When looking for work you’ll probably have more success in the commercial and industrial cities in the central and north, rather than in the Algarve in the far south, where many go for holidays. But if you have a desire to work in the Algarve then a speculative application to teach in one of the growing number of schools that are serving the tourist industry may be successful. There are 3 times more private language schools in Portugal than there were 10 years ago, which means that there is much more opportunity for new TESOL teachers.
Due to the increasing popularity of Portugal, it is far easier to obtain work on the spot. Initially, expect to make up a full timetable (22 hours +) by working part time at a variety of schools or institutes. In common with timetables across Europe, your lessons are likely to be spread out across the day. This could mean teaching a businessperson in a factory before work at 8am, having the afternoon off and starting lessons again at 5pm, teaching younger learners and finishing at 9pm. Once you are established and have proved yourself it will be easier to gain a full time contract with one school. By then you may have gained enough contacts to freelance, which is more financially lucrative.
Some of the major towns and cities where private language schools are numerous include Leiria (a growing commercial centre 100km north of Lisbon), Lisbon itself, the picturesque university town of Coimbra or Porto in the north. On arrival, try English bookshops and the Portuguese yellow pages for lists of schools.
When you apply for a job, ensure you highlight any commercial (business) experience or any contact with children. You might find the guide to writing your CV on our site quite helpful here. In addition to your Global English TESOL certificate you will often need a degree and perhaps some teaching practice or teaching experience. A driving licence would be handy, especially if you are teaching business English, as teachers may be expected to commute to their classes.
For EU nationals it is relatively easy to obtain the necessary paperwork to live and work here. A residence permit can be gained locally after you have been in the country for 3 months. For this you may need a confirmation letter from your employer and proof that you have somewhere to live. But don’t hold your breath for all this to happen – be prepared to spend some considerable time standing in queues. For non-EU teachers, the bureaucracy involved in hiring makes it difficult to secure a contract unless you have lot of experience. But it is possible and we know of several non-EU passport holders who are working successfully there. Flights and accommodation are rarely included in first year contracts, but sometimes you will be able to negotiate these into your deal if you stay on with the same school.
Our recommended course options for Portugal are:
We suggest one of these courses for this country: