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.
Traditionally there has been very strong demand in Greece since teaching standards in the state sector varied so that school students attend extra private classes in many subjects, outside of regular school hours. However, the recent economic crisis has destablised the EFL sector. As a result, if the beauty and warmth of Greece beckons, you will most likely be helping people to improve their English to a sufficient enough standard to leave the country for English speaking universities or international jobs.
Tips for teaching English in Greece
* brush up on teaching English for the IELTS exam and similar; a good IELTS score is a prerequisite for university entry abroad
* choose the 150-hour TESOL Level 4 online >> for Europe
* consider adding a 30-hour One-to-one TESOL >> so you can gain work with online schools internationally and are not reliant on the Greek market
* dress for business and present a professional CV/resume >>
* consider teaching English online first with a large company, then continue with it once in Greece
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/
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
Traditionally the best chance of finding work in Greece was from May to September (except August, when it seems like everyone in southern Europe is on holiday). The British Council has offices in England and Athens for information (although they do not always have a list of schools). With the present economic crisis, think 'out of the box' as your best chance is to freelance and consider running small group classes or offering English to pass the IELTS English speaking exam (so Greeks can more easily leave the country and find work in an English speaking country). In addition, teaching English online to international students means you will not be reliant on the local market.
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. With the economic downturn, salaries will be much less than they were but the cost of living is also much lower with food and rents dropping through the floor.
For the best chance of gaining English teaching work in Cyprus, we recommend that you take:
* the 30-hour Business TESOL >> as an extra string to your bow
Got a question about teaching English in Greece? Ask Louisa Walsh direct.