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Teaching English in Istanbul, Turkey: Step-By-Step

Updated: Jan 18


Teaching English in Turkey
East meets West!

At the fringes of both Europe and Asia, Turkey, or Turkiye, is a beautiful and exciting country with a lot to offer English teachers travelling from abroad. This article will look at some of the reasons to move to Turkey and teach there, as well as practicalities of types of jobs, pay and conditions you can expect as a foreign English language teacher in Turkey.


Why choose Turkey?

Turkey is a huge country, three times the size of the UK and it offers an incredibly rich variety of experiences and locations for a traveller to choose from. It is a modern country with big, bustling, lively cities and beautiful beachside resorts. It's a country where cultures meet, and is equally Mediterranean and Middle Eastern. It's a country rich in historic sites, landmarks, ruins and clues of previous civilizations. Turkey is also a friendly country, open to and welcoming of foreigners. As well as the people, the scenery, the cities, the history, the beaches and the warm weather, one of the reasons people visit Turkey is for their world famous cuisine, whether kebabs, baklava or Turkish delight.




Blue mosque
Istanbul

Is there a demand for English teachers in Turkey?

English language teachers are in high demand in all parts of Turkey, especially in the bigger cities like Istanbul, Izmir and Ankara. Most foreigners arriving in Turkey will start by teaching in language schools, where typical hours are often in the evening and at weekends, teaching both teenagers after they've finished in school and adults after they've finished work.


Most in demand cities to find English teaching work in Turkey

With a population of almost 16 million people, Istanbul is the biggest city in Turkey, and in Europe. It is the historic and business hub of Turkey and is the place with the widest availability of jobs for English teachers. There is a booming language school sector, which actively hires teachers all year round. Ankara is the capital city and administrative heart of Turkey, with a population of almost 6 million, and it also has a thriving language teaching sector. The third city of Izmir is a seaside destination, popular with expats and tourists and as a result the locals often need to learn English to work in the tourism and hospitality sectors. All of Turkey's biggest cities will have job opportunities for English language teachers.



How much do foreign English teachers make in Turkey?

Pay rates for teachers in Turkey vary a lot. A review of ads for English teachers on Glassdoor, showed some schools advertising teaching jobs at 100 Turkish lira an hour and others advertising roles that paid 75,000 lira a month. The Turkish lira is quite weak at the moment when traded against other currencies, so you probably won't be able to save much to spend in your home country, but you can have a good quality of life in Turkey on a teacher's salary.


How much money do I need to live comfortably in Turkey?

The cost of living in Turkey is low. Rent is, on average, 64% lower than in the UK, and yu can get a modern studio apartment on the outskirts of Istanbul for as little as 6250 lira, which is less than £200 a month. Schools in Turkey rarely offer foreign teachers perks like accommodation or travel, but school staff will probably be very friendly and are likely to help you find a good bargain and help you with any bureaucracy you might struggle with.


What teaching English In Turkey is really like

Christopher moved to Istanbul three years ago.

When I got to Istanbul, I started writing to every university and telling them I was located in the city and I had my CELTA, and within two weeks I had an interview for a job. I teach adult students at the university and they're very chatty and fun. They're not as interested in grammar or in writing, but love classroom games and interaction.
I prefer the Asian side of Istanbul. The apartments are more modern and the atmosphere is less touristy. My apartment and food are cheap, but going out and clubbing is around the same price as in the UK. My Turkish is terrible. I never really had to learn much because people always want to help me even if they don't speak much English.

How To Find Jobs Teaching English In Turkey

The prerequisites for teaching English in Turkey are a degree and a CELTA or equivalent. The degree doesn't have to be in English or Education, but you will need a degree to get a work permit. CELTA has very high name recognition in Turkey and is the qualification most frequently requested. Turkish language schools are often less prejudiced against non-native speakers of English than language schools in other countries, so it's not uncommon to meet English teachers from Poland or Brazil, as well as the UK, the US and Australia. It can often be a good idea to apply for jobs once you're already in Turkey, as employers can prefer to hire people who don't need to uproot themselves before starting work. Private lessons are also very easy to find in Turkey with many students requesting one-to-one lessons. There are so many schools in cities like Istanbul, that there are Facebook groups dedicated to highlighting the best (Green list) and worst (Black list) schools to work for.



Ephesus
Ephesus

Turkey is an exciting and varied destination, with plenty potential in terms of teaching opportunities. Even though it's not somewhere to move to if you need to save a lot of money, it is a country that will welcome you warmly and allow you to have an authentic experience of a new culture with friendly colleagues and lively students.


Dr Connor O'Donoghue hails from Ireland and he started teaching English as a foreign language in Poland in 2003 and he became a CELTA trainer in 2008. He has taught and trained in Ireland, the UK, France, Italy, Slovenia, Macedonia, Poland, Russia, Kazakhstan and Vietnam. Connor also holds a Masters and a PhD in Education from Trinity College in Dublin. He has previously managed large teacher training centres in Vietnam and in London before founding DC Teacher Training.




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