We usually hear of individuals teaching English in Asia or Latin America. Asia is a no brainer since it offers the most jobs and the best paying ones. Latin America is also understandable being such a place of adventure and offering a laid back lifestyle that is hard to come by in the West. But what about teaching English in Europe? Personally, I haven’t met many people who’ve taught there, but it certainly is possible. However, don’t expect to be passing the Eiffel tower on your way to work everyday or driving to your new school on the German Autobahn.
While it’s possible to teach in Europe, it can be tricky if your not from the UK since most of the teaching jobs there are usually given first to the British. It makes sense being that they its the same continent and Europeans are naturally more familiar with British English. That is changing though as many young students are increasingly inclined to prefer North American English once becoming indoctrinated by American hip hop and movies. Could you imagine two French kids doing their best to imitate Eminem in a rap battle?
If you are a North American who wants to teach English in Europe, it is more than likely because your terrified to live in the developed world or your ethnocentric roots just won’t allow you to be so open-minded about Asia.That is fine as we all have our preferences. Just keep in mind that people teach English in Europe for the lifestyle, not the pay or benefits. I’ve always dreamed of spending a year in southern Spain, drinking red wine and feeling nostalgic for the days of Hemingway. Maybe renting a bike for a day and riding along some pretty waterway before returning to my hotel and drinking myself to sleep.
Of course, it is a dream and while living in a country like Spain is sure to be enlightening, adventurous and fun, expect to barely get by paying for a room in a shared apartment if you are teaching English. The same can be said for France. Sure, it is completely possible to teach English in France, but you better be good at living on a budget. In reality, it’s best to have some savings before deciding to live there for a year. I suggest at least $7000 for each year you plan to teach in Europe. This is particularly true if you want to teach anywhere in Western or Southern Europe. The lower cost of living in Eastern Europe may allow you to get by without much savings. Keep in mind that it is very difficult for non-UK English speakers to get a visa to teach in Western Europe.
What qualifications do I need to teach English in Europe?
First, you will need at least a four-year diploma from an accredited university. If you are reading this article, chances are that you do. If you have the hustling spirit, I’m sure you can figure out a way to land a job in some mom and pop school in Italy or Spain without a degree and get paid under the table while working on a tourist visa. That is where the extra savings comes into play as you will need to make a visa run to renew your tourist visa every three months. Even if you have a degree, you may find yourself in this position. It is also helpful and in most cases necessary to have a TEFL, TESOL or CELTA certificate.
It’s possible to find a job without prior teaching experience, but it won’t be easy as it often is in parts of China. Keep in mind that having a teaching certificate in TEFL,TESOL or CELTA usually cannot be substituted for a university degree. When shopping for a TESOL or TEFL course, make sure it is a reputable company and accredited. A TESOL or TEFL course should cost between $300 to $2000. Don’t be duped into purchasing a groupon TESOL for $75. Such certificate are essentially worthless. Getting a TESOL or TEFL also serves as a good foundation for teaching and will make the transition into the classroom much easier.
Where are the best places to teach English in Europe?
If you are from the United States, Canada, Australia or New Zealand, then your best bet to teach in Europe may be in Central or Eastern Europe. Visa issues become tricky in places like Spain where they won’t award a visa to a non EU passport holder. Although with the recent ‘Brexit’, that might be changing. With that being said, here are the best places to teach English in Europe.
1. Teach English in Czech Republic
The Czech Republic has been and remains a popular destination for Native speakers to teach English. If you aren’t from the UK, you will be at a disadvantage since teachers with UK passports are usually given priority. However, it is still possible for North Americans to teach there, but you will definitely need a TEFL, TESOL or CELTA. Having prior teaching experience also helps since competition for jobs remains strong. Expect to make between $750 to $1300 per month.This isn’t a lot of money, but people teach in the Czech Republic for the lifestyle. If you are looking to pay off your student loans by teaching English in Europe, then you might be in need of some ‘self-reflection’.
