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Private language schools in Europe
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Bloomina



Joined: 26 May 2011
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:53 pm    Post subject: Private language schools in Europe Reply with quote

Hey,

I'm a newbie into the ELT business. I'm taking the CELTA in August and at the beginning of September I'd like to look for an ELT job somewhere in Europe (I'm considering France/Italy/Spain/Germany).

As far as state schools seem to require some official qualifications, I was mainly taking private schools into account and my question is: what are the standard employment conditions in European private schools? Do I have to be self-employed in order to get a job? I'm an EU citizen so no visa issues here.

Thanks in advance for any help!!
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Mike_2007



Joined: 24 Apr 2007
Posts: 344
Location: Bucharest, Romania

PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2011 5:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you're an EU citizen applying for a job in an EU country, there are no special conditions. A private school in any EU country can take you on as an employee in the same way as they would employ a local. This essentially means that you only have to meet the conditions of employment for that school and those may vary from school to school or country to country.

Self-employment isn't necessary but it seems that it's not a bad idea sometimes. You might find that you need to get work from a number of school to build up a full-time teaching schedule and being self-employed makes it a lot easier for them to give you work on an hourly basis. They give you the hours, you do them, bill them, and sort out your taxes yourself. They would be under no obligation to secure a particular number of hours for you and therefore you would be a more attractive option for them.
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ancient_dweller



Joined: 12 Aug 2010
Posts: 415
Location: Woodland Bench

PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2011 8:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are there private schools in Western Europe? What is the market like for subjects like business english?
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9302
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2011 11:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The largest market segment of EFL in Western Europe is in private language schools. Typically, one needs a CELTA or equivalent and a passport from an EU member country to work for one of them. Further, because the job market is very competitive (there are many teachers on the ground here) jobs typically aren't found from abroad.

Private language schools essentially cannot hire teachers who are not EU member citizens unless those teachers have student visas to study at local universities or working holiday visas (some Anglophone countries have agreements on these - information is usually available on the Embassy websites).

The market for business English is very large - I would say it's probably still the majority by far of the market overall.
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ancient_dweller



Joined: 12 Aug 2010
Posts: 415
Location: Woodland Bench

PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2011 2:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very interesting. But I'm not talking about prague, i'm talking about Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands and so on...

You mention CELTA. What sort of experience do they look for? How many years?

I know that the Moscow market is demanding and students can be pretty tough - what's it like in Europe?

I read that salaries are near to the local minimum wage.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9302
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2011 3:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've worked in Prague, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The university where I worked for six years in Netherlands is on the border with Germany and some of our freelance teachers live and work in Germany except for occasional projects with us. We have partner universities in Spain, Italy, and France, and we often work with teacher training centre staff in these countries. I've got work colleagues on hiring committees in Austria and Germany as well.

I have got a clue about 'Western Europe' in general, I promise:-)

The private school/business market is open to CELTA newbies. A year or two of experience in Moscow would help you out, but it's still not feasible to expect the 'better' jobs to land in your lap until you've had time to establish yourself locally and get a handle on the local language.

Students are demanding in this region as well. As with businesspeople in most Western countries, they normally have real goals for their English and expect results in return for investing their (valuable) time. Their starting level may be a bit higher across the board in many cases than Russian students, as many (particularly Netherlands and Germany) already do business across borders - it's not very common to work with real beginners and many students are upper intermediate to advanced.

Salaries are subsistence level. If one hangs on in a location for a few years, it's certainly possible to move beyond this, but it takes a good local reputation and contacts (and language skills).
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ancient_dweller



Joined: 12 Aug 2010
Posts: 415
Location: Woodland Bench

PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2011 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i enjoy the teaching and lesson with business people is the best part. They are educated and tend to be a lot more motivated than general english students. (In my experience that is - i have heard different opinions).

So my just above minimum wage wasn't too far from the truth. Subsistence level is tough.

In saying that, if one does get a job then they always have the skills and quals to teach privates on the side.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9302
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2011 7:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also like business students.
They usually have some real goals and motivation, and that makes my job more interesting.

General English students tend to have less focus overall, IMO>


It's always feasible to build up a list of private students - they come and go, of course, like everywhere else, but with a decent local reputation it's entirely possible to make a decent amount over and above the basic salary.

