English language assistants in France FAQ

Here are some frequently asked questions about the language assistant programme, visa applications for assistants and administrative procedures.

1. Can I reduce the duration and/or change the dates of my contract?

No, the program requires a commitment for the whole school year, from October 1 through to April 30. The contract cannot be adjusted to suit candidates’ needs.

2. Can I study while working as an assistant?

Yes, it is possible for you to study while working as an assistant. However please bear in mind that your position as a language teaching assistant must remain your priority.

3. Can I undertake an unpaid internship while doing the program?

No, this is not possible. There are no unpaid internships in France as French law requires all interns to receive a stipend. Furthermore, your visa does not allow you to undertake any other work apart from that of your position as an assistant.

4. Can I undertake other work while doing the program?

No, this is impossible. Your visa does not allow you to undertake any other work apart from that of your position as an assistant.

5. Should I get travel insurance?

The French Sécurité Sociale will only provide medical coverage while you are in France; it will not cover you for travel undertaken outside of France. You are encouraged to take out travel insurance for the duration of the programme to cover you for loss or theft of property, car accidents, missed flights, etc.

6. What about healthcare – will I be receiving medical cover?

As a teaching assistant, you will be entitled to France’s medical cover (Sécurité sociale, or Sécu). You are covered by the French Sécurité Sociale (medical cover) only from the start date of your contract until the end of the assistantship period. Before the start of the contract and after its end, you are responsible for your own medical cover. Private and international medical cover is strongly recommended.

7. When will I know when the orientation session is held?

The dates for the orientation sessions are published on the CIEP’s website. The date of your orientation session will be communicated to you along with your Arrêté de Nomination.

8. I am a student and I plan to study while working as an assistant. Can I apply for a student visa and work as an assistant on that visa?

No, working as an assistant is impossible on any other type of visa except the one you are required to obtain. You must apply for the relevant visa.

9. When should I book a visa appointment?

For an overview of the visa application process, read our visa and travel information section.

Please be aware that you your appointment at the Consulate General in Wellington must take place within the three months prior to commencement of your contract (i.e. from 1 July to 30 September in the year of your posting). It is strongly advised to book a visa appointment as soon as one becomes available within the three month period as they are often quickly booked out and the Embassy is unable to organise emergency visa appointments.

10. I’m having trouble booking a visa appointment at the Consulate General of France in Wellington. It seems that there are no slots available. What can I do?

Please remain patient. It is advised that you check the Consulate website every day as cancellations of appointments are frequent. Even if you cannot get an appointment until the start of September, this will give you enough time to get your visa and arrive in France for the orientation session.

11. Do I have to go to the French Embassy in Wellington to lodge my visa application?

Yes, it is absolutely essential that all visa applications be lodged in person at the French Embassy in Wellington with all the required documents. Applications sent by post mail will not be accepted.

12. I only have a New Zealand passport but I will be overseas when my Arrêté de Nomination arrives, can I apply to a French Consulate outside New Zealand?

Experience has shown that come July or August some people get itchy feet and do a bit of travelling before taking up their assistant position. This is all very well if you have a valid passport from a member country of the European Union because you do not need a visa to work in France. However if you do not have an EU passport, please apply for your visa in person at the French Embassy in New Zealand. Do not attempt to take up your assistant position in France without your long stay visa.

Please be aware that if you do not follow this advice, appeals for the Embassy to intervene with the Consulate will be disregarded.

13. I have a New Zealand passport and a passport from a member country of the European Union - do I need a Visa?

No, you will not be required to obtain a Visa as you are a European Union passport holder, and will be able to use it in order to work in France, and travel to other member countries of the European Union.

14. Do I really need to have a return ticket? And does it need to be a return ticket from France to New Zealand?

Yes, this is essential. The visa section will not issue you a visa without this. Should you wish to travel after your contract, we suggest that you book a flexible ticket.

We recommend that you leave any leisure travel until after your assignment. You must bear in mind that you will need your visa before you go and that you cannot apply for your visa more than three months before the start of your contract.

16. Can I travel after my contract ends?

Should you wish to remain in France after the end of your contract, or within the Schengen Zone, please note that your are able to do so for a maximum of 90 days as a tourist, only if you have exited (to the UK for example) the Schengen Zone beforehand. Make sure that the French Authorities stamp your passport on the way out as well as on the way back in.

Warning: as a tourist, you are not permitted to work.

See our visas and travel information section for more information about travelling in France and Europe.

17. Can I change academies/schools?

Once you have been appointed to an académie (Regional Education Authority) and a school, it is impossible to change.

18. Can I extend my contract for another year?

While it is impossible to automatically extend your contract for another year, it is possible for you to apply to take part in the program again (see the CIEP’s website for further information). We will then endeavour to appoint you to the same school(s) again.

19. I have received my Arrêté de Nomination early, and have written to the school but no one has replied.

Don’t worry, this is normal. Keep in mind that a lot of people in France are on summer holidays in July-August. Please remain patient; the school will get back to you at the start of the school year in September.

20. I don’t know anyone in France: will finding accommodation be difficult?

Don’t worry. Your host school is used to having assistants and your colleagues will assist you with finding suitable accommodation. Some schools even provide accommodation for their assistants.

21. I have practically no teaching experience: how will I manage the classes?

In very few circumstances will you be required to teach alone, and in any case there will always be help within the school or from the Inspector of Education at the Rectorate of your Académie.

For further information about the assistantship programme, see our FAQs or see the Guide de l’Assistant (in French) and the English translation of the ‘Before Leaving’ section. If after reading these resources you still have unanswered questions about the assistantship programme, please write to: cooperation.wellington-amba@diplomatie.gouv.fr

Dernière modification : 09/10/2019

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