> Western Europe

Teach English Worldwide strives to provide clear, comprehensive, and objective advice to anyone interested in teaching English overseas.

The man who can make hard things easy is the educator

R.W. Emerson (American poet and essayist)

Western Europe is one of the TEFL-TESOL world’s most popular destinations. Spain, Portugal, Germany, France, Italy, and Greece are the region’s larger TEFL-TESOL markets and the most common landing points for would-be TEFL-TESOL teachers. Job availability and labor regulations vary somewhat within this group, but they are all viable alternatives if you are willing to be persistent during your job search.

For EU citizens or EU passport holders, there are many job opportunities, but also competition for the most desirable positions. EU citizenship will allow you to automatically work legally in each EU member country, and thus make it easier to find employment. As a result, British and Irish nationals who possess a university degree and a TEFL-TESOL certificate should be able to find work in most areas - if you know where to look and arrive at the right time of year.

Jobs in the majority of Western Europe start in September or October, which is the beginning of the new academic year. In addition, some positions usually open in January or March, because some teachers invariably fail to return from the holidays, or new students decide to join the school. Some posts may be available other times of the year, but if you arrive during off-peak hiring times, you will probably need a number of weeks to obtain an optimum number of hours.

For Americans and Canadians, finding work in Western Europe is a more difficult proposition. This is because non-EU citizens must obtain a visa and work permit to work legally in the country. To obtain a work permit, an employer within the country in question must sponsor you. If you have professional experience in TEFL-TESOL or a related field, this may be possible. However, sponsorships are not easy to come by, and you typically need to have worked (without a work permit) for the employer before they will be ready to invest the time and money helping you obtain papers.

Nevertheless, Yankees and Canucks don’t despair! There are currently thousands of Americans and Canadians working in Western Europe – both with and without work permits.

You should be aware, however, that without working papers you will generally not receive the same job security, benefits, or pay as your legal colleagues. In addition, some countries have stiff legal penalties for illegal workers, while others rarely enforce work permit requirements. See Teach English Worldwide’s “Visa and Work Permit Requirements” section for more details.

Non-EU citizens should first assess their options for obtaining a work permit and visa in Western Europe. Check to see if you have parents or grandparents through whom you can obtain EU citizenship. If any members of your immediate family recently emigrated from a European country, you may be able to obtain legal status through them. Contact that countries' embassy for more information.

Another way to obtain a work permit is through various government-sponsored teacher placement programs. Americans can take advantage of such programs in France
(www.frenchculture.org/education/support/assistant/index.html), Austria, and Finland. These programs normally provide you with a work permit and visa for up to 1 year, along with guaranteed work and pay. One downside of these programs is that they often require you to apply as much as 1 year in advance.

If you do not have European relatives or an employer willing to sponsor you, working illegally is a more difficult (but viable) option. Teachers can usually earn a comfortable salary working a variety of non-contract jobs for private language schools, and by giving lessons to private students. Most major cities in Western Europe have large numbers of private language schools and there are always some schools willing to pay cash to teachers without working papers. Your best bet is to personally visit as many of these schools as possible. Dress professionally, and bring a CV, your TEFL-TESOL certificate, a copy of your passport, and a copy of your university diploma with you. Also be prepared to give a sample lesson and be quizzed on grammar points.

Many teachers (both with and without work permits) supplement their income with private students. To attract new students, try posting fliers in areas that professional people are likely to frequent, contacting businesses that might have English clients or associates, and networking with everyone you meet.

For more info on working as an English teacher in Madrid, Spain, visit Madrid Teacher.com at English teaching Madrid.