While Portugal has rarely featured as a top TEFL location in Europe, in recent years a number of teachers have become aware of the unique benefits to living in this country, prompted by its recent economic growth. This is a country with rich employment opportunities and a slower pace of life for seasoned TEFL teachers who want to kick back and enjoy the good weather. With a social culture and a positive attitude to language learning, teachers will find their role in Portuguese society easy to settle into.

Foreigners are drawn to Portugal for the slower pace of life. Locals are friendly and gregarious – they like to socialise, eat together, enjoy good music, and spend time in cafés and bars. The weather is a major draw in Portugal, which enjoys warm weather for most of the year (March to October) but summers can be stiflingly hot if you aren’t used to it. However, do bear in mind that winters are cold in Portugal – it isn’t balmy all year round. Relaxing on the beaches is a great way to spend your free time if you live on the coast.

While predominantly popular for British expats, it’s easy for any EU citizen fluent in English to work in Portugal. Non-EU citizens will need a work permit (Autorização de Trabalho). All foreigners living in Portugal must apply for a residency permit (Cartão de Residencia).

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Key Facts

  • Popular locations for TEFL jobs: The Algarve, Porto, Lisbon, Coimbra
  • Average salary for EFL teachers: The basic monthly salary for full-time positions is likely to be in the region of €700 to €1,000 (£616 – £880/$756 – $1,080) per month. Top schools will offer in the region of €1,300 – €1,600 (£1,145 – £1,409/$1,404 – $1,729) per month. Private lesson prices vary from €10 – €18 (£8.80 – £15.85/$10.80 – $19.45) per hour.
  • TEFL qualification requirements: A 120-hour TEFL certificate is a minimum requirement.
  • Prerequisite university degree: Candidates are required to hold a degree for all but volunteering positions.
  • Term times: September – June (dates vary by region).
  • Currency: Euro
  • Language: Portuguese
  • Teaching programmes: Intensive summer school courses (which are a great way into securing a full-time job), public schools, private schools, international schools, language centres, freelance.
  • Age restrictions: None
  • Previous teaching experience: At least one year of experience will be required for many jobs, with the best jobs asking for two or more years of experience. Knowledge of basic Portuguese will also make you more employable.

While the wages for TEFL teachers in Portugal might not seem as high as other nearby countries, remember that the cost of living is low in Portugal. Most teachers in full-time employment will find they have enough to live on, but can make up any extra they need by teaching one-to-one classes in the evenings or on weekends.

Most Portuguese schools operate from Monday to Friday and teachers will teach around 22 hours per week, on top of preparation time. Some schools might require you to get involved with extra activities such as school performances. Classes are likely to be 45 minutes for younger students, 90 minutes for older kids. Getting hired in a private school can sometimes be easier than in a public school – public schools are more likely to require a knowledge of Portuguese, and their employment process can be lengthy. Full-time contracts will be for 9 or 12-months. If you have a 9-month contract, fill the gap with a summer school placement before the next term.

Teaching in a language school will have a different schedule, with most lessons taking place in the evenings and weekends. You might apply for a school job and find yourself actually working for five or six different schools who share you throughout the week. This is likely to be the case in smaller locations where one school doesn’t have enough pupils to justify a full-time English teacher. Some jobs provide accommodation, flight reimbursement, school meals, Portuguese lessons, and an annual bonus.

Requirements for teaching English in Portugal

Country Avg. monthly salary Degree required Start of term Teaching experience Housing & flights included Suitable for non-native English speakers Age restrictions
Teach in Portugal £616 – £880
($756 – $1,080)
Yes September Preferred No Yes None

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Living Costs

While you may not be raking it in with a huge salary in Portugal, the cost of living is low and you can afford a great lifestyle. In Western Europe, Portugal is the cheapest country to live in, beating other top TEFL locations like Spain, France, Italy and Germany. Prices are highest in cities such as Lisbon, Cascais, Porto, Braga and Aveiro, but get out into smaller locations and the cost of living will drop. Even in the most popular cities, prices are astonishingly low compared to other nearby countries.

When you live in Portugal, you can afford to embrace the Portuguese lifestyle. Eating out in Portugal is quite different to home dining in the country. At home, the diet Mediterranean-style – plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, side salads, lots of bread, soup and hearty dishes. When dining in restaurants, you’ll notice a distinct lack of vegetables – many of the dishes are meat or fish heavy, with assorted appetizers such as bread and olives. Vegetarians can struggle when dining out in Portugal. Dinner is eaten late in the evening, from about 19:00 – 23:00.

Café culture is a huge part of daily life in Portugal. Unlike other Western countries where you order a latte and a slice of cake and sit nursing it for an hour, in Portugal the café drinks are often short (even shot sized) and the cakes are bite-sized. As such, locals can be seen dashing into the coffee bars, knocking back an espresso and a tiny pastry, then heading out to carry on with their day just minutes later. The low cost of these treats (small coffee and assortment of tiny cakes for two people, under €5) you can afford to dine out frequently.

  • Accommodation: £429 – £628 / $526 – $770
  • Utilities: £95 / $117
  • Health insurance:If you live and work in Portugal and contribute to social security, you will typically be entitled to state healthcare (called the Servico Nacional de Saude (SNS), similar to the NHS in the UK). Dental visits not covered. GP Visit: £43 / $53
  • Monthly transport pass: £32 / $39
  • Basic dinner out for two: £23 / $28
  • Cappuccino in expat area: £2.02 / $2.48
  • A beer in a pub: £2.06 / $2.53
  • 1 litre of milk: £0.56 / $0.69
  • 2 litres of Coca-Cola: £1.72 / $2.11

(living costs sourced from Expatistan)

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