I have been asked several times about information about Teaching English Abroad, especially in Germany since I made my dreams come true by moving to Germany in 2012 to teach English. I can only tell you the information I know from personal experience, so here you go:
1. What do I need?
First of all, in order to teach abroad you must have at least a Bachelors Degree. It doesn’t really matter in what. Preferably a language, obviously, but I have met people with all kinds of backgrounds. You also need to have some training in teaching English through a program in order to receive a TEFL, TESOL or CELTA certificate.
2. What company do I use?
I used TEFL Institute, however, I just recently learned that this company is under suspicion of cheating students from receiving their certificates or cancelling classes that students have paid for. At the time, I had no problems whatsoever with attending my class in London. Although, there were some suspicious signs such as a rented out room in a building with classroom tables thrown together. There was no student support directly attached to this classroom other than the teacher that was provided for the class. Any support I needed, I had to contact the company directly based out of Chicago. After the class ended, many of the students in my class, myself included, did have some difficulty receiving our certificates, but after some time we did receive them.
Keep in mind that having a teaching certificate in TEFL,TESOL or CELTA cannot be substituted for a university education. When shopping for a TESOL or TEFL course, make sure it is reputable company and accredited. Don’t be duped into purchasing a groupon TESOL for $75 since it will be worthless. Getting a TESOL or TEFL also serves as a good foundation for teaching and will make the transition into the classroom much easier.
Accredited TESOL, TEFL or CELTA course will run anywhere from $300 to $2200. A course for $300 will allow you to get your foot in the door and most likely land a job in one specific country, while a course costing closer to $2000 will be widely recognized and grant access to some of the best paying jobs. Of course, it is ultimately up to you as an individual as to what kind of teaching job you find. Paying $2000 for a TEFL course doesn’t guarantee you will get one of the better positions, but increase your chances.
Here are some recommended programs:
International TEFL Academy is one of the world’s largest TEFL certification schools to become professionally trained as an English teacher. ITA trains more than 2,000 English teachers annually and offers internationally accredited TEFL-TESOL certification courses online and in 25 locations around the world. All students and graduates receive lifetime job search guidance and graduates are currently employed as teachers in more than 80 nations in Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.
International Teacher Training Organization has more than 40 years of teaching experience and teacher training understanding in the English Language teaching field with locations around the world.
Be sure to also check out the Fulbright Scholarship Program which has 125 grants available for countries all over the world.
Keep in mind, you have to do your due diligence and research every program that will best suit your needs. I did the TEFL Institute program because they had a location in London, which would allow me to stay with family while I got my certificate through a 4 week intensive course. But talk to a representative and they will connect you with a guidance counselor who can help you with your career.
3. Do I need to know the language?
Absolutely not, but it definitely helps if you do. Sometimes many of the schools will even offer you to learn the language at a discounted price. But the point of teaching English abroad is to be taught by a native English speaker who doesn’t switch into that country’s native tongue.
4. Where do I teach?
That is personally up to you to decide. Many countries offer different benefits to teaching abroad. I specifically chose Germany because I had prior experience living in Germany and knew the language.
Here is a list of countries and local schools for each country which you can apply to!
THIS SITE GOT ME BOTH OF MY JOBS!
Here are some recommended places of teaching and what they might require:
In order to work in Germany, you must already be living in Germany with an address and phone number before anyone will even look at your resume. Fortunately for me, I was able to stay with a friend and use her address while I looked for a job. I also set up my cell phone so that I could be contacted. Many language schools in Germany won’t bother with you if you are not yet in Germany, mostly for fear they will hire you and then you won’t arrive. Many language schools in Germany require an in person interview, but you can get lucky with a Skype interview.
Most teaching jobs in a language school are FREELANCE, which means you work for the company, but not with a contract. This allows you to work for multiple language institutions. Sometimes you can get lucky and become a contracted teacher, which then means you are not allowed to work for any competing language schools. I have been lucky to be both. In Germany, you can make anywhere between 800-1000euros a month. It’s not much, but if you’re good with money it will be easy to pay for cheap rent and still travel!
The best hiring time is August/September and again in January before the semesters start.
Here is a list of Language Schools in Germany that I found helpful in applying for my jobs (and you can bet I applied to every single school!) Some schools that I recommend are Inlingua and Berlitz. Inlingua is a franchise and are privately owned so you will have to apply to each Inlingua individually.
The Czech Republic has been and remains a popular destination for Native English speakers to teach. 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. I had two friends who taught English in Czechia and made decent wages.
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.
