From Spain and Italy to Turkey and Russia, demand for native
speaking English teachers across Europe is booming. Each year thousands of
teachers from the U.S., U.K., Canada and elsewhere are hired, and many of them
are first-time teachers right out of college who take a TEFL certification
course. It goes without saying that just
about any country or region in Europe
offers a great international experience, but if you’re going to be successful
in actually getting a paying job, you need to learn about matters like hiring
seasons, visas and TEFL certification.
Here are six basic tips to get you started.
- Get a TEFL Certification
An accredited 120-hour TEFL certification
that incorporates a live practicum will provide you with the skills and
qualification you need to get hired as a professional English teacher in
thousands of schools and language institutes across Europe. Without a TEFL
certification, you’re looking at a tough slog – schools and language institutes
in countries like Spain,
Italy and Germany will not hire you off the street to teach English on a
professional level simply because you speak English.
- Know the
The largest employers of foreign English teachers in Europe are private
language schools and institutes that concentrate most of their interviewing and
hiring during the months of September (and into October in Spain) and January.
This isn’t to say that jobs don’t open up throughout the year, but if you want
to give yourself very high odds that you gain employment, you want to be in
countries like Spain, Italy and the Czech Republic during these months.
English language summer camps across the Europe that employ Americans and
others to teach English and work as counselors typically recruit during the
winter and spring for summer positions.
Schools Interview & Hire English Teachers Face-to-Face in Europe
Particularly in large Western European countries like Spain, Italy and Germany,
the vast majority of language schools interview and hire English teachers
locally in-person. This means that if
you want to teach in one of these countries, unless you are recruited through a
government program (see below), you need to go to these countries with your
TEFL certification in hand during a major hiring season (September or January)
ready to contact schools, interview and begin teaching.
There are exceptions, particularly in Eastern European countries like Russia,
Ukraine and Turkey. These are huge,
fast-growing job markets, where schools do recruit Americans and Canadians in
advance from home.
Assistantship Programs in Spain & France
Governments in Spain and France both operate programs that recruit young
Americans and Canadians to work in state schools as assistant English teachers
for one school year. Some language
skills (though not fluency) are required and applications are typically due by
late February or March for positions beginning in late August or September. Check out the France Teaching
Assistantship Program and Spain
Cultural Ambassadors Teaching Assistantship Program to learn more.
- Count on Giving Private Lessons
Most English teachers in Europe break even financially – they support themselves,
but don’t save much after expenses – so many take on private students on the
side to supplement their income. Very
often English teachers in Europe can make up to double per hour giving private
lessons compared to their hourly wage at the local language school.
- Learn about Visas
The issue of visas for Americans and other citizens of non-European Union
(E.U.) countries can be confusing and complex, but it is critical to research
if you actually want to teach English in Europe. Visa laws vary from country to
country, even within the E.U., and often hiring and work practices are at odds
with official rules. In some E.U. countries, for example, like Italy and Spain,
it is difficult for Americans to get work visas to teach English, but thousands
of schools hire Americans and other non-E.U. citizens who are simply in the
country on a tourist visa. It’s not
legal, but it’s routine. In other
countries like Czech Republic, Poland and Germany, it is possible for Americans
to get work visas to teach English, but it entails navigating a bit of
bureaucracy. Very often it is easiest
for Americans get work visas to teach English in Eastern European countries
like Russia and Turkey, where schools can and do routinely sponsor work visas
for foreign English teachers.
To kick off further research, check out this country
chart, which compares various facets of teaching English abroad in more
than 50 countries world, including visas, salaries, hiring requirements,
interview procedures and more.