Teaching English in Western Europe

The sad reality is that even countries such as France and Spain, which used to have lots of English teaching jobs, have peaked for their demand for English teachers, particularly North American ones. Native English speaking Europeans have a much easier time of getting teaching jobs since they do not require a visa or work permit.

But don’t lose hope!

There are still jobs to be had, just with a little more work and ingenuity. You will have an easier time finding English teaching work in some countries over others. In this section we give an overview of English teaching in some of the more popular Western European countries.

Teaching English In Germany

Freelancing in Germany is tough to do legally because of current rules governing freelancing immigrants.

You will have a better chance of landing a job and getting the appropriate visa if you go to Germany on a three month Shengen visa and then look for work. Once you have a job with a language school, you will be able to apply for a residence permit from within Germany that will allow you to work. The other viable option is to go over on a student visa for language classes and teach English freelancing on the side. Canadians under 35 also have the option of working in Germany under the Youth Mobility Agreement.

A majority of the teaching work in Germany these days is in teaching business English to employees of companies through programs set up by the businesses themselves. TESL training such as a Certificate for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CELTA) is helpful to have, but most places will care more about where you have taught before, and your business experience.

In Germany, you can expect to make between 15-20 euros/hour working at a language school, with some wages going as high as 28 euros/hour. Private tutoring will pay more, usually at least 30 euros/hour. In a city like Munich, you will need at least 1200 euros a month for just basic living. This is because you have to pay 20% of your pre-tax income into a pension fund and have health insurance which will be anywhere from 200-400 euros per month. Trying to work in Germany illegally is not recommended as they are much more strict on illegal workers than other European countries due to their higher unemployment rate.

Teaching English In France

The traditional method for finding work in France has been to sign up for a language class and go over on a student visa. Another option is to try and get one of the Assistant de langue visas that are available to North Americans. Canadians under 30 can also work under a working holiday visa. While it is fairly common for people to work illegally teaching English in France, particularly in Paris, the wage is typically much lower than what is already some of the lowest teaching wages in Western Europe.

Teaching at a language school will get you anywhere from 12-35 euros/hour with the lower amounts being more typical. Private tutor lessons are typically at 20-25 euros/hour. Working as a vacataire (supply teacher) at an Education Nationale school (The Government public schools) will typically pay around 40 euros/hour. A vacataire at a French university can make up to 60 euros/hour, but expect the university to be quite late in payments.

One option for teaching English that is really catching on in popularity is in teaching over the phone. Offering this type of teaching to your clients will not only get you more business, it will reduce your travel expenses significantly.

Teaching English In Italy

Because of EU migration laws, It is almost impossible for a North American to teach English legally in Italy. Your best bet is to try and obtain citizenship of a EU country through something like an ancestry visa in the UK if you want to teach in Italy.

There are also five 9 month teaching assistantships available through the Fulbright Foundation.

It is possible to work illegally in Italy and quite a few do so as the Italians are much more lax than countries like Germany in enforcing immigration laws. If you do decide to take this path, be aware that you have absolutely no rights and no legal protection. If your employer suddenly decides not to pay you, you have no legal recourse for help.

Language schools pay between 10-32 euros/hour and expect to be on the lower end if you are working illegally. For tutoring, the average rate is about 20 euros/hour. Visa legality won’t make a difference in that rate, but as with any freelance teaching, you will have a tough time in the first six months finding enough clients to pay the bills. Teaching business clients as a private freelance will usually net around 40 euros/hour for individuals or 15-20 euros/hour per person for groups. Of course, the regional government usually reimburses companies for part of the language training which mean you will have to be working legally (or at least working illegally for a legal company) for this kind of work.

There is generally more work in Milan than in Rome for English Teaching, particularly for short term contracts. There is also work available in smaller cities in both the North and South of the country.

Teaching English In Spain

While not as plentiful as it used to be, there is still lots of work teaching English in Spain, particularly in Barcelona and Madrid. Unfortunately for North Americans, work visas are difficult to obtain, so your options are to work under a student visa or to simply work illegally. Like Italy, working without a visa is possible, but difficult because you have no legal recourse if things with your job go badly. If you have excellent Spanish skills, you could also try for a position as a language and culture assistant.

You do not need to know any Spanish to teach in Spain, except if you are planning on doing private tutoring sessions with young children. However, everyone will expect that you have an on-site TESL training course of some type as a minimum set of credentials. This will at least get your foot in the door with language institutes. For private schools and universities, you will need a minimum of a BA, with TESL training and at least a couple of years of experience.

Wages for teaching in Spain are about par with the rest of Europe, if a little on the low side. Wages at language schools can go from 7 euros/hour for untrained newbies up to 20 euros/hour for skilled employees with a couple of years of experience. If you are freelancing, typical rates are 25-30 euros/hour.

Teaching English In the United Kingdom

The good news is that both Americans and Canadians can teach English in the UK under a working holiday visa. The teaching scene is obviously a little different in the UK as you certainly won’t be teaching the locals English. Your work will be mostly with foreign students and your best bet for work is going to be through language schools or at summer camps. Be aware that if you do work a summer camp, you will be expected to also chaperone the kids and entertain them when you are not giving them language lessons.

Rates for English teachers in the UK are also quite low, anywhere from 6-12 pounds/hour with a language school. If you do manage to find private tutoring work, the going rate is around 25-30 pounds/hour.

Teaching English In Switzerland

Unless you have some kind of EU citizenship, or your spouse does, it will be almost impossible for you to teach in Switzerland. While in Switzerland on a tourist visa, you have no right to work, and you cannot look for work. It is extremely rare for a company to sponsor a work visa for someone outside the EU, and Switzerland is one of the worst countries in Europe for trying to work illegally.

If you do manage to have a work permit, you will also need a degree plus TEFL training such as CELTA to teach English in the language schools. If you do not have a degree, don’t despair; many Swiss families are keen to have their children tutored privately, and you don’t necessarily need any formal training for this work.

The best part about teaching English in Switzerland is that the wages are some of the best in Europe. Wages at languages schools are typically between CHF25-50/hour (15-30 euros/hour). There is also work teaching English to public school teachers so that they can in turn teach students. This work can pay up to CHF120/hour.

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