Master MEEF Anglais : FAQ

A little while ago I posted about how I became a teacher via the CAPES / CAFEP concours, and mentioned that part of my preparation included a Master program called the MEEF Anglais (Métiers de l’enseignement, de l’éducation, et de la formation). My goal in this post is to give prospective students an honest account of my experience in the MEEF so that they can evaluate whether or not this program fits their objectives.

As its name implies, the Master MEEF is designed for future teachers. However, although I’ve never completed a Master of Education or a teacher licensing program in the States, I feel pretty confident saying that that the French MEEF is quite unlike most American M. Eds…

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself here, let’s start with some basics…

EDIT : In 2021, the format of the concours changed, as did the organisation of the MEEF. Some of the info in this article is slightly outdated or inaccurate as a result. I’ve done my best to update based on what I know about the reform.

Table of Contents :

  1. WHO can enroll in the MEEF ?
  2. WHAT exactly is the MEEF Anglais ? What do you study ?
  3. HOW did the 2021 reform change the contents of the MEEF ?
  4. WHERE can I do the MEEF ?
  5. WHY should I do the MEEF ? What are the advantages / disadvantages ?
  6. A few other Frequently Asked Questions about the MEEF :

WHO can enroll in the MEEF ?

The MEEF Anglais is destined for prospective teachers, and more specifically, teachers who want to work in secondary schools under the Education Nationale. It’s not really suited for people who just have a casual interest in education, or for people who would prefer teaching adults or university students.

It doesn’t have strict requirements in terms of previous studies. While some programs require candidates to have done their undergrad in a specific subject, the MEEF is open to people from any discipline. The only limit is on the number of seats that are available. Our program advisors told us that they were especially looking for candidates with the most potential to succeed on the concours (it looks great for their stats to be able to say 80% of students passed the written exams, for example)

To that end, the best ways to make your application competitive are to highlight any teaching experience you already have (assistantship, tutoring, etc), play up the fact that you’re a native speaker passionate about teaching English, and to state clearly that your objective is to become an English teacher in French secondary schools.

In theory, students of any nationality can enroll in the MEEF, but I have heard reports that certain public universities (notably Bordeaux) have stopped accepting non-EU candidates, and are only taking candidates who are eligible for the CAPES public school concours. Many public unis do still take non-EU students, so don’t despair !

WHAT exactly is the MEEF Anglais ? What do you study ?

So, the biggest reason I say that the MEEF is not equivalent to an American teaching degree is because about 95% of the first year is exclusively dedicated to test prep for the concours. This is great news if you are certain about your choice to take the concours. It’s less great if you’re unsure how committed you are to a teaching career or if you’re unsure for how long you want to stay in France.

In the first year of the Master, we had around 35 hours of class per week, Mondays-Fridays. The majority of my classes were taken in the Anglophone Studies department and covered topics like translation, linguistics, American and British civilization, and American and British literature.

My expectation when reading the course titles was that they would be like survey classes, with a reading list, class discussions etc. but in reality, every single class was formatted with the concours in mind. Every week, we were given short literary passages or primary and secondary source documents to analyse, texts to translate, all following the structure of the exam. During the analysis, the professors often went on tangents to explain certain concepts more in depth, or to highlight the literary/historical context of a certain excerpt, but the main goal was to provide us with a maximum of practice tests to be ready for the written exams of the concours.

This really disappointed me at first, to be honest. It was frustrating and unsatisfying to feel like everything was just being taught “for the test.” I especially missed the more innovative and stimulating teaching methods I was used to from the US. But as time went on and the concours became less of an abstract entity and more of a concrete goal, I eventually came to appreciate this style of working. I ultimately felt extremely well-prepared for the exams as a result of the constant repetition and practice.

Alongside these “test-prep” classes, about 70% of which were taught in English, we also had some courses that were more specific to the teaching profession (taught almost exclusively in French). For example, we had classes on the legal framework and history of the French education system, cognitive learning processes and psychological development, basic computer skills and incorporating technology into the classroom, and of course methods for foreign language teaching. These were meant to give us some foundational knowledge in important teaching concepts and I did learn a lot about the specifics of the French education system and some important foreign language education basics, although there was a lot more emphasis on theory rather than practical application.

