Europe is full of opportunities to teach English, and getting your TEFL certification in Europe can be a great way to break into the European teaching market if you’re not from the EU originally. It can also be an excellent way to get a certification that you’ll later use to travel elsewhere around the world, whether you’re from the EU or elsewhere.
Visiting the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, seeing the masterpieces at the Louvre, sipping hot chocolate at an outdoor market in Prague, exploring the boundaries between Europe and Asia in Istanbul… all these experiences and more can await you when you pursue your TEFL certification in Europe!
120-Hour TEFL Courses
These are the most commonly available types of courses, in Europe and around the world. A 120-hour TEFL course can be conducted completely on site and in person, or it can combine online coursework and in-person supervised practice teaching. Some programs feature online training before you travel, followed by supervised practice teaching in your destination country, which can be super helpful. Classes that are completely on site can be more intensely scheduled, usually in a 4-week block, while combination classes can give a little bit more scheduling flexibility. Programs can vary a lot in terms of how much support they give for finding accommodations and/or organizing social or extracurricular activities, so be sure to ask your program about these things in advance!
This is one specific type of English teaching certification, and it’s generally considered equivalent to the TEFL/ TESOL. It usually is conducted in a 4- or 5-week block intensive (though there are extended versions of the classes that take place over 16 weeks). There is also the option of an online course blended with in-person teaching practice. CELTA courses are available in numerous locations in Europe, but the availability of extended or online classes varies between locations.
When to Take Your TEFL in Europe
Depending on the country you’d like to live in and the type of certification that you’re interested in pursuing, you can find a variety of courses at different times of year. Strategically, it makes the most sense to get your certification right before a hiring season in your country of choice. If you’re hoping to stay in Europe, the peak hiring seasons throughout the continent are typically in January and September.
While you might be pursuing your TEFL certification in Europe with the intention of continuing to teach in the country where you’re studying, it’s also entirely possible that you’ll want to take your shiny new TEFL certification to another country or global region. If this is the case for you, look at the peak hiring seasons for the country or countries where you’d most like to teach, and plan your course schedule from there.
Popular Destinations for TEFL Courses in Europe
Nearly every country in Europe has some sort of TEFL option, but some particularly popular destinations include Prague, Barcelona, Paris, and Istanbul. A quick search for TEFL programs in your favorite country should yield several results. No matter where you decide to take your course, you’re sure to have an incredible experience!
What to Look for in a TEFL Course in Europe
When choosing a course, check first to make sure that the entity giving the course is accredited and will provide you with a certification that’s internationally recognized. Most intensive TEFL courses are about 4 weeks long, so be wary of courses that are shorter. You should look for a course that features at least 100 course hours of instruction time, plus at least 6 hours of supervised teaching time.
In addition, look for courses that have plenty of positive reviews from previous students. Finally, ask about the program’s job search assistance and/or job placement options -- if the program has pre-existing relationships with schools in a particular country or within Europe (or even in other regions), it can be a major bonus!
Very few programs will provide housing, but many will help you find housing by providing you with a list of resources including preferred neighborhoods and expected price ranges. Some may also put you in touch with other students in your cohort so that you can look for roommates in advance. Rent in most countries in Europe will be comparable to rent in the US or Canada, but overall cost of living can vary greatly between different cities and countries.
Visa requirements can vary in Europe, depending both on which country you come from and whether or not the country where you’d like to study is a member of the European Union. It’s a good idea to check with your local consulate to determine the most up-to-date visa requirements for citizens of your country. You should also check with your certification program to see their visa recommendations as well.
Health & Safety
Europe is generally safe for travelers. That said, you’ll still want to use the same basic street smarts that you would use in any other large city in the world.
As with travel to any destination, you may also wish to purchase travelers’ health insurance, and know the name and location of the nearest international hospital.
When to Apply for English Teaching Jobs in Europe
With very few exceptions, countries in Europe do most of their hiring for TEFL teachers during the months of January and September, though it never hurts to start looking early so that you have everything in order when hiring season starts. Ideally, your TEFL training program will have connections with local schools in the region and will be able to help you network. Think about what type of school you'd like to work at (public or private), and what your preferred age range is for students, so that you can look strategically at the options that are available.
Average Salary for Teaching Jobs in Europe
Salaries for teaching English in Europe can vary, but they’re generally commensurate with cost of living. In most cases you’ll be making enough to live comfortably in the country where you’re working, though you may need to do some budgeting in the beginning as you get used to your new salary and your new way of life. In Paris, teacher salaries are generally between $1,400 and $2,200 per month, and in Barcelona, salaries are between $1,700 and $2,400 per month. In Prague, you can expect to make between $900 and $1,300 per month teaching English, and in Istanbul, teacher salaries average between $1,000 and $2,000 per month.
No matter where you'll be teaching in Europe, it's a good idea to have some money saved up for start up costs, including any visa fees that aren't covered by your employer as well as whatever you'll need for rent and meals between your arrival date and the date of your first paycheck.
Tips for Finding a Job in Europe
Beyond looking at your program’s job assistance offerings, it’s a great idea to network with the wider community of expats. Ideally, you’ll find other more established English teachers who can help you find leads for schools or programs that are looking for new staff.
In addition, it’s important to keep in mind that some schools will hire foreign English teachers in advance, prior to travel, but other schools may only interview candidates who are already in the country. Your TEFL program and/or local English teachers should be able to help you find accurate hiring information for your preferred city or region.