Political unrest in Turkey in recent years has meant that tourists have been staying away from this previously idyllic location. Check your own government’s guidelines regarding how safe it is to travel at the time of your trip, and if there are no barriers, there’s no reason why Turkey shouldn’t feature high up on your list of TEFL destinations. A great location for newly-qualified EFL teachers, and a good option for non-native English teachers. To gain a work visa, both a TEFL certificate and a university degree are a requirement. This is a part of the world where people are keen to learn English, and the TEFL industry is doing well, even if positions aren’t always well paid.
Turkey is a country that straddles the border between Europe and Asia at the far eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The country’s size is about three times larger than mainland Britain, and its population is about 25% higher than the whole of the UK. It has a rich cultural heritage, with records dating back to at least 2400 BC. Famous places include the Walls of Troy (the city that was famously attacked in Homer’s Iliad), The Suleymaniye Mosque, the Hagia Sophia, and the Blue Mosque . The city of Istanbul is also famous for being the only city on two continents, one half in Europe, the other in Asia. The climate is hot, with high temperatures throughout the year. Tourism is a major industry on the southern coast, with stunning beaches wherever you look. Whether you’re looking for sun or culture, Turkey has it covered.
- Popular locations for TEFL jobs: Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and Bursa
- Average salary for EFL teachers: The basic monthly salary for full-time positions is likely to be in the region of 1,500 – 5,000 lira (£170 – £575 / $220 – $730) per month. Freelance rates are around 40 – 170 lira (£4 – £20 / $6 – $25) per hour, often at the lower end of the scale.
- TEFL qualification requirements: A 120-hour TEFL qualification will be required for most positions, and is required for your visa
- Prerequisite university degree: A degree is required to get a visa for Turkey. Some top positions require degrees in English, or an MA in linguistics
- Term times: September to June
- Currency: Turkish Lira (TRY)
- Language: Turkish
- Teaching programmes: Primary Schools, Secondary Schools, Private Language Schools, International Schools, Universities, Corporate gigs, Summer Schools
- Age restrictions: None
- Previous teaching experience: Beneficial but not always necessary
Read a handful of articles about teaching TEFL in Turkey and it won’t be long before you stumble on a horror story or two. The internet is full of jaded ex-TEFL teachers who had a terrible time in Turkey. Schools forcing teachers to work on tourist visas, withholding documents so that the teacher can’t leave, paying salaries late and other unscrupulous behaviour have all been reported. However, many teachers on the ground believe that things are changing in Turkey. Standards are improving, and while you might find evidence that certain schools were appalling just a few years ago, it’s not inconceivable that things have improved vastly. Be sure to read our article about how to avoid TEFL scams and bad employers.
The best thing to do is to speak to current or recent employees at a school to get an impression of what things are like now. This is best done in the country, going hand-in-hand with the pavement pounding method. Don’t accept the first job you’re offered – if you’re qualified with a TEFL and degree, you’ll be offered plenty of jobs, so just hold out until you find one where you get a good vibe. If possible, look around the school in person and get a real feel for it. Make sure you check all the details of your contract carefully, and hold your employer to account for what they’ve promised. This might include free, furnished accommodation, flight money on completion of your contract, insurance, and health benefits.
Freelance teaching can be risky in Turkey – if you work for the Ministry of Education, your contract will prohibit you from accepting private students outside of your employed work. If you want to work in a private school or state secondary school, your degree must be in English, linguistics or a related subject, and having a PGCE is beneficial.
Requirements to teach English in Turkey
|Country||Avg. monthly salary||Degree required||Start of term||Teaching experience||Housing & flights included||Suitable for non-native English speakers||Age restrictions|
|Teach in Turkey||£170 - £575
($220 - $730)
|Yes||September||No||Accommodation sometimes included||Yes||None|
One of the cheapest countries in the area, wages aren’t the best in Turkey but even so you can afford a nice quality of life if you budget carefully. Many TEFL positions offer free accommodation or an accommodation allowance, making it easy for you to settle in and work out how much disposable income you’ll have at the end of the month. The amount you spend will vary greatly depending on your lifestyle. If you want to experience top entertainment in a big city and spend your time in Western bars and restaurants, expect to spend more than someone who is living a local lifestyle. Imported food at the supermarket comes with a heavy price tag, so you’ll save more by sticking to a local diet. Public transport is cheap, and in such a stunning country you’ll enjoy taking trips to other locations during your time off.
The Turkish cuisine is famous around the world and, if you get on with the diet, Turkish food is a great reason to live there in the long run. Expats often find they get so much more out of their TEFL experience by immersing themselves in Turkish culture, and by shopping locally and dining at Turkish restaurants. It’s also a great way to meet local people and get to know something of the culture. While Turkey is a great TEFL destination, it does come with a few warnings. Western women often have a hard time in Turkey, especially if they are pale with blonde hair. Your experience in Turkey will vary depending on where you are in the country and who you travel with.
- Accommodation: £268 – £395 / $335 – $494
- Utilities: £60 / $75
- Health insurance: Cost of typical visit to a GP: £24 / $30
- Monthly transport pass: £22 / $28
- Basic dinner out for two: £12 / $15
- Cappuccino in expat area: £1.65 / $2.06
- A beer in a pub: £2.53 / $3.16
- 1 litre of milk: £0.57 / $0.71
- 2 litres of Coca-Cola: £0.63 / $0.79
(living costs sourced from Expatistan)