What’s Granada like?
Granada is a remarkable city. It’s not particularly large (around 240,000 inhabitants) but it’s full of things to see and do. The Alhambra Palace, a Moorish citadel, is the main attraction, but part of the joy of Granada comes from simple pleasures: strolling around the winding streets with the distant sounds of flamenco guitar, meeting friends for a beer and tapas in one of the hundreds of bars scattered around the city, or just gazing at the backdrop of the wonderful Sierra Nevada mountain range.
What brought me here?
When I started my 5 week TESOL course back in 1997 I had no idea of the journey it would enable me to take. I was certainly not aiming to be teaching in the capital of Europe several years later and at that point, nor would I have chosen to be doing so. Brussels might be the capital of the European Union and home to the European Parliament where surely English is needed but it doesn’t have a reputation for an exciting life, indeed the opposite is more likely to be heard.
Having finished my TESOL, I spent a year in Moscow learning the ropes and exploring the intricacies of the English language before leaving for Italy to spend a couple more years teaching. This experience led me to volunteer as an EFL teacher for 2 years in Rwanda before returning to Italy for a short time. All this time spent teaching motivated me to continue with my own learning curve, I completed my degree in psychology before going on to graduate with an MA in TESOL from Brighton University.
Where to go from there? With no specific plans I jumped at the chance of moving back to Europe, newly married, my husband’s offer of a job in Brussels seemed like an ideal opportunity for both of us to start work overseas, for him to embrace learning French and for me to put my knowledge of the language into practice again.
If you are contemplating moving abroad to teach English, and fancy a dose of la vida loca, Spain could be just the place for you; a country with a knack for being ridiculously successful at sport, a dedication to good food and drink, and where to fiesta until the very early hours is the norm not the exception. Add to this a large demand for EFL teachers and Spain is without doubt an excellent location for the EFL teacher.
As you can’t help but be aware, Spain has had a pretty rough deal recently, a huge economic crisis has resulted in scarily large unemployment figures particularly among young people. The generally agreed view among the Spanish is that one way to resolve this crisis is to improve their level of English. Unemployed workers are admirably committing to learning English while they search for work. Likewise employed workers are keen to take English classes to help secure their jobs as are their companies equally committed to providing English classes for their staff. Also the Spanish education system has re-examined the way English is taught and is now very much geared to having native English speakers present in schools. This is a general rule for the whole of Spain, with the highest demand for EFL teachers in Madrid and big cities (with the exception of Barcelona). This explosion of EFL work in Spain over the last few years means not only is it relatively easy to find work but you also have choice over they type of EFL work you want to do.
I loved living and working in Turkey. It is a fascinating country that merges both Western and Eastern cultures which makes life there both more challenging and interesting. I also enjoyed working in both Ankara and Istanbul which are very different from each other.
Ankara is the capital city of Turkey. Most of the jobs for Turks there are civil jobs. As such most people earn the same amount of money. Maybe because of this and because of the type of person who is drawn to working for the government, Ankara even by its own citizens is described as “boring, but easy to live in”. It has good public transportation that normally is not too over-crowded and the standard of living is good. It’s also often possible to live within walking distance to your job.
Most English teaching jobs in Ankara will be in Kizilay. Kizilay is considered the hub of Ankara. It’s where the main bus stop and the subway merge. It is also where quite a few of the government buildings are. Kizilay is also where more of the night life is, so if you like being close to clubs and restaurants it is the place for you. If you don’t want to be in the middle of everything then there are areas such as Dikmen, Kavaklidere, etc. Also, as you look for apartments further away from Kizilay you will find cheaper places to live.
Images by David Brown
Lisbon slopes down towards the sea, and following the hills to their natural conclusion you can stand in the flat expanse of the praço do comércio and gaze out across the Atlantic at the seemingly never ending expanse of sun, sea and sky.
In comparison to dusty Spain, Portugal seems fresh. Although on the edge of western Europe, it boasts a mix of peoples that the big central countries just cannot offer. It’s principal cities are all coastal and in them you can find an outward looking attitude as food, culture and accent are interwoven in waves of multiculturalism.
Add to this beautiful countryside, spectacular beaches and good flight connections back to the UK, not only from Lisbon but also southern cities like Faro and well… you might never leave.
By Leandro Neumann Ciuffo (Happy hour Uploaded by russavia) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
As I flew into Dublin in 2011 after teaching in Japan for 11 years I was naturally excited with the prospects of a new life in my own country. I’m from Northern Ireland and don’t speak Gaelic, but had no fear of culture shock for the first language spoken here is English. Previous visits to the capital city had been as a child to its wonderful zoo and periodic weekend trips from London for friends’ weddings. I was so naïve as I entered a lion’s den of corruption, illegality and unlawfulness.
Near mainland Europe (good for easy relocation to Spain/France when things go all pear shaped) and served by ‘low cost’ airlines (e.g. Ryanair).
Vienna the City
Vienna is charming, delightful and appears regularly among the top 5 cities to live in worldwide. Vienna embraces the new world in ways that often surprise newcomers (e.g. the Live Ball, Conchita Wurst, Rainbow Parade) whilst cherishing its Imperial past. Yet Austria has been governed by Socialists for decades.
By Stefan Bauer, http://www.ferras.at (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
For EU citizens teaching English in Europe is an easy way to start a new life overseas. The beauty of being able to work anywhere in Europe visa-free makes applying for jobs overseas nice and simple. However, for native English speakers from the likes of USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia – things are bit trickier. For Europhiles, the best option is Eastern Europe where the demand for English is higher and employers are willing to help sort visas and permits for worthy teachers!
When most people think of Europe you often picture Venice, Barcelona and Paris but Eastern Europe is home to plenty of work, unhampered beauty and heaps of culture! Here are the top five destinations to teach English in Eastern Europe:
The advice given is aimed at those of you who are considering EFL work in private companies as opposed to a more academic environment such as a school or college.
In spite of all the bad economic press Spain has received recently, there’s no doubt that EFL teaching in Madrid is still alive and kicking. With a population of over six million people (province of Madrid) and home to as many multinationals as you care to name, Madrid is a great location for a serious EFL teacher looking for interesting work.
More than anywhere, Hungary seems to be a land of surprising contrasts, and the TEFL job market is no exception. On one hand there’s the bureaucratic employment legislation, a wobbling economy and an unfavourable tax system which do little to encourage language schools to take on teachers full-time. On the other hand, there are the innumerable opportunities for teachers, and the fact that the demand for English has never been higher. So how can that be?
The demand aspect is relatively easy to explain. With multinationals relocating to Hungary in droves to take advantage of favourable corporation tax laws and cheap(er) labour, the need for English (the lingua franca of the business community) is obvious. Then there’s the fact that pretty much anyone who wants to graduate from university needs to gain a certain level of proficiency in a language – and which language do most choose? English. Add this to the fact that Hungarians are looking to go abroad to find work like never before (we’re told the city which has the 2nd largest population of Hungarians in the world – after Budapest – is London!) and it is easy to see why EFL teachers are needed.