Across Europe there are several countries that attract a large number of EFL teachers every year. Some make it hard for foreign teachers to work legally, while others are much more open. By doing a bit of simple research you should be able to find the countries that offer the best prospects for your personal circumstances.
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Spain has long been one of the top destinations in Europe for teaching English abroad. Thousands of teachers from all over the world head to Spain every year, drawn by the promise of a relaxed lifestyle, a beautiful coastline dotted with sandy beaches, and the opportunity to learn Spanish while living in a modern, international city such as Madrid or Barcelona. If you are serious about living and working as an ESL teacher in Spain, the first thing you will need to do is complete a TEFL certification course. Without a TEFL certificate you will find it difficult to secure a well paid teaching job anywhere in the country.
Thanks to a government recruitment program it is possible for a relatively small number of teachers to secure a job in Spain from within their own country. However, the vast majority of teaching jobs are filled locally by interviewing face-to-face. For the best chance of success you should simply jump on a plane to your city of choice and immediately start applying for vacant positions. The thought of heading overseas without a job waiting for you might be a little scary, but don't be put off as the high demand for teachers means you are virtually guaranteed a position if you are well prepared and determined to succeed.
In order to take advantage of the main hiring season, you should plan to be in Spain by mid-September. At this time of year there are thousands of vacant positions waiting to be filled for the upcoming school year. Early January sees the beginning of the secondary hiring season that lasts throughout the month.
Although Spain is a large country, the vast majority of teaching jobs are located in a handful of big cities. The largest number of jobs can be found in Madrid where the peak hiring season is early October. Other major cities such as Barcelona and Bilbao are also home to significant job markets.
As Spain is a member of the EU, people from other EU nations do not require any form of visa or work permit. This is great news for citizens of the UK and Ireland in particular, as being native-English speakers who are visa free means they are highly employable. For non-EU citizens, securing a work visa can be a long and complicated process so many teachers simply stay and work on a basic tourist visa. Technically this is illegal, although it is common practice for thousands of teachers every year and is unlikely to cause any problems. If this does not appeal, then another option for non-EU citizens is to apply for a student visa. To obtain the visa you will need to sign-up for a government approved training course, typically a Spanish language course. Once you have secured the student visa you are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week.
Finding a job in Spain usually involves job hunting once you have actually arrived in the country. For this to be viable you will need enough spare cash to see you through until your first payday. On average most people should be able to secure a job within a couple of weeks so you should budget for at least four to six weeks of living expenses. This equates to between $2000 and $3000.
Although few employers in Spain advertise and recruit from abroad, it is still worth checking online ESL job forums before you leave. Even if you cannot secure a job, you might be able to line up some interviews in advance. Once you arrive in Spain, it is time to get busy contacting as many schools as possible in your chosen area. The Madrid Blue Pages is a useful reference guide for finding contact information, as are the Yellow Pages, English and Spanish language newspapers, and online searches. To enhance your chances of securing an interview, it is important that you send a professional looking CV/resume and cover letter to potential employers. It might also be an advantage if you have them translated into Spanish. Another good idea is to buy a phone or SIM card on arrival so you can provide a local contact number. Finally, always make sure you present yourself in a smart and professional manner when meeting employers, as anything less is guaranteed to ruin your chances of landing a dream job teaching English in Spain.
Italy is one of the most popular destinations in Europe for teaching English abroad. With a fascinating history, Mediterranean climate and an easy going lifestyle, it is no surprise that it is the number one choice for a large number of prospective teachers from all over the world. The most important thing to know about teaching English in Italy is that you will need to be TEFL certified. Employers across the country almost always insist on their teachers having completed a reputable TEFL certification course prior to applying for a teaching position.
Although it is sometimes possible to secure a teaching position from within your own country, the vast majority of positions in Italy are filled locally following a face-to-face interview. The best advice is simply to head to Italy and start your job search on the ground with your CV/resume and TEFL certificate in hand. It may seem daunting to head overseas without a job lined up, but the demand for teachers is high enough to all but guarantee success for those who are prepared in advance and determined to take the initiative.
To ensure you have the best choice of teaching positions it is crucial that you arrive in Italy at the right time of year. The main hiring season across the country takes place in September, so this is the ideal time to hit the ground running. During the summer months thousands of teachers who worked the previous year either head home or move on to another destination, creating a large number of openings for new arrivals. Another option is to arrive at the beginning of January to take advantage of the secondary hiring season.