The final component of MEEF is a series of observation periods, where we were placed in a school to observe a mentor teacher, discover the daily life of an actual teacher, and even give a lesson or two. I really really appreciated these student teaching placements, even though they were short, because they reminded me that, yes, I do actually love teaching and being in schools, and yes there is a reason I’m putting myself through this challenging process !! I had a lovely mentor teacher who shared a ton of practical resources with me and really helped me make connections between theory and practice.

EDIT : The 2021 reform has changed the amount of observation/student teaching hours done before the concours : Candidates now cannot take the concours unless they have TWO years of Masters study, instead of 1. During the first year of the MEEF you prepare for the concours, and during the second year you continue your preparations while also doing several hours of observation and student teaching

Up until 2020, the timeline has usually looked like this : You take the concours during your M1 (first year of Masters). –>

If you pass the concours you move onto the second year – the M2A – in which you work part time as a student teacher and take classes and prepare a Masters thesis for the other part of your time. During this year you are paid a full-time salary (around 1,400 euro/month after taxes).

If you don’t pass the concours on your first try, then you can either redo the M1 or move onto the M2B, which is an adapted track in which you continue preparing for the concours, complete a student teaching placement of 8 weeks instead of just 4, and also write a Masters thesis.

In my case, I was lucky enough to pass the concours on the first try (🥳) and so the following year I received a 10-hour placement in a French high school. I go more into detail about the student teaching aspect in my post about the concours. I taught three days a week and went to classes two days a week.

Because I’m not a European citizen, I took the private school version of the concours (the CAFEP). As a result, I was more or less required to transfer to a private university (ISFEC) for my student teaching/second year of classes. Since public school teachers have a special “public servant” status, the seats at the public university (INSPE) are reserved for them.

Post-reform, it seems this change is no longer required in many universities !! And a good thing too, because my year at ISFEC turned out to be one of the biggest disappointments of the entire two-year experience. The training offered by the private university was, to be blunt, awful. To be fair, I don’t think it was lightyears better in the public uni, but from what I heard from my friends who stayed there, they had training in so many different topics that we simply did not get at my school. The program seemed extremely disorganized, there were absurd technical difficulties that resulted in us missing dozens of hours of specific training in the beginning of the semester when we needed it the most. The thesis research felt like a total afterthought and lacked real academic integrity… basically it was an extremely disappointing experience that only seemed to add more pressure and more useless assignments than it did teach me to be a better teacher.

That being said, I did become a better teacher in that year : we had a very small handful of dynamic and helpful professors, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time… We had some classes specific to teaching English – the English student teachers were a small cohort of around 8 or 9. However, the majority of our classes were with the larger cohort of all 50 or so student teachers from all different subjects. As a result, the training felt a little bit less personalized, but at the same time it was interesting to meet and discuss teachers of other disciplines as well.

These “transversal” classes were on subjects like classroom management and differentiation, students with learning differences, communication with parents and admin, interdisciplinary projects, using technology in the classroom, etc. Again, sounds good on paper, but in practice lacked depth, examples of practical application, and especially lacked innovation and research.

During the M2, I learned so much from my own students, my mentor teacher at the high school where I worked, and from my classmates. It was a year of feeling like I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and few people to ask for help. Luckily I made it through, and though I still feel somewhat like I have no idea what I’m doing (lol), I’ve also gained a lot of confidence in the process.

(I will just add that my poor experience is specific to the ISFEC in Toulouse… I have heard much more positive reviews of other ISFECs around France, particularly ISFEC Paris, which would appear to have its sh*t together much more than Toulouse does…But I would also say that in general, ALL student teachers, private and public, tend to be underwhelmed and unsatisfied by the teacher training process as a whole…)

HOW did the 2021 reform change the contents of the MEEF ?

