Teaching English For Laughs IN IRELAND

Dublin Ireland

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).

It is a convenient affordable option compared to the UK for foreign students wishing to study English Abroad, though not necessarily for teachers struggling to survive on minimum teaching hours (usually 15 per week) and paying comparative living prices to London. Our accent is clear if you are native Irish, we are a friendly welcoming country (ask any of the users who will rob you blind from the numerous methadone clinics situated near Dublin’s city centre) and our high standards in the educational sector are second to none – none being the benchmark.

My first priority was naturally FINDING WORK

Dublin is a small enough city to enable you to personally drop in your CV on foot thereby saving time and money on postage etc. This gives you a great opportunity to check the location, get a limited view of the school facilities and maybe even organize an impromptu interview. Afternoons are best – mornings are hectic during term times and Directors of Studies will not be available to see you. Alternatively check the options below:-

  1. Section for Teaching/Nursery. This is a free site where you can find jobs or advertise your services as a freelance teacher: gumtree.ie
  2. Job centres. Some schools do advertise but expect hourly rates at the lowest end of the scale e.g. €15 an hour.

Other cities to consider are Galway and Cork, which are beautiful to visit but sourcing work may be an entirely different matter.


QUALITY ASSURANCE – Which School/Academy should I choose?

The industry is Ireland is under the Department of Education and Skills, (their given title not mine) and to work in an approved English Language college/school teachers must have a primary degree and a CELT (Certificate in English Language Teaching) TEFL Course or equivalent qualification,

This includes practical teaching experience – so no online or weekend TEFLers accepted.

If you lack these qualifications and work off the books – please be aware you do so at your own risk and may not get paid at all.

If you are looking for work as a TEFL Teacher in Ireland, you can contact schools directly or contact or www.mei.ie which will send on your CV to its member schools.

Work opportunities can be full time (for Director’s of Studies and their pet staff), all year round (pigs might fly) or seasonal (June possibly, July and August certainly, September (take my advice and fly to another TEFL country with your students going back home).

In a nutshell – if you are looking for work during the Spanish Summer break, then Ireland is ideal for pocket money or occasional cash jobs before returning to normality. If you are thinking of a career be prepared for a long wait as promotions/advancement really do depend on filling ‘dead mans shoes’.


Classes normally run from 9.00 – 12.15 or 1.30 – 4.45 p.m. daily.

The teaching role will also involve some administrative tasks including Lesson Planning as well as exam preparation, delivery and correction.

Competitive rates advertised mean up to €20 an hour for very experienced teachers but invariably lower. Do not expect to get a full 30 hours as the supply of teachers greatly exceeds the demand for courses.

Experience in teaching exams including Cambridge, IELTS, TOEIC, etc is an asset.

TEFL programmes are also available at a number of universities during the short Summer months (July/August): University College Dublin, University College Cork, NUI Galway, Dublin City University and the University of Limerick.

Your class of 15 during July/August is likely to be a mix of 6 Spanish, 6 Italian and 3 French students. ‘Visa’ classes continue for longer periods depending on current legislation and are likely to contain mainly Brazilian, a mix of South Americans, Saudi Arabians or Russians depending on the agents your school works with for recruitment.


Many schools even the ‘legitimate’ ones like to operate on a cash basis with no formal contract of employment. This means you are treated as self-employed by them although you are in reality an employee as you teach when they decide, follow their syllabus, use their premises and materials etc. However you have no job security, you are responsible for your own tax/social security contributions, have no insurance cover, no career structure and can be released/dismissed at any time. This is a grey area of the law and not properly regulated by the tax or employment authorities. It’s perhaps fine when you are starting out in your TEFL career but should really be viewed as a short-term option.

Ireland attracts and has purposefully marketed visa students for decades with the intention of not providing education but circumventing the Immigration laws. Students enter the country, register for classes but do not attend and effectively join the job market illegally. Recent cases revealed that some culprits had 1800 students on their books whilst only having the legal capacity to teach 80. This is the norm rather than the exception and if inspections were properly regulated many colleges would be closed for numerous violations now.

So live for today but there is very little guarantee your place of employment will be there tomorrow or indeed if you will be paid for yesterday.


Some schools and agencies farm out their students to TEFL teachers and you can either teach the students on a daily basis in your home or they actually live with you on a full-time basis and you invoice for services provided on the conclusion of each contract. I strongly suggest you consult a professional accountant/solicitor first before embarking on this venture, as you have to take into consideration the terms of your lease, insurance cover for your student while living with you etc.


A one bedroom apartment in Dublin City centre as of August 2015 will cost you around €1200 and €1000 outside – www.numbeo.com. So if you are lucky enough to get employment for 15 hours a week @ €20 x 4 = 1200 (before tax). Your monthly salary is likely to be eaten up by rent before you even take into account utilities, travel to work, food etc. You can forget savings and need to focus on economic survival. If you have friends or family there or share accommodation with friends you might make ends meet – but please remember before you sign a yearly lease that ‘full-time’ employment is very, very seasonal. Employers do not help financially with travel costs, finding accommodation etc. Be careful because there are many accommodation scammers out there and getting your deposit returned by your landlord/lady on vacating your flat is easier said than done.

