Tips for Female Travelers Teaching English in France

Author’s Note: This article, on “Tips for Female Travelers Teaching English in France,” has been written with knowledge gained from both & TAPIF (Teaching Assistant Program in France). Many thanks for their contribution & assistance in helping female travelers find worthwhile teaching positions around the world.

About a century ago, American novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald believed that “France has the only two things toward which we drift as we grow older ~ intelligence & good manners.”  More recently, Australian writer Sarah Turnbull claimed that “France is like a maddening, moody lover who inspires emotional highs and lows. One minute it fills you with a rush of passion, the next you’re full of fury, itching to smack the mouth of some sneering shopkeeper or smug civil servant. Yes, it’s a love-hate relationship.”

Tips for Female Travelers Teaching English in France, Girl Who Travels the World

Ahhhh Paris…..

Whether you feel that France is the ideal place to spend your golden years, or agree that she reminds you of a tempestuous partner: you can’t deny the charm & sophistication of this country.  It is undeniably one of the most visited countries in the world.  With its tapestry of rich history, refined cuisine, & vibrant culture, France is a unique & fascinating place to visit.

Not surprisingly, France is one of the most common destinations on the bucket list of many U.S. nationals seeking to experience for themselves, the magic of this European country. But as you probably know, a few weeks’ holiday isn’t enough to truly capture the essence of such an intricate culture.  For this reason, many choose to make their French visit a long-term one.

Tips for Female Travelers Teaching English in France, Girl Who Travels the World

Teaching English in France gives you the opportunity to bask in the glorious French architecture & culture.

But How Do They Go About It?

One of the most reliable ways to start a new life, & possibly a new career, in France: is through the TAPIF (Teaching Assistant Program in France) program. Let’s see what this program is all about

What’s the TAPIF program?

TAPIF stands for Teaching Assistant Program in France. It’s a program that allows native English speakers to travel to France, & work as English teaching assistants in participating schools.  The idea is to provide French students with exposure to native English speakers, to help improve their language skills.  Participants usually work around 12 hours a week, giving them plenty of time to explore France, & immerse themselves in the culture.  It’s a fantastic opportunity for cultural exchange, & to gain valuable teaching experience.

Tips for Female Travelers Teaching English in France, Easy Day Trips from Paris, Best Chateaux in the Loire Valley & Where to Stay, Girl Who Travels the World

The author exploring the grounds of Chateau Chaumount, in France’s renowned Loire Valley.

More specifically, the Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF) is a highly sought-after initiative of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, in collaboration with France Éducation International (FEI).  This long-standing program places approximately 1,300 Americans annually in French public schools as English language teaching assistants, working 12 hours a week.  These seven-month contracts ~ renewable twice, provide young adults with valuable classroom experience, language improvement, & immersion in the world of French speakers. 

Contracts are offered for either Elementary or Secondary school settings:

  • In Elementary School, the focus is on children aged 8-11 years old.  The assistant leads verbal exercises with small groups, or collaborates with the teacher in conjunction with the entire class. For this role, a good level of French is required.
  • In Secondary School, the emphasis is on students aged 11-18 years old.  The assistant acts as a resource in conversation groups, conducts small group tutorials, facilitates English-language clubs, or collaborates with the local teacher & the entire class. For this position, it is necessary to be proficient in French.

Who Can Apply for TAPIF?

TAPIF serves as the American component of the global Programme des Assistants de Langue en France, managed by FEI.  Alumni of TAPIF may embark on diverse global careers, & gain access to generous scholarships for M.A. & PhD studies.

In a nutshell: Eligible applicants, aged 20 to 35, must be native English speakers, US citizens or permanent residents, & possess intermediate proficiency in French (B1 or higher). 

Here is the specific eligibility criteria in detail:

  • Citizenship:  Candidates must be either citizens or permanent residents of the United States.  Foreign nationals with a U.S. Green Card are eligible, only if they are citizens of specific countries.  French nationals & those with dual French-American citizenship are not eligible.
  • Age:  Candidates should fall within the age range of 20 to 35, on the program’s start date. The age limit is strictly enforced, & exceptions cannot be made.  Unfortunately, alternative programs for those outside this age bracket are not available.
  • Education:  Candidates must have completed a minimum of three years of higher (post-secondary) education by the program’s start date, including years spent in community college.
  • English Language/Background:  Candidates must be native English speakers, & have completed the majority of their elementary, secondary, & university studies in the United States.
  • French Language Skills:  Proficiency in French is a requirement, with a minimum B1 level on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.  While French majors & minors are encouraged to apply, those without such academic backgrounds can still apply, if they have developed a basic proficiency in French (equivalent to 3 semesters of college French), and/or have lived in a French-speaking country.  Language skills are crucial for effective work in the classroom, & for community integration.
  • Supporting Documents:  Applicants need to provide a personal statement in French, & letters of recommendation attesting to their French skills, attitude, & work ethic.  If proof of French courses or access to a French professor for language evaluation is unavailable, applicants can submit scores from standardized French language tests (TCF, TEF, DELF/DALF) through the Alliance Française.  Test results must be available before the application deadline, requiring careful consideration of testing dates.
  • Previous Experience: The selection process favors applicants with previous teaching or work experience with children, adolescents, and/or adults ~ although this isn’t mandatory.  All applicants should demonstrate an interest in education.  Additionally, candidates must possess skills promoting cultural understanding between France & the United States. Prior experience living, working, and/or traveling abroad is beneficial in showcasing this ability, and an appreciation for other cultures.

Tips for Female Travelers Teaching English in France, Girl Who Travels the World

One of TAPIF’s female participants, Kristen Bryk, in front of the Louvre. Photo by International TEFL Academy.

Applications are open from mid-October to mid-January annually, with decisions given in April.  The program offers joint applications, scholarships for graduate teaching certificates, & the opportunity to simultaneously apply for the US Fulbright ETA Program. Additionally, in collaboration with Middlebury Language Schools & Schools Abroad, selected teaching assistants can pursue a Masters of Arts in Applied Languages ~ alongside their 12-hour work contract with TAPIF in Paris.  T

Please click the Schengen Visa for more European details.

Find Your Very Own Vie en Rose

Leaving everything familiar behind to start a new life, & possibly a new career ~ across the pond, is equally exciting & frightening.  But government-sponsored programs can help you make a smooth transition.  If you’re interested, this article can help you understand what TAPIF program is.

I’ve personally been to France more than five times, & often as a solo female traveler.  There are countless articles on this site about my favorite regions in France: from fabulous Paris brunches, to fairy-tale castles in the Loire Valley, & the stunning South of France.  If you’re interested in teaching in France, I encourage you to explore this site for more travel tips & info on traveling in France as a woman.

xoxo Noelia

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