Anyone who has looked into teaching English overseas online is likely to have come across stories that suggest it is not possible for US citizens to legally teach English in Europe. The truth is, the demand for TEFL qualified teachers is very high in many parts of the continent and there are opportunities available for people of all nationalities. Throughout the region there are countless private language schools who are more than happy to employ native English speaking Americans as long as they have completed a recognized TEFL course.
What are the best TEFL destinations for Americans in Europe?
While it is true that some employers prefer their teachers to speak British English and some governments have restrictions that can limit the options for US born teachers, there are still plenty of countries where American teachers are sought after. In France and Spain there are popular recruitment programs that offer a large number of teaching assistant jobs to US citizens in government-run schools. Private language centers are also popular employers in these countries, as well as in Italy and Germany. If you head into Central and Eastern Europe you will find even more options available. For many years the Czech Republic has been the most popular destination in the region, while countries such as Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Russia are all seeing a rapid rise in job numbers. Although it is not in the European Union, Turkey is another location with a growing reputation among Americans as it has no particular bias towards British English.
Is there a best time for Americans to find TEFL jobs in Europe?
As the majority of English teaching jobs in Europe are filled following an in-person interview, it is vital that you are aware of the best times to arrive in your country of choice. For much of the region, September and October are the main months for hiring new teachers, although there is also a secondary hiring season during January in many countries. The only significant exceptions to this are in Russia and Turkey, where there are no specific hiring seasons. If either of these destinations are on your radar you will often find jobs advertised at any time of the year.
What about visas for Americans teaching English in Europe?
In a few countries, such as Turkey, Russia and Poland, Americans have to apply for a work visa before they leave home. However, in virtually all other situations you simply catch a plane to your chosen location and enter the country on a standard tourist visa. In Italy and Spain, in particular, it is normal practice for teachers to find a job and start working without gaining any other visa. This approach is not strictly legal, but that doesn’t stop thousands of people going down this route every year. In some other destinations such as Germany and the Czech Republic, it is standard practice to apply for a legal work permit from within the country once you have found a job offer. Another option that works for many teachers is to apply for a study visa. This type of visa typically allows you to work up to a set number of hours a week as long as you enrol on a local language study program.