Teaching English in Europe

Europe has over 40 different languages and almost 500 million people. With these kinds of numbers, you would think that there would be all kinds of jobs for teaching English in Europe for North Americans. Well, there are still a lot of teaching jobs, but it is harder to make a living at it than before.

There are a whole range of options for the kind of teaching you do and the type of students you teach to.

You can…

  • tutor privately,
  • teach an immersion style class at a private language school,
  • freelance through an agency to provide instruction for business workers, or
  • teach at grade schools.

The ages you could teach also span the gamut, from pre-kindergarten vocabulary sessions up to adult conversational classes and everything in between. Much of what will determine what kind of teaching you do will be which country you want to teach in and what credentials you may have.

How Much English Teachers are Paid

The reality of teaching ESL or TEFL in Europe is that you will not be making a whole lot of money doing the work.

English teachers are paid fairly low throughout Europe, although you can generally make more money freelancing than working strictly at a school. Most English teachers are either in the country for six months to a year to experience the culture of the country, or they are there long term living with a spouse that is the majority earner and they can afford to teach because they enjoy it. It is rare to find people who make a career of teaching English in Europe, but it can happen.

The Visa Challenge

For most people, the biggest difficulty is in getting the necessary work permits and visas for teaching English. While some countries like France have a separate visa for teachers, in many countries you will probably have to go to the country under a student visa in order to have a chance of getting any working visa at all. Canadians do have the option of teaching English under a working holiday visa for the countries that have that type of visa.

Advantages & Disadvantages

These days the biggest disadvantage is simply the huge number of other teachers you are competing against for teaching positions. So many people use teaching English abroad as a way to help pay for their trip that the job market, particularly for the lower wages, is pretty saturated. The other disadvantage is that, even when working at a language school, you will usually not be paid for prep time or travel time. Both of those can really take a huge chunk out of your day, especially the prep time.

One of the biggest advantages to teaching English in another country is that it is a great way to meet a lot of local people in a real hurry. The other advantage is that as long as you are a native English speaker, you will be able to get a job somewhere. It may not pay that great, but if all you are looking for is being able to pay the bills while you check out the country, teaching English will certainly provide that.

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