Teaching English as a foreign language has changed a lot over the last few years. There have been many different issues that can prove problematic for TEFL teachers, including obtaining a visa and a global pandemic that shut down the world. This has made it extremely difficult for non-EU citizens to teach English in the EU quiet difficult. But not impossible.
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Teaching English in Europe as a Non-EU Citizen
Teaching English as a foreign language has changed a lot over the last few years. There have been many different issues that can prove problematic for TEFL teachers. This includes obtaining a visa and a global pandemic that shut down the world. This has made it extremely difficult for non-EU citizens to teach English in the EU quite difficult. But not impossible.
Generally, people who qualify in the TEFL arena are looking to equip themselves with a skill that will enable them to explore the world and travel while still being able to earn a living. Some people use their qualifications to teach online, but the majority of our students do you enjoy getting out and seeing the world.
Europe is a destination that constantly changes; therefore, it can be hard to understand the rules. Countries are joining and leaving the European Union, and there can be some political tension that doesn’t really concern visitors but can affect their ability to live and work there. As it stands, those who come from an EU member country are pretty easily able to teach anywhere in Europe, but what about those who don’t? With some fantastic destinations, Europe is a popular choice for many TEFL teachers looking to work their way around the globe.
We certainly can never condone anyone trying to work without the correct Visa status, as this can lead to no end of trouble. You can find yourself with a criminal record, fined, and potentially deported and banned from the country. So it’s better that you ensure you have the correct status before attempting to move to another country and teach. The information below relates to anyone who is trying to find work as an English teacher in Europe but does not have EU citizenship.
What Countries in Europe Might Accept Non-EU TEFL Teachers?
Finding work as a non-EU citizen can be tricky, and there are some countries where sadly, it is still virtually impossible. However, there are others that you may find a lot more accommodating. We have found the most likely candidates and are breaking it down country by country to try and make things easy for you.
France is a beautiful destination and one that does have non-EU teachers in various institutions teaching English or other languages to local students. If you are from a non-member state, then you need to apply for a long-term visa. This is done in your home country before you leave. In order to secure it, you need to have sponsorship from an employer. However, you should be aware that schools and employers are only allowed to sponsor non-EU citizens if they are able to prove that they have not found a suitably qualified EU citizen to take on the role. So, it can be quite tricky.
A way around it would be to become a student at an educational institution in France and qualify for a student visa. You are allowed to teach part-time on a student visa, so many English teachers in France choose to study French, as this makes a lot of sense if you’re planning to stay and work and live for a while.
If you are American, you could try the Teaching Assistant Program in France. This is administered by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the US. Applying to this program gives you a seven months teaching post if you are accepted. It is specifically designed for US citizens who have a TEFL qualification. They offer around 1500 secondments each year. Although it may be a shorter stint than you were hoping to find, it will give you valuable experience, and contacts for the future.
Germany could be an excellent place to set up camp; if you are a citizen of Australia, Canada, the US, New Zealand, Switzerland, Japan, Israel or the Republic of Korea, you can arrive in the country to find work before applying for your residency permit for work purposes. Any other non-EU citizen will need to have secured a visa before they travel. Be aware that the application process is quite lengthy, and you can’t work until it has been issued.
So, in the meantime, you will need to be able to live and support yourself financially. Applications can be something of a bureaucratic nightmare. So you are advised to hire a translator. Unless you have a German-speaking friend who can assist or have a good level of German fluency yourself. There is a lot of paperwork involved. You will need to provide evidence that you have somewhere to live, your passport is valid, and you have a contract with an employer in the area. Local employees will understand the rigmarole involved in getting a visa, so know that you will need time to formalise the paperwork before you can start.
There are lots of reasons why Spain is a popular place for those looking to explore the world and teach English abroad. You could approach the situation as a non-EU citizen in the same way as the loophole in France. If you are on a student visa because you are enrolled in one of their educational establishments, you are able to teach part-time. There are also teaching programs you can apply for that will help you find work as a non-EU citizen.
In Madrid, there is the Escuelas Católicas de Madrid which is a program that enables language teachers to find work in catholic schools as language assistants. In order to qualify to apply for this program, you must come from an English-speaking country and be an English-speaking native. Whether you find work through a program or independently, be sure you are complying with the Visa applications, and there are specific rules for non-EU member countries.
Another immensely beautiful country, many people want to explore Italy while earning money. If you don’t come from an EU country, it can seem pretty daunting to find work in Italy. It’s quite rare that schools will sponsor teachers. You have the same option of applying for a student visa and taking up a place as a student yourself. This leaves you free to teach part-time, but obviously, that can be more expensive as you will have to pay your course fees. There are a limited number of courses that are recognised in this way. So that you can have a student visa and work, but your working hours will be restricted, and you must stick to them.
There is another option for people who come from New Zealand, Australia or Canada, as they can apply for a working holiday visa. However, there is a limit to the amount of working visa applications they will except from non-EU citizens. It’s certainly worth looking into if you are from one of those countries.
