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Teach English in Europe

Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) is a great way of earning money on your travels. Every city has language schools that need English teachers, and native speakers are by far the most popular and effective teachers. You could be teaching children or adults at all levels from basic grammar to technical business English. There are so many opportunities throughout Europe and beyond: from tiny schools in mountain villages to cosmopolitan colleges in Barcelona, Rome or Prague.

The benefits of teaching are huge. You can earn money to fund your travels, schools often help out with accommodation, you have the satisfaction of teaching others and you meet people from all over the world. It also gives you the opportunity to learn another language yourself and adds valuable experience to your CV.

Where can I get a TEFL qualification?

There are two universally accepted TEFL qualifications: the Cambridge Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) that is awarded by the University of Cambridge, and the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) that is awarded by Trinity College London. The courses are actually carried out by colleges, language school and universities both across the UK and the world.

The cost of the courses varies from institution to institution and depends on whether you take it full or part time. Expect to pay around £1000 for the full time 4 week version. If you are serious about TEFL however, and are flexible about where you go to teach, you should find that with a CELTA or TESOL qualification, you find work very easily.

Alternative Courses

There are alternatives to the CELTA and TESOL courses that cost less and take less time. These courses can be done over a weekend or even online. The advantages of these courses are that they are cheaper and less of a time commitment. The disadvantages are that the qualification you get at the end of the course will not be as universally recognised as CELTA or TESOL. If you want to find work in western Europe or in larger language schools, and will be applying for positions alongside teachers who have the Cambridge or Trinity College qualifications, you may find that they will be more highly regarded by recruiters.

TEFL at a glance:

  • You don’t have to be a professional teacher or even a graduate to teach English overseas.
  • You can get a TEFL qualification online or on a weekend course
  • Although schools do recruit year round, the peak season for recruitment is early summer, when schools are looking for staff to take classes in the autumn.
  • The longer you can commit to stay in one place, the more likely you are to find work.
  • Teachers can and often do work for more than one school on a freelance basis.
  • Conversation and grammar are the basics of TEFL.
  • Consider school holiday periods when you might not get paid.

Teaching English Abroad Case Study

Alice Barker got her TEFL qualification after leaving university. She found a job in Greece almost immediately.

“When I arrived in the village it was a real shock. It was a tiny place right up in the hills, with one bar and not much else! The school was completely different to schools in the UK. There were hardly any textbooks to go round the students, so as a teacher the classes were totally left up to you. There was no air conditioning in the building, and in the summer it was stifling, but we soldiered on. While our accommodation was basic to say the least, the friendship I struck up with another English girl who’d come out to teach more than made up for it. We had a great time. When we weren’t teaching we’d be sunning ourselves or practising our Greek on the locals. We also made friends with our students, and would often go out together to the local bar. Overall it was a great experience. Something completely different to Britain and very rewarding in terms of the life skills and friendships I developed.”