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Work abroad: introduction to teaching English in Europe

Work abroad: introduction to teaching English in Europe
TEFL - teaching English in Europe

TEFL - teaching English as foreign language

One of the most popular and portable careers when thinking of moving abroad is teaching English.  Opportunities can be found in almost any country and certification comes in many different levels to suit almost everyone.

So, how do you go about teaching English in Europe?

Firstly, there are different acronyms and phrases to be aware of.  You will see such things as TEFL, TESOL, EFL, ELT and more.

What do they all mean?

  • TEFL = Teaching English as a Foreign Language
  • TESOL = Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
  • EFL = English as a Foreign Language
  • ELT = English Language Teacher

Certifications for teaching English usually come under TEFL or TESOL.

Where can you teach?

Once accredited you will be able to teach English almost anywhere there is a demand.  Whilst demand is currently highest in Asia there is still plenty of opportunities for work in Europe.

There is still a demand for teaching English in Western Europe and  in Eastern and Central Europe there are increasingly more opportunities to teach English. According to Teach English Worldwide, “the best pay and most comfortable living conditions are in the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary.”

How to become certified?

While you don’t need to be certified to be able to teach English, especially if you are doing 1-to-1 tutoring, if you want to make a career out of it and work in schools you will need certifications to prove your skills.

The most highly regarded certifications are the CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) by the University of Cambridge and Trinity’s CertTESOL.

CELTA is an initial qualification for people with little or no previous teaching experience and is one of the most widely taken qualifications of its kind. Over 10,000 people each year choose CELTA to open up a whole world of exciting English language teaching opportunities.

The CertTESOL is accepted and recognised by most English language schools in most countries around the world. It also gives you a good basis to train to teach English in the Lifelong Learning Sector in the UK.

Cambridge now also offer an online CELTA course and you can also complete the CELTA exams in 130 different countries so you don’t need to come to the UK to do it! Trinity has providers of their course in over 100 locations worldwide.

There are other TEFL certificate providers, online and offline, and in order to help you find the right course for your needs there is a handy course finder for people wishing to train to teach English abroad.

How to find jobs?

Most course providers also have jobs boards where you can search for placements when you have completed your certification.  They often also provide information on volunteering and internships.  For example, i-to-i TEFL, where I did an online course, have a jobs board which provides resources for searching for jobs throughout the world.  A quick search online will also provide scores of websites with TEFL job information.

Alternatively, once you have settled in a country it is also worthwhile getting in touch with any local schools or placing private ads in local websites or newspapers.

How much can you get paid?

Payment for teaching English varies considerably depending on how and where you are teaching and also what qualifications you have.

Teaching English in Europe is a great way of earning money and is very portable but it does require considerable input if you wish to do it as a career. It is also something you will need to consider before moving abroad in order to make sure you are ready when you get there.

Have any of you taken TEFL certifications? Anyone had any experience teaching English in Europe? What was the experience like and do you recommend it to others?

Image: Paul Gooddy /


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