The last country that we feel is suitable for non-EU citizens is the Czech Republic. We are ending on a high. There are quite a lot of options here. Athough it often gets overlooked as a destination, it could well be worth looking into further as it’s actually a very beautiful country. Canadian or New Zealand passport holders are able to apply for a working holiday visa. This which gives you a good head start for finding something more permanent. TEFL teachers from other countries will need to apply for a trading license and then a working visa. This might sound quite complicated, but it certainly is a good way to secure work.
You will need to apply for any visas before you arrive in the country. If you are looking to stay long-term, you will need to show evidence that you have more than $6000 to support yourself. Anyone applying for a Visa in the Czech Republic has to have a clear criminal records check. They also need proof of accommodation that has been notarised if you are applying for a long-term stay. Again, much like Germany, you are advised to hire a translator as all the documentation you submit will need to be pre-translated into Czechoslovakian before you apply.
Become a Digital Nomad
Another option is to consider the more recent digital nomad Visa. This was introduced in response to the pandemic. It is a way for people to live in one country while working remotely in another. So if you can’t find work as a non-EU citizen in Europe, you could teach English online. Provided you have a verifiable employer and live in the European country of your dreams. All countries that accept digital nomads and issue visas on this basis have their own rules. So you need to make sure you qualify before you take any action. Often having verifiable employment is crucial, but there are many institutions that employ people on a self-employed basis to teach English online, and for some countries, this might suffice.
> > Read more about becoming a Digital Nomad here.
You would live and pay taxes as a local and earn your money via the Internet. This means you will need to take into account the quality of the Internet connection as it will need to be very stable. It’s unlikely you could teach English online in an Internet café, for example, as it’s far too busy. Some countries will also ask you to prove that you can financially support yourself if your work situation changes, and also require you to find accommodation in advance and prove it.
The following countries are all happy to consider applications from freelancers who have remote working schedules. Portugal, Iceland, Croatia, Luxembourg and Georgia are all good to consider. Of course, the advantage of being a digital nomad is that you can move location. Once you have explored one country, you can apply to become a digital nomad in another one.
Consider Other Countries
It may be that Europe is off the list for now, and if you don’t succeed in finding work and securing a visa in a European country, then don’t despair! There is a myriad of unique places. Asia and Latin America are both great teaching destinations for people who do not come from EU countries. Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand have expanded their requirement for TEFL teachers massively over the last few years. If you apply in Cambodia, you don’t need to have a degree, just your TEFL qualification. There are opportunities to work with local children in a school setting or adults in language schools and business schools. You can always take extra TEFL qualifications to bolster your skills. Especially if you know you are going to be teaching a specific target audience, such as those wishing to improve their business English.
Latin America is also a fantastic destination with a lot of developing areas. Teaching English in a developing area can be incredibly rewarding. As people are learning new language skills to give themselves better prospects for the future. Argentina will accept people who come from Australia, Canada, the UK, South Africa, New Zealand and America. So securing a work Visa should be really easy. TEFL teachers are highly in demand in Ecuador, Peru and Colombia. All of which are also developing and becoming more connected to the rest of the world. All of these countries also have a very reasonable cost of living. Which means working and teaching English in Latin America is cost-effective. You will be able to enjoy a good standard of living, regular work, and a chance to explore the local area.
In general, you don’t need a degree to teach English abroad or online. Our certification stands alone and you can get employment without pairing it with a degree. However, some TEFL employers do prefer their teachers to have a degree. More importantly, for some countries, it’s a visa requirement. This means you can’t obtain a work permit without a bachelor’s degree or higher. Some of these countries include China, Japan, UAE and Vietnam.
Our advice is if you have your sights set on a certain country, look into the visa requirements first before putting time and effort into finding a job there. This will save you time and disappointment. If it’s a school preferability, and not a visa requirement, there’s sometimes some leeway.
You do not need any prior teaching degrees or experience to teach abroad. Once you have your TEFL certificate, you can secure work as a TEFL teacher. A BA in Education would enhance your CV, but it’s not a necessity. Completing a TEFL course that includes teaching practice, like our Hybrid TEFL Courses, will also help your CV.
If you want to experience different cultures and see the world, teaching English abroad is for you. Not only will you get to explore new places, you’ll also meet new people and get the chance to make a difference to the lives of language learners. A TEFL certification lasts a lifetime. So, you can dip in and out of teaching abroad whenever you feel like it.
It is not necessary to speak any other languages. You’ll be able to find a job and work comfortably without knowing the language spoken in your chosen country. Of course, it is always an advantage, even if it’s just the basics. We recommend learning a few phrases before you move abroad like hi, thank you, goodbye and sorry.
You’re never too old to gain new qualifications! Some TEFL employers do have age restrictions, but there are ample opportunities for more mature teachers. There are also the options to teach English from home as a private tutor or online tutor.
We recommend one of our Hybrid TEFL Courses if you would like to teach English in Europe. These hybrid courses give you the best of both worlds. You’ll get the training and certification you need, as well as teaching practice through the 10 Hour Virtual TEFL Course.
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