Getting jobs before coming to the country!!!

by Nishanthini
(North Plainfield, NJ, America)

Hi, My name is Nisha. I am currently a student in America. I am currently a sophomore in college, which means I have to finish two more years to get my degree. I plan to get TESOL certified by next year and then have a year to fill in my CV resume. I want to come to Portugal with a job in hand, because that's the only way I can come to another country.

Since I am still young in my parents eyes, it is going to be hard just for them to let me go, and quite impossible if I don't even have a job or housing already here. I don't know if this is going to be possible or just a fools dream. However, I want to do everything I can to come to Portugal and teach. I would appreciate any and all help. Thank you so much in advance.


Nishanthini M. Gunaratnam

Dear Nisha,

This is a common type of question. Unfortunately there are a few problems with what you want to do.

Most EFL jobs in Portugal are given to teachers already living there. The usual way to find a job is to send off loads of resumes and letters to employers. Then call them to see if they are interested, and finally to go for interviews with the ones who are ask to see you.

I'm sure you know that the economic situation in Portugal is poor at the moment. This makes it more difficult. I know many teachers there who are worried about their own future. In this kind of situation, teachers usually hold on to their jobs; even if they are not completely satisfied with them. This will make it harder for teachers already based in Portugal, let alone English teachers applying from abroad.

Another problem is your nationality. I'm assuming you hold a US passport. Portugal is in the EU, and there are restrictions placed on non-EU passport holders. Although Portugal (and Germany) are a little easier than other EU countries for North Americans, they are not easy. Any employer will have to make a special effort on your behalf, involving a lot more red tape than usual. So, unless your application is particularly strong, or there are no UK or Irish citizens they can employ, your chances are not so good.

There are some jobs advertised from abroad, but very few. If you really want to teach in Portugal, then you should complete your degree, take a recognized TEFL certificate (be careful which on you take - only some are accepted in Europe) then send off hundreds of resumes with cover letters to schools in the country.

Why Portugal? Europe is in an economic crisis, and probably will be for many years. If you were interested in other parts of the world, for example Asia or South America, my answer would have been very different.

Do you speak Portuguese? If not, you should learn. This will not guarantee you a job; or even any great advantage - experience is, as always, the main qualification for the job - but it will help you live in the country, and will deepen your understanding of language learning, teaching, and life.

Best wishes,

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