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Honestly – is teaching in Europe as big of a joke as teaching in Japan is?

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  • girl_in_Tokyo
    Participant
    8 March, 2019 at 8:23
    • Total posts: 1

    I’ve lived and taught in Japan for the past 26 years, and want to make a change, so was considering going to Europe. I would like to know if the conditions there are similar, better, or worse, than Japan, and what I can expect for pay.

    Frankly, the climate in Japan is unprofessional and the way instructors are treated here is abysmal. On top of my 26 years of experience, I have a Delta as well as a MA in TESOL. Until recently I had a solid professional-level job doing in-house business lessons for a large corporation. Unfortunately, the Japanese government changed the employment law back in 2013, requiring companies to outright hire all employees on yearly contracts if they had been working at the company for five years. Since it is typical for foreigners in Japanese companies to be on yearly contracts, my company decided to fire all of us just as the law matured in 2018. As a result, I find myself facing a truly awful job market, which is even worse than it used to be.

    Typically, the instructors who come here to teach don’t have any qualifications at all, and are so eager to be in Japan that they are happy to work for peanuts. This means the job market took a dive and none of the employers care whether you have qualifications, sine they can pay a non-professional to do it for a lower salary.

    Universities used to pay well, but large recruitment companies who recruit from overseas have popped up, and the split is usually 70-30, which means the instructor gets paid very little. Even if you don’t have a master’s degree, you can find work at a university for about 60% of what they used to pay their fully-qualified instructors.

    Teaching in Japan has never been great, but since the economy tanked and PM Abe devalued the yen, salaries have taken a dive, consumer prices have gone up, and employers have frozen wages. Now teaching in Japan has become a real joke, as the employers will literally turn away qualified candidates because they are at a higher pay grade. That means I will have to settle for making about half of what I made before, as well as put up with a bunch of corporate nimrods with no teaching experience or qualifications importantly dictating to me “how to teach” as they consider any new hire to be of the same ilk as the hordes of teacher-tourists who have invaded the country since Japan became such a hot spot.

    So – this is the honest truth about teaching in Japan. Is anyone willing to take time out of their day to give me an honest assessment of teaching in Europe? Or should I simply go back to the US and get a job there? I am not eager to do that, considering I have little interest to live in my home country, but if that is what I have to do, then that is what I will do, since I know that standards there are much higher than those in Asian countries.

    T

    Briona
    Participant
    10 March, 2019 at 14:57
    • Total posts: 52

    … so was considering going to Europe. I would like to know if the conditions there are similar, better, or worse, than Japan, and what I can expect for pay.

    First of all, Europe is a continent, not a country, so there is no one-size fits all. Jobs, benefits, hours, and salaries vary from country to country, and even from city to city within a single country. Note that competition is fierce in the more desirable cities (Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Berlin…), and there are far more teachers than jobs meaning that employers hold all the cards. As a result, salaries have not just stagnated, they’ve actually dropped.

    I spent the past eight years teaching in Portugal, Poland, the UK, and Spain. Generally speaking, salaries tend to be subsistence level. That is, you’ll make enough to live on, but you’re unlikely to be able to save anything. Another issue is that contracts typically last for 8-10 months – there is little to no work during the summer, and if find you’re not entitled to claim unemployment benefit, you’ll struggle to keep a roof over your head or put food on the table.

    On top of my 26 years of experience, I have a Delta as well as a MA in TESOL. Until recently I had a solid professional-level job doing in-house business lessons for a large corporation.

    A typical EFL job in Europe would see you either working in a language academy, or teaching business English. While adverts often state a preference for teachers with a Delta (or an MA), salaries rarely reflect those qualifications. In most cases, Delta-qualified teachers are paid little more than Celta-qualified ones, and, more often than not, the salary is exactly the same.

    Typically, the instructors who come here to teach don’t have any qualifications at all, and are so eager to be in Japan that they are happy to work for peanuts. This means the job market took a dive and none of the employers care whether you have qualifications, sine they can pay a non-professional to do it for a lower salary.

    I think you’ll find the same thing everywhere. You just have to choose a more reputable employer who values qualifications and experience.

    Universities used to pay well, but large recruitment companies who recruit from overseas have popped up, and the split is usually 70-30, which means the instructor gets paid very little. Even if you don’t have a master’s degree, you can find work at a university for about 60% of what they used to pay their fully-qualified instructors.

    As a newbie to the region, it would be very difficult to find university work; that usually goes to people with local connections and experience in the region. Furthermore, those who have the jobs tend to keep them, so there is very little turnover. That’s not to say that jobs never come up. A university I worked at outsourced a lot of their work to a company, which just happened to be the company I worked for. Another university wanted a bank of substitute teachers, and if they were happy with you, they’d put more work your way.

    Is anyone willing to take time out of their day to give me an honest assessment of teaching in Europe? Or should I simply go back to the US and get a job there?

    Assuming you only have a US passport, you stand little to no chance of finding legal work in Europe. This is because EU hiring law dictates that in order to hire a non-EU citizen, an employer first has to prove that there were no suitably-qualified EU citizens who could do the job. Unfortunately, when it comes to teaching English, this is not a very likely proposition.

    JC
    Participant
    27 March, 2019 at 17:42
    • Total posts: 2

    Teaching in Poland – Great work environment, mediocre pay, low cost of living

    As the above title suggests, I find the work environment here to be great. I took this job because teaching ESL is a career change for me and I wanted mentoring. They have provided that.
    The students are hard working, humble, and smart. Teaching is respected here, even if not well paid (but no one here is “rich” by American standards). It’s stimulating and definitely not a joke.

    The school provided me with (good) housing & utilities. Clothing & food are cheap here so my costs are quite low. In fact, this is a poor area of Poland, which itself is not a wealthy nation by European standards.

    As for money – you can get by on the pay here, but you won’t save anything. My situation is different as my main interests were to get teaching experience and immerse myself into another culture. I can check off both of those goals.

    I really do wish you luck!

    JC
    Participant
    27 March, 2019 at 17:42
    • Total posts: 2

    POLAND JOB Passport/ American

    PS

    I forgot to add that my employer took care of my work visa so there was no problem getting it. I had heard horror stories about Americans not being able to find work visas here, but if you arrange the job ahead of time, it seems to get handled.

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