Last year, I was an English lectrice at l’Université de Bourgogne in Dijon, France (yes, where the mustard is from haha). If you’re not familiar with the term, a lecteur/lectrice d’anglais (male/female) is basically a university lecturer. It’s common for French universities to hire native anglophones to teach English classes, and it’s a great way for anglophones to get a job in France. Most lecteurs teach conversation classes, but they might also teach translation, grammar, and other topics in English.
In a post I wrote last year on what it’s like to be an English lectrice, I briefly discussed how I got my lectrice d’anglais position, but the post was mostly dedicated to what the job itself is like. This time, I thought it might be helpful to focus on the application process.
In this post, I’ll be sharing some of the different ways you can land the English lecteur role. Since I applied through a university partnership, I’m not well-versed in the process for independent candidates. So, I invited a friend (actually made through blogging!) to share some of her insights at the end of this post.
A big thank you to Hallie (who’s a lectrice in Corsica this year) for answering my questions on applying independently, and for the stunning photos of Corsica!
How is being an English Lecteur different from TAPIF?
Before I dive into the application process, I want to clarify the differences between being a lecteur vs. a TAPIF assistant. The Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF) is probably the most popular way for anglophones to get English-teaching jobs in France. There are some pretty significant differences between being a TAPIF assistant and an English lecteur/lectrice though. Here are some of the main ones:
- TAPIF is only for elementary through secondary school, while lecteurs teach at a university level
- Lecteurs tend to lead their courses independently, while TAPIF assistants are in the classroom to support the main teacher
- The pay for TAPIF is 790 euros/month after taxes, while lecteurs are paid 1220 euros/month (both work ~10-15 hours/week)
- TAPIF contracts are 7 months, while lecteur contracts are one year
- You must pay around $80 to apply to TAPIF, while applying to lecteur positions is free
- TAPIF assistants apply to a certain region and can be placed anywhere in that territory, while lecteurs apply to a specific university
As a former lectrice, I’m probably biased haha, but a lecteur d’anglais job does have many more perks than TAPIF. I will say that TAPIF probably is more “chill” than being a lecteur, as you’re not responsible for your own courses, so you likely spend less time planning courses. The process of moving to France can also be more streamlined if you go through a recognized program, especially when it comes to getting a visa and setting up health insurance
If you’re willing to take on the greater independence of a lecteur, I would definitely recommend these positions over TAPIF (of course, you can still apply to TAPIF to increase your chances of getting a job in France). While I can’t say the job is all rainbows and unicorns (French university students are notoriously unmotivated), it’s a great chance to lead your own classes, you get ample vacation time, and you’re paid all 12 months, even during the summer break.
How to Become an English Lecteur / Lectrice in France
Now that I’ve made that TAPIF vs. lecteur d’anglais clarification, here are the two main ways to land a university teaching role.
1. Apply through a school partnership, or leverage your connections
This is the path I took, as my school (Amherst College) has a partnership with l’Université de Bourgogne in Dijon. Every year, a master’s student from Dijon comes to teach French at Amherst, and a graduated senior from Amherst goes to teach English in Dijon.
It’s not uncommon for French universities to have teaching fellowship exchanges with anglophone schools. This definitely simplifies the process, as you’ll be applying directly to your school’s French department, and they’re in charge of selection.
For my school, I was asked to create a sample syllabus for a course on American Culture and Civilization. The syllabus needed to be in French, as our language skills were also taken into account. Other universities have different selection processes, which might be more or less involved. In some cases, you might have to do an interview (which I didn’t have to), or the application could be as simple as submitting a resume. To read more about my college’s selection process, see my post on what it’s like to be an English lectrice.
One big perk of going through an established partnership is that students from your school have already been lecteurs/lectrices, so they’re able to offer you advice. I messaged a couple former lectrices several times during my year in Dijon, whether it was about getting visas, or paying taxes. The French university’s HR department is also familiar with all the administrative steps you need to take, so they can advise you as well.
Schools with partnerships also tend to have not just one, but a team of English lecteurs, and a dedicated supervisor for that group. There were 5 lectrices in my year, from the US, UK, and Canada. Our supervisor was really helpful, and also sent us a detailed document of what to expect before we arrived, written by him and previous lecteurs.
If your college has a partnership, absolutely take advantage of that and apply. If your school doesn’t, you can still try to leverage your connections. Ask your French professors if they know any English professors in France—their departments might be seeking English lecteurs, and having a mutual connection will likely give you an advantage in the application process.
If your college doesn’t have a partnership, and your network doesn’t give you any leads, then you’ll need to apply as an independent candidate. Even if your school has a partnership, you can still apply independently to other French universities—this can boost your overall odds of getting a lecteur job, and it allows you to be more selective about the region you’ll be teaching in (in a pre-existing partnership, the school/region is already decided).
2. Apply as an independent candidate
This is a more complicated process, and one I have no experience in—which is why I asked my friend Hallie to answer some questions for this post.
As a quick intro, Hallie is currently a lectrice in Corte, Corsia. She’s originally from The Berkshires in Massachusetts, and she went to college at Bryn Mawr in Pennsylvania. While she originally thought she’d major in East Asian Language and Culture, she became convinced to major in French after more and more classes with the inspiring professors of the BMC French Department (and lured by the macarons and croissants at department meetings). You can follow along her adventures in Corsica on her instagram.
Here’s what Hallie had to tell us:
How did you find the lectrice position? Was it posted on the university’s website, or did you reach out to someone specifically?
My French professor had a friend working at the University of Corsica. His friend informed him that the university was looking for English lecturers for the next term and would be hiring in the spring. However, the information was also released publicly on the university’s official website. For those interested in a job as a lecturer, I would certainly recommend browsing the Careers page of different university websites.
How did you decide where to go geographically? How about which universities to apply to?
At university, I was fascinated by the isolated island of Corsica and wrote my thesis about the grim tradition of “la vendetta” in Corsican culture. Upon graduating, I was determined to live and work in Corsica, France. There is only one university on the island, and so the options were fairly clear. Had the position at the University of Corisca not worked out, I would have taken a TAPIF position in Corsica. One of my close friends works for TAPIF in the city of Ajaccio and is loving the experience and adventure.
What sort of qualifications do you need (degrees, language fluency)? What was the application and interview process like?
Be ready to translate your resume, cover letter, and possibly diploma into French (note from Lily: most lecteur positions only require a Bachelor’s, though some may ask for more schooling). Even though I teach English, I’ve found that it certainly helps to have an intermediate level of French to be able to communicate with coworkers, bosses, as well as tackle (the seemingly endless) official documents in French.
I started searching for jobs in early Spring, and heard back in April. There was no interview, but that depends on the university. My friend who is also a lecturer at the college did not have an interview either, but did show proof of his experience teaching in France (with TAPIF) the previous year.
How many positions did you apply to?
I applied to the lectrice position at the University of Corsica as well as the TAPIF position, both in Corsica.
What was the visa process like as a lectrice who applied independently/without an affiliated university?
Basically, there was very little information about specific position of lectrice, and even the people at the visa offices were confused by my position. The embassy has outsourced the processing of visa applications to a company called VFS Global, which meant that the application took extra time and had to go through extra vetting processes. While the embassy is used to processing the TAPIF applications, a lectrice position is not the same, so I couldn’t apply as a TAPIF assistant. (Note from Lily: the visa you should be getting is travailleur temporaire, but this frequently confuses the visa people, as TAPIF has a different visa.)
Also, having a work contract is simply not enough to make your case (even a contract signed by the president of your university!). You need an official document from the DIRRECTE of the region (in my case Haute Corse) recognizing your status and allowing you to work in France. My visa was rejected twice because of insufficient documents (work contract as well as a stamped letter from the DIRECCTE and an OFII form.) In retrospect, I’d certainly suggest starting the visa process ASAP because in June/July many people take their vacation and are not in the office to process official documents.
Anything else you want to add?
Don’t accept the job expecting the position to solely be a teaching assistant position. My friend and I were hired as full time professors (with a lectrice’s salary), since the university needed English professors to fill the job and work overtime. Frequently we’re working about 20-30 hours per week in class, not to mention grading and drawing up lesson plans. Make sure you know exactly how many hours you will be working, and let them know if you’re comfortable working over time.
Note from Lily: This is definitely different from my situation, as I worked 10-15 hours/week. We had the chance to work extra hours, but we were allowed to decline them. If you apply independently, you might be more likely to be asked to work overtime (but of course get paid extra for it). You’re very well compensated for overtime though—around 30 euros/hour after taxes. You don’t see this extra pay until the end of your contract, however. Just make sure that if you work overtime, you get paid for it. I’ve heard that some universities try to take advantage of lecteurs and make them do extra work for the same pay.
The bottom line (back to me, Lily)
Basically, you can expect the process to require more agency on your end, if you apply independently vs. through a partnership. At the same time, you get to choose which universities you want to apply to (and which region you want to live in), which is a huge plus. While I ended up liking Dijon a lot, I didn’t have the freedom to pick a specific university/region because my college’s partnership was with l’Université de Bourgogne specifically.
A big thank you again to Hallie for taking the time to answer my questions! All the photos in this post were taken by her, so check out her instagram if you liked the shots.
I hope you found this post helpful; if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments!