In my opinion, applying for TAPIF has to be one of the most onerous application processes that I have ever experienced. And given that there is an entire Facebook group full of comments and complaints on the subject, I’m inclined to believe that others would agree. Though the TAPIF experience was worth the effort, that doesn’t detract from how complicated it is to apply.

The main reason it’s so difficult lies with the method of application itself. Every year, or every few years, that method changes. When I first applied for the programme in 2018, the method was a PDF application form with supporting documents attached separately in an email. Two years later when I applied again, there was still a PDF application form, however the supporting documents had to be attached to that PDF as one file. This year, applying to renew my contract, the new method of application is a platform called ADELE. Though it sounds as if every year introduces a new technological upgrade, thus solving the previous method’s problems, I would argue that each new method introduced it’s own unique issues.

As a result, this post won’t focus on how to complete the application because I can’t possibly anticipate the next iteration of the application. However, I can speak to the information applicants are expected to provide because that has remained (mostly) constant.


Before I delve into that, it’s important to skim over the eligibility criteria, which will inform some of the information and documents you’ll be expected to provide. Please verify the requirements with the France Education International (FEI) website and your local French embassy for any country-specific requirements, but to summarize:

  • Native speakers of the language they will teach in France;
  • Nationals of the country from which the application is being made (and that country being a partner country of this programme);
  • Aged between 20 and 30 (35 for certain countries, including Jamaica);
  • Enrolled in or recent graduates of tertiary studies
  • Completed at least the second year of a bachelor’s degree – known as an L2 in the French education system;
  • Possess a French level equivalent to B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

The first section of the application where you enter personal details will be inputting information which demonstrates your eligibility. And attach the supporting documents which attest to this such as language tests, your degree or transcripts, your passport.

At this point I want to go off on a short tangent for those of you reading who are interested in applying, yet don’t feel they are the traditional candidate for the programme. As a self-proclaimed untraditional candidate who was accepted into the programme TWICE, I can attest to the fact that once you’ve met the education and language requirements, your differences from the traditional candidate probably won’t matter. The traditional candidate to me is one who holds a humanities degree and studied French (or something languages-adjacent) at university. However, not following that path neither improved nor impaired my chance of acceptance, even though at the time it felt like it did. Therefore, if you’re in a similar situation, I encourage you to apply because you may have a better chance of acceptance than you’re giving yourself credit for.


Afterwards,the ‘fun’ part of the application begins choosing your Académie (school district)- the part of France that you want to be assigned to – a task which involves staring at a map of France and fantasizing. Jamaicans have their pick of mainland France, the French Caribbean, Réunion and Mayotte. Obviously, it’s not for me to say where the best place to go is or what your experience will be like when you get there. You may decide on a department in the north because you want to see snow, or somewhere south because you hate the cold. Maybe you want to live somewhere in the east because that department likely borders other European countries that you want to visit. Or you want to stay in the West Indies because everything is familiar and close by. I’ve heard good and bad experiences from all over France. Not to mention, once you’ve been assigned to an Académie, there’s no telling which town within that Académie you’ll be assigned to. Case in point, I was assigned to the Académie de Caen, yet the school I was assigned to was in a small resort town by the beach which was an hour and a half away from Caen. In later posts, I plan to expound on what that experience was like, but the point is that there is little, if any, correlation between your Académie and your experience. Hence, take everyone’s experience with a grain of salt, I type ironically. Additionally, while you choose your top 3 Académies to be assigned to, it’s possible that you are sent somewhere that you didn’t choose, because that happened to me. In spite of that, I had the best time of my life at the school I was assigned to and couldn’t imagine being placed elsewhere. Wherever you end up, aim to do your best and have the best time of your life because the experience that you have is more dependent on you more so than your location.


Likewise, you’ll be expected to pick what level of schooling you want to teach; primary school or secondary school (but you can’t choose grade levels or between collège and lycée for secondary school). Again, there is no right answer here and the only advice I can give is “know thyself”. Speaking for myself, I picked secondary school because I don’t have the patience for screaming children. Reflecting on this choice at the end of my contract, I can add that because of their age, teenagers are more relatable, you can speak to them on a more mature (but professional) level and they are likely to warm up to you because you aren’t much older than they are and they don’t see you as a full-blown adult and authority figure as they do their teachers. On the other hand, teaching French teenagers came with a different set of problems that I would have never had if I taught primary school, such as a lack of enthusiasm. However, primary school children would have been enthusiastic to the point of being disruptive. As you can see, there’s no perfect situation, and you just have to pick your battles.


You’re also required to provide a recommendation from a French teacher; ideally one who can evaluate your current French level and propose why you would be a good fit for the programme.


If the fun part of the application was choosing your Académie, then the contrasting miserable part of the application is the skills and motivation letter section(s). Unless of course you’re a narcissist or have previously ironed out your personal narrative for job interviews, in which case talking about yourself in this section may be the best part of the application. You’re prompted to list and elaborate on some of your skills, whether it be the sciences, social sciences or some aspect of the arts. A difficult task for one who either lacks self-awareness or is self-deprecating, much like myself. Finally, you have to write a motivation letter – in both English and French. As much as this blog aims to give advice on how to improve your chances of being accepted, I find this part extremely difficult (I’m self-deprecating, remember?). Nevertheless, here are a few prompts that I try to keep in mind:

  • Why do you want to participate?
  • What can you bring to the programme/classroom as an assistant?
  • What are you hoping to gain from the experience?

Honestly, I’m not sure whether there is a right answer to writing a motivation letter, but the keyword is motivation.

And then, submit your application before the deadline. Which you should double check because it tends to be a moving target.


For first-time candidates, if you’ve been short-listed you will be invited to do an interview. Thankfully, renewing assistants don’t. The interview takes place in French and English (but mostly English). And the jury will ask questions meant to assess your suitability for the programme, your language skills, your ability to live on your own and your teaching/tutoring/activity facilitator experience. I recall going into my interview a nervous wreck, misinterpreting questions, jumbling words and then kicking myself when it was over. Thankfully, the jury expects everyone to be nervous. Similar to a job interview, it also helps to have some of your own questions about the programme and what being a language assistant entails (even if you’ve read this blog and I’ve answered all of your questions).

And then you wait. Hopefully after Easter you’ll be the proud recipient of an email with the subject CONGRATULATIONS.