Over the last while Turkey has emerged as a prominent and highly sought after destination in the TEFL market, with an enormous demand for native speaking English teachers.
Turkey has seen a dramatic increase in tourism over recent years, perhaps fuelling a demand for the English language. On top of this, the country is very eager to join the European Union so there may be political influences at work here, following the thought that boosting English language proficiency might help ease their campaign for membership.
Despite a shaky economic past which saw the country go through a period of instability - involving the devaluation of the Lira - things have very much taken an upward turn in Turkey and this is a very positive thing for TEFL teachers. We deal with a lot of Turkish institutions who frequently contact us to help them source trained, native speaking teachers to join their teams. Turkey is increasingly viewed as a gateway to the Middle East, and as a result many large international organisations base their headquarters in and around Istanbul. This is raising the awareness of the need for and benefit of English language skills for both adults working in organisational contexts, and in the education of children and teenagers; better preparing them for the future. Turkey's prosperous classes are more eager than ever before to learn the English language, but this increase in demand is not restricted to private schools, with a variety of institutions seeking teachers.
Turkey provides a taste of Middle Eastern and European culture and from marketplaces to relaxing in a Turkish bath, there's lots to do on days off. The people are widely regarded as warm and welcoming and the standard of living for EFL teachers is generally high. Fasil, a qualified TEFL teacher who secured work in Turkey last year, said when discussing his experiences with me:
"My students are mainly professionals who are seeking to learn English for employment purposes, and also young university students who wish to learn the language so as to travel or further their studies in the UK. Turkish hospitality is amazing. Other native teachers and I have been out with some of our professional students who insist we go with them and we're not allowed to pay for our food - they pay for it! The professionals we teach are quite wealthy (chemical engineers, doctors, surgeons, technicians, private businessmen, accountants, lawyers etc...)."
Life as an EFL teacher can be a very social one, and communities of native English teachers often build in high-demand areas (not just in Turkey, but in countries all over the world). Contract durations in Turkey are often 6-12 months in duration, but there are often shorter-term positions advertised on various job listings websites.
When it comes to securing work abroad, here are some words of advice from TEFL Org UK tutors and TEFL Experts, who deal with this type of thing on a daily basis:
Whether you're negotiating the price of a bowl in a market or your job contract - don't go with the first one you set your sights on. There may be better deals out there, so make sure you do a bit of research before making your decision! Always ask questions in your interview.
Make sure that you know what you're getting in to. Read, read and read again when it comes to your contract. If accommodation is not included then ask if the employer can help you source nice, convenient housing. They are more likely to know where to look than you are! When it comes to visas, make sure you know what you need. Whether you're applying for working entry or plan to use a tourist visa, ensure you know exactly what this involves. Overstaying your welcome could mean you are liable to pay a hefty fine!
Remember why you are abroad - to experience life somewhere new and exciting! Do your best to visit sights, find out a bit about the area your living in and try all the local delicacies. Many past TEFL course students have commented on the fact that they almost wish they'd done or seen more whilst living and working abroad, so embrace the culture and your experience will be all the richer for it.