How to Get a Job Teaching English in Europe

How to Get a Job Teaching English in Europe

Compared to English teaching jobs in Asia, jobs teaching English in Europe are perhaps not as easy to come by. However, there are several places where it’s quite possible to find work, and where the demand for native and native-like English speakers is quite high.

I reached out to some other bloggers who’ve found them for their best advice on how to get a job teaching English in Europe, plus I’ve included my own bonus recommendation at the end!

Please note: all advice is from the point of view of the specific blogger and their own nationality. Legal requirements for work visas etc. may vary depending on which passport(s) you hold.

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Spain

For North Americans, legal work in Spain is mainly limited to working as a teaching assistant, or auxiliar de conversación, for different educational organizations in Spain. The three main educational organizations that hire North Americans are the Spanish Ministry of Education, BEDA, and UCETAM.

I work for the Ministry of Education’s North America Language and Cultural Assistant Program, teaching English and Science in a public school in the Community of Madrid. If you are interested in this program, the biggest piece of advice I have is to make sure you apply as early as you can.

It is your application number, not your qualifications, nor your recommendation letter nor your personal essay – that will ultimately determine two very important things:

  1. whether you’re given a placement and
  2. where in Spain you will be placed

I know this isn’t fair, but this is how the North American Language and Cultural Assistant Program completes its hiring process. There is a manual available on their website which outlines the entire application process. However, it is important to note that despite what the application manual says, you can add all necessary documents after you send it in. There is really no reason you can’t apply as soon as the application opens.

The application period varies year to year, but is usually between November and late February for the upcoming school year.

Estrella in Spain

Estrella in Spain

Estrella is a Canadian expat teaching in Spain since 2012. She previously spent a year teaching in South Korea. Estrella blogs about her life abroad at Estrella Explores.

Italy

In the US, we’re very much acclimated to the electronic job search these days. Emails with attachments are the standard. You can also use this approach in Italy, although don’t expect the same degree of interaction. Still, it’s a place to start. Send out 8-10 queries initially and then wait a few days to see who responds. Don’t worry too much if they’re hiring or not hiring—trust me, they’re all hiring at various times throughout the year.

A much better approach is to print out some CVs and deliver them by hand to a few selected schools. This will give you a chance to “sell yourself,” and also prove to them that you’re currently living in Italy and ready to work. Handshakes and face-to-face contact go a long way in Italy. Don’t forget to dress nicely too.

There are several useful websites to help you find jobs in Italy. In Rome, for example, Wanted in Rome is particularly good for English teaching jobs. Also check expat notice boards such as Expats Living in Rome on Facebook.

The general TEFL sites are OK, but you’ll have to wade through the hundreds of jobs being offered in East Asia in order to find the handful that are offered in Italy. Again, in Italy, the best approach is to just present yourself, CV in hand, and ask if they’re hiring.

In bocca al lupo!  (Good luck!)

Rick in Italy

Rick in Italy

Rick Zullo is an American expat living in Rome. Born in Chicago and raised in Florida, he came to the Caput Mundi in 2010 and forgot to go back. When he’s not exploring his adoptive hometown or writing for his blog, he spends his time teaching the world English, one Roman at a time. Rick is also the author of the eBook, Teaching English in Rome. Visit Rick’s blog or connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.

Hungary

My experience with teaching in Budapest is a rather unique one. While I did do a little bit of teaching, I primarily worked behind the scenes at an English school. I managed the recruitment of new teachers and often worked with other language schools in the city. Typically, English schools in Budapest are looking for teachers with a little bit of experience, even if it is just tutoring. They are interested in individuals who have an university degree plus a teaching certificate. Any TEFL certificate is fine, but they really like those who have a CELTA which is a certificate issued by Cambridge.

Most teachers I met worked for a number of schools as freelancers. However, I met a few who had full contracts directly with international schools and high schools in the city. A typical introductory email would include where you’re from, your experience and then include your CV. If interested, schools will invite you in for an interview, and then they might ask for a demo lesson depending on the school. Once you’ve passed that, you’ll either be offered a contract right away or be put on a mailing list to be notified whenever there are new courses available.

Adelina in Hungary

Adelina in Hungary

Adelina is a curious globetrotter and food lover. She enjoys telling stories through her writing and camera all while eating her way around the world. Adelina has lived abroad in the Netherlands and Hungary and is now an online marketer based in Vancouver, Canada. Follow along as she decides her next adventure on her blog and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Turkey

The positions that my boyfriend and I snagged in Turkey were completely last minute and by chance. In the big cities, there are English academies every few blocks, and our local friends guaranteed that we’d get jobs within the first few days of looking. My boyfriend received offers from the first two employers that he interviewed with, one at an academy for adults and one at a popular private school chain; I applied to several kindergartens that I found through a basic Google search. As luck would have it, a teacher had quit mid-term and I was hired based on a 10 minute phone interview.

Of course, both of these jobs were less than legal—as is the case more often than not in Turkey—so it’s important to think about what situations you are comfortable with. To be considered for a legitimate job, you must have teaching qualifications, so don’t bother with the abundance of internet recruiters unless you have the proper documentation.  Most teachers that I met in Turkey, though, would give the same advice: best to simply show up, inquire, and make an impression. The rest will fall in place from there.

