Travel & Teach - Ukraine
Ukraine (meaning ‘The Borderland’) is part if the former USSR is the 2nd largest country in Europe. It gained independence from the Soviet Republic on 1st December 1991 and its capital city, Kiev, has approximately 2.8 million inhabitants. However the country is in some economic difficulties. Approximately 50% of the population are believed to live on or below the poverty line. Average incomes are approximately $80 US per month and both inflation and unemployment are running at high levels.
Despite this, the demand for English in this former Soviet Republic is growing quickly, in common with many other Eastern European countries. If you decide that Ukraine is for you then you’ll find that Native English speakers are in demand, as the country sees English as the ‘first’ foreign language.
Living conditions in the Ukraine are not as good as in certain other Eastern European countries, such as Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. However, if you are not motivated solely by money and are determined to teach here you can reap rewards in other ways. The country is culturally and historically diverse and interesting. Volunteer organisations, such as the Ukrainian National Association Inc. may be one possible route (see the address elsewhere in this fact sheet).
The people are warm, welcoming and curious. They are also likely to be demanding in the classroom, respectful of education and highly motivated to learn English. Take plenty of materials with you as resources are scarce. The best material is fairly inexpensive. Authentic ‘realia’ such as magazine articles will be of great interest to your students and will not take up much room in your luggage. However you may need the space for extra clothing; the Eastern European winters are notoriously cold.
British Council http://www.britishcouncil.org/
British Council in Ukraine: http://www.britishcouncil.org/ukraine.htm
Ukrainian Embassy UK: http://ukraine.embassyhomepage.com/
Ukrainian Embassy USA: http://www.ukremb.com/
Ukrainian National Tourist Office: http://www.ukraineinfo.us/
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Travel and Teach
Teaching positions are not often advertised outside Ukraine, although you may find the Internet as the best source for potential jobs. However, once the bureaucracy is out of the way, Native English speakers with a TESOL certificate should not have a problem finding work, (albeit quite low paid in comparison with other Eastern European countries). The private EFL industry is growing at such a pace that the tenacious teacher should be able to secure enough hours teaching and to rise quite rapidly within the system.
The small number of English language institutes is growing rapidly and opportunities are beginning to become more visible for the intrepid EFL teacher. As usual there are greater opportunities in the country’s capital Kiev, although opportunities are now being reported elsewhere in cities such as Odessa. A Global English Level 2 TESOL qualification would certainly be advisable for prospective teachers, although this is not always necessary and you can still get work even if you don’t have the necessary qualifications.
This is a country where demand currently exceeds supply and institutes have found difficulty in finding enough native speakers. Therefore institutes recruit from both the local market as well as overseas. Once in the Ukraine, look for jobs in the 2 main English Language newspapers – the Kiev Post and the Odessa Post. While most positions will be found in the major cities (Kiev, Odessa, Lviv, Kharkov) jobs are not just confined to the big cities and there is demand throughout the country and summer schools in the tourist resorts.
Some large multinationals (such as MacDonald’s) are present or showing an active interest in the former ‘Soviet Bloc’ countries, which should bring money into Ukraine and others. If the economic climate improves then you may find the opportunities for teaching English do as well. Expect the demand for Business English to grow as these businesses do.
The situation regarding permits and visas can be quite complicated. In general to obtain a work permit you need to be invited to work by one of the schools. Many schools that do advertise in the international press will offer to arrange visas prior to your arrival. This is the safest way to find work in the country. Reputable recruitment agencies, chain schools and placement organisations will also help to sort this out for you. For all other organisations, you will need to be careful and ensure the necessary process and paperwork has been done as there are employers who will try and short cut the bureaucratic system and it may be the teachers who are liable if caught. However we recommend that you contact your Country’s Ukrainian Embassy for the latest information.
Some teachers do go to Ukraine on a tourist visa and look to change it from inside the country. While this is possible, it can be a paperwork nightmare and the recommendation from teachers who have done this is to get the appropriate paperwork sorted out before you go. Because the demand is high, you may be able to secure work without a degree. However if you do hold appropriate qualifications (degree + TESOL qualification) your chances of success and securing a better rate of pay will be higher. Work contracts are usually set from 10 to 11 months, although shorter contracts are possible, particularly if you are offered summer work. We would recommend at the very least you take a Global English Level 1 TESOL or a Weekend TEFL before you go.
You might find the guide to writing your CV on our site quite helpful here.
As previously mentioned pay is not great but should be sufficient for you to live on. Although the cost of day to day living is relatively low, expect much of your salary to go on accommodation, which is expensive in the centre of the big cities. However schools and institutes may be able to provide you with low cost accommodation or, in some circumstances, offer accommodation as part of the contract. Travel in Ukraine is relatively cheap. A one-month pass on the Kiev Metro costs approximately £7 and private taxis are inexpensive. The rates of pay you can expect will vary in terms of your experience and the responsibilities you can take on. You can expect to earn from £300 - £600 per month if you have little experience, but higher salaries are certainly available. It is possible to supplement any earnings with freelance work or overtime although your success in this area will depend on the length of your stay, your confidence and your negotiating skills.