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How to Find a Job Teaching English as a Second Language in Greece
Things have tightened up since I first got a job teaching English as a second language in Greece more than fifteen years ago, but there is still a demand for good English teachers, and it is still prestigious for schools to have foreign teachers from England or the USA on their staff.
Schools and Curriculum
Language schools, especially those specializing in English, are big business in Greece. If there is not one on every corner, there is at least one in every neighborhood. Over ninety percent of Greek students, starting from the age of about seven and continuing until the end of high school or even beyond, enroll in these schools to improve their English language skills to prepare for Competency or Proficiency tests. That's the key to understanding their motivation: they are not interested in learning English per se, but acquiring certification to present in job applications in the future. Therefore the focus of these schools is not to provide the students with language skills, but exam skills. This difference can be crucial in understanding how the schools work. Textbooks geared for specific exams are followed closely; books of past exam papers are covered thoroughly. This, in fact, makes it easier for a prospective teacher, even if that teacher is inexperienced, because it is not necessary to come up with an idiosyncratic curriculum, only to follow the books.
Searching Classified Ads
As far as finding a job, there are certain newspapers which specialize in classified ads, but unfortunately these papers are all in Greek. So one of the first things you need is a Greek friend to help you translate. Fortunately, Greeks are very magnanimous in this way, and even a casual acquaintance can become a fast friend if you profess helplessness and request aid. Indeed, your desire to live and work in their land is a point in your favor; it will awaken in your prospective accomplice innate national pride.
Other Job-Hunting Methods
If you don't find enough classified ads, you can do it the old-fashioned way: by going school to school. Remember, I said that there is a school in every neighborhood. They are easy to find, and the owners almost always speak English; if they don't, they can quickly summon a teacher. Don't despair – you won't have to cover all the schools in the city. Usually most of the owners know each other, and you won't go far before you are referred to someone who has an opening.
It helps if you have a university degree (in any field of study) – in fact, you can't get accreditation from the Ministry of Education without one. But if you don't have one it still may be possible for you to find work. As I said, I worked over fifteen years teaching English in Greece, and I do not have a degree. I walked into the right school at the right time and quickly made myself indispensible. That's the key. Don't go for the big chain schools – they demand more credentials and are more likely to strictly obey the rules. Go for the smaller, local neighborhood schools. Often the owners are friendly, accommodating, and willing to overlook regulations if they have need of your services.
Things are tightening up in Greece as far as regulations are concerned. It used to be much easier to bypass fine print and red tape – in fact, it was a national pastime. In addition, there used to be more jobs than there are now. Some Greek language teachers are finding it hard to get work. But a language teacher who is a foreigner is still a novelty, and as such has a good chance of finding a position if he or she perseveres. So give it a shot. Why not? The pay is good – foreign teachers generally get considerably higher salaries than Greek ones – and you will be in Greece. Despite all the news hype about the economic crisis and so on, it is still the land of sunshine, warm beaches, delicious food, and friendly people.