Travel & Teach - Finland
If you are thinking about spending the long Finnish summer evenings relaxing after your TEFL classes then this page is the place to start planning your adventure.
English is in great demand in Finland, despite the fact that Swedish is officially Finland’s second language. This owes much to the demand from the business community and the fact that the standard of living is high and many can afford the luxury of private English classes. Even though the standard of English teaching in the state sector is good across Scandinavia, many students attend private classes from a young age. Indeed it appears that Finland is a country which positively embraces language learning, which is good news for the prospective English teacher. Salaries and conditions of work and also compare very well to other European countries, although the high cost of living must be taken into account. With favourable working conditions and high demand for English, it is interesting that Finland is not a more popular destination for the average EFL teacher. Could it be that Finland lacks the perceived challenge of Eastern Europe or the romance of Latin America? Perhaps it is that Finland is not culturally different enough to be of interest to the sort of person who favours Japan or Asia. Most likely it is to do with the climate. But as long as you can cope with the long Scandinavian winters, Finland should prove a promising destination for teachers as less popular destinations generally mean there is less competition for jobs.
The Finnish Embassy in London produces a booklet on living and working in Finland, which may prove helpful – see the Useful Contacts section.
British Council http://www.britishcouncil.org/
British Council in Finland: http://www.britishcouncil.fi/
Finnish Embassy UK: http://finland.embassyhomepage.com/
Finnish Embassy USA: http://www.finland.org/en/
Finnish National Tourist Office: www.visitfinland.com/uk
Need more info: Teaching English Abroad available through our bookshop page
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You’ll need a lot of patience when applying for work here, and even more persistence. One of the most annoying things is that people will seldom return your calls, respond to your e-mails or contact you at a later date - it is up to you to chase after them and get them to make a commitment. If applying for work before coming to Finland, it is important to keep this in mind. Securing a contract might take longer than many people are used to in the UK or Ireland.
Finns themselves are not the most outgoing (I hope my girlfriend doesn’t see this) or the friendliest of people, at least until you get to know them. On the plus side though, they make good students - most people will already have a good knowledge of English, and more importantly a good knowledge of how to learn. It’s not really a good destination for summer work, as most Finns who want to learn English go to an English speaking country to do so during the summer. This is a pity, because the summer is really the nicest time to be in Finland.
After arriving in May, I found it quite difficult to find work, and it took several rounds of emailing and calling to get anywhere. Unfortunately for me, I had arrived during summer (the kipper season for work!) But after getting two freelance positions for schools - this being more common than full-time positions, I have now found that I have a fairly good flow of work. I even decided to set up my own business and currently I am working freelance for a couple of companies. I am doing business English in the main. Its hard work but I am thoroughly enjoying it. I think that I will probably stay in Finland for a few years more, and am really loving it out here.... the coldest it has been is -20.... which is nothing (so I'm told!!!) 'wait till its -30 day in day out', I've been warned. So I think I'll just stay in - boycotting the outdoors.
Finland is a tough place to get into, as the Finns are too polite to say no to you. But they appreciate it if you call them lots!!!! So I have accomplished my first step in getting a full time job, so wish me luck! Thanks again for helping me through the course and giving me the confidence to get out here and do something worthwhile.
Travel and Teach
Although teaching vacancies in Scandinavia are not widely represented, you will find some postings on job websites such as www.tefl.com. There are a few organisations which recruit from outside Finland for teaching posts, but if you are more adventurous then why not try to secure a post by travelling to Finland direct. Ensure you have enough funds to support your search because, as mentioned previously, the cost of living in Finland is high. Generally, schools recruit for September/October or January. If you intend to try and obtain work on the spot it may be best to time your arrival with this in mind.
There are also opportunities for teaching at summer schools in Finland. The norm in Finland seems to be that teachers do not have a contract guaranteeing a fixed number of hours per week - instead they work freelance for a school and supplement their income with private lessons. For some this can mean teaching mornings and evening with big gaps in between.
A desire to teach may be all you need to arrange work informally in the country. If you have a degree then your job prospects are significantly enhanced and a TESOL certificate will help. Certainly for most European teachers, the bureaucracy has relaxed considerably since Finland joined the EU.
Teaching in Finland pays relatively well, and we have seen positions advertised for around €1,500 per month. Freelance teachers can expect to earn around €20 per lesson. Accommodation is relatively cheap (although higher in Helsinki than elsewhere) and, if you are lucky enough to land a contract, it is often this arranged for you by the school. Try to make sure that the cost of heating is included in your rent payment. You’ll find that eating out can be expensive and tax is around 30% of your salary, but Finland has an advanced health care system, should you need it.
You might find the guide to writing your CV on our site quite helpful here.