teaching English abroad

So Melanie asks what is needed to teach English over here in Yurp, which is a very good question, and the answer, as usual, is: it depends. I imagine Eastern Europe’s more like Asia, they need so many teachers they won’t look too hard for qualifications, but in the more Anglo-infested places like Munich and Amsterdam and Barcelona, competition’s a tad stiffer. People with TESL certs also tend to look askance at the “I speak it, therefore I can teach it” crowd, which is understandable, I suppose. Getting certified is a fair bit of work, and you do actually learn stuff in the process.

I got my certification in 2000. We were living in Madison, but we spent a summer in Europe, and I left Ignatz (then five) with his father and grandparents and spent a month at a school in Barcelona. It was hard work, but great fun. When I told people in Madison I was going to do it, they all said “you know, there’s a school right here in Madison!” And I said, “yeah, I could do that! Or, I could go live in Barcelona for a month.” I didn’t say “hel-looo,” but I thought it. Madison or Barcelona? Come on.

But I digress. I do recommend getting certified, because… well, because I did, I guess. Now, working is… well, you can pretty much always find work, but it pays what I think of as “wifey-wages” – not really enough to live on. There are a lot of schools looking for people, and a lot of companies that provide ESL teachers to businesses, and expect you to work freelance. Benefits, minimal. You can afford a room in a house with a bunch of other teachers, never eat out, and ride your bicycle to lessons which are often all over town. I’d call it a good career choice for the young and indestructible, like college students. But if you don’t have to survive on what you make, then it’s extra income, which is great. And it’s fun and an adventure when you can walk away.

On the other hand, the Anglo-infested places tend to have a lot of international schools (Munich has three that I know of) and little start-up bilingual kindergartens too, and that’s where the real jobs are. With a proper teaching or childcare certificate, not just the 4-week TESL thing, you’d be in pretty high demand. The previous three paragraphs were general info, this one is Melanie-specific: I’m pretty sure you’d find good work with your qualifications. I’ll keep an ear to the ground for you, if you like.

General update: nothing is new. Without the kids’ school to structure my life, I rarely know what day it is anymore. I feel really scattered when I don’t have some externally-imposed routine to hang my day on.

Song du jour of the day: 007 (Shanty Town), by Desmond Dekker.

2 responses to “teaching English abroad

  • Melanie

    I want to go to school in Barcelona, too! Thanks for all this info, it gives me hope. I am not actually done my BA yet, 7 years and counting… But I am dreaming of ways to spend 4-6 months in Europe with the kidlet(s) without going toooooo far into the hole. So by the time we want to do that, I should be done my degree and then we’ll see I guess. In the meantime, i will look into getting certified.

Leave a Reply to Melanie Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: