Teaching English in Turkey
I will never forget my experience of teaching English in Turkey. The country stretches over two continents. If you are teaching English in Istanbul, you can get on a boat and pop over to Asia for a drink, then sail back to the European side later in the evening. The history stretches back for thousands of years, but it is life now in Istanbul that makes it an exciting place to live.
The Turks are interested in learning English, and there are many opportunities for teaching English in Turkey. The people are proud, but hospitable. Although an Islamic country, there are far fewer personal restrictions than in the Middle East.
Types of TEFL Jobs in Turkey
The types of esl jobs you can expect when teaching English in Turkey are pretty much the same as in any country with a large tesol industry. That is: private language schools, private elementary and high schools, public schools and universities. There is also work teaching private students.
Public schools can offer better conditions, but you will be working from around 8.30 in the morning, until around 4 o'clock in the afternoon. Schools operate from Monday to Friday. If you teach in a private language school - as most of those teaching English in Turkey do - you will have to work when the students are free to learn. This means teaching English in the evenings and at the weekend. Teaching English in Turkey full time usually means around 25-30 hours a week. If your school wants you to do more than this they should be paying you overtime.
Public schools usually have class sizes of around 20-30, although I used to teach a class of 38 in one school in Istanbul. Private language schools usually have classes of around 10 students. Private secondary schools generally pay more than private language schools: 3,000-4,500TL, compared to 2,000-3,600TL. Of course there is always a lot of variation. I've seen jobs offering only 800TL + accommodation [don't accept such a low offer], and some people earn over 5,000TL with benefits. The more qualified and experienced you are the better. Privates pay around 20-40TL an hour.
Housing is often included in packages - airfares sometimes are. Jobs in private universities are generally considered to have the best conditions, and are sought after. An MA (TESOL) is often required to work in a university, although I have seen jobs where lower qualifications were acceptable. The hiring season is July to September, but for university jobs you should be looking from around March.
Many teachers work illegally; mainly because it is too expensive, or too much hassle for the language schools to do the required paperwork to get a work permit. At the moment, many teachers do a visa run every 3 months. There was a plan to make this impossible, by restricting entry to 90 days maximum every 180 days. The latest news is that this move has been postponed. Check with your embassy in Turkey if this is important to you.
Many tefl jobs in Turkey are advertised online. It's also possible to arrive and look for work on the spot. As far as tefl certification goes, the more you have the better. You will meet teachers who are teaching English in Turkey without even a tefl certificate, however, if you are qualified you can apply for better jobs, and put yourself in a much better long term position. An unqualified teacher is always more vulnerable position, and will generally only find work in the lower quality schools.
Living in Turkey
Most of the work teaching English in Turkey is in Istanbul and the capital city, Ankara. Istanbul is the economic, cultural and financial center of the country. With a population of around 12.8 million people it is huge, and it is the main choice for most of those who want a job teaching English in Turkey.
Ankara is a very different city. It's 850m above sea level and located in one of the driest regions of Turkey - although the city has many parks. It's also a big city, of around 4.5 million people. Ankara has the second highest number of jobs for teaching English in Turkey.
Apart from the two largest cities, there are opportunities for teaching English in the smaller cities and towns. Conditions of work - and life - vary a lot when you are in the provinces. Remember that smaller, provincial towns are very conservative - and this will affect your life in many ways.
I recommend learning Turkish. This is especially important if you live outside of the major cities. For English speakers many of the sounds will be familiar. Learning Turkish grammar will give you the opportunity to appreciate what your students have to go through when they study English.
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