Like other Scandinavian countries, finding a TEFL job in Sweden isn’t easy, even for those who are both well-qualified and experienced. On some English proficiency tests, Sweden has ranked first place several years in a row, and there’s even an ongoing debate about whether English should be classed as a ‘foreign language’ at all, due to its widespread usage. In excess of 85% of the population speak English to some extent, with a 2005 study suggesting that around 40% of the population speak English every day. As such, finding work as an EFL teacher can be extremely difficult.
Many TEFL jobs in Sweden are taken by locals who are bilingual or fluent in English, although finding someone with a perfect accent can be a little harder as the Swedish language is so lyrical and can cause L1 interference. Sweden offers expat roles in a variety of industries, and so many people who have travelled to Sweden as a spouse can find work teaching English. Like many countries in this position, employers find it much easier to hire someone already in the country (like the spouse of an employed expat). They will potentially hire them more readily than someone who needs to come into the country, find accommodation, open a Swedish bank account, etc. Part-time teaching jobs may be taken up by students who are living in Sweden and benefitting from their excellent education system.
To make yourself more employable in Sweden, knowing a bit of Swedish will certainly go a long way. As another Germanic language, Swedish actually isn’t all that dissimilar to English and so the task might be easier than learning a Romance language such as Portuguese, Italian or Spanish. You might find opportunities to teach English in Sweden to refugees and immigrants from other countries, although these will almost always be voluntary positions, but potentially a good entrance into the country. While positions are scarce, if you manage to find employment in Sweden you’ll be rewarded with a good quality of life, excellent public services, a vibrant culture and stunning natural backdrop.
- Popular locations for TEFL jobs: Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmo, Lund and Uppsala.
- Average salary for EFL teachers: The basic monthly salary for part-time or full-time positions in language schools (or full-time pre-school positions) is likely to be in the region of 4,680 SEK – 28,000 SEK (£400 – £2,400/ $500 – $3,000) per month. At public schools and international schools, teachers earn from 30,000 SEK to 50,000 SEK (£2,550 – £4,250 / $3,200 – $5,300) per month, with the higher wages for secondary school teachers.
- TEFL qualification requirements: A 120-hour TEFL qualification is required for most jobs as a minimum.
- Prerequisite university degree: Most jobs require at least a BA degree, with International Schools hiring subject teachers usually requiring a strong academic background in your subject
- Term times: August to June, but regionally dependant
- Currency: Swedish krona (SEK)
- Language: Swedish
- Teaching programmes: International Schools, Adult Education Centres, Private Language School, Freelance, Public Schools, Voluntary
- Age restrictions: None
- Previous teaching experience: One year minimum for many jobs, useful for any application
To teach in a public school in Sweden you might need to have a certificate from the National Agency for Education, which certifies that you have a working ability in Swedish, but some mother tongue teaching positions are exempt. International schools will have their own regulations, with the general rule being that Swedish is useful but not always mandatory in bilingual schools.
Private language schools are a rarity, and those you find will have limited classes and be mainly business orientated. You’re unlikely to find work in a Swedish kindergarten or positions teaching young learners, unless they’re either bilingual/international establishments or you have proficiency in Swedish.
In general, you’ll find the education system in Sweden quite progressive and open. Formal classroom setups are going out of fashion, particularly in educating younger children, and there is a greater focus on student mental health, wellbeing, and creating a rounded individual rather than a purely academic focus. Students are self-motivated and hard working. With colleagues and adult students, it’s best to start formally (handshakes, surnames and smart appearance) but don’t be surprised to see teachers wearing jeans and greeted by first names.
Requirements to teach English in Sweden
|Country||Avg. monthly salary||Degree required||Start of term||Teaching experience||Housing & flights included||Suitable for non-native English speakers||Age restrictions|
|Teach in Sweden||£1,100 - £2,400
($1,400 - $3,000)
Sweden has a reputation for being an expensive country. Typical of places that have high taxation, you lose a fair chunk of your take-home pay. However, you also get a lot for your money in the way of excellent public services, from free university education for resident students, free school lunches and a great education, affordable childcare, generous parental leave, good pensions, and high unemployment pay allowance.
The most expensive places to live in Sweden include Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmo, Lund and Uppsala, but if you decide to live in a smaller location, you’ll find daily life much more affordable. Rental properties in particular are hard to come by in Stockholm – they’re expensive and much sought-after, often with long waiting lists. Living outside of a major city and travelling for work could easily work out to be more affordable, and while public transport is expensive, it’s well run and you can get a rail card to make it cheaper.
Life in Sweden can take some serious adjustment depending on where you come from. The winters are long, cold and dark, with sunlight for just a few hours during the day. The rest of the year is the opposite, with bright summer sunshine lasting all night long. A very seasonal culture, in the winter you’ll learn to embrace hygge (a cosy appreciation for time spent indoors with loved ones, reading and enjoying good food), and when summer comes, the Midsommar festival celebrates the good weather with traditional dance and song, socialising, drinking and good food.
In your free time, you’ll spend a lot of time outdoors hiking and exploring the fjords, archipelagos and beaches, visiting popular amusement parks and outdoor museums, and in the winter, skiing is popular. Local dishes and specialities include crayfish, toast Skagen (shrimp, mayonnaise and sour cream on toast), meatballs, pickled herring, Smörgåstårta (open sandwich), gravad lax (cured salmon), Knäckebröd (Crispbread), local berries like lingonberry, and of course, sampling a variety of sweet treats like Kanelbulle (cinnamon buns), Prinsesstårta (Princess cake), Pepparkakor (thin gingerbread, excellent with blue cheese), Chokladbollar (chocolate balls) and Lussebullar (seasonal saffron buns).
- Accommodation: £900 – £1,498 / $1,111 – $1,850
- Utilities: £93 / $115
- Health insurance: Cost of typical visit to a GP: £24 / $30
- Monthly transport pass: £65 / $80
- Basic dinner out for two: £34 / $42
- Cappuccino in expat area: £3.75 / $4.63
- A beer in a pub: £5.28 / $7
- 1 litre of milk: £1.01 / $1.25
- 2 litres of Coca-Cola: £1.84 / $2.27
(living costs sourced from Expatistan)