It’s likely every traveler hopes to conquer Europe’s expansive stretch of countries at some point during their adventures, whether they take the EuroRail across the continent on an extended vacation, backpack for a few months or relocate to an European country for work. If you’ve been thinking about teaching English abroad, perhaps Europe is where you’re meant to be. From Poland and Hungary to the Czech Republic and Spain, there are many countries that hire native and fluent speakers every year. Are you ready for the excursion of a lifetime? If so, check out the six most popular countries to teach English in Europe, where you could soon call home.
Many European countries have a similar way of hiring and compensating their ESL teachers. Most of the positions are in private language schools, summer camps or as a private tutor. Generally, you’ll be expected to fulfill 20-30 hours of classroom time. That doesn’t include the time you’ll need to prepare lessons and grade assignments, though. For many teaching jobs abroad, you’ll need to hold a BA or BS degree in any subject, although some will allow a TEFL certification to suffice. More prestigious schools may require a teaching certification. It’s always preferred and often required that foreign teachers complete a TEFL certification course.
Since most jobs to teach English in Europe are in private language institutes, hiring occurs year round. More formal or government sponsored positions may have peak hiring times, typically in September and January. Some schools are willing to interview their potential ESL teachers by phone, but others require an in-person interview. That means you’ll need to save up some money for your initial living costs and find an apartment before you start working. Oftentimes, teachers in Europe will pass apartments down as they come and go, so networking with fellow ESL teachers is the key to landing a convenient living situation. In fact, you’ll probably be sharing a place with your coworkers or teachers from other schools to keep the cost of living low.
Many shy away from teaching English in Europe because it’s not always easy to acquire a work permit. Some institutions will have their foreign employees stay on a tourist visa or a student visa and pay them “under the table,” so to speak, but there are others, like our Teach English in Prague Program, where our partners help you obtain a proper working visa.
While we’re on the topic of compensation, you can expect to be paid about as much as you need for living expenses, meaning you won’t have the opportunity to save much money while you’re teaching English in Europe. However, you get to live in Europe so….worth it.
6 Popular Places to Teach English in Europe:
1. Czech Republic
Formerly part of the Soviet Union, Czech Republic has become a popular destination for European travel and teaching English abroad. The country is rich in history, expertly brewed beer and majestic castles. Its breathtaking architecture includes a 9th century castle, historic bridge and medieval town square. Plus, the capital city of Prague is relatively affordable when you compare it to most other European cities.
Prague is one of the most common places to teach English in Europe, and its large population ensures a lot of job availability. Teaching contracts in Prague generally last for about a year, and popular hiring months are September and January. Most employers will want to interview you in person once you’re there, but you might be able to interview for some jobs on Skype. ESL teachers in Prague usually instruct school children or business professionals, either through language schools or as private tutors. If you opt to take a TEFL course in Prague and excel, you could even have job placement arranged for you.
Whether you’re living in the capital city of Warsaw or the southern medieval marvel of Krakow, teaching English in Poland will be a rewarding experience. You can learn a ton about European history in a country that many travelers skip over. ESL teachers in Poland mainly work with business professionals, and jobs are only acquired with in-person interviews. Something unique about Poland is that you don’t necessarily need a bachelor’s degree to be hired as an English teacher. Beautiful mountainous horizons, medieval architecture and more await you.
When you think about Italy, what comes to mind? Heaps of spaghetti and gelato? Classical art and architecture? World-renowned shopping? If you decide to teach English in Italy, you can surround yourself with all of these amazing things. And the most important food: pizza. Rome and Milan are popular places for teachers to settle because they’re large urban centers, and most ESL teachers instruct business professionals.
If you decide to teach in Hungary, you can work with business professionals or school children. Unlike many teaching jobs in Europe, Hungary has job opportunities for ESL teachers that can be interviewed for via Skype before they relocate to Europe. It’s common for Americans teaching in Hungary to be placed in cities such as Budapest, Debrecen, Miskolc, Szolnok and Szeged. While you’re in Hungary, enjoy its unique culture that’s been shaped by its many neighboring countries such as Romania, Austria and Croatia.
France is most well known for its capital city of Paris, but there are so many other amazing places in France that aren’t touched on during your average Eurotrip. Much like ESL teaching jobs in other European countries, September and January are the most popular months for hiring, and contracts last 10-12 months. You have to do a face-to-face interview for teaching jobs in France.
You can apply for the French Ministry of Education and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy program called TAPIF (Teaching Assistance Program In France) that connects Americans between the ages of 20 and 35 with assistant teaching positions. This role lasts seven months, from October to April. You work about 12 hours a week in up to three different local schools and you’re compensated with a work visa, health insurance and a stipend. However, be aware that you might be placed in a French colony like Guadeloupe or Martinique, rather than mainland France.
If you want to teach some of the most adorable kids in the world, head to Spain. While there are also positions teaching English to business professionals, you can be a teacher’s assistant in schools and a private tutor for schoolchildren. Some of the most popular places for ESL teachers to live and work include Madrid, Seville, Valencia and Barcelona. You will have no shortage of weekend destinations and excursions, from partying on the beaches of Ibiza to hiking through the Parque Nacional de Sierra Nevada.
The Spanish Ministry of Education also sponsors a program for assistant language teachers called Auxiliares de Conversación where native or bilingual speakers are hired from October to May working 12 hours each week.
Now that you’ve started brainstorming about your future as a foreign teacher, it’s time to get TEFL certified and plan your departure. From teaching in Prague to teaching in Rome, your next great job is waiting for you in Europe.
Words and Milan, Italy photo by Christine Hayes.