Using a teaching job to travel around Europe is challenging but not impossible. The biggest problem with this idea is that a person who is “traveling” does not often stay in one place for a very long time. And in the case of working as a teacher, even staying to do a job for a month would not be considered a long time. One of the more accessible teaching roles for native English speakers is with language programs (i.e., teaching English as a second language).
How do language programs work in Europe?
Typically language programs are sold to students based on a set number of hours. The school will then want to give to the student a teacher who will see them through the duration of their program. Twenty sessions would normally be the minimum amount of time that a school would be looking to sell courses for. In this case, it would be very difficult for a “traveling” teacher to be hired for this work.
However, there could be scenarios where this kind of mix would work. Many schools offer intensive English programs which involve students attending up to and over four hours of class per day. These kinds of courses, whilst being intense in terms of hours, start and finish much faster than a standard once a week English lesson.
A traveling teacher then should look at bigger schools that are more likely to offer this kind of program when attempting to find some work which will allow them to earn quickly and then move on. The obvious downside of this kind of work would be that as you are working so much during the day, and often in the evening, you will not have much time to enjoy the place you are actually staying in.
What about finding flexible teaching jobs?
If time is not really such an issue, it should be relatively easy to find work. A new teacher could quite easily arrive in a city at the beginning of the traditional term times of September, January, and April and be able to find a lot of work on offer.
When you start your teaching job search in Europe, you can sign up for email reminders from sites such as TeacherHit.com. They offer positions across a number of countries in Europe & in the United Kingdom and a mix of English teaching jobs along with university work. If you can set up a consulting company for yourself, then this may allow you to be hired as school “consultant” (even though you are just teaching) and thereby get around some countries with more restrictive hiring policies such as France.
Another option is to work as a tutor. If you create ads on the local city’s Craigslist then you may find that there are a willing number of people who can pay you directly for hourly teaching & tutoring. This can either be standalone work or to supplement your regular teaching income. When you are interviewing, employers will probably not even think to ask how long you plan to stay in the city, but in terms of honesty, it may not be a bad idea to be up front from the start and explain how you are looking to stay for only a few months. In this way, the employer will not feel cheated when you get ready to move on, meaning no reference will be forthcoming, and will you not feel guilty about having ditched your students!
Another alternative, particularly in big cities and for those teachers with some level of experience, would be to just get in contact with a number of schools upon arrival in your new destination and let them know that you are available for work at short notice. As in all professions, people get sick, they have to wait in for a delivery, meaning that on any given day schools will be looking for substitute teachers to go and give a class for them.
Working as a substitute teacher can also work out well
Substitute classes are great in that as you are in some ways doing the school or company a favor by stepping in at the last minute, everything is usually prepared for you, and you are not expected to move the world as your preparation time has been next to nil.
These classes are often also enjoyable as the students get to see a new face and they invariably spend a lot of the time asking about who you are rather than worrying too much about their next grammar point!
So there are ways to use teaching to travel, but in all of these cases, the teacher needs to be on the ball as soon as they arrive at their new destination, preferably even before. Get CVs sent out, research exactly what kind of schools there are in the area and what kind of courses they offer. Be honest and up front about your situation. Follow these simple but essential steps and the dream of traveling to new and beautiful places, while earning a bit of spending money at the same time, might just become a livable reality.
About the author:
This blog post about how to use teaching to travel around Europe was written by Amelie Bernard, a France-based food obsessive who works recruiting teachers to work in Europe at TeacherHit.com or to find teaching jobs in Latin America at TeacherKick.com.