I arrived in the majestic city of Istanbul at the end of a six month hitchhiking journey across Europe with around twenty British pounds to my name. I was immediately captured by the fascinating architecture, mouth watering food, and magical buzz of the city. ‘We could live here,’ I said to the young lady who had given up her life on a whim to travel with me. ‘We could stop for a while and teach English.’ She agreed.
Teaching English is the Best Way to Live in Istanbul
It transpired that the English teacher market in Turkey is very much alive and bubbling, looking for English teachers willing to teach all ages from kindergarten through to adults. Due to the high demand for English teachers and (relatively) short supply, it is possible to find jobs regardless
of your nationality, degree status, or teaching qualifications. As we both had degrees, were native speakers, and had experience teaching English, we were in quite good standing to find jobs. The only difficulty was that I didn’t hold any form of TESOL certification which is quite highly valued in Turkey. For anyone else who is applying for jobs teaching English in Turkey, I would definitely recommend obtaining some form of TESOL certification because it will improve your opportunities of employment, although it is not an absolute necessity.
How to Get an English Teaching Job in Istanbul
The main source of accommodation and jobs in Istanbul was Craigslist. We began scouring through the adverts and within a few days had secured an apartment near Taksim, the centre – if you can say a city of 14 million people has a centre – of Istanbul. Due to the high demand for teachers, it took a matter of days to be offered interviews. I was offered a full time position by English Time, one of the largest recruiters of English teachers in Istanbul, but ended up rejecting the job because it involved working split shifts and I wanted time to work on my own creative pursuits. Shortly afterwards I took on some private teaching jobs, teaching small groups of adults and individuals in various parts of the city.
While the most important part of getting a job was my English speaking abilities, the degree, the teaching experience, and being English certainly helped get me the introductions. What got me the jobs was dressing well and acting professionally. Teaching is generally well regarded and male teachers I met wore suits while teaching, so I did the same for my interviews (and while teaching). If you are a female and applying for jobs in Turkey, it is important to be aware that Turkey is very conservative and you should dress appropriately.
What It’s Like to Teach English in Istanbul
After teaching the private classes for a few months, I was tired with long commutes and took on a new job as a teacher coordinator – an intermediary position between teachers and the bosses – with a large recruitment agency. Strangely there was nothing for me to do for the first month in this newly created role and I picked up a full month’s salary for simply turning up and sitting in the office – reading – for multiple hours a day. Due to the sudden loss of a teacher, I was then required to fill in as a teacher for the final month of term in an expensive private school, two hours commute from my home. Wearing a suit, in roasting heat, and sometimes only teaching one class a day, I resented this commute, but my agency were good to me and paid me for my time.
After one year teaching English in Turkey I made the decision to move on keep travelling. I had a final feast of çiğ köfte – one of my favourite foods in the world – and bid farewell to the city of Istanbul, heading back to Europe where I decided to travel more.