Travel & Teach - Turkey
Turkey is still eager to become a fully-fledged member of the European Union and there is a general feeling that a positive attitude towards English language learning is going to help. This, buoyed by a dramatic increase in tourism over the recent years has seen demand for English grow quite rapidly. After a period of economic instability, which saw the devaluation of the currency (Lira) against other major currencies, things appear to have stabilised and there is an enormous demand for native speaking EFL teachers. If you are attracted by the sights and sounds of Turkey, then this is an excellent first post on your teaching journey.
But Turkey is a contrast. From European Istanbul to the Turkish capital Ankara, we have heard many conflicting stories concerning teaching experiences here. Cowboy schools abound, although with solid preparation you will hopefully avoid some of the pitfalls and go on to enjoy a fascinating cultural experience. Everyone we know who has taught here says the people are wonderful, although we have heard our fair share of horror stories as well. On the negative side there are a number of dubious operations; places where contracts are not adhered to, the boss’s word is final and there is scant regard for the teacher’s welfare or student’s educational requirements. There appears to be very little legal recourse for the teacher even if the school blatantly disregards contractual obligations. With such variable management standards, you need to thoroughly vet the terms and conditions on any contract you are offered. On the positive side, many have testified to the warmth of the Turkish people, the relative lack of crime and the standard of living which can be afforded on the EFL wages paid.
British Council http://www.britishcouncil.org/
British Council in Turkey: http://www.britishcouncil.org/turkey.htm
Turkish Embassy UK: http://turkey.embassyhomepage.com/
Turkish Embassy USA: http://www.turkishembassy.org/intro.html
Turkish National Tourist Office: http://www.gototurkey.co.uk/
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I know of several English language schools which hire on a regular basis. English Time, Berlitz, English First and British English are probably the biggest ones, with several branches around Istanbul and in other cities as well. I know some people who have worked at English Time, with mixed results. It depends on which branch, and who is managing it! For example, the Besiktas and Kadikoy branch are quite good. I found this website http://www.eslbase.com/schools/turkey which has a pretty big list of English schools as well as their websites.
If you can get into the school system, you will find that the pay and benefits are much better (rent assistance, work visas, health insurance, transportation, meals, etc). There are some of them listed on the above website, you can tell which ones because they have a k12.tr ending!
I went for an interview yesterday, thinking they wouldn't want to employ me until I've completed my course and they'd seen the certificate etc. However, much to my amazement and delight they have offered me a position, knowing that I'm still in the process of finishing the course!!
The job is with English Time in Ankara. It seems to be a really professional organisation and they are very supportive towards me. I will observe some lessons before I begin and the head teacher will give me a one-to-one in order to prepare me. I'll then begin by teaching adult beginners, progressing to higher levels once I become more confident. I'll have a probation period of 3 months & work under contract for 10 months once the work/residence visa is organised. They give a rent allowance and my friends here are going to help me find a nice flat.
So, it's all gone really well so far. Thank you for everything!
Travel and Teach
Jobs in Turkey appear everywhere – but especially on the internet – try websites such as www.eflweb.com and www.tefl.com. Jobs also appear in the TES (Times Educational Supplement) on Fridays and the Guardian EFL pages on Tuesdays. The British Council has offices in England for information and teaching centres in the main Turkish Cities of Izmir, Ankara and Istanbul, where you should be able to get hold of a list of schools in Turkey itself. Also these hold files of complaints on particular language schools so you can check out who the potential shady operators are.
You will need to have a job offer from an employer to enable you to get a working visa, which you have to obtain if you want to work legally in the country. But there are so many jobs that you should not find it difficult to get work, if you have a degree and TESOL certificate. However, if you don’t have a degree it will be much more difficult to get the necessary paperwork sorted. Once in the country, you can readily find work and many teachers have claimed that it is easier this way and that you don’t have to rely on agents or intermediaries. Opportunities are numerous for those with a TESOL Certificate and in this way you should be able to get a ‘feel’ for the environment and conditions. Working as a freelance teacher is officially frowned on but is generally accepted. Expect to charge between £6 and £10 per hour for freelance work.
As stated above, you will normally need a degree and teaching certificate before the Ministry of Education will consider a work permit and you will need a work permit to teach. Strictly speaking it is illegal to teach on a tourist visa, although several teachers do so, particularly when getting started. Tourist visas can 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. However, there are tighter controls on this practice. Of course, if you have Turkish residency through birth or marriage then working restrictions are much lighter.