Poland has become a hot spot 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 and delicious food. It’s geographical central location makes it easy to travel to other parts of Europe.
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.
When I was looking for a job, I even considered France. Unfortunately, they have really high standards and since I didn’t speak French, they weren’t willing to consider me. It also didn’t help that I was not directly in France looking for a job.
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 teaching English in France. That is not a lot and you will need to have some saving to survive.
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.
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 live comfortably on that amount considering 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 illegal? 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. I had a friend who moved to Italy first to live with a family and help them in their hotel while she looked for a job, but soon gave up and went to the Czech Republic because finding a teaching job in Italy seemed more difficult.
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 lifestyle and I certainly cannot blame them. If you feel that I left some deserving countries off of this list, please feel free to comment.
5. How long can I teach English for?
With a TEFL, TESOL or CELTA certificate it usually lasts a life time. However, your contract with each company can be different. My first job required that I stay for a minimum of two years because many teachers come and go, therefore, some companies like to have the stability of long term teachers. However, you can leave at any time. Many companies generally have one year contracts which can be renewed.
6. How do I get a work visa?
In Germany, you can stay on your tourist visa for the first 90 days. Many jobs require you to have a work visa prior to working for them, which can be hard to get since in order to have a work visa, you must first have a job! Its a double edged sword! So try to only go for the jobs which will help with the visa process by hiring you first, proving you have a contract and therefore you can go to the Foreign Office (Auslandersamt) in order to get your visa.
In order to get a work visa, you must also have proof of residency, bank account and phone, as well as German health insurance (which can be provided by your job). You cannot live in Germany without health insurance! This is the most important part of getting your visa! Which again can be hard because in order to rent an apartment, you must first have a bank account, which you cant have unless you have a job which proves they will be direct depositing into your account. Keep at it, and eventually one of them will give in first.
7. How do I find an apartment?
In Germany, it is relatively easy to find an apartment, thanks to a fantastic website called WG-Gesucht. The best thing to do is to register and look in the city you would like to live in. Many of these apartments are more share apartments, meaning you will have roommates. The website tells you the languages the people in the apartment/flat speak. Sometimes, the apartments are long term/month by month or sometimes they are short term, while people are busy traveling, studying or working abroad.
The best thing to do if you are moving to Germany to teach English is to find an apartment that is already furnished since you will be coming to Germany without furniture. Sometimes you may have to pay extra for this. Many apartments are students only so be careful when emailing the renters to make an appointment. The website provides you with background information about the roommates (if they aren’t lazy) and it informs you how many people live there, where the apartment is and usually a phone number or email address of the person to contact.
As for being a single woman, I always made my appointments in the day time and scoped out the apartments prior to meeting the people. Some apartments were messy and student-like, others were empty and required bringing your own furniture. I got lucky and found an apartment in the city center completely furnished for a reasonable price. The further from the city center, the cheaper the apartments becomes.
READ THE CONTRACTS fully. Bring/find a friend who can be your translator. Some apartments/landlords require certain jobs to be done while living in the apartment, especially in Hesse. Some landlords require that you help mop the main entry way as a community helper. Everyone in the apartment building may have to do their bit to help out. In Bavaria, this is less common. I have never encountered this here. In some states, maybe there is a portion of a contract that says quiet time is strictly enforced. I once visited and stayed with a friend and was not allowed to blow dry my hair before 8am or do anything loud after 10pm. And trust me, Germans take this very seriously!
8. What happens if I loose my job?
It is very hard to be fired in Germany because employers have to prove why you were not suitable for their company. However, should you loose your job, you may continue to stay in Germany if you can find another teaching job as quickly as possible. If you are lucky enough to find someone who may be willing to assume your financial responsibilities should you not be able to cover them, the foreign office will allow you to stay. The main concern the Foreign Office has is if you can support yourself as a foreigner without collecting government benefits.
Unfortunately, I lost my job and was not able to collect unemployment even though a part of my tax was deducted every month and went into unemployment. Had I filed for unemployment, the Foreign Office would have shipped me home! I was lucky to have a loving boyfriend to help me out while I looked for a new job. And generally, after you have already gained teaching experience in one school, it will become much easier to find a second teaching job.
Once you find a new job, you will have to repeat the visa process at the Foreign Office to prove that you have an address, bank and job. And they are assholes there and it definitely helps if you can speak German there or bring a translator. They do speak English, but they like to pretend that they don’t.
Any other questions, please feel free to contact me on the blog by writing a comment and I will surely answer any questions to the best of my knowledge and experience!