As a country rich in history, loaded with beautiful beaches, and home to a fun, young population, Israel is an excellent place to teach abroad. English teachers are in high demand in Israel, since learning English is compulsory for all students beginning in 4th grade.
Even so, many schools start teaching the language at a younger age, so Israel is always in the market for some fabulous English teachers. Currently, there are about 14,000 English teachers in the country... will you be number 14,001?Photo credits: amira_a.
There are several opportunities to teach English in Israel. Something to note about the school system is that there are Jewish schools (broken into public secular, public religious, private), Arab schools, and mixed schools.
Elementary and Junior High schools are all under the supervision of the Ministry of Education. This means that hiring for these jobs is generally done through a government agency rather than through each particular school. For elementary school, a full-time position is 30 hours of teaching per week.
For junior high, it is 24 hours a week (FYI, 6th grade is considered elementary school, unlike in many systems in the U.S.). High schools are generally independent and run locally. School can be secular, vocational, or religious, and a full-time position is 24 hours of teaching per week.
Parents in Israel understand that English is a global language and want their children to excel. As such, many parents hire private English tutors for their kids. This is also generally a well-paying option.
Many adults are incredibly interested in learning and perfecting their English as well, so you could find opportunities tutoring adults privately. It is also quite common for companies to hire English teachers to come into their office and tutor their whole staff.
Some private organizations also offer programs to teach at various schools in Israel. These are often for Jewish teachers, but not always. They generally offer a monthly stipend, housing, airfare, and other utilities, but you may need to pay a tuition cost.
Where and When to Look for Jobs:
The school year goes from the end of August to mid/end June, so much of the hiring is done in August. However, because teachers are so in demand and might need to take Hebrew language courses and other certification courses in Israel prior to beginning their job, hiring occurs year round. If you work at schools under the Ministry of Education, you can contact them with your location and they will find you a job nearby.
There are various necessary qualifications for teaching in Israel. First of all, you must be able to speak, read, and write in Hebrew. Israel’s Ministry of Education suggests that teachers participate in Ulpan, an intensive Hebrew language course that are offered both in Israel and in various American cities.
Teachers must also have an approved degree in any major, but the language of instruction for the degree must be English. Being TEFL certified, though not required, will make you a more competitive applicant in the hiring process. Even if certified elsewhere, the Ministry of Education requires that teachers be certified in an Israeli program as well. This is offered through Israeli universities and is subsidized.
Salary and Cost of Living:
The cost of living is quite high in Israel and has been a hot topic in recent years. Teachers’ base salaries are very low in Israel ($500-$700 per month), but you get additional bonuses with further experience, certifications, and other qualities (like attending offered conferences and workshops). Young, less experienced teachers can expect to be on the lower end of this spectrum. Private tutoring is a great supplement to this salary, earning between $20 - $50 per hour.
Living in a city center is more expensive than living on the city’s outskirts or in a smaller town. A one bedroom apartment in the city costs about $785 per month versus $650 elsewhere, so definitely think about finding a roommate. Often, the school you are working for will help you find housing. Groceries will run you about $400 a month depending on where you shop, and utilities will total somewhere around $180.
You might get stipends for accommodations and some programs offer housing, but it is not a guarantee. You can find housing online otherwise.
Classroom & Work Culture:
- Student-Teacher Relations: Israeli teachers are stern, yet warm with students. The classroom is not always fully in perfect array, as teachers don’t really feel that complete order is necessary in the classroom. Students also call their teachers by their first name.
- Dress Code: The dress code for teachers in Israel is very relaxed. Of course use your best judgment to wear something appropriate (read: no booty shorts), but the level of casualness is really up to you. There is occasionally talk of instating stricter dress codes.
- Greetings: Generally people shake hands upon meeting. When two people know each other, it is customary to kiss on both cheeks. However, if you are meeting a religious Jew, religious law forbids them from touching someone of the opposite gender (unless they are married or family). In this case, you should be wary of how they respond and go with the flow as to how they greet you.