I addressed the biggest change in the edits throughout this article, but I’ll try to sum them up as best as I can. Keep in mind that I don’t have personal experience with this version of the MEEF, so this info is based on friends’ experiences and official documents.

The new format of the MEEF generally ressembles the following schema :

M1 → classes in literature, civilisation, linguistics, pedagogy (all test prep and methodology oriented) + 3-6 weeks of observation in the field. Some universities have students begin (or even complete) their thesis research during the first year as well, to lighten the world load during the second year.

M2 → continue test prep courses with reinforced emphasis on teaching skills and pedagogy. The student teaching is much more consequential, and there are several “formulas” students can choose between.

SPA : stage de pratique accompagné.

This is sort of the standard student teaching model, where you spend several hours observing a mentor teacher, and also teach some lesson plans while the mentor observes and gives feedback. The student teacher will usually spend 2-3 days in the school over several months. There is a very small stipend for this type of stage (around 100 euros/month). My acquaintances currently in the MEEF have said that universities are really pushing (or in some cases even requiring) students to choose this type of stage.

Stage en Alternance.

This more closely ressembles the type of stage that I did (described in more detail here) because you are given full responsibility for a certain number of hours (around 6/week), and work part-time teaching while completing courses and preparing for the concours. Because of the higher commitment, these stagiaires are paid a stipend of around 700 euro/month (basically highway robbery, but that’s a post for another time !) It seems like this type of stage is more popular for future school admin/counselors/librarians rather than classroom teachers, probably in part because of how complicated it must be to find enough placements.

Before the end of the M2, students must not only pass their courses, but also write and defend their thesis. In March of the M2 year, they take the written exams for the concours. If successful, the oral exams are between May and July. A very busy two years for sure !!!

WHERE can I do the MEEF ?

There are MEEF programs in every region in France. The public institution that is responsible for them is called the INSPE (Institut National Superieur du Professoriat et de l’Education) and the private Catholic institutions are ISFEC (Institut Superieur de Formation de l’Enseignement Catholique). I highly recommend you Google search “MEEF Anglais + name of your fav académie to find out where the schools are located.

I completed my M1 at the INSPE in Toulouse (which has a partnership with the Université de Toulouse Jean Jaurès), and the M2 at ISFEC Midi-Pyrénées, also in Toulouse.

Although there are MEEFs all around France, I do encourage prospective candidates to put some thought into WHERE in France they ultimately want to end up… This is because, once you become a student teacher, you MUST stay in the same region where you took the concours. For example, I took the concours in Toulouse, so I was required to do my student teaching in the Toulouse region. If I had wanted to move to a different region, I would have had to wait 1 or maybe even 2 years.

So in that sense, committing to a MEEF Anglais program and taking the concours, is a potential commitment to staying in that region for a minimum of 2 years, perhaps even longer.

It may also be helpful to note that because ISFECs are a much smaller institution than the public INSPE, not all of them have enough professors for every subject… so you may have to travel a few times per semester to a neighboring (or not so neighboring) city for certain classes… It should also be noted that your student teaching placement can be anywhere in the region. You could be a situation where you’re attending class twice a week in Toulouse, but teaching three times a week in Rodez, or Colomiers, or Montauban (cities between 30 mins and 2 hours away…) so it’s likely that you’ll have to factor a fair amount of commuting into your year (and your budget!).

WHY should I do the MEEF ? What are the advantages / disadvantages ?

I have corresponded with a dozens of language assistants who are looking to extend their time in France and take advantage of the low cost of higher education, wondering if the MEEF will help them get teaching work. My general advice is if you are 145% sure that you want to take the concours, that you want to stay in France for at least 5 years or longer, that you want to work full time in a French school, then the MEEF is a great option ! I genuinely feel that the first year prepared me extremely well for the exam. While I wish it had been more rigorous and had more emphasis on practical application, I learned the essentials that I needed to get myself started in the Education Nationale and the teaching field in general.