The good news for citizens of EU countries is that they do not need any kind of visa or work permit to legally teach English in Italy. Subsequently, teachers from the UK and Ireland have a significant advantage in the job market. Unfortunately for non-EU citizens, work permits are difficult to obtain for teaching English in Italy. However, this doesn't stop thousands of non-EU teachers working in the country every year on a basic tourist visa. Although not strictly legal, this practice is extremely common and rarely causes any problems for the many that choose this option. There are other options open to non-EU citizens that prefer to have everything legal and above board. One option is to apply for a student visa which also allows you to work under certain conditions. To obtain the visa you will need to enroll on a government approved course such as an Italian language course. A second option open to citizens of Australia, New Zealand and Canada is to apply for a working holiday visa. This option allows you to work in the country for up to one year but is usually restricted to those between 18 and 30 years of age.
As you will need to be on the ground in Italy to begin your job search it is vital that you have the finances in place to see you through until you receive your first paycheck. Realistically you should budget for a minimum of four to six weeks living expenses, including accommodation in a budget hostel, which equates to around $2000 to $3000.
Although most teaching vacancies in Italy are filled locally, it is still worth checking out online job forums before you head off. Once on the ground, the best approach is to simply contact as many schools as possible to enquire about vacant positions. Contact information for schools can be found via an online search or through the local Yellow Pages. Teachers already working in the area can also be a valuable resource when looking for work. There are several things that you can do before and during the interview process to give yourself the best possible chance of securing a position. Firstly, make sure you have a professional looking CV/resume and cover letter that have been translated into Italian. Business cards can also be useful for handing out to prospective employers or private clients. On arrival, it is a good idea to purchase a phone or SIM card so you have a local number for employers to contact you on. Finally, don't forget to dress the part, as nothing will ruin your chances quicker than by turning up to a job interview in Italy looking anything other than smart and professional.
France is the most popular tourist destination in the world by visitor numbers, and it is equally popular with those looking to teach English abroad. With so much to offer, from history and culture to fashion and cuisine, France is the dream destination for thousands of ESL teachers every year. As with most countries in Western Europe, employers in France expect their prospective employees to possess a TEFL certificate. If you arrive without one, you are likely to have a tough time in the job market as most of your competitors will be TEFL certified.
If you apply for a position offered by the government-run teaching assistant recruitment program, it is possible to make all the necessary arrangements from within your own country. However, the vast majority of independent employers in France prefer to do their interviewing and hiring on a face-to-face basis. The best advice it to head straight to your chosen destination and immediately begin applying for jobs on the ground. Although this may seem a little daunting, the demand for English teachers is strong enough in the major cities to virtually guarantee success for those who take the initiative.
Although private tutoring can be arranged at anytime of the year across France, the best time to find a full-time position is towards the end of summer from late August to early October. During this period, employers look to fill the thousands of positions that were vacated by teachers at the end of the previous school year. There is also a secondary hiring season that runs throughout January.
If you are an EU citizen you do not need a visa to live and work in France. Native-English speakers from the UK and Ireland subsequently have a significant advantage when looking for teaching jobs. For non-EU citizens, it is famously difficult to secure a work permit so the majority of teachers simply stay and work on a tourist visa. While this is technically illegal, it is conducted openly and is rarely an issue for the many thousands of foreign teachers who choose this option every year. If this method does not appeal, there are alternatives for non-EU citizens. If you sign-up for a government approved French language course you could be eligible for a student visa. A student visa allows you to work a maximum of 20 hours per week, while also learning a new language in an authentic environment. Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders between 18 and 30 years old can also apply for a working holiday visa. This option allows you to live and work in France for up to twelve months, although there are certain restrictions so you should contact your nearest embassy to see if it suits your plans.
In most cases, those looking to work in France will need to arrive in the country before they are able to actively seek work. To ensure you have the funds to last until you receive your first paycheck, it is recommended that you have a budget of at least $2000 to $3000.
The best approach to job hunting in France is to contact as many potential employers as you can find in the local area, even if they are not advertising vacant positions. Contact details for schools and language centers can be found using the local Yellow Pages, via a simple online search, or by speaking to teachers who are already working in the area. Rather than emailing employers and waiting for a response, it is best to visit them in person with your CV/resume in hand. It can also help if you have a French language copy of your resume and cover letter to leave with them.
Inexperienced teachers might initially find it difficult to land a full-time teaching job, so many look towards the private market to supplement their income. Private tutors are in high demand in the big cities, particularly those who have a good grasp of the French language. By actively promoting your services via notice boards, local newspapers, and by word of mouth, you should have a good chance of attracting multiple students for private lessons in their own homes.
With long summers and mild winters, countless sandy beaches, a laid-back lifestyle, great food, and hundreds of islands to explore, Greece has been a popular teaching destination for many years. However, due to economic problems in recent times there has been a reduction in the number of teaching jobs on offer across Greece. This reduction means that employers are now more picky about who they choose to fill vacant positions. Also, it has become increasingly difficult for non-EU citizens to obtain the necessary work visa after recent changes to immigration laws. The combination of these factors means that many employers will only employ teachers with an EU passport or any other legal right to work in the country. Most teaching jobs will also require a university degree and a TEFL qualification.
The big employer of foreign English teachers in Greece is the national network of language schools known as frontistiria. There are over 6,000 private language schools all over the country that belong to the network, so there are always vacant positions on offer. The majority of the classes provided by these schools are aimed at business professionals, although many also have classes for school children of various ages looking to brush up their skills for external exams etc. It is common for teachers in language schools to top up their income by taking on private tutoring work outside of their normal working hours.
The majority of teaching jobs are taken by citizens of EU countries (particularly the UK and Ireland) as they do not need a visa to live and work long-term in Greece. Other passport holders will be issued with a 90-day tourist visa on arrival which does not allow you to work legally (although a small number of employers will take on teachers with only a tourist visa). In order to convert your tourist visa to a work visa you will need to find a school that is willing to sponsor you. This is not easy in the current economic climate, but it also not impossible if they like what you have to offer.
It is very difficult to arrange teaching jobs in Greece from outside the country. Employers overwhelmingly prefer to hire their teachers following face-to-face interviews that might also involve teaching an example lesson. To have the best chance of finding the right job for you it is important that you are in the country at the peak hiring times of the year. The main hiring window is at the start of the school year in September, while there is also a secondary window in January.
The best approach is to research all the language schools in the area where you want to live and work and send them a copy of your CV/resume in advance. Once you are in the country you should follow up by visiting each school to introduce yourself and to make a good impression. Most contracts run for 10 to 12 months, although some schools may offer shorter terms if necessary.
You will find language schools in most parts of the country, although the largest numbers are unsurprisingly located in the capital city, Athens. Other cities that also have a strong demand for teachers include Larissa, Patras, and Thessaloniki. Popular tourist destinations are another good place to look as English language skills are highly important for people looking to work in the tourism sector. Islands such as Corfu and Crete are both popular locations.
Portugal has a booming tourism industry which is one of the main reasons why there is a strong demand for English language teachers across the country. Unfortunately, Portugal?s economy is currently quite weak so teacher?s salaries are not particularly high. However, it is the local lifestyle that attracts people to this corner of Europe rather than the pay scale. If you want to teach English in Portugal you will need a university degree and a TEFL qualification. Most employers also expect at least one years teaching experience, although a TEFL course that includes practical teaching practice is often accepted instead. Your level of experience will generally determine the salary you are initially offered and contracts usually last nine or twelve months depending on the type of employer.
There are two main employers of foreign teachers in Portugal, state run schools and private language institutes. Public schools are quite difficult to get into as teachers generally need a good knowledge of Portuguese to be eligible. Salaries are also not particularly high and you might also be expected to do extracurricular activities with no extra pay. For these reasons, most foreign teachers in Portugal tend to work for private language schools. These usually pay a higher salary than public schools and some also include free housing or a housing allowance.
Private tutoring is another possibility, either part time to top up your main salary or full time if you have a visa that allows you to live and work freely in the country. Most students who look for private tutoring are simply looking for a native English speaker to help them brush up on their conversational English, which can be a fun and stress free experience for both the teacher and the student. There are also several volunteer programs operating in the poorer parts of Portugal that offer a good chance to gain classroom experience.
In many cases, employers will only consider EU nationals to avoid going through the process of organising work permits for their teachers. Native English speakers are also preferred meaning that the majority of positions are taken by teachers from the UK or Ireland. Other nationalities can find work in Portugal, but it will require finding an employer who is willing to sponsor you which is not easy at the current time.
Most employers try to complete recruitment for the new school year by the end of August so you should start your job search in June or July to ensure you have the most options to choose from. A smaller number of jobs also come up in January. You can start your search by checking out online job boards and teaching forums where many schools advertise their vacant positions. You should also search the websites of individual schools and language institutes in the areas where you would like to work. It is a good idea to email schools directly, even if they don?t appear to be advertising any jobs, as this can often lead to interviews if they are impressed by your CV/resume. It is also important to negotiate your contract, as employers will often try to get you to sign on as cheaply as possible. Any extra pay or additional benefits such as a housing allowance will go a long way to improving your quality of life during your stay.
Portugal?s capital city is home to the largest number of schools looking for foreign English teachers. Lisbon is also a modern, cosmopolitan city that is a very popular place to live and work. The country?s second city, Porto, is also very popular with expat teachers as it has a rich cultural vibe and a more close-nit feel than the capital. Other cities to consider include Braga and Coimbra. The bustling resorts of the Algarve are also worth checking out if you want to be close to the beach and other tourist attractions.
