Teaching English in Europe? (the most popular countries)

Teaching English in Europe? (the most popular countries)

Europe sounds like a “cool” place to teach English, no?

Sure, the pay and benefits aren’t as attractive as in Japan or Korea… but the lifestyle and travel opportunities are amazing!

With a little research… here’s what I learned about teaching ESL in some European countries…

So why do you want to teach in Europe?

Do you want go there to become nearly fluent in the local language?

Do you just want to experience a European lifestyle for a year or two?

Do you want to save money and pay off your student loan?

Do you want to have European work experience on your resume?

Do you want to get a work permit and some day get EU citizenship?

Are you marrying a European and need a job because you can’t speak the local language?

I hope my notes below can shed a little light on the more popular English teaching destinations and if you should even apply…

Basic Qualifications

For starters, your best chances of landing an English teaching job in any European country are if you have a passport from one of the 28 EU countries

The 28 EU countries – Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

However, some schools in some countries will hire non-EU teachers for seasonal or volunteer or even regular paying  jobs… I’ll elaborate later.

Education and Experience

You’ll also need a CELTA or CertTESOL or the equivalent for most European countries and most of the well-paying teaching jobs.

The CELTA is a very intensive full-time 4 week course. Be prepared to hit the books.

The CELTA is also considered a level 5 course.

A level 5 is comparable in workload and difficulty to year 2 of an undergraduate degree.

Many TEFL Certificate vendors will tell you that you’re qualified to teach in Europe once you complete their course. This is simply NOT true.

Sorry, but one of those online TEFL certificates you bought from Groupon  or a weekend TEFL course you took just won’t cut it.

You’ll need a CELTA or a CerTESOL to qualify for most teaching jobs in Europe.

Some schools will accept a TEFL equivalent provided it’s at least 120 hour course in a real classroom (not online) with 6 hours of observed teaching hours and real ESL students participating.

Expect to pay $1,200-$1,600 for a TEFL course, if you haven’t already completed one.

Don’t expect your school to pay for your housing, flights.

Also, you won’t make a dent in your student loan even if you do get lucky enough to land a job in any of these nations.

The competition is fierce too. Lot’s of native speakers or nearly native ones living in Europe already.

Interestingly enough, many EU schools do not require a university degree to apply, but you do need one of the  CELTA or TEFL equivalent courses mentioned above.

If you’ve taught in Asia where you’re used to disclosing your age and gender DO NOT mention these things in your cover letter or resume when applying for jobs in Europe.

They take don’t take discrimination lightly in Europe.  The same goes for your religion or ethnicity.

Even to put “native speaker” on your resume is considered discriminatory. Remove it!

Countries

France

It’s nearly impossible to get hired, if you don’t have a EU passport. Forget it Americans and Canadians.

And, if you don’t have ESL teaching experience, don’t bother applying.

If you don’t have an EU passport there is the Teaching Assistant Program in France. But you need to speak some French to qualify. This is really you’re only option if you’re from North America.

If you’re married to a French national, you might get hired by an English school such as Berlitz since they’re in almost every country.

Or, you could  become a Peace Corps volunteer in french speaking country if you just want to learn French. Not quite what you had in mind?

Spain

There’s a strong demand for English teachers, but it’s a popular ESL market so expect a lot of teacher competition.

Most language schools won’t look at you unless you have a CELTA.

Some Americans teach there. But it’s very tough for schools to get an exceptional work permit for a non EU visa holder

In order to teach legally in Spain you should be an EU member.

You could marry a local or get a teaching job at an international school if you have a K-12 teaching license and teaching experience in the US.

Schools start hiring English teachers in late August for September student enrolment.

Teaching contracts are from September/October through June.

The salary range for private academies is between 1,200 to 1,350 Euros

Split shifts and low salaries are common place for ESL teachers in Spain.

If you’re a EU citizen and want a long-term TEFL career in Spain it’s best to upgrade your educational qualifications in the field with an MA in TESOL or Linguistics, Ph.D or Delta.

TEFL schools in Spain

  • Cantenbury TEFL (paid TEFL program + guaranteed teaching job)
  • My TEFL Experience (short term volunteer jobs in Spain)
  • American English Academy (EU citizen, or have Spain work permit,  Non EU citizens must hold a 1 year student visa. North Americans must hold a working holiday visa)
  • Meddeas – (monthly grant of 312 Euros and a home stay with a family)

Italy

Good demand like Spain for ESL teachers.

If you’re not an EU citizen and not a native speaker, it’s nearly impossible to get teaching work.

If you’re an American with dual citizenship or married to an Italian citzen than it’s possible.

One option is to enrol as a student at a university in Italy and to study Italian, then it’s possible to teach part time private lessons

Otherwise it’s very difficult to find a TEFL job as an American in Italy… There are so many native speakers from the UK (that belong to the EU) so they’ll hire them first.

September and January are the best months to find teaching work in Italy.

