Travel & Teach - Sweden
Sweden is the land of the midnight sun, where in summer the sun never sets in the arctic. Like many new TEFL teachers, you may be first drawn to Stockholm, Sweden’s capital city, which celebrated its 750th anniversary in 2002.
English is in demand in Sweden. Increasingly 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, the long established tradition of learning in informal social study groups is still alive and practised at the Folkuniversitetet (Folkuniversity). This is a public subsidised college system across Sweden where various adult classes take place. However it is harder to get into that previously as fewer positions are available, which now makes it harder for the newly qualified teacher to find work. But if you are lucky enough to find one of these places, then you will receive a 9 month contract, guaranteed minimum hours and a week’s induction course. Whilst the salaries are not the best, you should be able to live reasonably, although saving is going to be difficult with the relatively high cost of living position.
British Council http://www.britishcouncil.org/
British Council in Sweden: http://www.britishcouncil.org/sweden.htm
Swedish Embassy UK: http://sweden.embassyhomepage.com/
Swedish Embassy USA: http://www.embassy.org/embassies/se.html
Swedish National Tourist Office: www.visit-sweden.com
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Travel and Teach
Teaching vacancies in Sweden are rarely seen in the UK national press. This is because working outside the Folkuniversitetet system is difficult, and its wide appeal means there are few private EFL organisations in existence. These private organisations tend towards the business end of the market and are more likely to consider you if you are particularly highly qualified or have specific business or commercial experience. Freelancing is officially frowned on and also difficult unless you have good contacts and/or knowledge of Swedish.
However you should time any speculative enquiries and CVs for the start of the academic terms, as most positions are on offer from September or January. On applying for TESOL positions, it is generally advisable to send a passport-sized photograph along with a CV, covering letter and possibly copies of degree/TEFL certificates. You can also find information on how to succeed at your TESOL interview in the ‘Interview techniques’ page on our site.
But for the ambitious or those with good contacts, a desire to teach and a 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 Global English Level 2 TESOL with business course may help you meet the growing need for business English. Certainly for most European teachers, the bureaucracy has relaxed considerably since Sweden joined the EU. However non-EU citizens will find it difficult to be able to gain the necessary papers to teach in Sweden. You should be aware that employers may also be looking for your ability to adapt to the climate – Sweden is dark and cold in the north in the winter months so be prepared for some long, dark nights!
As mentioned previously, teaching in Sweden should enable you live comfortably but not excessively, although if you are freelancing you can expect to earn more. Accommodation is expensive and the tax rate is high (around 30% depending on location). Sweden itself is fairly liberal and whilst the people are easy going and friendly once you get to know them, they can be a little reserved and some have commented on the difficulty of making friends. As a colleague who lived there put it ‘If the British are shy, then the Swedes are very, very shy.’
Humour and warmth are certainly there beneath the surface, but if you are the reserved type yourself, you could be in for a lonely time. This, coupled with the long winters, could make socialising difficult. But if you enjoy skiing and other winter outdoor pursuits then you should thrive here. You can also expect a high standard of living and clean, efficient surroundings.