The Teaching Assistant Program in France, also known as TAPIF, is one of the main recruitment channels for US citizens wishing to live and work in France. TAPIF gives applicants the opportunity to spend 7 months working part-time as teaching assistants in France and its overseas territories.
Teachers are expected to work with students of all ages in public schools across France. The aim of the program is to give overseas teachers a chance to experience French culture, whilst providing valuable language support to French nationals. If you’ve always dreamed of living and working in France, then this could be just the ticket.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about applying for the TAPIF program and what to expect if you get accepted.
What are the requirements to teach in the TAPIF program?
The requirements for the French teaching assistant program are quite strict and many people find it difficult to qualify for the program.
The exact requirements are as follows:
- Applicants must be native English speakers
- Applicants must be US citizens. US nationals with a green card can apply, providing they are from one of the TAPIF approved countries. You can find the list here.
- Applicants must be between the ages of 20 and 35
- Applicants must have French Language proficiency (B1 level or above)
- Applicants must have completed at least 3 years of college education
Whilst these are the official requirements provided on the TAPIF website, there are some preferred qualities that could stand you in better stead of being accepted onto the program.
- Holding a TEFL certificate
- Previous experience living abroad
- Teaching experience working with adults or young children
Getting a visa for the TAPIF program
Unfortunately, American nationals often find it hard to get visas to work in France. However, when accepted onto the TAPIF program, teachers can get a TAPIF visa which is a long-stay work visa that allows them to legally teach in France and overseas French territories.
To apply for this visa, teachers must visit their regional VFS office in the USA and secure their long-stay work visas before traveling. The visa process can take anywhere between 1-3 weeks and the program doesn’t cover any costs incurred traveling to and from the visa office.
TAPIF program Salary
Now for the part you’ve all been waiting for, the TAPIF salary. In comparison to teaching jobs in South Korea or China, TAPIF pay is quite low. However, since you are only employed as a teaching assistant, the hours are short, and the job is relatively stress-free.
All in all, the TAPIF salary or ‘stipend’ as they call it is €965/month or €790/month after tax. If you are placed in one of the overseas territories such as French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Réunion the cost of living is slightly higher, therefore the stipend for teachers is increased by 30%-35%.
TAPIF program benefits
Unfortunately, the TAPIF program doesn’t provide a whole lot of benefits. Teachers are expected to fund the cost of travel and the initial period of their stay out of their own pockets. They also don’t receive any financial support for accommodation.
Teachers are provided with healthcare under the French Sécurité Sociale program, but the program organizers strongly advise that teachers take out additional travel insurance policies to cover costs of flying home for treatment or repatriation.
Understanding the TAPIF application process & timeline
The TAPIF application can be completed online at Tapif.org, and you should expect there to be around a year between the time that you send your application and when you move to France to start teaching.
Below is a complete timeline of the application process:
|January||Applications must be completed and sent|
|First two weeks of April||Acceptance emails are sent to successful candidates|
|May||Schools prepare teachers working contracts|
|June/July/August||Working contracts are mailed to teachers and teaching locations are confirmed|
|August/September||Teachers apply for working visa|
|Late September||Teachers travel to teaching location|
|October 1st||Contract begins|
|October||Teachers take part in orientation and begin teaching|
How many people get accepted for the TAPIF program each year?
Although the TAPIF program isn’t that well known (compared to similar programs in Korea, for example), it still receives a lot of applications each year. For the 2018/19 year, the program received 2000 applications for 1100 positions making the TAPIF acceptance rate around 55%.
If you aren’t accepted the first time around, you may also be placed on a waiting list and could be offered a position is somebody drops out, or for the following year.
TAPIF teaching locations
Although TAPIF teachers can specify their preferred location on their application, where you will be placed is up to the program organizers. You may not get placed in your preferred location.
Teachers can be assigned to locations all over the French mainland, and they may also be assigned to positions in the overseas territories of French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Réunion.
What is it like teaching for the TAPIF program?
Now you know everything there is to know about how to apply, let’s take a quick look at what you can expect your life to be like as a TAPIF teacher.
TAPIF teachers are assigned to work 12 hours per week. You may work all of these hours in one school, or you may be expected to split these hours between as many as 3 schools.
Outside of teaching hours, some teachers have been known to take part-time jobs such as babysitting gigs or online teaching jobs, but make sure that these activities are covered by your visa before taking anything on.
As I mentioned earlier in the article, the TAPIF program doesn’t provide any support for teachers when it comes to housing. Due to the relatively low stipend, TAPIF teachers located in large cities often live in shared accommodation or student style housing. In more rural areas, teachers may be able to afford to rent private accommodation.
According to the TAPIF website, the stipend provides teachers enough money to live a regular student lifestyle in cities outside of Paris. Outside of work, teachers can explore the country, improve their language skills and hang out with friends. Teachers placed in rural areas often have a lot more expendable cash and therefore have more opportunities to travel around France and elsewhere in Europe.
After doing some research into the program, I found a range of reviews that went into detail about the good, and the bad parts of working for TAPIF. On the whole, it seems as though many people really enjoyed their time as TAPIF teachers. Michaela from You Had Me at Bonjour taught as a TAPIF teacher in 2017.
She said “Being an assistant is the best choice I ever could have made, and I am so thankful for the experiences I had. As someone who never got to study abroad, it was an amazing opportunity to live and experience all that is France, while at the same time improving my French and diving head-first into a language, culture, and job that I truly love.”
The main negative that most people touched upon was the low salary. Some teachers found it hard to live on. Diane from Oui in France said “Without substantial savings, the salary from TAPIF will not be enough to travel around Europe and take advantage of everything around you. So, save, save, and save some more before you come!” She also mentioned that the schedule and timescales of the program can be limiting.
Overall, it seems like TAPIF is one of the best ways to secure a long-term visa for France as an American. Although the pay isn’t that high, it offers a unique opportunity for anyone wishing to improve their language skills and immerse themselves in French culture.