If you aren’t super sure about the concours, wanting to teach teenagers, or staying in France for the long term, but you like the idea of teaching…. Don’t do the MEEF. A teacher training program like CELTA or a TEFL certificate will make you competitive for teaching jobs in the private sector and will be more easily transferrable to other countries. If you have your heart set on a French master but are undecided on the concours, you could do something like Etudes Anglophones, Sciences de Langue, Sciences de l’Education or any other subject that interests you… the door to take the concours is always open, no matter what subject you end up studying.

I don’t regret studying in the MEEF program by any means, the M1 prepared me exceptionally well for the concours, and the M2 was sort of like a necessary evil, a means to an end if you will. Ultimately, this program got me quickly to where I wanted to be. It was an extremely intense two years, and one I honestly don’t recommend unless you have 100% certainty and conviction that it’s for you. Having done the MEEF gave me a slight advantage over other concours candidates because I was well-prepared, received constant feedback, and was able to meet people in the field. It would have been an even bigger learning curve if I had to prepare for the different exams and for my first year of teaching independently.

The MEEF does have some downsides though, in my opinion. As a whole, the program was sort of unsatisfying from an intellectual point of view… I sometimes daydream about going back to school to do actual research rather than just test prep. And while it’s true that I could have gotten here in multiple different ways, at the end of the day, the MEEF allowed me to jumpstart a teaching career, to build a stronger network of friends and colleagues in France, and start to build a long-term plan for staying in the country.

A few other Frequently Asked Questions about the MEEF :

  1. Is it possible to work and complete the MEEF at the same time ? Short answer, yes. Long answer, it’s logistically possible, at least in the first year. Most of my professors didn’t take attendance, and some of my classmates even had special contracts stating that they were ‘allowed’ to miss class because of job commitments. But it’ll be hard and you’ll have to do A LOT of work outside of class. One of the hardest things in preparing for the concours is understanding the very particular French methodologies, and how they expect you to write essays etc, and I think I would personally have had a hard time learning this on my own. The many hours spent in class practicing these methods were extremely helpful and made me that much more confident when it came to the concours itself. Also keep in mind that your final grades are based on a sigle written or oral exam taken in the semester, so if you’ve missed a lot of class and haven’t been able to catch up sufficiently on your own, then you could be facing some unpleasant surprises at the end of the semester…
  2. Is the MEEF / the concours useful if I go back home / move to another country ? I don’t really know the official answer to this… I’m sure it would help you get on a fast-track to state licensure in certain U.S. states, but on its own, I don’t think it would be the equivalent of a U.S. teaching license. You’d obviously have to check that with your state’s DOE. The concours could, however, help you teach in any of the official “lycée français” which are French schools governed by the Education Nationale throughout the world. I believe Quebec also recognizes the CAPES as an official teaching certification.
  3. Do I have to do the MEEF if I want to take the concours ? Nope ! Anyone with the equivalent of a Masters degree in any subject at all can take the concours ! Read more about concours eligibility here.
  4. Can I teach in schools without dong the MEEF or the concours ? Yes ! You could apply to work as a short-term substitute teacher (called contractuel or suppléant) in either public or Catholic schools. Placements can be anywhere from a week or two to a full year. In fact, I actually think it’s a great idea, if you are on the fence about the concours, to spend a year checking out the school system as a contractuel and seeing if you like it before committing to the whole concours/MEEF rigamarole.
  5. Will the MEEF/concours make me eligible for the “Recherche d’emploi/Creation de l’entreprise” visa after graduation ? As long as you complete both years of the M2, you will be eligible to apply for this visa type that allows you to stay in France for up to one year post-graduation. However, if you do pass the concours and become a student teacher, you can actually bypass the need for this visa all together. In my experience (and that of a few friends in similar situations), the concours allowed me to go straight from a student visa to a working visa with very few problems or administrative hiccups. As an employee of the government, they seem very eager to keep you around 😉

Do you have more questions about the MEEF or the concours ? Drop them in the comments and I’ll add them to the FAQ ! And any current or former MEEF students should feel free to chime in if there is something you disagree with, or what to add about your own experience 🙂


19 thoughts on “Master MEEF Anglais : FAQ

  1. Again super interesting for me to read! Our cohort when I did it was 8 or 9 secondary teachers, all subjects together, in Poitiers. We also met up with about that same number of people occasionally in Tours. We had some great “formateurs” and some mediocre ones. But we were also teaching full-time and already all had a masters degree.

