Teaching English is easily one of the most popular vocations for expats living in a foreign country, and for those living in Turkey, the situation is no different. The following is a guide to becoming an English teacher in Turkey compiled from years of experience in the field as well as feedback and advice from fellow English-speaking expats
Teaching English as a foreign language is the most popular job for any expat in many countries, and Turkey is no different. With nearly all schools in the country, from elementary to graduate school, offering English and many requiring proficiency exams, there is certainly no lack of a need for native English-speaking language teachers.
First and foremost, to be a competitive candidate in a big pool of potential English teachers you have to have the right credentials. Gone are the days in which anyone who is a native English speaker or who speaks the language fluently can easily find a job; now, with more and more foreigners choosing to reside in Turkey, there is a competitive pool of candidates and to even get your head in the door to become an English teacher you must have at least one of the most regularly accepted teaching certificates worldwide: the Celta or the TEFL.The CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults), provided by the Cambridge English Language Assessment, is the preferred certification of the two by both language schools and universities alike and is a teacher-training qualification program that covers both the theoretical and practical aspects of teaching English. CELTA is ideal for those who have little or no prior English teaching experience, and the certification received at the end of the course is not only recognized worldwide, but it also comes with no expiration date.
Courses can be taken full time, part-time, face-to-face or even online. Expect a full-time course to last approximately four to five weeks, with the part-time course taking double that. The course is challenging and teachers come out from Cambridge University to supervise the teacher training. The International Training Institute (ITI), based in Istanbul, is the most popular Cambridge teacher-training center in Turkey and is the only one approved for the CELTA and DELTA as well as the TEFL. Expect to take the Celta with an even distribution of Turkish and foreign teachers aspiring to eventually teach English in Turkey and abroad.
The TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) is a smaller-scale certification program also offered at a number of teacher-training institutions, such as ITI and British Side. Although the TEFL is also widely recognized, keep in mind that many established institutions will remain sticklers for the CELTA certification, which focuses more on providing the in-class teaching experience. The Delta (Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is the advanced qualification for teachers to become trainer's themselves and is an excellent stepping-stone for English language teachers to further their careers. Understandably, it is much more long-winded than the TEFL and CELTA teaching certification programs; however, obtaining a DELTA is pretty much the highest echelon you can reach, allowing one to become both an English teacher and teacher trainer that can work anywhere in the world.
I'm certified, what next?
Once you have received the necessary certification to begin a career in teaching English, you then need to put it in use. Be patient, it may take time to find the perfect school and position. To work in Turkey, foreign residents must also have a work permit, which employers can apply for either prior to or following the employee's entrance to the country. Sometimes, foreigners must first obtain a resident permit to be able to look for jobs and then later pursue getting their work permits once their employer has applied for them.As for finding jobs, in Turkey the best method, as is the case for most things here, is of course "word of mouth." Once you have decided you want to teach English, make sure you inform everyone you know in your network, as finding positions or even getting an interview can sometimes be dependent on friends' recommendations.
There are also a number of Facebook groups geared towards the teaching expat. To name a few, the Istanbul English Teachers Network and the Istanbul English Teaching "Greenlist" and "Blacklist" are all excellent resources to discuss potential jobs with other fellow teachers and to hear about teaching-related positions and events. Schools such as ITI, which offer the CELTA teaching certificate, also have a mailing list for job advertisements. If you want to teach at a university, then make sure to check out their individual websites, as job offerings for fall are posted in the summer months.
What to expect from the job?
Know that no matter what, paperwork and getting insurance started up can sometimes take a little time, so be patient but persistent, ensuring that all of the necessary documents have indeed been filed. Rather than being offered a set salary, you may have to negotiate an hourly payment rate, which is not only the norm when it comes to English schools in Turkey, but is also sometimes the preferred method of payment if it works to the benefit of the foreign language teacher. The most important warning, given time and time again by fellow English teachers, is to make sure you get everything in writing and that you have a solid contract in place, solid advice for any job, anywhere in the world.
Surprisingly enough, should you speak a bit of Turkish, you may be asked to not let on to your students that you have any fluency in their native language. On the other hand, it may be desired that you do have some proficiency in Turkish, in which case, the top Turkish language schools for foreigners in Turkey happen to be Tömer and Dilmer.
What to expect from the students?
Turks tend to be social, friendly and inquisitive, and most have had years of experience listening to English-language movies and songs, so for the most part they tend to excel more in acquiring speaking and listening skills and less so in reading and writing. Therefore, it is sometimes the teacher's job to instill motivation in their students, which may mean bringing in your own material.
If you do decide to go rogue, then any teaching materials published by the Oxford or Cambridge University presses are always a good bet. Their learning tools, "English Grammar in Use" and "English Vocabulary in Use," are indispensable. The Barron's and Kaplan series rule for training in English proficiency test taking, such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Both tests are critical for any Turkish national seeking employment or education opportunities abroad and are also required for English language universities in Turkey.Most schools in Turkey, from elementary school and on, offer English language training and as a result many students will already have had some form of English instruction. Therefore, Turkish students have a wide range of language skills and learning styles, and teachers, therefore, face the challenge of keeping the class captivating for students of all levels. Furthermore, specialization in topics such as business, medical or legal English will always be to your benefit.