Travel & Teach - Greece
Where better to start your EFL career than the birthplace of Western civilisation. The country boasts attractive countryside, islands with sandy beaches and blue seas, as well as mountains for the more adventurous who like to go hiking or skiing.
Outside the cities there is a sense of travelling back in time when you visit the small villages. You’ll find Greek people are friendly and welcoming and will often sit with you for long periods in the cafes over iced coffee. Like much of southern Europe, Greece enjoys a ‘café culture’. Greek people are respectful, passionate about their football and are very hospitable.
Greece, like Turkey, is often a first stop for the new teacher as there is a large demand for English teachers. Therefore your search for work is likely to be a fruitful one. Teaching standards in the state sector vary so that school students attend extra private classes in many subjects, outside of regular school hours. This system leads to more teaching opportunities for the EFL teacher, particularly with younger learners. However, tired and bored students are often the result of all these extra classes. Parents wish to see results, which can mean pushing reluctant students through multitudes of exam material. Be prepared for some primitive facilities, with traditional classroom layouts and limited resources.
The good news for the new EFL teacher is that experience is often not a prerequisite for being taken on. Prospects are good for EU nationals with degrees and TESOL Certificates. As a result, many teachers get their first teaching experience in Greece before moving on. Alternatively there are many happy EFL teachers who have settled into the culture to make Greece their permanent home. Indeed, many have testified to enjoying the warmth of the Greek people, the lack of crime and leisurely way of life. Does it sound good to you?
British Council http://www.britishcouncil.org/
British Council in Greece: http://www.britishcouncil.org/gr/greece.htm
Greek Embassy UK: http://greece.embassyhomepage.com/
Greek Embassy USA: http://www.greekembassy.org/Embassy/content/en/Root.aspx
Greek National Tourist Office: http://www.gnto.gr/
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Global English students are working all over the world with their accredited TESOL certificates. Find out
how TESOL training from Global English has made a difference to their lives:
At the moment, I'm working at a frontisteria in a large town called Agrinio, in the west of mainland Greece. I got the job through a Greek teacher recruitment agency called Anglo-Hellenic, who have been really helpful and supportive. Leaving England to work abroad was a little daunting at first, but now I'm enjoying being in Greece so much and the time is flying by - almost too quickly. I'm afraid May will come around much too soon! Of course, I miss my family and friends, but some have been over to see me already and there's always email, texting and the phone... essential when you're having an 'off day'! Having only a limited grasp of the language is an adventure too, sometimes overwhelming because you haven't got a clue what's going on around you and the simplest of things such as buying a loaf of bread or getting on the bus becomes a major source of amusement for the other English teachers, especially at first!
The kids at school are very different from kids in Britain. They bring me flowers and artwork nearly everyday (I love you, Miss Katie!), and the whole atmosphere is very laid-back and relaxed. I'm teaching the entire range of ability, from A-pre, total beginners, to Proficiency level. It's not difficult since most follow set course books and as long as you can talk about anything and everything (it's all practice for them, after all!) all is well and everyone's happy.
Being here in Agrinio is the best start for me, since there are 10 other English teachers in the town. We're all roughly the same age and have become great friends, teaching each other the odd bit of Greek and laughing about what's happened in class. Weekends are the time to go away and really relax (or go wild, away from the eyes of our students!) I've been away nearly every weekend, and still have Keffalonia, Corfu and Zante to explore before Christmas. It's crazy to think it's now November and the weather still allows us to go to the beach and swim etc!
The money is not fantastic, however. It's a basic wage I can live off, but there's no opportunity to save anything. The cost of living is cheap though (not quite as cheap as last year apparently, because of the Euro) and I am managing well. It's surprisingly easy to adapt and after all, I didn't come here for the money, but for the experience. A year's contract may seem like a long time for my first time teaching, but I'm really happy to do it. I'm surrounded by great people - my boss and his wife have become my second family! - and doing a job which I enjoy much more than I expected to.
Travel and Teach
Your best chance of finding work in Greece will be from May to September (except August, when it seems like everyone in southern Europe is on holiday). The school year ends in mid June and begins again at the end of September, so we see jobs appearing on Internet websites with more frequency from May onwards. The British Council has offices in England and Athens for information (although they do not always have a list of schools). There are many recruitment agencies that supply Greece, although interestingly you may have more luck obtaining a job on the spot as many positions are unadvertised and there is no central organisation with a list of job opportunities for the whole country. To do this you’ll need to be there at the right time; January and the winter months are also generally regarded as good times to be looking for work.
Go armed with all your certificates and dress to impress. A word of caution; even if you have obtained a position by informal means (meetings in English Language bookshops are common, for example) ensure you clarify all terms and conditions precisely. In the larger cities lists of schools can be found in the equivalent of the Yellow Pages, ‘the Blue Guide’.
The basic requirements are that you are a native English speaker that you possess a university degree. A TESOL qualification is important and although not generally required to obtain a teaching license in Greece, you will find it useful in overcoming the competition to find work. If you are a native speaker with a degree you may still be able to find work teaching privately (this is very popular in the provinces).
It is possible to teach on a tourist visa, which must be renewed on a 3 monthly basis, either by re-entering the country or by presenting yourself at the Immigration Office, where you must show that you are able to support yourself. The more formal way to go about teaching in Greece beyond 3 months is to apply for a teacher’s licence once you arrive. Then you may apply for a residence permit, but the process is very bureaucratic, so don’t hold your breath waiting for the paperwork to come through.
Pay and conditions do vary greatly. There are cowboy schools, but with care you should be able to negotiate yourself a fair deal. Salaries are sometimes quoted gross at an hourly rate but the average you should be looking for is approximately €650 per month (net) for 23 – 25 hours’ teaching. You do not generally get paid for their equivalent of bank holidays so monthly pay can vary. What you can expect are bonuses at Christmas and Easter and possibly summer plus 4 weeks paid holiday per contract, although some employers only give these once you have worked the 1st year of your contract. Contracts themselves generally run from September for 9 months. Your monthly salary will probably compare favourably with public and private sector employees, although they will receive 13 or 14 payments per year, whereas you will get 9 or 10. This all may sound attractive, but remember it is what the schools should provide rather than what they necessarily do. Nevertheless, once you are installed there should be ample opportunity for lucrative freelance teaching as a supplement (the going rate for freelance lessons is around 15 Euros an hour). It seems that everyone in Greece wants to learn English. Opportunities also exist for teaching Business English at companies or to small groups of adults, so consider the Global English Level 2 TESOL with business as well.
Many schools and agencies either help to find or actually provide accommodation. In the main cities, accommodation can be expensive and standards vary greatly. Greece can get very cold in the winter and heating (if it exists) is also something to budget for.