Most jobs in the Czech Republic can be found in the capital, Prague, which is also a popular tourist destination. Many individuals want to teach in Prague for the lifestyle, good beer, friendly atmosphere and historic architecture. I can’t blame them. I’m sure it is a wonderful place. For more on teaching in the Czech Republic, click here.
2. Poland is a good place to teach English
Poland has become a hotspot for teaching English during the past couple of years. From all reports, there are a good amount of jobs available there. Since the country opened its economy up several years back and joined the European Union, English has become ever more important in a competitive job market. Poland is also one of the few places in Europe where you may actually be able to save money. Pay can vary, but expect to make anywhere from $800 to $1400 per month. However, the cost of living is comparable to Eastern Europe, so one can usually live modestly comfortable on $1000 to $1200 per month. Peak hiring times are August and January. You will need a university degree and a TEFL, TESOL or CELTA in most cases.
Many teachers enjoy teaching in Poland because of the relatively low cost of living compared to Western Europe and the high availability of jobs. Poland is also a country of a rich history, culture, nice people and delicious food. It’s geographical central location also makes it easy to travel to other parts of Europe.
3. Hungary is not a bad option
English remains in high demand in Hungary,with most jobs located in the capital, Budapest. The Hungarian economy has been growing in recent years after being admitted into the European Union in 2004. Hungarians of all ages are eager to learn English in order to improve their job prospects or be admitted into a quality university. The pay isn’t great at just $600 to $900 per month, but the cost of living is around $800 per month. Hungary is a great place to teach and live if you have some extra savings.
How cool would it be to live in an historic city, such as Budapest? Over a millennia of history, beautiful architecture, good food and friendly people. Hungary is also a popular place to live for Westerners because it’s so easy to travel to a neighboring countries on the weekend. Did you grow up in the American suburbs where you have to drive 10 minutes just to buy milk? You are going to love the trains in Europe.
4. Teaching English in France could be lovely
It’s no secret that France is an expensive country and you will be lucky just to cover your expenses teaching there. However, people teach English in France for the experience, culture, food and lifestyle. You will have a better chance of landing one of the more quality jobs, if you can teach ‘business English’ for one of the private language schools. Another route is through government programs that place American teachers in French public schools to work as assistant language teachers. In fact, teaching as an assistant teacher in a public school or business English for a private language schools are really the two main options. This is particularly true if you are a non-UK English speaker. You will need at least a university degree to teach in France and it certainly helps to have a TEFL. TESOL or CELTA. In some cases, it will be required to have a certificate. Expect to only make between 900 to 1200 Euros a month. That is not a lot for Western Europe and you will need to have some saving to survive, unless you really want to live the Bohemian lifestyle!!!
Despite the low pay and high cost of living, France has to be a great place to live. If you have a good amount of savings, you can probably live comfortably and enjoy yourself. It is also easy to travel throughout the rest of Western and Southern Europe via France. It certainly would be cool to take a week off and hang out in the south of Spain.
5. Teach English in Italy is sure to be romantic
Despite a struggling economy, English teachers remain in demand in Italy. Young Italians not only need English to enter the premier universities, but job seekers looking for work in other parts of Europe require strong English skills. How cool would it be to live and teach English in Italy? This place is so rich in culture, history and amazing food. The best has to be the people. Every Italian I’ve met has been interesting, sociable and a little crazy.
Surprisingly, pay for English teachers is not bad in Italy compared to the rest of Europe. Expect to make between $1400 to $1800 per month. If you learn to live like an Italian, you can easily make out comfortably on that amount since that the cost of living is lower than Western Europe. The tricky part in Italy is the work visa, which is the same if you are thinking about Spain. It’s almost impossible to get a visa if you are from North America. However, most teachers work ‘under the table’ on tourist or student visas. Is this practice legal? Absolutely not, but from what I have heard, everyone seems to turn a blind eye to it. In most cases, you will need a TESOL, TEFL or CELTA to teach in Italy along with a university degree.
Teaching English in Europe is sure to be a great experience. While there are jobs, don’t expect the same benefits as parts of Asia. Then again, people teach in Europe for the experience and I certainly cannot blame them. If you feel that I left some deserving countries off of this list, please feel free to comment and raise hell!