Rich with history and flowing with energy, Europe is the perfect blend of old and new. With so many countries to choose from, English teachers will find that Europe is an ideal destination to balance work and play.
As an educator, you will have the chance to teach English or focus instructing a variety of other subjects.
As a traveler, it is easy to go on a weekend getaway to other countries, all while soaking in the culture in your local European city or town. Whether you end up teaching in a bustling city in Germany, an island off the coast of Greece, or a sleepy town in Poland, you will find challenge and fulfillment in helping others learn your language.
A very popular destination within the ESL community, Spain is always looking for teachers to fill positions in English language schools. In the midst of an economic recession, many Spanish professionals are looking to learn English in an effort to help them in the job search. You will meet students of all ages, ranging from young children to working adults, providing a taste of various Spanish opinions on all topics.
Teachers can expect to earn between 700-1,400 Euros per month. However, cost of living averages to around 1,000-1,300 Euros per month. It is possible to tutor local students in an effort to earn extra cash. Private lesson prices range from 14-25 Euros per hour, depending on your credentials.
Also experiencing some tough times, Italy’s job market has grown very competitive and grim in recent years. However, ESL teachers can still find employment opportunities to teach abroad in Italy. A good place to start looking is in major Italian cities, such as Rome, Florence, and Milan, or in smaller towns all across the nation. With this, no matter which destination you choose, there is the chance to begin a career as an educator, as well as see all the ancient and modern sights of Italy.
Most teachers in Italy will earn about $1,500 to $2,000 USD per month. While the average cost of living ranges from $800 to $1,300 USD per month, prices in Italy remain high and it is likely that you will break even. The best chance for you to find a well-paying job is to have a TEFL/TESOL certification, which would ideally have been completed on-site in Italy.
The small, picturesque country of the Czech Republic is home to many foreign teachers, who enjoy the serene greenery and old town-feel of the country. Teachers can find programs in public and private schools, or go the route of language schools. Either way, you will serve as an educator in the ever-changing and growing Czech Republic.
In the Czech Republic, average monthly salary matches the average cost of living: $600 to $900 USD per month. Thus, teachers will find that there is little to save, but enjoy that the Czech Republic is generally cheaper than other parts of Europe. Keep in mind that a TEFL is not required to teach, but is preferred. The only major requirement is that you have a bachelor’s degree in English or a similar subject.
Although many French citizens are English-speakers, a large number of students aim to learn Business English. Additionally, many English teachers in France are also educators of international relations and promoters of cultural exchange. Thus, there are language schools and programs that cater to these needs and requests. Teaching in France is a unique experience and one that may be challenging and different than a trained ESL teacher is accustomed to.
Salaries in France, for ESL teachers, are a bit higher than in other European countries. University teachers can expect around $18,000 USD per year, while part-time teachers earn around $700-$1,000 USD per month. Although, since the cost of living is quite pricey in France, and often benefits aren’t included in teachers’ packages, you will not save much. Additionally, the French government requires a bachelor’s degree and a TEFL or CELTA for all its English teachers. If you don't have one yet, consider taking your TEFL course in France.
Austria is known for its stunning scenery, low crime rates, and of course, Mozart and Beethoven. At the crossroads of Eastern and Western Europe, with a complex history, Austria is a great place to grab a taste of multiple European cultures. Many recognize Austria for its multiculturalism, making this country a very dynamic location for foreign teachers.
The majority of teaching jobs in Austria will pay around 800 Euros per month. Since rent in Austria is a big expense, you will probably break even. Try looking for homestays, as they are a great deal and a good way to integrate into the local community. Note that while a TEFL is not mandatory, it is a preferred qualification, as well as a bachelor’s degree. Most schools only hire native English speakers as well.
Some European governments run programs that foster cultural and intellectual exchange through the placement of ESL teachers in public schools. These are great programs for teachers who are passionate about living in a certain country, and have perhaps studied the national language and history.
Often, teachers are provided housing and other benefits to improve the English language curriculum in public schools. Some act as teacher’s assistants or some may even be given their own classroom. Even so, the opportunity to teach in a European public school will provide teachers will the professional skills to start or continue a career in education.
In almost every city in Europe, you will find several privately-owned language schools. These institutes specialize in after-school and evening classes for English language learners. You will teach English to children and adults, as an instructor at a language academy. Additionally, you might have students who are beginners or those looking to advance their proficiency by taking a high-level, business English course. Either way, language schools offer flexible schedules (as you will likely work afternoons, evenings, or weekends), leaving plenty of free time to explore the sights and beauties across Europe.
Europe is deeply integrated and involved in international business, politics, and pop culture. Most Europeans are proficient, and even fluent, in 3 or more languages (wow!). That being said, there is no shortage of international and bilingual schools. English is hands down the most popular second language that students are taught in school.
TEFL + Teaching:
A combination TEFL + teaching program is a great option for new teachers or those fresh out of college. Teachers can receive their TEFL certification after completing the minimum 120-hour course. Most programs will help by providing job assistance for their TEFL course participants. Teachers will have the chance to apply for jobs at partner schools (private, public, or international) while conveniently located in their country of choice. ITA and LanguageCorps offer these combination programs in multiple European countries.
As the cost of living in Europe is quite high, many teachers tutor on the side to supplement their income. Tutoring is a great way to earn extra money and meet local students, from all types of families and neighborhoods. Create a local network by posting advertisements in newspapers, local cafes, or online. Your hourly rate will depend on your qualifications and experience, but you cannot go wrong by nabbing a tutoring gig in Europe!
Cost of Living in Europe:
Living in Europe is undoubtedly very expensive, especially when you must factor in the high income taxes in many European countries. A teacher’s biggest expense will be monthly rent. Some programs (particularly those connected with the government) will provide housing, although, most do not. Make sure to find housing outside of the city center if you wish to save money. It may even be possible to live with a host family, where you will get a taste of local life and even learn the native tongue!
Western Europe, and many of the big name cities (Paris, London, Amsterdam), will have much higher costs of living than in Eastern Europe. If you are short on cash, try heading east or finding a teaching job in smaller towns across the region. Transportation is easy in Europe, and you will be able to travel on a budget if you are placed in a more remote area.
Typically, the minimum requirements for ESL teachers in Europe are the following: TEFL/TESOL certification, bachelor’s degree, and to be a native English speaker.
For non-EU citizens, it will be difficult to obtain a work visa on your own. The easiest way to secure a work visa is to find a job while in Europe, as it will be more convenient for employers to complete the legal process. If you obtain a job through a program, they will become your visa sponsor prior to your arrival in Europe.
Classroom and Work Culture in Europe:
Learning styles are different in Europe than in the United States. Students often use memorization methods to absorb the material, rather than utilizing discussion as a tool. Learn a little bit of the native language, to better communicate and understand your students. Always dress business casual, unless told otherwise by your employer.
Questions to Ask:
- How many hours/week will I work?
- Are suitable teaching materials provided?
- What is the dress code?
- What kinds of benefits are included in my contract?
- Will the school sponsor a work visa (particularly for non-EU citizens)?
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