The following comments are from teachers who have taught, or are currently teaching English in Greece.
Greece is a wonderful country. The climate is mild, the scenery everywhere is breathtaking, people are hospitable and they know how to enjoy life. Very proud of their ancient and more modern history and language, they will always tell you that “everything comes from Greek”. Teaching in Greece is another issue. There are job openings in Greece, usually at the beginning of every school year, in September. As a foreigner, you can only teach in “frontistiria” (private language schools). If you are an EU national, getting hired is easier than if you are not. To teach in these schools you need a teaching licence issued by the Ministry of Education. It takes a few months to get it… or you might never get it. Knowing this truth, the school owners hire certified TEFL/TESOL teachers holding a university degree even without this licence. This has the inconvenience that you might find yourself at their disposal, no protection, no insurance. The school owners do not arrange for accommodation, but the people are nice and you will always find a place to stay. The salary is between 6 and 800 euros per month. It’s ok if you live modestly. Usually English teachers teach private lessons to round up their salary. One detail: teaching in these schools means teaching for examinations (Cambridge, Michigan and a national English examination called Kratiko), so you need to know what these examinations are about very well.
Over the last few months, there has been a lot of debate about the proposed requirement for English Teachers working in private schools frontistiria) to take exams in Greek language. This proposal still seems to be in limbo, as it hasn’t formally been withdrawn, but the Greek government has been informed by the European Commission that the proposal contravenes European law. That aside, the requirements for a foreign teacher to be hired at a frontistirio are relatively straightforward. The employer applies for a permit (adeia proslipsis allodapou) and the only documentation required in support of that application is a certified copy of your college diploma and a certificate from the public health committee issued after a medical including a blood test and chest X-ray. To get a teaching licence to work privately or establish your own school is rather more complex, and certification in Greek language is required for that. Regional Directorates of Secondary Education are not always fully informed about procedures, so it’s often useful to contact the Ministry of Education in Athens. Anyone interested in teaching in Greece is also welcome to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
I do not advise foreigners to come to Greece to teach, you will be underpaid, private lessons will do you well, but you will pay that on transportation. A country in chaos, Middle Ages, things are so slow, job vacancies are rarely advertised, I mean good teaching positions in normal private schools… it is all word of mouth, they hire relatives and connections. Who the hell needs Greek if you are going to teach English, we might need “Code Switching” sometimes, but we do not need a proficiency degree in Greek to do that! I believe that this whole law has been decreed in order to protect Greek teachers of the English language, in other words to ensure that they get a job and don’t stay home so that teaching positions are not taken by foreigners or native speakers of English. I have met many incompetent Greek teachers of English who are allowed to teach, whereas native speakers are hired under the desk, and this is by luck, do you call this fair?! I care not whether you post this complaint, we cannot always post positive things, but then again reality bites!
I’ve lived in Greece for over 10 years. Ophedia is correct. Stay away. Greece is hell. First of all, it is most definitely NOT a meritocracy. The most qualified does NOT get the job. Someone’s brother, sister, cousin etc. does. Who cares if they know what they’re doing. Teaching conditions at these schools are very poor and if by some chance you manage to get hired… the owner will almost certainly take advantage of you.
I taught in Greece from 1990 till 2008. It was good at first but has now become a pocket money job – you can’t live on the salary. It’s okay if you’re living with a well-paid partner or living at home. Any specialised qualification (Master’s, CELTA) is not rewarded. There’s nowhere to progress. I passed the new “Ellinomatheia” exam’ and then, with great regret, left a beloved country that’s still partially in the Middle Ages!
The situation here is depressing for foreigners who wish to teach English in Greece. First and foremost, the salaries are below average for even someone holding a post graduate degree. Even if you decide to supplement your income, you have to have the right connections in order to find students. Besides, with private tutoring, you won’t have any form of health insurance, which I believe is more important than a good salary (health comes first). Students usually won’t show up for the lesson. On top of that, you won’t get any unemployment benefits once the school year ends; imagine being without a job for almost 4 months during the summer. Who wants to learn English in the summer? Absolutely no one here in Greece. Public school teaching is the best job, since they only work 5 months out of the year – summer off, holidays, school trips and of course strikes. Believe it or not, they get paid for the entire year!
Elizabeth is sooo right, unfortunately ! You can hardly live on a wage as a teacher of English unless you work a lot of hours. The majority of teachers work between 24 and 32 hours per week so it’s easy to imagine the quality and the impact on health.
The hourly rate for a beginner teacher in a frontistiria is 9 euros, insurance included, and this means you will get about 7 and a half euros in hand. Preparation time is unpaid.
If you are an EU national, it will be fairly easy to get a job as long as you have the right qualifications – university degree in English or, if not, a university degree and a proficiency certificate – Cambridge CPE or Michigan ECPE. The knowledge of Greek proves very useful but I also don’t agree with the exam that a teacher must pass to get a teaching licence. In Athens you might find jobs if you search job sites at the end of the summer. For the rest of the country, going from door to door or using an agency are the ways to go.
You may have private classes if you advertise them in bookshops or supermarkets but this depends a lot on where you live. There are places where people don’t see the benefits of private tutoring and prefer the cheaper alternative of the local crammed fontistiria.
Training is still something new and uninteresting for a lot of frontistiria owners and even for a lot of teachers. Of course things are a bit different in Athens but still not at the level of other European countries.
One might like the life rhythm which is pretty slow, especially in the islands. Think of that seriously beforehand because it can become a real issue as I have seen so far among colleagues.
To sum up, Greece is not a place to make loads of money unless you are a frontistiria owner but for people looking to go back in time and experience a slow-paced life it can be really nice.
My experience of teaching in Greece is very different and much more positive than many of those above. I have been doing this job since 1993. I work relatively few hours and earn on average at least 1500 a month through the school year. Because I work at a school as well as at private lessons (where the real money comes from) I can claim unemployment benefit through the summer (I often have one or two lessons then too to tide me through).
Greek children are polite, punctual and incredibly hard-working for the main part. I have been working with the same school owner for 15 years and we have a relationship of mutual trust and respect. I get paid 12 euros cash in hand at my school, and I could probably ask for more but the benefits are not purely monetary – through schools one often picks up private lessons.
Perhaps part of the reason for my positive impression of the job is that I live and work in Chania, Crete, a lovely little town with a relatively high standard of living. Things may be more cut-throat in large towns.
Some previous negative comments are accurate though – Greece has a tangled and frustrating bureaucracy, and some school owners are con-artists, so choose carefully.
You do need to pass exams in the Greek language to teach legally. These are definitely NOT Proficiency-level exams – not even Lower level. It may be true that the Greek government is insisting on this qualification in the face of European objections so as to edge non-Greek teachers out of the system – in a way, who can blame them? But a native-English-speaking teacher of some years experience is well-respected in Greek society and I have yet to ever feel discriminated against.
I disagree with the people who say you don’t need to pass the “Ellinomatheia” to be certified. You must have a working knowledge of Greek to teach students English, and this at least eliminates some people from snatching up jobs that they are not qualified for. Although the pay is horrible in comparison to what you can make in most any other country, you are payed relatively well by the standards in Greece, considering you work about 30 hours and make 1000 Euros a month, not including private lessons. It’s all a matter of perspective.
My advice is if you are single and only looking for fun, then go for it. However, if are British and live in Greece forget it, some of the above comments are right. It is not what you know it is who you know in Greece. I am an English teacher and I have 6 years experience. However, I was paid very little. I had to work long hours in addition. I had to mark around 400 compositions per week. When I got pregnant with my second child, I got fired and the school owners son hired his girlfriend, who I might add passed her proficiency after 3 attempts… now she is teaching English and getting paid more than I was… be careful!
The salaries in Greece for English teachers are around 8 to 10 euros an hour in frontistiria regardless of whether you have the minimum requirements or post graduate degrees. It’s a dead end with no room for any advancement. The kids are usually nice. The only way you can do it is if you really love teaching. Private lessons are at least 20 euros an hour but usually unrewarding.
The current situation in Greece is dire. Native students with Proficiency are classed as qualified to teach, whereas CELTA and higher qualified teachers have to officially have the State B1 Greek proficiency in order to teach B2 or above. The frontisteria scene has also changed, with nearly 2 out of 3 schools closing down, and the remaining ones having piles of CVs from people looking for jobs. Greek students with proficiency are undercutting the private teaching market, which means for those without personnel contacts there are no jobs. The Greek employment system is highly age-ist – forget European law, if you’re over 35 you are apparently unable to teach! Experience counts for nothing. Be warned.
Reading your comments I have to agree that Greece is a country heavily populated of misanthopes that only are interested in short-term gains, obviously measlow hierarchy has not been applied to the way of thinking or treating fellow human beings. The fact that hypocrisy is still dominating the way of life in Greece is nothing surprising. What is surprising though is their eagerness to learn English and socialize with the global community yet still hold on to past so called traditions (basically, ignorant Greeks educating=transfering their ignorance to the next generation) and customs, mostly Turkish. One has to understand the Greek way of thinking in order to understand them. I am greek thus heed my advice!
Although getting a teaching license is a long drawn out process, it can be done. It’s taken me almost two years from start to finish, and cost me all in all about 1,500 euros including Greek lessons, taking the Greek exams (and travelling to Athens to take them), lawyers fees, British Council translation fees and lord only knows what else!! However, if you are determined and committed enough, there is actually light at the end of the tunnel. The Greek exams are difficult (I took and passed both the C and D levels) and they certainly separate the men from the boys as far as your knowledge of Greek is concerned!! I do think they are necessary though as I would find it almost impossible to teach if I couldn’t speak Greek. Let’s be fair, I wonder how parents in Britain would react if their kids were being taught by someone who couldn’t speak English?
I got my license to teach within 3 months! :) Unfortunately many Brits in Greece have the tendency to make everything seem so negative! By the way I don’t think a course in the UK would cost less… also there are non native English speakers that do speak better English to native ones.
I am an English teacher. I married a Greek national whom I met when we were both at university in the UK. There is, I assure you, no shortage of highly educated Greek people. The inability to speak Greek effectively excludes people ignorant of the language from mainstream cultural life. I taught English to university students who required assistance with specialized texts. The problem that most of your correspondents on this page share is simply that they do not know the language of the country in which they wish to work, and are therefore at a disadvantage compared with those who do speak it. Having worked for many years both in UK schools and in Greek ones, I can state with absolute certainty that many Greek students can tackle English texts that would baffle the average A-Level candidate in Britain.
I taught two academic years in Greece way back in 87-88 and 89-90 in Larissa and Arta respectively. It sounds like little has changed since then. At my first school I was cheated out of every bonus e.g. Xmas, Easter, and summer and although national insurance was deducted from my salary (if it could be called that) I found out later that none of the deductions were paid. At the second school where I taught I was fortunately ready for every trick and attempt to cheat me so managed to get everything I was entitled to, but it wasn’t for lack of trying on the Frontersteria owner’s part. Yet despite the above I mostly had a great time and they were two years I will never regret. I’d advise anyone to try it for a year or two but just to go armed with the knowledge that although for the most part Greeks are warm, friendly people they are also (on the whole) a nation of liars and cheaters.
I have to disagree with the above comment about the nation on a whole being full of liars and cheaters and feel rather insulted. I myself am half Greek half British and having worked in schools both in the UK and in Greece, I find it much more enjoyable working here. Maybe it’s the fact that I was lucky enough to find work in a well recognised frontistirio where the owner cares more about the kids than his money (he actually donated money to one student’s family because their electricity had been cut off owing to them not having money to pay it because of the recession and agreed to let the child stay on and learn free of charge.) We get paid through bank transfer not cash in hand and I work 25 hours a week for 900 Euros after deductions, which is more than what I was earning in the UK working full time with Special Needs children.
I was hired on the basis of my CELTA qualification and all the teachers I work with had lived in the UK or the States for over 10 years so their English is perfect. A lot of them are also, like me, only half Greek. There are 6 of us who are native speakers, and all of us speak Greek, not because it’s the law but because it helps the children. Working in the UK I found my co workers to be rude and most of them not worth the money they were being paid. A lot of them were downright thick if I’m honest. In comparison everyone I work with at my current school are lovely, friendly people who do the job because they genuinely enjoy it. We have fun with the children and branch away from the typical parrot fashion in which most Greek kids are taught.
I do feel for those who have had bad experiences teaching in Greece and I can fully understand why you wouldn’t recommend it to others. I can only assume However that it’s because you had not done proper research into the way things work out here, or didn’t understand enough to know what you were getting yourself into. I wouldn’t discourage people from working out here under any circumstances. I would merely advice you to execute great caution when applying for jobs. Use an agency like I did so that they can help you with any problems or queries you have. Don’t be put off by the huge amount of red tape that seems to come with the territory, it’s all just a formality and usually only takes a trip or 2 down to KEP (a local government office) If in doubt, speak to the other native English teachers who will be more than happy to help out a fellow ex pat. And most of all, enjoy it! Greek kids, while they can be noisy, talk out of turn and incredibly cheeky, are some of the nicest, most respectful kids around, and they love to have a laugh in class. There isn’t a single day that goes by where I’m not in stitches from some of the hilarity that goes on in my classroom.
I think that to judge an entire nation on two bad experiences is small minded to say the least!! I have been working for a frondistirio for the last five years and have been treated more than fairly and paid properly from day one. Half the problem is that salaries in Greece are compared to salaries in the UK. You can’t compare the two. Although a teacher’s pay is not great, it’s better than a lot of other jobs offer, so it helps to look at the situation relatively. I’ve been living in Greece for the last twenty years and I can assure anyone reading this that the majority of Greek people and anything but liars and cheats!!
I am an American who has taught English in Greece since 2004 including the Frontistirio and private lessons. I did not have a hard time getting the permit to teach at a language school. However, I’m interested in getting the permanent, arpakia license. Does anyone the current law on this? The last time I tried, they told me I had to be a EU member. Have there been any reforms in this matter?
Does anyone know if it really helps to have a CELTA or TEFL in Greece??
ALSO haven’t EU law changes been instituted in Greece where the Greek Language test isn’t a requirement?
Dear all, I ve read all your comments and i agree that living in Greece as a foreigner is not easy. There is a lot of paperwork involved and some people in frontistiria will try to fool you if they can. That however is something that occurs in every Med country where English is taught as an additional language. As for the CELTA, it is not needed if you have a diploma of proficiency in language, as mentioned above you are easily going to be accepted. As for the single ladies that fall for Greek men be aware of the cultural differences. Do not forget that many Greeks have travelled in UK or America and are educated in your culture as well. This means that you need to be as cautious as you would be in your country when it comes to love. Greeks as all Med men are charming and know how to make an impression but they also know when a girl is not to be taken seriously. Never rush into things.. that gives the wrong impression in every culture. If you like Greece, Greeks will open up and accept you as part of their world. If you want to work here then be well informed beforehand on location and policy.
I have just been informed that you need a proficiency in Greek to teach in Greece. Its ridiculous! I think the TEFL course will be more beneficial to a person wanting to teach English. It covers everything a teacher needs to know . I find that the Greek English teachers can make a lot of mistakes.
After living in Greece for two years and learning Greek fluently, I can with out a doubt say that teaching Greeks people English with a great understanding of their complex language only serves as a benefit in giving simple examples and explaining grammatical rules. Of course we would be frustrated if foreign teachers taught their native language without speaking any English. Building a relationship with your students is very important and especially with the parents or other teachers so don’t be naive to think you’d get a job over someone than cares enough to learn the cultural differences and language. The economy has always been the issue when living over there.
I will quickly add one point thought about the long hours, I laughed when thinking 30 hours was a long week to some people. 45 hours is a longish week so enjoy the relaxed life, especially as its only teaching English at the end of the day lol!
I’m looking at going back to work but it’s hard to know where to start as teaching English is a massive business over there and people have courses everywhere for cheap. Private group lessons where my favourite to teach but until you make connections you won’t get those
Good luck to you all, enjoy the ride and the weather but most importantly the food ;) miss it every day
Does anyone know what the new tax law is as far as English private lessons are concerned? After a 3 year absence from ELT in Greece; I am presently looking for students again to teach privately. I do not work in a Frontistirio and will only be teaching privately. How do we give receipts (apodikseis) if we don’t have T.E.B.E.?
Jane 15 Oct 2012
Greece changes radically year to year and most of these comments (while mainly fair at the time of writing) are out of date. I’ve been working for 15 years in frontesteries. In the past I had huge problems, owners seemed to treat you as a slave, giving ridiculous amounts of work and paying as and when they felt like it – preferring young girls they could take advantage of, and unlicensed foreigners who would obviously struggle to take legal action when pay/taxes don’t turn up. I also worked with completely useless teachers who were related to owners.
By and large, most parents these days attended language schools themselves, this coupled with a nation watching every penny – no one pays good money for substandard education. There use to be frontasterias on every corner, but only the good have survived. Good owners, naturally, value their staff and interview carefully, to find good teachers.
I’ve been in the same place now for 5 years. The owners have dealt with the economy by increasing class sizes to lower fees, and reducing lesson time (2 hour classes became 1 and a half) so obviously the increased work load is huge. I get 7.40 per teaching hour in my hand + full benefits. This doesn’t sound great when you consider a teaching hour takes up close to 4 hours when you add planning/ marking / reports / staff meetings / parents evenings and all those other little extras. On the other hand, of my large group of friends/family I’m the only person I know who is completely secure in my job and has a full
stamp book for benefits and health – I’m including doctors state school teachers bus drivers and accounts in my list of jobs much less secure than mine. So, walking in to a job is a lot harder than in the past in one way – you won’t get one just because your a native speaker, but easier in another as if you are qualified/experienced/have the right attitude- you won’t have to compete much for work in a good place
Hi, I worked in a Greek frontistirio in 2009-2010. It was a family run business in a small island. I had applied for the job earlier in the year and the school owner offered me the position ( after a face to face interview and verification of my qualification) even though I am not a native English speaker. She always treated me fairly and kept her word from the beginning to the end. We had agreed on a 1000 euros a month wage for up to 25 hours a week, the same wage was paid during holiday breaks.I was in charge of a few classes up to intermediate level and was always assisted and helped when needed. I was also (at times) included in her family life, by receiving invitations to dinner parties and generally being addressed with a warm attitude and welcoming manners. I felt always safe and at ease with my employer and with the students. Life in Greece has got nothing to do with Middle Ages. People are very warm-hearted and hospitable. I am sure that there are some ruthless school owners who will take advantage of foreigners but this is not true as a general statement. In fact, I found life in Greece and working in a Greek private school much more human-like than how things are for instance in the UK. In the UK some people are very detached and not very sympathetic, they lack intuition and approach life in a robotic way. Patronising and undermining foreign workers and their ability is common practice, although it may occur at very subtle levels. In Greece I always felt safe and never alienated or marginalised intentionally. My adult students even bought me a gift for my birthday and in one occasion in which I felt ill, they took me to their family owned restaurant and prepared me an Avgolemoni soup and offered to go to the pharmacy. This has never happened to me in the UK for instance I was working in a school as a supply teacher and caught an intestinal flu, I could barely walk and was visibly ill in the staff room, but no one offered me a lift to the station. I had to walk all the way down and even threw up in the street. This tells everything about the difference in culture is and where the IRON AGE is really TAKING PLACE, at least on a spiritual level. Also Having a CELTA qualification or being a native speaker, doesn’t equal to being an expert of the language or to being a good teacher. I found that most students are engaged when you manage to establish a good rapport, something that unfortunately some Brits ( from my perspective) are unable to do,due to the lack of human skills as they have very odd reactions to the display of emotions. You will never be able to integrate in a culture like the Greek one if you lack soul, or the ability to be passionate and to display emotions. There is no CELTA qualification for that. I am proud that a country like Greece exist on this planet and I am appalled to see that people complain about it. Greece is our motherland, where most of our culture came from. If it is at times slow paced and a bit anachronistic I find this to be an amazing quality compared to the evilness of capitalistic societies run my machines and cold-blooded people.
Often English speakers are unable to teach- understand (basic) grammar. It is not about speaking or writing a language perfectly but it is about being able to understand the way that language works. The inability to understand other cultures creates a barrier that leads to up-tight attitudes and sense of superiority, historically this resulted in Imperialism and Colonialism. I am extremely happy of my experience in Greece, it was exactly what I was looking for, a more human, simpler way of life which still gives value to family, sharing (food or anything else), music, dance. Thank you Ellada, I might complain about living and teaching in the UK temporarily, but I shall not complain about Greece. Penelope 24 Jan 2014
Penelope: The way you describe things is exactly the way things are.
I am Greek, I live abroad and I work as an English teacher to make a living. I might make a few mistakes at times, but this does not mean I am incapable of teaching English. Not a long time ago, an American colleague came and asked me what is the difference between will and going to. This says it all.
There are a lot of things that go wrong in Greece. But the hospitality you will experience cannot be found anywhere else in the world. You get sick – a dozen people will do everything in their power to help and assist you. You will for sure meet a Greek person who’ll have like 10 euros left to get through the month and still will share the money with you for a drink.
For the salaries…Yeah, don’t expect too much. I suggest moving to Greece only if you already have enough funds to budget your stay, If you do, then Greece is an experience of a lifetime you will never regret. So, get ready to see how it is to live in a society NOT dominated by blood-sucking miserable robots. Chris 14 Mar 2014
Hi, I need to write an assignment about a hypothetical teaching position (CELTA) in Athens. I’ve been researching quite a few things but now need some (specific) information on the situation at private language schools. Hopefully, some of you are able to help me? Info I need is:
1) What is the average duration of a class (1-2 hours?) and the frequency of the classes (1x/week?).
2) How are the schools equipped – would they have whiteboard, overhead projectors, sound, computers, copying facilities, textbooks, reference material available?
3) Are the textbooks and resources reasonably up-to-date?
4) How big are the classrooms (in dimensions) and how is the set up (large tables in formal rows, or informal with movable desks)?
5) Do language schools keep to a certain curriculum, or tailor as they go?
6) What are the opportunities for students to use English outside the classroom?
7) What are the professional development opportunities in general for a teacher at a private language school, if any?
8) Is there anything like a specific language policy (on national, or institutional level)?
I know it is a hypothetical case study but I like to stay as close to the reality as possible and you guys seem to have a lot of experience and may be able to help me out here. Many thanks!