Teaching contracts are from September through June…

Don’t show up in August and expect to find a job for September, as everyone is on summer vacation.

TEFL schools in Italy

  • My English School (Myes)
  • IH Milan
  • Inlingua Milan
  • BALA  (in Naples)
  • The English Experience School of English

Poland

You’ll need a BA degree and a TEFL certificate for the better paying schools, or university teaching jobs.

There are many teachers in Poland who don’t have a degree, but have a CELTA/TEFL certification.

Definitely possible to teach there, but don’t expect to make much money. Avg. $900 (USD) per month.

On that low a salary, you probably won’t save a dime after a year, and you’ll need to pay for your own apartment too.

Most contracts are from September to June. Not much going on in the summer months (July-August)

If you’re an American, it’s difficult to get a work permit here. Too many immigration hoops to jump through.

Berlitz language school is in Poland. Wages are low, no prep, but odd schedules.

TEFL schools in Poland

  • Lincoln School of Foreign Languages
  • Ecole Antoine de Saint Exupery

Germany

Again, if you’re married to a German you might find some part-time work there, but haven’t seen any full-time teaching jobs advertised there (ever).

Teaching Business English at companies may be possible, but you’ll need to network your way into that, and you could find yourself commuting a lot to get to company classes.

If you have corporate training experience you have a better chance of finding teaching work at German companies.

Berlitz and Wall Street English and Inligua have adult English academies here. But they are big corporate chains with reputations for being the lowest of the low schools in the EU.

Cost of living is high in Germany, and so are the income taxes.

Again, lot’s of competition from EU passport holders (who are native speakers).

Being able to speak some German helps.

Don’t forget the German economy is not great right now. Jobs are scarce (especially for non citizens)

UK

They do have summer camps there where Americans can get jobs.

This may be a long shot, but you can try the British Council.

But, their preference is British English, so you’re not likely to get hired if you’re from North America.

Bottom line is the pay is low in the UK since they have plenty of native speakers. You won’t save money like you would teaching in Asia or the Middle East.

It’s not much different from teaching ESL in Canada or the US as far as pay and competition goes. Best to stay away unless you’re a long-term TEFL teacher who wants to live in the UK for the rest of your life.

Czech Republic

While this country prefers EU residents, they will hire and sponsor non EU citizens.

Also, you must have a 120 hour on site CELTA OR TEFL certificate with 6 hours of classroom hours with actual students.

Your teaching experience in China or Korea along with a 20 hour TEFL certificate means next to nothing here.

Considered one of the best places for an American English teacher to get a job.

The recruiting company TEFL Heaven pitches TEFL Course and teaching placements in the Czech Republic. They’ll guarantee you a job there if you pay to take their 4 week intensive TEFL course.

To qualify, you must be a “native speaker” with a Bachelor’s Degree to be guaranteed a job there provide you pay and pass their TEFL course in Prague.

It is difficult to find a place to live in the Repulic. You won’t earn much, the winters are chilly, and it’s hard to pick up the local language.

Prague can be an expensive city to live in. Go to the outside smaller cities. You’ll learn the language easier and you’ll have better luck finding work as an English teacher

The Czech Republic has been know to be a decent place for short-term TEFL teachers, NOT long term ones due to the cost of living.

True, there are some teachers who’ve been there for over a decade, but they have Czech spouses, have branched out into other fields, or started their own language schools.

TEFL schools in the Czech Repulic

  • Akcent IH
  • Language Hose Prague
  • TEFL Worldwide Prague
  • ITTP
  • Oxford TEFL

Best to get to there in early summer as their hiring season for ESL teachers is September.

Or, do a TEFL course there in August and try to land a teaching gig in September.

If you show up in February, you won’t get any offers and you’ll be on the next plane out as soon as you run out of money.

Keep in mind if you’re American you can come in on a 90 day tourist visa which gives you 90 days to get hired and get your paperwork done.  Use your time wisely.

Russia (Not Europe, but worth mentioning)

I always see jobs advertised on ESL teaching sites from Russia. Obviously not Europe, but connected to Europe and unique.

Some schools will pay for a return flight to Russia, if you complete your contract.

The arrangement is they’ll pay you half once you’ve taught there 6 months and the remaining amount once you finish your 12 month term.

Some schools will offer paid accommodations, but not all.

Many schools require teaching candidates to have a TEFL/CELTA certificate.

Some schools will NOT require a BA degree.

Salary range: 35,000 – 70,000 Rubbles per month

TEFL schools in Russia

  • P’tit CREF
  • International Education Centre
  • IH Moscow
  • Simply English School
  • Teach To Travel
  • Language Link Russia

Just remember:

If you’re not an EU passport holder it can be tough, especially in desired markets like France, Spain and Italy to find a job teaching English.

Markets like the Czech Republic and Poland are a bit easier. While France, the UK and Germany are next to impossible for non-EU holders.

If anyone has experience teaching ESL in any of the 28 European nations (above) I’d love to here about your insight!

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