Embarking on a journey to teach English in Europe opens up a world of cultural experiences, historical treasures, and diverse communities eager to learn the English language. But where are the best places in Europe to teach English? First we’ll take a look at the main regions, then dive into the 6 top European destinations, each offering something unique for TEFL teachers.
Western Europe is renowned for its developed economies, efficient infrastructures, and high standards of living. Countries like Spain, France, and Germany have strong education systems where English teaching positions are available but often competitive. They offer a rich cultural experience, from historic landmarks to world-class museums and restaurants. However, the cost of living can be high, and in some parts, English is widely spoken, which might affect the demand for English teachers.
Eastern Europe offers a mosaic of cultures and histories, with each country having a unique appeal. For English teachers, this region presents ample opportunities, particularly because English is highly sought after for business and tourism. Countries like Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary have a lower cost of living compared to Western Europe, which can be appealing. It’s essential to research each country's specific visa requirements, as the demand for TEFL certificates and other qualifications varies.
The Balkans is an intriguing region with a complex history and rich multicultural landscapes. Countries such as Croatia, Serbia, and Romania are less traditional destinations for English teachers but hold hidden opportunities. Teaching here allows for a unique cultural immersion, with fewer tourists and a more authentic lifestyle. The cost of living is relatively low, and the demand for English, especially in business and tourism sectors, is gradually increasing.
Scandinavia, encompassing countries like Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, is known for its strong welfare systems, stunning natural beauty, and high quality of life. English is widely spoken here, and the populations generally have a high level of English proficiency. However, there are still opportunities to teach English, particularly in adult education and business contexts. The cost of living is quite high, but so are the salaries and overall working conditions, aligning with the region's high living standards.
Each region offers a unique teaching and living experience, with its own set of challenges and rewards. It's always essential to consider individual preferences, lifestyle, and career goals when choosing a TEFL destination in Europe.
How did we decide which is the best? We used the following metrics:
Barcelona is a lively and colourful city that perfectly mixes old Catalonian customs with new, progressive ideas. Everywhere you look, from the streets to the buildings, there’s a rich display of art and culture, with a strong sense of local pride. It's known for its beautiful, unique buildings designed by the architect Gaudi and its wonderful beaches.
For English teachers, Barcelona has a lot to offer. There are many schools and language centres looking for teachers. Plus, it’s a diverse city where you’ll hear many different languages spoken, showing how open and multicultural it is. In local cafes and public places, you’ll find a mix of people from all over the world, making it an exciting place to live and teach English.
Spanish bureaucracy is notoriously slow and hard to understand, but they do allow you to work 20-30 per week on a student visa (perfect for English teachers) and recent changes in the law mean you can convert to a full work visa after one year.
Without a doubt Barcelona is one of the best places in Europe to teach English, with decent salaries, affordable accommodation and a great quality of life! It’s also very easy to snap up a teaching job in September, or any other time of the year.
Overall teacher score: 9/10
Nestled in the heart of Europe, Prague’s fairy-tale allure, complemented by its historical treasures, offers English teachers a realm of possibilities. A city known for its remarkable architecture, rich history, and a buzzing nightlife, Prague is also a city where the English language is flourishing in schools and businesses, paving numerous avenues for English teachers.
The Zivnostensky Visa (Business Visa/Trade License) is recommended for non-E.U. citizens, including Americans. It allows teaching legally at any school or as a private tutor, and gives you the freedom not to depend on a school for sponsorship.
Overall Prague is another top destination in Europe to teach English, with a low cost of living and ease of finding well-paid work.
Overall teacher score: 8/10.
Berlin's historical gravitas, coupled with its modern allure, offers an enriching experience for TEFL teachers. With a political atmosphere fostering social equality, and a society valuing education highly, Berlin offers English teachers an organised and efficient work environment, coupled with an enriching cultural experience. While competition is intense due to Germany’s respect for the teaching profession, there are abundant opportunities in diverse educational settings all over Berlin.
The Freelance Visa is preferred by most expats coming to teach English in Berlin, as it allows you to teach at multiple private schools and engage in side work like private tutoring or online teaching. However, it does not allow working a full-time schedule at a single school. The Sponsored Work visa is less common and slightly harder to secure, and generally involves a stable 40-hour work week at a single private language school.
Overall Berlin is another solid choice with great salaries and quality of life for English teachers. The visas are relatively easy to secure, and work is easy to come by in Berlin.
Overall teacher score: 8/10.
Lisbon, with its enchanting beauty and warm hospitality, offers a delightful backdrop for English teachers. Its lower cost of living and welcoming atmosphere make it appealing for new TEFL graduates, and there is a consistent demand for English instruction due to Portugal’s thriving tourism industry.
Portugal has a similar system to Spain, whereby the easiest option to work as an English teacher is via a student visa, allowing you to work up to 20 hours per week. This should be processed at a Portuguese consulate in your home country before you arrive.
English teachers can live well in Lisbon and enjoy a great quality of life. The bureaucracy is a little more challenging compared to the other top destinations, but nonetheless a still a great option. Lisbon is considerably smaller than the other top European TEFL destinations, so the job market is smaller too.
Overall teacher score: 7/10
In Rome, history breathes life into the city, where modern cafes find a home amidst ancient Roman ruins. Known for its world-class cuisine, art, and fashion, Rome’s educational landscape is competitive but filled with opportunities for those passionate about teaching English amidst Italy’s captivating charm.
Italy has a similar system to Spain and Portugal, whereby the easiest option to work as an English teacher is via a student visa, allowing you to work up to 20 hours per week. This should be processed at an Italian consulate in your home country before you arrive.
Rome, a vibrant capital, offers English teachers a rich experience, albeit with a higher cost of living compared to other Italian cities and relatively lower wages compared to other top TEFL destinations. Nevertheless it is still considered as one of the best places in Europe to teach English.
Overall teacher score: 7/10
Budapest, the gem of the Danube, offers English teachers a delightful blend of thermal baths, historic castles, and a vibrant nightlife. The city places a significant emphasis on language learning, offering various opportunities in private language schools and businesses keen on enhancing global communication.
Non-European citizens can participate in the Central European Teaching Program (CETP) which assists in obtaining a work visa. It is aimed at native speakers from the US, UK and Canada. Teachers participating in the CETP pay a placement fee but receive significant benefits such as competitive salaries, housing, and paid vacation. The CETP is quite flexible and presents a valuable opportunity for individuals aiming to teach English in Central Europe.
With a cost of living that is more reasonable compared to various Western European cities, and salaries that allow for a comfortable lifestyle, Budapest emerges as a compelling destination for TEFL teachers. Its central location further adds to its pull, making it one of the best places in Europe to teach English.
Overall teacher score: 8/10
Embark on a teaching adventure that’s more than a job—it’s a journey through history, culture, and endless fun in Europe’s enchanting cities. 🌍🍎
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