Hungary is a teaching destination that is rapidly growing in popularity due to a strong demand for English language proficiency and a low cost of living. As the demand for teachers is very high, it is possible to get a job without any qualifications or experience. However, the more you can offer employers, the better chance you have of getting the most sought after jobs that pay the best salaries. A TEFL certificate is generally expected by most decent employers, particularly one that included practical teaching experience. If you are a native English speaker, you will also have a good advantage, as will those with a degree and/or previous classroom experience. If you choose to follow the CETP program (see below), you will need to be a native English speaker with a degree.
There is a wide variety of potential employers to look out for in Hungary, including state run primary and secondary schools, private language schools, universities, and individual businesses. There are also good opportunities to work in private tutoring on either a full or part time basis. Many teachers take advantage of this demand to add to their main income outside of normal working hours.
The Central European Teaching Program (CETP) is another great option for anyone looking to live and work in Hungary. The program places teachers in schools across the country where they act as conversational teachers working alongside the existing staff. There is an initial placement fee for this program, but teachers still get paid a local salary and receive free housing for the duration of the contract. One attraction of this option is that it can all be arranged in advance before leaving your home country. It also provides you with a great deal of classroom and life experience that will look great on future job applications.
As Hungary is an EU member, teachers with an EU passport do not need a visa to live and work in the country, but the employer will still need to organize a labor permit. All other nationalities require a work permit and a residence permit. The process for this has improved significantly in recent times and the employer should sort out most of the paperwork for you. If you are going through the CETP system, you will need to provide a notarized copy of your degree, a general health certificate from your doctor stating you have no communicable diseases, and a negative TB test result.
Unless you are involved in the CETP program, you will most likely need to be in the country ready to interview for jobs prior to the new school year that starts around the 1st of September. Many schools also take on new teachers at the start of January. Employers typically prefer to interview in-person and a trial lesson is commonly expected. Positions organized via the CETP system are arranged in advance, so you will not need to interview at the school on arrival. Teaching contracts generally run until the end of the school year in June.
The magnificent capital city of Budapest is home to the majority of teaching jobs in Hungary as it has by far the largest population in the country. The city is a major travel hub for exploring the rest of the country and the wider region during your stay. It is also where the best salaries are found, although the cost of living is higher than in many other parts of the country. It is worth noting that the CETP program usually looks to place its teachers in smaller cities outside of the capital. Other popular destinations include the cultural capital of Debrecen and the historic city of Miskolc.
Turkey is famous as a crossroads between Europe and Asia and it is fast becoming known for its booming market for foreign English language teachers. Demand is very high in all the big cities and tourist resorts as English language skills are becoming more and more important in many fields of employment. Although it is possible to find a teaching job with no qualifications, these positions are likely to be with less than reputable employers who pay at the bottom end of the local scale. Most good teaching jobs will require a TEFL certification, while some may also ask for a degree and/or previous experience. It is worth noting that many employers prefer their teachers to have completed an in-class TEFL course that included teaching practice rather than an online course.
Private language schools are the biggest employer of foreign teachers in Turkey. There are hundreds, probably thousands, of these spread all over the country, ranging from large international chain academies to small independent schools. Most language schools cater for adults looking to improve their English skills in order to find work in the tourism industry and for those who need business related English in their current job. Language schools generally pay an hourly rate rather than a fixed salary.
Universities and private schools are two other options to consider. These typically pay the best salaries and often offer other benefits and good working conditions. However, these positions are small in number and will normally require a high level of qualifications and experience.
To work legally in Turkey you will need a work and resident?s visa. When looking for work it is advisable to try and find an employer who is willing to do most of the paperwork for you and pay the fees involved. Just be sure what you have agreed to when you sign your contract. If the employer is not willing to pay the visa fees it is not usually a deal breaker as the total fee amounts to around $200 per year.
For jobs in universities and public schools it is best to start your job search during the summer months in preparation for the new school year. For the majority of jobs in language schools there is no fixed hiring time as jobs can become available at anytime of the year. It is advisable to start looking for work a couple of months before you intend to get on the plane. Many employers advertise positions online which allows you to locate opportunities in advance. However, some employers will still expect to interview face-to-face so it helps if you are able to head to Turkey to complete the recruitment process.
By far the biggest market for foreign teachers in Turkey is Istanbul. The demand in the city is huge and it also offers a modern, comfortable environment for teachers who are new to working abroad or simply like their comforts. The capital city Ankara also has a good demand for teachers, as do other big cities such as Izmir and Adana. Coastal resorts are always a popular place to look for work as demand is there due to the tourism industry and the lifestyle is often more laid-back than inland cities.