TESOL Blog

These notes provide basic information about what to expect when seeking work teaching English in Turkey. Note that there will be considerable variation between schools, employers’ preferences, and government regulations, and requirements will change from time to time. Before entering into any commitment, you are advised to check with an appropriate authoritative source such as the embassy in your country.

Turkey straddles East and West and so is a fascinating country to visit for a holiday or to work in. The history of Turkey is nothing less than extraordinary and there are a thousand mesmerising places to visit all over the country. Added to that, there is a growing tourist industry and an endless list of intriguing secluded bays and sandy beaches to visit. The sea is a delight and there are plenty of opportunities to sail.

Outlook for teachers

Turkey has applied to join the European Union and one result of this is a growing demand for English language skills and a growing number of language schools. There is also an increasing emphasis on English in some primary schools and many secondary schools and, as a result, a rapidly growing demand for native speakers to work in private and state schools or to provide private lessons. The strengthening ties with the EU, NATO, and other historical factors, mean that teachers from the UK are, to some degree, favoured over teachers from other English-speaking countries. Ideally teachers will have a degree, a TEFL or TESOL qualification and some experience. However, this is the ideal and sometimes teachers can find jobs without having all three, especially when already living in Turkey. Distance-learning qualifications are welcomed where the applicant has a qualification accredited by a reputable independent professional body such as the College of Teachers.

Finding an English teaching job in Turkey

Many teachers living in Turkey have reported visiting different schools in the main cities and receiving a number of job offers. It is often possible to find work through direct contacts and it also enables you to see the school and assess how professional it is. The range in terms of quality is wide and while there are some very good schools there are also some that you would want to avoid. When applying from abroad try to find out as much as you can about the recruitment body you are applying through or the schools that make you an offer. If possible, contact teachers who are working there or have recently left. A reputable school would normally be able to provide such details.

Hot spots

Istanbul, Izmir and Ankara are the main cities and there are opportunities in all three, but don’t forget that there are also smaller centres where schools can be found. Istanbul is the most active with regard to recruitment but that will mean more competition of course! Many people go no further than Istanbul but, in fact, there are many other centres recruiting teachers and, as always, life can often be more interesting away from the main cities.

Requirements and prospects

A work visa is required and, as with many other countries, this can involve quite a lot of effort unless your employer assists you with this. A tourist visa for 90 days can be obtained quite quickly but it is not possible to work with this. People with a valid residence permit (of six months or more) already in Turkey can apply to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security for permission to work. For people outside Turkey, a work visa can be obtained by applying to the Turkish Consulate. Degree certificates and TESOL / TEFL certificates will need to be translated into Turkish and notarised. The employer in Turkey will, for their part, need to send to the teacher various documents and these will all need to be taken with the teacher’s contract to the Consulate to get the work visa. This will need to be done some weeks before departure.

Pay and conditions

For people recruited from the UK, or other English speaking country, the school or agency will generally provide return tickets, accommodation (or assistance towards accommodation) and a monthly salary of about £750 – £1,000. This will not be enough for a wild life but it will at least provide some money for trips around Turkey. Contracts with state schools tend to be more reliable but contracts with private institutions can sometimes be worthless in practical terms and this is why it is important to find out as much as you can about any private institution that offers you a teaching post. As is often the case, teachers in more rural areas often receive a lower pay rate but this is invariably more than compensated for by being far more integrated into the local society. This can make the whole experience of living in Turkey much more valuable. The pay may be higher in Istanbul but where people mix only with other expatriates the experience of Turkey may be very limited indeed. Learning some Turkish would be a distinct advantage. However, women teachers can have a more difficult time than men. They should be a little cautious about their dealings with male students and male friends / acquaintances as politeness / general friendship can sometimes be misinterpreted.

Whether your qualification is a TESOL certificate or TEFL certificate is unimportant. Both acronyms relate to the same training and both are accepted by employers.

A qualification in Teaching Business English would be a significant asset in Turkey and would attract a higher pay rate from language schools and companies. A Teaching English to Young Learners qualification would be an advantage with many schools and with some families seeking extra tuition.

Author: TESOL Direct

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