Teach English in Turkey
Turkey is rapidly becoming one of the top destinations for English teachers from around the globe. Abundant teaching opportunities combined with an ancient culture, rich history and beautiful geography all combine to make Turkey a top choice for EFL teachers.
As the bridge between European and Middle Eastern countries, Turkey is uniquely positioned in the world. There is a rich arab culture, while at the same time, the country is very modern and westernizing fast.
Turkey offers great food, amazing nightlife, good weather and a relatively low cost of living. While the EFL teaching market is not as developed as other countries in Europe or Asia, Turkey is rapidly increasing in popularity for English teachers.
Opportunities to Teach English in Turkey
Over the past decade, there has been a drastic increase in demand for English teachers. The Turkish government is in the middle of a five year plan to employ an additional 40,000 teachers which means there are plenty of teaching positions available all over the country.
While a TEFL certificate or equivalent are not strict requirements, having previous training will definitely be an advantage in your job hunt. Prior EFL teaching experience is always a plus, but not entirely necessary given the sheer number of jobs available. However, salaries and teaching conditions will improve depending on your qualifications and experience.
Things to Consider When Pursuing TEFL Jobs
While the public school year begins in September, there are plenty of teaching opportunities available throughout the year.
Istanbul is by far the largest teaching marketing and most popular destination for teachers, however there are opporuntities to teach in larger cities all over the country. If you’re not comfortable in a massive metropolis like Turkey, there are many beautiful and tropical locations to choose from.
Most TEFL jobs in Turkey average 20-30 hours of classroom time a week; with additional preparation time if necessary. With a relatively low salary to cost of living ratio, you are not likely to save a huge amount of money teaching in Turkey, however, don’t let that discourage you. This is a fantastic country to live and work in. You will not find kinder and more generous people any where in the world.
TEFL Salaries & Living Costs in Turkey
Average salaries for an English teacher in Turkey can vary from 1,700 – 3,500 TRY, which is approximately $800 – $1,600 USD a month. Teachers will also be expected to pay income taxes on their wages of about 15%.
Holiday wages are sometimes paid, but again this is dependent on your employer.
As for living accommodations, English teachers may have living allowance included depending on the school. Teachers may also be provided with stipends for airfare, but do not rely on this as it is not common.
Some teachers many be provided with apartments that were recently vacated by previous teachers. In this scenario, you are most likely to share the apartment with coworkers. This again is not always the case, and the situation varies with each employer.
I’ve found Istanbul to be a terrible city for short-term apartment rentals, however, the quality and price improve substantially for one year contracts. The closer you are to the heart of the city, the more you can expect to pay.
The overall cost of living will vary on where you are located, what sort of lifestyle you live and where you’ve received TEFL employment.
In Istanbul, you’ll probably want to live in shared accommodations to keep your costs down. A private apartment in a more suburban location will likely cost you $500 to $700 per month. That same apartment in areas close to the popular Taksim square or on the trendy European side of the Bosphorus can easily cost twice that.
Transportation is very inexpensive and convenient. Ferries, buses and trains can get you all over the city relatively quickly.
Eating out can be quite expensive in even average quality restaurants. There are inexpensive and delcious doners and kebabs sold from street stalls for as little as a couple of dollars, most sit down restaurants will run you $10 plus for a nicer dinner.
One of my favorite foods is the barbecue fish sandwiches that sell for about $3 down at the ferry docks in central Istanbul. While cleanliness is not a great priority of the street vendors, the taste is amazing.
Fresh bread is phenomenally cheap all over the country. A large loaf of bread can often be bought for as little as $0.30. Yogurt, olives, tomatoes and cheeses will be substantially cheaper than your home country.
Visa Requirements for TEFL Jobs in Turkey
Legally working in Turkey will require finding an employer to sponsor a work visa. A work visa is required to do any type of work in Turkey, but it is quite common for people to work illegally on a tourist visa.
There are black market jobs available, however, this is not recommended. Theoretically, it’s possible to leave the country and re-enter every three months, but this is not a very stable way to embark on a teaching career.
Turkey is likely to become an EU member in the near future so non-EU English teachers might be advised to start employment before then. After it becomes part of the EU job preferences will definitely be given to UK citizens because of the elimination of visa hassles.
Where to Find TEFL Jobs in Turkey
There are extensive resources to help you find TEFL jobs based in Turkey. The possibility of finding work before you’ve even left home is quite possible with many of the schools doing over the phone interviews.
Agencies throughout Turkey can also assist in finding jobs in Turkey as well as introduce you to quality schools offering employment however, be forewarned that they are getting paid for this matchmaking service and are probably hired by the less desirable schools. Make sure you thoroughly research the schools you are considering working for.
Despite the uncertainty and visa hassles, it’s not necessarily a bad idea to search for an employer in the country. You’ll be able to visit the school and possible talk to other teachers before commiting to a contract.
Istanbul has one of the best couchsurfing communities in the world. That may be a good place to look for recommendations for reputable schools.
What to Bring
Weather is quite mild throughout the country. Istanbul is in the most northern part of the country so it will get cooler in the winter. However, even in Istanbul winters are very mild. You’ll need sweaters and a jacket but there won’t be any snow or freezing temperatures. At least, not in the day.
In more Southern locations, winter temperatures will still be cool, but not quite as cold as Istanbul.
Particularly in a city like Istanbul, you’ll find all types of clothing and western goods. The food is fantastic as you’ll probably already be comfortable with kebabs and doners.
Vegetarians may have a more difficult time. There is plenty of fresh produce but western style vegan products like tofu can be more difficult to find. If there is anything essential to your diet you may want to bring it.
Summers are very hot and humid. You’ll definitely need light clothes to wear. Most schools accept a casual/professional style of clothing but you should ask your future employer to be sure. You won’t need to wear suits or formal wear, but men may be asked to wear ties.
There are western style shopping malls and stores so you won’t have much trouble buying anything you need.