How long have you been teaching English in Turkey?
Please tell us about your job?
It’s a private primary school in Maltepe on the Asian side. Other teachers have younger kids, but mine are from 10-13 years old, of all varying abilities and levels of enthusiasm. My average class size is about 18, but some are as low as 10 students and other have 25. Classes are 40 minutes apiece and I teach 25 per week. Class materials are given but it would be wise to come with some of your own as well. There isn’t very much holiday time except for unpaid school breaks in summer and winter.
How did you find your job?
ESLcafe.com. I was hired before I came.
How easy is it to find English teaching positions?
Fairly easy, and private tutoring work is available as well. People who know how to network online can quickly get themselves sorted out.
Is it necessary to have teaching certificates or training to find employment?
It helps. My school and many others require a TEFL/TESOL certificate or similar, and many schools look for people with experience.
How did you get your first work visa?
My company is arranging it for me.
Is it possible for teachers to arrive without a work visa and look for a job?
What is Istanbul like?
Traffic and public infrastructure are occasional headaches, but it’s a good city to live and it’s never boring. It’s very international and quite easy for a social person to go out and meet new people at any time. Many foreign women complain that they get too much attention from Turkish men, though.
Are you learning Turkish?
I’m learning the basics. To be honest, English is enough for my needs and anyway I’m busy enough to always be able to find an excuse not to study.
What is the cost of living in Istanbul?
Alcohol and petrol are expensive but most other things are somewhat on the cheaper end of the spectrum, similar to prices elsewhere in southern Europe.
How much money can the average teacher expect to save?
There are a wide range of salaries here, and also many temptations to go out and spend money. On the higher range of salaries (US$3000 per month for university teachers) you can try to save a significant amount, but most people don’t leave Istanbul with much more money than they came with. The average teacher salary is about half of the above, though often some extras are thrown in, such as transport or accommodation allowances.
Are there many opportunities to earn income on the side?
Turkey’s economy is one of the few in the world that is genuinely growing right now, and Istanbul is at the center of it all. It’s not hard to go out and find other work, but the amount of variety in that work will depend on how many people you’ve gotten to know once you’ve come over here. Native English speakers can generally make themselves as busy as they’d like to be.
Do you recommend Istanbul for other English teachers?
It’s a good place to be. The attitude of the students will vary a lot depending on whether you’re teaching kids (who are required to come to class) or adults (who generally come because they have a real desire to learn). But most parts of the world work in similar ways; what sets Istanbul apart is that it’s a major international city, and there’s always a lot going on. My biggest difficulty so far has been setting aside enough time for me to sleep in between all the work and parties.