    Just a side note, I’m pretty sure the positions in the lycées français abroad are reserved for fonctionnaire teachers (=public system), which is one reason I’m hoping to pass the agrég externe for the public system. But I could be wrong and there could be exceptions.

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    1. Thanks for reading again 🙂 Wow 8 or 9 total ?! I hope you all got along haha. Did you take the interne ? I understood that the only 18h stagiaires were contractuels who already have multiple consecutive services. There were 5 or 6 in English in Toulouse, they came to our formation once at the rentrée and again at Toussaint, but otherwise we almost never saw them.
      I think you might be right about the lycées français !

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      1. Hey Anne, yes today only the interne trainees do 18 hours but I took the exam the year after the masterisation when everything was sort of in flux and we all did 18 hours. It was n’importe quoi. Fortunately it didn’t last. Even so I tutored an interne trainee last year and I felt like the 18hours + a few days of formation + a rapport to write was a lot! (We didn’t have a rapport my year at least.)

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  2. Hey, such a detailed article, it was very helpful. I’m planning on giving Cafep as well, but with the reform in place starting this year, I feel a little lost with respect to how the Master MEEF will be done and how good an idea it will be for me to do (in terms of finances).
    Gladly I have a Lectrice job for this year and I’m thinking of taking the year to prepare for the concours on my own. I was wondering if it’s not too wild an idea, and if not, which one would be a better option, following a formation on Cned or signing up for a DU préparation CAPES ? What do you suggest?

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    1. Hi Pallavi ! I’m so sorry to reply so late, I must have missed your comment. I don’t really know much about the quality of the CNED formation, but what I most appreciated about the MEEF was that we had frequent practice tests and could get detailed feedback from professors (many of whom serve or have served on the jury). I think with the CNED you can have a certain number of devoirs notés/commentés but it’s more anonymous. I totally understand the financial concern with the new reform. I think you could give it a try as a “candidate libre” and see how it goes, you never know, it might work out !! 🙂 Good luck, let me know what you decide !

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  3. Hey, no worries, I just saw your reply too. I think I’ll appear as candidat libre and start preparing all alone for it. If that doesn’t work, I’ll enrol in a Master MEEF. Any tips on where should I begin my prep from?
    Also, unrelated, but since I’ve a lot of free time on my hand until my next job starts, would you have any recommendations on books to work on my teaching skills? Books or short courses that could help in lesson planning, general knowledge about the English speaking cultures/history/politics, etc or even teaching grammar?
    Thanks a lot in advance once again!

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    1. Great idea ! I can recommend a few books that will help you get started on preparing the concours prep, including a few didactique/pedagogie books 🙂

      First and foremost reading the sujets 0 for the new épreuves will be really essential to understanding the format. Since it’s brand new, the recent rapports du jury and some of the concours prep books will no longer correspond completely, but I think they can still be helpful for having a general sense of methodology. You can find the rapports du jury and the sujets 0 on the DevenirEnseignant website.

      For general cultural knowledge, Françoise Grellet “A Cultural Guide” is the perfect simple primer.
      For translation, Françoise Grellet “Initiation au thème anglais/à la version anglaise” and “Le Mot et l’idée 2”
      For linguistics Lapaire and Rotgé “Linguistique et grammaire de l’anglais” and “Essential Grammar in Use”
      For didactique/teaching skills/info on the French school system Anne-Isabelle Pineda “La didactique au CAPES d’anglais” and Perrot and Julié “Enseigner l’Anglais”

      These are mostly all French books, and oriented towards the French system and the French concours. You could also look up teaching books by editors like British Council, oxford press, Cambridge English, Heinemann…..

