Types of Teaching Jobs in Europe
Teaching English in Europe means that you will roughly fall into one of two different categories. Either you will be working for a school or language institute, or you will be a freelancer teaching private tutorial sessions or arranged classes for business people. The major difference between the two major types is how much you will have to search out your own students.
Actually, many people teaching in Europe will have a regular contract with a school as well as doing some private tutoring on the side, if only to help make ends meet.
Teaching at Universities & Government Schools
Formal positions as an assistant or language teacher at a public school require more formal training then other English teacher positions. You will be required to have at least a BA, as well as formal Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) certification.
For an assistantship at a university, a BA with a language specialization or even a graduate degree will be necessary.
At Government schools, you will be typically acting as an assistant for language classes or as a supply teacher for the English language courses. You will almost always be teaching larger groups of children, many of whom will not be enthusiastic about learning. Because you are at a government run school, much of your curriculum may already be provided for you. This is a boon for you as you will not have to spend as much prep time getting ready for a class. It also means that you will have very little leeway on what you can teach or what approaches you can use. A good example of this kind of position is that of vacataire in France. A vacataire is essentially a supply teacher, filling in for a normal teacher at a school.
At the university level, you will typically be assisting a professor and providing tutorial sessions and conversational sessions with students. For this sort of position, most people actually have a degree in the native language as well as some formal teaching training.
The pay at a government school will typically be much higher than standard for English teachers. Wages usually start at about 30 euros/hour, but can be as high as 60 euros/hour for some universities depending on the school and your credentials and experience. The other advantage to working for a national school is that you will not have canceled teaching sessions where you don’t get paid. That is a loss of income that is all too common when teaching at language schools or with freelancing.
Teaching at Private Language Schools
By far the most common way to teach English in Europe is through an English Language school. These range in size from international schools like CDI that have offices in dozens of countries, to local language schools that are in only one city. When you work for a language school, they may hire you as a employee, or they may contract you as a freelancer. The difference between the two is that if they hire you as a freelancer, they do not have to give you any benefits or give you any notice if they fire you. Either way, when working for a language school, you will have a contract with them that spells out the number of hours per week that they will expect you to teach, as well as the agreed wage.
Language schools will have all kinds of courses and unlike teaching at a government school, you may well find yourself teaching both children and adults.
The classes you teach will be small, anywhere from one to six or seven students. The emphasis will be on personal interaction and individual practice in the context of group conversations.
Some language schools have a strict curriculum that you will be required to follow. Other schools will be much more open ended in what they allow for teaching methods. How much experience you already have as a teacher is going to dictate what level of creative control you are going to want in your classes.
The pay range for language schools is pretty broad, going from as low as 7 euros/hour for an untrained teacher with no certification to as high as 30 euros/hour for someone with a lot of experience at a good school. In general, someone with an ESL certification of some sort and at least a few months experience can plan to make between 12 and 15 euros/hour. Some schools offer their students instruction at home, which means you will have to be able to easily travel around the city. You will also want to find out if the school will cover your transportation costs.
One last thing to keep in mind is that many schools will have policies concerning how much you can interact with your students outside of the classroom. In many ways, these policies are there to protect the school’s own interests; if you are hanging out with your students, odds are you are teaching them English just so that you can communicate. So why would those students keep going to the school? While it may seem a little draconian make sure you are aware if your school has this kind of policy in your contract.
Teaching English Courses for Businesses
One of the fastest growing sectors for freelance English teaching is in providing businesses English lessons for employees. English has become the defacto language of business and most companies recognize that their employees need to know at least some of the language. In some countries such as France, the government has actually mandated that a certain amount of language training be made available each month to each employee.
While most English teachers who teach this kind of English are freelancers, there are two different ways for you to find clients. The first is to find clients yourself by advertising your services to businesses directly. The more common approach is to work for a company that provides this teaching service to businesses and hires you as a freelancer under contract.
For this type of teaching your own business experience and your credentials are going to be the biggest factor in landing clients. Most businesses that offer language training to their employees are in the technology sector. This means that your own grasp of the correct terminology and correct business language is essential. While some grasp of the local language will be necessary, if only so that you can arrange the terms of the contract, it will not be the prime consideration in getting you the job.
This type of English teaching offers the most flexibility but is also the hardest type of teaching to make a living with. In the first few months, you will have very few contacts and so very few students. After you establish a clientèle, you will still suffer from canceled sessions and clients who suddenly decide to no longer continue with you. Also, expect very ragged working hours with long days that in actuality include very few paid hours.
On the plus side, teaching private sessions earns the most money, typically anywhere between 25-45 euros/hour. You also have much more flexibility in your schedule. If exploring the country is as important as working, freelancing private sessions is definitely the way to go for you.
Working as a freelancer generally means you are going to need at least some command of the local language. Otherwise, how do you make arrangements with your clients? In fact, knowing the local language will be more important than your teaching credentials. While it will help you in gaining students to have some formal training, your ability to sell yourself in the native tongue is going to be much more useful for dealing with individual clients.
Your first big hurdle is going to be in finding students. First of all, you generally can’t be choosy on what type of students you take; children, adults, or teenagers, you are going to need money rather than preferred clients. Get your name out in as many places as possible. Put up signs offering your services all over your neighborhood and in any of the local stores and churches that will allow you to do so. Don’t be afraid to actually put an ad in the local paper as well. You are going to have to get your name and number out as much as possible.