How long have you been teaching English in Hungary?
What is Budapest like?
Budapest is a fantastic place to live. Teaching only a few days a week earns you enough money to live well; going out for meals, drinking/partying etc. The people are very friendly and particularly interested by foriegners and the community of expats living here is large and constantly changing. If you are interested in sports/culture/music/arts there are plenty of ways to get involved.
Are you learning Hungarian?
I can speak only a small amount of Hungarian, enough to be polite when ordering in a shop/restaurant/bar. Its is not an easy language to learn and is pretty unique as it is not from a Greek or Latin route, unlike most modern European languages. I do know English expats who are fluent though.
Have you travelled much outside of Budapest?
Only to Balaton lake a couple of times. It is easy enough and quite cheap to reach by train. I have hitch hiked too as people are much more likely to pick you up than in the UK. I couldn’t say much about the towns around Balaton, as the times I travelled to the lake were for sailing or to go to the Balaton Sound festival.
Please tell us about your job?
I teach everything. General English, Business English, Medical English, Military English, Exam preparartion, young people/ old people. If you are a good teacher and prepared to learn yourself and be versatile then the possibilities are endless. Most people want lessons Monday to Friday at either 8am or 6pm. Barely anybody wants lessons in the daytime. Summer is a bit dry too as everybody goes on holiday. I must say I do actually love my job, and almost all my students are lovely. The downside is having to travel a lot, wait around between lessons and being left out of pocket when people cancel at the last minute. Nothing is guaranteed, but then this is much the same with all freelance work.
How did you find your first English teaching job?
I emailed as many language schools as possible and basically hustled them until they gave me work.
How easy is it to find English teaching positions?
That depends on when you are trying to find work, how persistant you are, your qualifications and general charisma. If you were to turn up mid-summer and half-heartedly fire out a couple of emails you would be unlikely to get much response. A lot of language schools are pretty disorganised and you may need to call them several times or knock on their door with a CV before you get a straight answer. Being a native English speaker is a huge advantage too.
Is it necessary to have teaching certificates or training to find employment?
This really depends where you are. In Budapest, if you are good enough at teaching then a CELTA or TEFL are not essential, but they definitely make life easier for you. A lot of schools simply won’t even look at your CV unless you have a teaching qualification. Some language schools know there are people with the right qualifications who are not so great at actually teaching. But qualifications or not, if you cannot pull off a good interview or teach a good lesson then schools and students won’t ask you to come back.
How did you get your first work visa?
I don’t need one.
What is the cost of living in Budapest?
Rent can be anything between 100-300 euros per month, but of course you get what you pay for. A beautiful flat in the city centre will obviously cost more than a run-down dive in the suburbs. I pay about 150 euros per month. Electricity bills in winter can be almost as much as the rent, but in summer are next to nothing. You can live pretty well off 50 euros per week, but strangely, buying food in the shops is almost as expensive as eating out. Beer is quite cheap, around 1.5 euros for a half litre. Obviously if you go to cocktail bars and expensive restaurants then expect to pay the same as any European capital city. But English teachers aren’t usually here to live the highlife.
How much money can the average teacher expect to save?
This depends how much you work, save and spend. At a language school you can get up to 20 euros per lesson, but often the lessons are around office hours. This means you can’t usually do 6 lessons per day, more like 3 maximum.
Are there many opportunities to earn income on the side?
Most people have private students. If you look for other sources of extra income I’m sure they are out there. I wouldn’t say its the kind of industry where you can make your millions, but then most teachers I know seem to prefer working less and having more free time. You definitely don’t need much money to enjoy yourself here anyway.
Do you recommend Hungary for other English teachers?
Yes I would. The people are lovely and the city is beautiful. Moving here was one of the best decisions I have made. Just don’t try to steal my students!
What advice would you offer for others thinking of teaching English Abroad?
Get a qualification, pack a bag and get on the plane. Simple as that.