The English Assistantship is a great way for Anglophones to work in France and gain teaching experience in elementary or secondary schools, without necessarily having a university degree. However, if you are working towards or have a graduate degree and would like to teach English at a university in France, you can apply to be a lecteur/lectrice d’anglais or a maître de langue. The main difference between the two is that maîtres de langue work fewer hours overall (but in courses that usually require more preparation) and get paid more, but this job also requires a higher graduate degree. Previous teaching experience is always a plus, so being an English assistant is a good first step in order to become a lecteur/lectrice or maître de langue in France.
Lecteur/Lectrice d’Anglais Requirements:
- Native or near-native speaker of English
- Completed one year of a Master’s degree
Maître de Langue Requirements:
- Native or near-native speaker of English
- Master’s degree
The requirements for these positions changed in April 2013. The level of graduate study needed has been lowered (previously the lecteur position required a Master’s degree while the maître de langue position required one year of a PhD program).
Exchanges: Most of these positions are filled by students from Anglophone universities that have an exchange with the French university. However, many of these positions remain open because the exchange university has no one to send to France or because the exchange lecturer decides not to come to France after all. For example, Penn State has exchanges with universities in Lyon, Strasbourg and Montpellier and Ilinois Urbana-Champaign has exchanges with universities in Dijon, Metz, Liège, Poitiers and Lyon. For those looking to start graduate degrees soon and eventually teach in France, it might be worthwhile to check out the exchanges available since it’s easier to get a position this way.
Search: To find these jobs if you are not involved in an exchange program, you just need to look at the universities’ websites and see if they have any positions open. Often they are located under recrutement, postes à pourvoir, or emplois either on the main page or for example, on the LEA (Langues Etrangères Appliquées) page. Or if location doesn’t matter, you can simply search google.fr for lecteur de langue or lecteur d’anglais. Some job listings are in English, so you can also search google.com for English lecturer or lectorship.
Applying: Usually all that’s required to apply is your CV and lettre de motivation (both in French), but you may need to send your university degrees as well as their certified translations in French as well. Some universities do interviews, while others hire directly from the CVs.
Deadline: Many universities require you to apply in the winter to start in the fall of the next year (either September 1st or October 1st), but some have much later application dates. I’ve seen anywhere from December 21 to June 15. If you find a job listing that is past the application deadline, you can still send your CV anyway in case the job is still open. The job I applied for had a deadline of March 15, and I sent my CV in June, so you really never know!
Visa: You do not normally need to already have the right to work in France, as most universities will provide you with the paperwork to obtain a work visa. Of course, this means paying for a return ticket home if you are already in France. Some universities specify in their job listings that they require EU citizenship or valid working papers.
Hours: Lecteurs work 300 hours of travaux pratiques (TP) per year, or possibly 200 hours of TP and 100 hours of travaux dirigés (TD). TP is generally labs/workshops/testing or other classes that require very little preparation, while TD refers to actual lectures, which obviously require more preparation. Maîtres de langue work 288 hours of TP or 192 hours of TD. For lecteur/lectrice positions, you should not be asked to work more than 100 TD hours per year. Some universities have been hiring lecteurs and forcing them to work 200 TD hours so they only have to pay the lecteur salary instead of the maître de langue salary. In January 2014, Heike Romoth published an article in SNESUP (page 17 in the PDF) criticizing this illegal practice. The official décret states that “Les lecteurs de langue étrangère assurent un service annuel en présence des étudiants de 300 heures de travaux pratiques. Leur service peut comporter des travaux dirigés sans que leur nombre d’heures annuelles de travaux dirigés puisse être supérieur à 100.” If you are hired as a lecteur/lectrice, please make sure the university is not trying to take advantage of you. This has been a problem particularly at universities in and around Paris.
Length: 12 months – with paid vacations, of course, including July & August when you most likely won’t have to work at all. Supposedly, you can renew once if you are not from an exchange university, and twice if you are – but it is possible in some cases to work longer. You just need to ask the right people. Note that if you are not doing the exchange, you can only do two years total of either position (two years as a lecteur/lectrice or two years as a mâitre de langue) OR a combination of one year each (one year as a lecteur/lectrice and one year as a maître de langue). If you’ve already worked two years as a lecteur/lectrice, then you cannot be hired as a maître de langue for another two years.
Salary: Lecteurs earn about 1,210 € net each month [indice brut 340], while maîtres earn about 1,550 € net per month [indice brut 482].
Departments: If you are hired in the language department of your university, you’ll probably be working with strictly English classes. If you are hired in other departments, you may be working with a number of different disciplines and the English jargon required for them, i.e. medicine, law, engineering, etc. You may or may not have to create the curriculum. Each university is different, so there is no one job description that fits each position. Just as with the English assistantship, it all depends on your school and what they need.
For jobs available in 2014, I will continue to update this post with any new listings that I find.