The prospect of journeying across the Atlantic to work, independent from the safety net of friends and family, and all the hassle that comes along with that i.e. applying for visas, acquiring permits, and signing tons of foreign paper-work might seem daunting at first – but it doesn’t have to. A little research into the seemingly hellish bureaucracies of Europe will really help clear things up and you’ll quickly realise your worries were all for nothing.
There are plenty of North Americans working across Europe as English teachers. To do so yourself, you will need to investigate whichever country you want to live in – check out their rules on immigration and what it takes to work there.
The EU and Schengen Area
There is an agreement between many EU and non-EU nations called the the Schengen Agreement that allows easier international travel. The US is lucky enough to be included so that American citizens can travel freely for up to 90 days within Schengen borders before having to apply for a visa. It’s important to take note of whether a country you plan to work in is a part of this agreement before you commit.
Thankfully, the US government has a site dedicated to providing travel information.
TEFL Destinations and the Essentials
Compared to a lot of other EU members, France can be quite tricky for non-EU citizens to teach in, thanks to a large amount of red-tape. If you do, however, have your sights set on this beautiful country then never fear, for there is a government-run Teaching Assistant Program. Through this, you can train and work as a teacher in France for a whole year. Afterwards, you’ll possess a well-regarded TEFL qualification that will put you ahead of future competition.
Alternatively, you can work with a student visa, much like in Italy. To do so, you’ll need to organize details with whatever school you’re applying to.
As the biggest economy in Europe, it should come as no surprise that there is a strong market for teaching jobs here. Despite this, difficulties can arise if you haven’t trained to a high enough level. In other words, German schools look for especially skilled and experienced teachers to deliver equally challenging lessons. This is thanks to the already high proficiency of English spoken in Germany. Business English is particularly popular in Germany, as is private tutoring.
When it comes to restrictive laws, teaching in Germany is somewhat easier for Americans – as well as Australians, Canadians, Israelis, Japanese, New Zealanders, Swiss, and South Koreans – than in France. Fortunately, you can do all your annoying paperwork in-country, as opposed to completing it before you move.
Italy is a strange one. On the one hand, it is relatively difficult for Americans to acquire a proper visa – in this case, a student visa – to prove your legality. On the other, a lot of schools don’t care if you do have said visa, just as long as you’re alright with working ‘under the table’ – which we do not recommend. The stress of working illegally will undoubtedly put a damper on your experience.
To gain the aforementioned student visa, you must register on a recognized course, which then allows you to legally work for a restricted number of hours each week.
By far one of the best teaching options in Eastern Europe, if not the whole continent; a low cost of living combined with lots of opportunity, Poland is a fantastic choice for anyone looking to work abroad. Native speakers with a TEFL qualification should find it pretty straightforward to land a teaching position.
As part of the Schengen Area, it’s fairly simple to move here initially. For a stay longer than three months, you will have to get your school to help you with a more permanent work permit.
If you’re able to ignore all the back and forth political squabble, then it wouldn’t go amiss to consider Russia. As a TEFL destination, it promises to be quite lucrative. You can expect a whole number of various positions available, including private tutor, business English, elementary up to university, and everything in-between!
Immigration policies are stringent, and you should take care to make sure you hold all the required documents. It is necessary for your school/employer to help set you up with your visa before you leave. As this is the only non-Schengen country on the list, you might want to visit the government page to thoroughly comb through every detail.
One thing you cannot hope to teach in Europe without is a TEFL certificate. Why? For starters, most schools will demand at least a basic level of training from applicants. Secondly, with the TEFL world continually growing, standards, too, have risen. Learning that your CV is below-par with everyone else’s is not ideal.
Not sure which TEFL course to go for? We recommend the 120-hour combined TEFL course. Included in this course is 100 hours of online training, plus another 20 classroom-based. This provides the perfect balance of both theoretical and practical learning. Additionally, the more hours completed, the better you look to employers.
Click here for more course options.
Remember to be patient in your hunt for positions in Europe. Once you get past the mundane, sometimes mind-numbingly boring, paperwork it’s smooth sailing from thereon. Good luck and happy travels!