It just takes some time to get established - as in most places.
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artemisia



Joined: 04 Nov 2008
Posts: 867
Location: the world

PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2011 2:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
i enjoy the teaching and lesson with business people is the best part. They are educated and tend to be a lot more motivated than general english students.

This was also what I liked best plus just the diversity of classes you can get. For example, in Germany I had one with editors and staff of a publishing company that produced a magazine on architecture and another with a group of govt. social workers. Through the magazine group, I got private work at an architect's firm.

That's what I think is the best way: going direct with companies but to do that, you probably have to have local contacts and definitely language skills and teaching experience. Naturally, if you have a business background yourself, that's not going to hurt. Starting off fresh somewhere is challenging and it is a good idea to use the existing language schools to help set yourself up. You'll need to shop around as some offer exploitative wages and conditions.

I think in Western Europe in general, you are dealing with a mostly highly educated workforce who can afford to be choosy, so yes, they can be demanding (and critical). Germans are not known for being shy about complaining if they think things aren't up to scratch.
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ancient_dweller



Joined: 12 Aug 2010
Posts: 415
Location: Woodland Bench

PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2011 6:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ye, I have heard Germans are a little more straight talking. I could do with a bit more of that here in Moscow. Sometimes people drive me nuts when they won't criticise. No problems = no improvements.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8928
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2011 7:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eh? I don't think you can get more direct than the Russian student...
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ancient_dweller



Joined: 12 Aug 2010
Posts: 415
Location: Woodland Bench

PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2011 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Eh? I don't think you can get more direct than the Russian student...
Quote:


ye, in some respects yes. But they're not direct when it comes to criticising the teacher (in my experience) - direct about everything else for sure - especially in demanding stuff.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8928
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2011 12:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aha! You mean the sneaky let's-complain-to-the-front-office approach taken by the more troublesome of the learners? Yes, you are right there. But I'm not so convinced that a more open method on their side would yield any more positive results in teaching. A lot of their secret complaints revolve around silly things like 'our teacher makes us talk to each other', or my favourite, 'has bad phonetics' (pronunciation). I remember a group who complained that their Italian teacher wasn't 'Italian enough'.

Students with a legitimate complaint/request usually let you know directly.
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Teacher in Rome



Joined: 09 Jul 2003
Posts: 1207

PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2011 7:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
So my just above minimum wage wasn't too far from the truth. Subsistence level is tough.


Agreed. The average take-home salary in Italy is around the 1000 - 1200 mark. (This being for factory workers, skilled trades etc). Low, but fine if you live in subsidised housing (i.e. in a family-owned flat where you don't need to pay rent). Most national contracts - though now being replaced by "precarious" ones - will also give you 13 and 14th month bonuses, generous paid holiday, and pay all your contributions to the state pension scheme.

Whereas, if you're earning this sort of money as a teacher in a private language school, you may only be taken on for 9 months of the year, no additional bonuses, no holiday pay, no contributions, and you have to pay rent.

You could do what I do, which is to work freelance (not only teaching). Great in theory, but the high taxes, mandatory payments into the pension scheme (a whopping 20% of my gross income) make it far from lucrative.

Having said all that, there are decent teaching contracts around. I had a great one in Rome, where I got all the benefits of a regular national contract, good hours, cool employer and interesting work. But that was after years of paying my teaching dues, getting experience in a desired field, and a hefty dose of luck. (Oh, and for the record, I got the job while still outside Italy.) The vast majority of teachers here (whether business, YL or state-school language assistants) scrabble around for hours here, hours there; lots of travelling in-between, and low to no job security.

Students, on the other hand, are generally delightful and a pleasure to teach.
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ancient_dweller



Joined: 12 Aug 2010
Posts: 415
Location: Woodland Bench

PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2011 10:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

Students with a legitimate complaint/request usually let you know directly.


I have just remembered - and I am still teaching him. one of my students said 'this is not effective' and leaned back. I remember thinking 'wtf?' So, it has happened once.

Ye, I heard some kids once in the corridor saying that i smelt of BO. It was true, i had been running around a lot all day and was conscious of it. It actually made me smile.



Rome seems like a cool place to teach!
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