While many Scandinavian countries have had a declining market for the TEFL industry in recent years, Finland has remained a location that offers good opportunities for TEFL teachers. More than 90% of Finnish people speak a another language, with the majority of those speaking Swedish as their second language. There are coastal regions (particularly in the South and the West) where people speak Swedish as their first language, and in the North, the Sámi languages are mother tongue. With bilingual people often finding it easier to pick up multiple languages, it’s easy to see why the Finnish people are open to learning English.
Opportunities to teach English in Finland are varied and offer choices to all sorts of teachers. Whether you’d like to specialise in young learners, have a background in Business English or fancy teaching in commercial colleges, Finns learn English at every stage of life. Finland also offers a unique opportunity in that you don’t need to be experienced up to the eyeballs to grab a great position – even without a degree or experience you can still find jobs to apply for. When applying for positions in Finland, the best asset is flexibility and friendliness. Rather than offering general conversational classes, many English language courses will be quite specific, such as ‘English for presentation skills’. Be prepared to think on the spot, to market yourself in your niche specialisations, and teach a wide variety of topics with flair and confidence.
The Finns are fun-loving people with a great program of cultural events throughout the year, particularly seasonal events in this country that lives in near complete darkness throughout the winter, followed by eternal sunshine in the summer. It’s not difficult to make friends in Finland as the locals often speak English and have a great sense of community. You’ll soon see why they’re often labelled as some of the happiest people in the world. The Land of a Thousand Lakes, Finland is the perfect place to embrace the great outdoors and get healthy with plenty of exercise, just be aware of the typical temperatures for different times of year.
- Popular locations for TEFL jobs: Helsinki, Turku, Jyvaskyla, Oulu, Espoo, Rovaniemi and Tampere
- Average salary for EFL teachers: The basic monthly salary for full-time position is likely to be in the wide range of €800 – €3,400 (£718 – £3,050 / $900 – $3,850 )per month. For a full-time annual salary, you’re looking at €32,000 – €41,000 (£28,700 – £36,770 / $36,250 – $46,500). Hourly rates are in the region of €15 – €40 (£13.50 – £36 / $17 – $45). Summer job positions pay around €400 – €500 per week (£360 – £450 / $450 – $565) but also include accommodation and meals.
- TEFL qualification requirements: A 120-hour TEFL certificate is a good minimum to improve your chances of getting hired
- Prerequisite university degree: Not always required but will improve your job prospects.
- Term times: Mid-August/September to June.
- Currency: Euro
- Language: Finnish and Swedish
- Teaching programmes: Summer Schools, Private Language Schools, Public Schools, International Schools, Kindergarten, Freelance, Business English, English for specific purposes.
- Age restrictions: None
- Previous teaching experience: Not always required but certainly beneficial.
In Finland, TEFL lessons usually run for 45-minutes, and teaching schedules often differ to other countries – while evening classes are the norm elsewhere, in Finland your classes are more likely to be in daylight hours. However, some schools compress the working week into four days, giving you longer weekends. Freelance work is more popular these days than traditional contracts, and taxes will be your own responsibility – they’re high, so make sure you prepare properly. Teaching is a highly respected role in Finland, and while local teachers will be highly qualified (even for kindergarten roles), they’re more flexible when hiring someone with a fluency in English. Top international schools are likely to be pickier when it comes to selecting TEFL teachers.
Your working day in a full-time position might consist of about five hours of teaching per day, with time for planning and personal development extra to those hours. Many schools will provide private medical insurance, and might cover costs such as your initial airfare and will put you up while you look for somewhere to rent. As Finland isn’t traditionally a popular TEFL destination, those who venture there can find good quality jobs in easy supply, with choices even for those without experience.
Requirements for teaching English in Finland
|Country||Avg. monthly salary||Degree required||Start of term||Teaching experience||Housing & flights included||Suitable for non-native English speakers||Age restrictions|
|Teach in Finland||£700 - £3,050
($900 - $3,850)
In general, people in Finland have a high standard of living and don’t mind shelling out for luxuries such as private English lessons. Language classes are a way to keep boredom at bay in the long, dark winters, and with little to do outdoors at that time of year, teachers can put away some extra savings to enjoy their time in the summer months.
When the weather gets warmer, you’ll certainly be making the most of the great outdoors. With majestic backdrops and beautifully clean air, inexpensive activities such as hiking, cycling, swimming and rowing will become your weekend staples. There are round 200,000 lakes to explore across the country, as well as picturesque forests. In the snowy season, get in the Christmas spirit by visiting Finnish Lapland (and meeting Santa Claus) or chill out watching the Northern Lights. In cold weather, warm up in the popular saunas – naked snow bathing optional.
If you live in a big city like Helsinki, you can spend your free time visiting the cultural highlights such as museums and art galleries. The fact that English is widely spoken in Finland will make it easy for you to communicate with locals, as well as make friends and get by in day-to-day life. Finnish is more difficult to learn than other Scandinavian languages, but as language learning is such a big business in Finland, you’ll find no shortage of classes if you do want to pick it up, although be aware that many Finnish classes will be conducted with a Swedish mother tongue.
- Accommodation: £1,061 – £1,629 / $1,323 – $2,031
- Utilities: £83 / $103
- Cost of typical visit to a GP: £75 / $94
- Monthly transport pass: £50 / $62
- Basic dinner out for two: £40 / $50
- Cappuccino in expat area: £4.02 / $5.01
- A beer in a pub: £5.28 / $7
- 1 litre of milk: £0.97 / $1.20
- 2 litres of Coca-Cola: £2.39 / $2.97
(living costs sourced from Expatistan)
“I have been teaching at a Finnish summer camp now for two weeks and I am halfway through my experience. I cannot begin to explain how much I love this job: I live right by a huge lake, I can go rowing, swimming, and cycling (all for free) whenever I like. My days start at 8.45am and finish at 1.30pm.
My office is a jetty and I plan my lessons with the other English teachers down at the lake, watching the sunset. It doesn’t get dark here very much so at first it was hard to adjust, but now, I already feel like this is a home away from home and I will be sad to leave.
This is the only job I have ever truly loved! I was extremely nervous when I first arrived here as the idea of standing in front of a group of children terrified me. It has only been two weeks but now I cannot wait to get back into the classroom each day.”
Emma, TEFL Org graduate
Discover more student stories from TEFL Org graduates.