Be prepared to be ripped off.


Your Personal Public Service Number (PPS number) is a unique reference number that helps you access social welfare benefits, public services and information in Ireland. You will require this number to commence employment, rent property, open a bank account etc. You do not legally exist in Ireland without this number.

If possible set up a bank account before you arrive as otherwise it is just so troublesome to await the arrival of a utility bill to provide evidence of your residence in the country.

2015 and BEYOND

Ireland is known as the land of Saints and Scholars. This no doubt prompted our Irish Kraken to recently wake up after years of widely known but tolerated immigration abuse in the lucrative TEFL sector.

Due to English teaching’s significant contribution to the economy the Ministries of Education and Justice now promise to ‘tackle’ the problem with a raft of reforms. Given that the country is officially recognized as number two in the rugby union world this might seem an easy task.

Restricting the number of programmes that can be used for visa purposes may be a welcome first step though it is unlikely to assist the thousands of already out of pocket and literally stranded international and European students some of whom lost their life savings pursuing education in ‘God’s own country’ or appease their dedicated impoverished teachers who lost their jobs and hard earned salaries following multiple language school closures since 2014.

Please don’t take my word for it – check the International Council for International Students website – College closures: www.icosirl.ie


Yet Ireland continues to be a popular albeit uncertain destination for those interested in learning English and consequently there are many schools and courses available throughout the country that cater for everyone from business executives (few and far between) and students who want to improve their English language proficiency.

The majority of English as a foreign language (EFL) schools in Ireland are privately run and provide students with a full package of tuition, homestay accommodation and extra-curricular activities. The sector attracts many educational cowboys hoping to make quick money so schools come and go with the tide, so stick to approved schools though these too have proved unsound in recent years.

If you can turn a blind eye to the 25 students in your class when there should be 15 according to the regulations; forget about educational development as students don’t attend or when they do are too tired because they moonlight as nannies or servers; falsify the attendance records as instructed by the school owner who is running a ‘business’, then Ireland will welcome you with open arms.

In my case I happily packed my bags and moved to Madrid after 2 years of fighting the system but successfully retaining my professionalism.

Ireland is renowned for its terrible weather but in my mind it fades in comparison to the way the educational regime is permitted to treat students and teachers alike.

Will it ever change? You’re having a laugh!


  1. List of Recognised Schools – Accreditation and Co-ordination of English Language Services www.acels.ie
  2. The Immigration and Naturalisation/Immigration Service www.inis.gov.ie
  3. The Department of Education and Skills www.education.ie

By Michael Foy
If you have any questions for Michael or have taught in Ireland and would like to add some additional advice for prospective teachers please leave your reply in the comments section at the bottom of the page.


I am an experienced EFL teacher that has taught in the UK (London), Ireland (Dublin), Spain (Madrid) and Japan (Osaka).



  1. Wow this is a very accurate description of the situation in Ireland. Total double speak, no policy, procedure, regulation, inspection, action by the state. But it’s similar in Ireland in all sectors, including the direct state services. Irish governments have pushed everything from health to homelessness to arms length via agencies and NGO’s, so that it’s Ministers and Government can abdicate accountability for everything including the delivery of language education. They just want you to come here, have a laugh, spend your money and say Ireland is ‘so friendly and great’ …. the morons …

  2. Hello Michael, Thanks so much for writing this. I returned home to Ireland from Spain in June having only qualified with my CELTA in March. I was very lucky to get work at a university summer school until the end of August. However, I am now at a loss as to where I can find work outside of Dublin. You have described the work and living scene in Dublin so well, hence my reason for not wanting to go there. I feel I may have to turn away from ELT due to the lack of opportunities in this country. This is something I really don’t want to do as I’ve found a job that no longer feels like a job but work I throughly enjoy. If you have any tips or advice you could send my way that would be greatly appreciated. Aine Ryan

    • Hi Aine,

      I just read your email. Can I ask if things have since got any better for you since in finding teaching work outside of Dublin? I am seriously considering doing an approved CELT course very soon and would be looking for work, especially part-time principally in the mid west regions like Limerick as Dublin and Cork and Galway would not be practical for me. And if you were successful, is the tax payable punitive and onerous? I have been researching this area of work a lot recently because it is something I would love to do. I have found it very difficult so far to find out if it would be viable to set up one’s own approved language school as an option, and what would be involved in same.
      Maybe you could share your experience in this area since your email as I would be very interested.



  3. This article is a little out of date / wrong.

    Most schools that I’ve worked for are strict on contracts, employment law etc.
    I’ve recently opened a bank account in Ireland with home (UK addressed) utility bills and a UK passport.
    Tax rates are quite high.
    A PPS number can take a month or more to come through.
    Once you have a PPSN, go straight to the tax office to register – otherwise it’s high emergency-coded tax.

    Good luck with the job hunting.


  4. Hi there,
    Thank you so much for sharing all this information regarding English schools in Ireland.
    Very informative and well written article.



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