-years without one because after the sixth attempt (some petty bureaucrat always found a minor glitch) I just gave up, and I never had a problem. Don't bother unless absolutely necessary. You'll save yourself a lot of headaches.

5. Personally, my views on EFL in Paris are this: you can have a lot of fun here as well as undergoing the natural frustrations of expat living, i.e., homesickness, difficulty of adjusting, etc, but you have to examine your purpose here very closely. I know that this sounds sexist, but EFL is looked upon by a lot of people out here (not saying that they are right, but it's a pervasive view) as the domain of grad students, very young men and housewives. There is a stigma attached to being a middle-aged man and working as an EFL teacher for, say Berlitz or Inlingua because it's looked upon as a job, not a career, and people wonder how you can support a family on such a small salary. If you don't care what others think, great. You've won part of the battle, but I think that being forty-five, and finding yourself raking in 900 Euro per month sometimes very unpleasant and a hard way to make a mid-life crisis kick in even harder. Then again, would you be happy back in America working at a corporation earning 90.000 a year with one week of vacation and spending 60 hours per week in a cubicle in a job that has little effect upon society? So, examine your reasons for being in Paris very closely. Perhaps, it's best to go there as a graduate student as the Sorbonne is frequented by many foreigners looking to improve their French and EFL is a good way to get some additional revenue coming in every week while you study. What I am saying is this: have a purpose, a discernible goal, because it's easy to drift. I am not saying that you will get old, earning minimum wage, looked down upon by society and end up living in a shabby little room with people calling you a "rate" (loser) everyday, but you can't avoid thinking about a future, security and where you will be down the road, and if you ever want to be a family man, those are things to consider seriously.
Enjoy your youth, but don't give up on thinking about what's down that road.
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Joined: 03 Mar 2003
Posts: 416
Location: at home, in France

PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2003 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So you're still in Paris K-Dog.
I thought you were leaving a month ago.

Many of your comments have more than a grain of truth in them this time.

I hope many of your fellow countrymen (and women) give some consideration to what you have said.

Anyone wanting info on settling in France can contact me.

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Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 473
Location: here and there

PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2003 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

for the record, i just want to say that i lived in paris for the summer of 1999 and paid about $350 US (the price was in francs at the time but it was equivalent to $350 US) for a small chambre de bonne in the 7th. i lived one block behind the musee d'orsay, on rue du bac, and 2 blocks from the seine. basically, i was in the middle of the city. my place was very small and not too comfortable but entirely clean and adequate. i would never live in a dumpy pension in the suburbs for 380 euro. it's just not necessary if you arrive in the summer when there are thousands of cheaper rooms available.

my two cents.
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Joined: 04 May 2003
Posts: 9041
Location: home sweet home

PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2003 2:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The K Dog, even though there seem to be some disagreements about costs and prices. The info that you posted should at least help some people.
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Joined: 19 Nov 2004
Posts: 3
Location: Thailand

PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2004 9:08 pm    Post subject: The Residence Reply with quote

Is there a phone number for the residence ??????????????
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