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  4. Hi Anne,
    I’d like to thank you for these posts – you’ve packed in a huge amount of information into a fairly small space and have explained it all in a clear and relatable way. I am a finishing a master’s, am planning to do a couple of years as a lecteur and will probably do either a concours or a MEEF thereafter. It’s great having all the information necessary!
    Fraser

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  5. Hi Anne,

    Your posts have been ever so helpful. I have a few questions please if you can help:
    1. How much does the Master Course cost?
    2. Is there a lot of french involved ie. writing etc? My oral skills are decent but my writing not much so.

    Thank you ever so much!
    Leila

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    1. Hi Leila,
      1. The cost can vary depending on the university… some apply a higher foreign student fee, some apply the same fees as French students. Here are the current fees at my university for example : https://www.univ-tlse2.fr/accueil/international/venir-a-lut2j/frais-dinscription-pour-lannee-universitaire-2021-2022# It’s worthwhile to note that if you do a part-time or full-time “alternance” during the second year, you do receive a stipend of some kind, although I’m not sure of how much.

      2. Yes, unfortunately there is quite a lot of French writing involved. The two written tests require at least half of it to be written in French… I wouldn’t necessarily let that discourage you though, the French parts are mostly technical descriptions of linguistiques or teaching methods, so it doesn’t need to be great literature ! After practicing so much in my classes, I found a sort of “formula” and stock phrases that I could reuse and tweak depending on the context and that helped me feel a lot more confident.

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  6. Hi Anne, this is so interesting to read. Thank you! I am coming to the end of a 6 month period of being a replacement teacher in a lycee and my has it been tough. I have never taught in a school before only 1-2-1 online. I did a TEFL course during covid and before that I was a theatre producer in the UK.. Going from programming events and putting on plays to teaching groups of 35 teenagers, 18 hours a week, is quite something. Still, I had an excellent inspection report and received a day of training (2 weeks before the end) plus I ticked the box to say keep me on your books for next year. However, I am not sure I want to do this in the future and I definitely do not want to do it next September under the same circumstances. I have been looking at Masters in Montpellier. Is it my understanding that I can do ANY Masters and if I want to sit the CAPES, the Masters will count? Also, is a Masters free if I have an Irish (EU) Passport . I’ve seen a cultural management one in Montpellier that looks super interesting. Fiona xx

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    1. Hi Fiona, thanks for commenting !
      I love that you were/are a theatre producer, that was also my passion during university and I taught theatre classes for kids before moving to France 🙂 I really empathize with you… I spent 2 years having “formations” during the MEEF and I still found teaching in French schools to be totally overwhelming !! I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be to adapt with just a few days of training.
      You are right that you qualify for the CAPES with a Masters in ANY subject. In your position i would definitely do the cultural management course, and keep the CAPES as a future possibility without pigeon-holing yourself. Keep me updated, I’d love to know more about what you decide 🙂

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    2. Having an EU passport won’t give you free tuition, unfortunately, but it might exempt you from paying International student fees. I would check directly with the university to see their policies for International students, because it can differ from school to school.

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  7. Hey! Your post is quite helpful. I have been accepted to the master MEEF in Lyon 3. I was wondering what kind of jobs I could do alongside master MEEF? I won’t have much financial support from the family so is it possible to earn enough to support myself and still be able to study?
    Thank you in advance ☺️

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    1. Hi, thanks for reading and congratulations !

      If you hold a student visa, you are allowed to work part time, a maximum of ~960 hours per year. I worked as a tutor at my university for 2 or 3 hours a week, but it definitely wasn’t enough money to fully support myself. You could look for tutoring or babysitting opportunities, or even part time jobs in a restaurant or something like that… Another option is to apply at the rectorat as a language assistant or an AED/ surveillant, although you will almost certainly need to miss some class in order to make the schedules compatible. And keep in mind that during the second year of the master, you will have a small stipend paid during your student teaching.
      I wish you the best of luck !! 🙂

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