Leah in Turkey

Leah in Turkey

A 24-year-old American hailing from Detroit, Michigan, Leah’s passion for travel and trying new cuisines developed after visiting Poland for a two week holiday and quitting her job to hitchhike around Europe.  The next few years were filled with adventure, cycling and rafting around Europe, living in Turkey, and finally moving to Asia. She now shares those adventures and culinary experiences on her website.  You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. Leah is currently teaching English on Jeju Island in South Korea.

Finland

Teaching English in Finland is not a common choice but it should be. Finland has so much to offer any prospective EFL teacher; beautiful views, clean air, high wages and a great standard of living. The fact that most EFL teachers don’t head to Finland is great for anyone thinking of teaching there – fewer people means less competition.

Finland would suit the more adventurous EFL teacher as jobs are often much easier to come by when you’re already in the country, however I would only recommend doing this if you have enough cash to support yourself for your first month while you try to source work. Most jobs in Finland are contracts in language schools but there are some opportunities available to supplement your income with private lessons too though these can be hard to come by.

One of the best ways to find work in the country is to go online and look for work at summer camps, this way you will have a guaranteed job before arrival and it’s a great way to get a taster of the country and see whether you want to commit to a long term contract.

The wages in Finland are high in comparison to other destinations but you need to remember to factor in that it is one of the most expensive countries in Europe in terms of living costs.

tefl_emma_finland

Emma in Finland

Emma first started teaching English in the UK to international students whilst she was studying for a degree. She loved teaching so much she decided to see if TEFL abroad was for her and got her next teaching job on a summer camp in Finland. The experience made her realise she wanted to do this long term. Three months later she flew to South Korea where she taught English in Seoul at a private academy. Currently she lives in the UK by the sea and is starting a new blog project.

Ukraine

Ukraine offers ESL teachers an experience very different from other parts of the world, especially Asia. The first thing to remember is to go with some money. Don’t go to Ukraine expecting to save much if anything. At best, you’ll make enough to live comfortably and maybe a few extra coins to pay for some out-of-country travel, around $1000 a month.

Secondly, forget the visa. Some companies say they’ll get you a visa and a work permit. If they’re not entirely lying to you then it’ll at least take a long time (a year sounds about right). As a result, you’ll have to do visa runs to one of the neighbouring countries. This doesn’t sound like much but when you consider how much you’ll be making, these visa runs will quickly reduce your disposable income.

As for contracts, you’ll be given one but, in reality, it won’t really stand for much simply because you’ll be on the short end of the stick when it comes to dealing with the authorities. If you don’t speak Russian or Ukrainian you’ll have trouble defending yourself should your employer renege on your contract.

Forget what you read, see and hear in the news or even from other people. People will tell you not to go to the East because it’s dangerous, others will say don’t go to the West because it’s a backwards region. Both are right to an extent, but none are completely accurate. Yes, with the recent turmoil Eastern Ukraine is more dangerous than other parts, but it’s not entirely unsafe. Do your research before to get an idea of where to go. The turmoil is in the major cities and that’s also where all the jobs are.

The school year starts in September/October which means that the best time to be looking for work is in August. You’ll most likely be working for a private institution so they will just about always accept resumes for future reference.

Steven in Ukraine with his students (he's the one with bunny ears!)

Steven in Ukraine with his students (he’s the one with bunny ears!)

Steven Sirski is a working traveller who has worked and lived on four continents. He plans to work and travel on the other three within his lifetime. You can read more about his adventures abroad on his website or follow him on Twitter.

And a bonus from me: United Kingdom

For part time or short term work teaching English in the UK, your best bet is to try getting a job at a summer school, especially if you’re new to teaching and don’t have much experience yet. Summers schools range widely quality (both in terms of support and assistance to teachers and in terms of services and standards of delivery to the students), but working for a good one can be quite rewarding. The basic idea is that students come to the summer school for anything from two to six weeks, and occasionally more, in order to do cultural activities and have English lessons with natives while being immersed in the language.

Most summer schools don’t have a specific syllabus, but do initial tests to check students levels and usually have an extensive range of materials for teachers to use as they see fit with their classes. Lessons typically take place in the morning, with the afternoon reserved for activities which depending on the school, you may have to go on to accompany students. There are summer schools all over the UK starting in June and some lasting till early September, and schools will often look for teachers to work just a week or two during that time, or the whole period, depending on student numbers.

The main requirements that all summer school jobs I’ve come across have are that you have an in-person TEFL qualification (not an online one), that you are a native speaker, you have (or can get a CRB check) and you have the legal right to work in the UK. The best place I have found to look for these kinds of jobs is TEFL.com, starting as early as February in the year of the course. Decide before applying if having non-teaching duties in addition to giving your classes is something you’re keen on and be discriminate in your applications as there are so many summer school out there. With a good school, you can expect to earn up to £400 (US$680) per week, and if your accommodation and meals are included, you can end up saving quite a lot of that.

beach huts in Devon

beach huts in Devon

Where have you taught or would like to teach English in Europe?

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