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Teaching English in Estonia

TEFL/TESOL in Estonia

A smiling girl in an early morning Estonian square.A relative newcomer to the European and international stages, Estonia is an old country with a very young outlook, and is the perfect place to see the beauty of the Baltic area while teaching English.

The most northern country of what are known as the Baltic States, Estonia lies at the apex of three major regions in North-Eastern Europe. To its immediate north lie Finland and the Scandinavian states, while to the west are Poland‏‎ and Germany‏‎. On its eastern frontier, Estonia is bordered by its giant neighbour Russia‏‎, which has had a large influence on the country’s development. Estonia was in fact absorbed by the Soviet Union in 1940. Apart from the three year occupation of Nazi Germany later in the 1940’s, Estonia would remain part of the Soviet Union until the early 1990’s.

Today, the country of less than 1.5 million people is made up of about 70% ethnic Estonians and 25% ethnic Russians, with the remainder a mix of groups from various neighbouring states and denominations.

Estonia is a member of the European Union and has adopted the euro as its currency. It has also seen a period of economic growth throughout the Euro Crisis while many larger and more developed countries have stagnated or indeed seen contractions in their economies. At the same time, Estonia’s tourist trade has grown exponentially, especially in the capital, Tallinn, which has become a popular destination for low cost weekend breaks. Estonia’s position on the shore of the Baltic also gives it some of the finest beaches in the area, great to visit during the warm months.

Requirements for English Teachers

Due to its growth and expansion of international trade, Estonians are eager to learn English in order to equip themselves better for business or travel. With an ICAL TEFL Certificate Course, teaching jobs should be pretty easy to come by once you arrive in the country. If you hold a degree, teaching qualification, or teaching experience the process should be easier still.

Teachers with full teaching qualifications (e.g. a PGCE‏‎) could also look to the international schools.

A passport from an EU country is a massive help here, as without one, there are a multitude of forms and waiting periods for those coming from elsewhere. This means most native speaker teachers are from Britain or Ireland; there are, however, some American (and other teachers) and for more on this see our article, Non-EU Teachers in the EU.

Teaching Conditions

Typical salaries for English teachers in Estonia range from about €450 ($569 USD, £362) to €750 ($948 USD, £603) a month; however, the relatively low income is offset somewhat by a low cost of living.

Those with experience can probably hope to get a little more. Private tutoring is also an option to bump up the number of hours teaching and will usually be more rewarding monetarily than ordinary language schools.

The number of hours expected vary and some schools will offer a choice, especially if you have taught there for a term or two. Working on Saturdays is not unknown.

Estonia’s capital, Tallinn, is the obvious place to start, but enquiries there may lead to work in other smaller cities around the country.
All in all, for those looking to see some of the new East, Estonia, with its nightlife, history, and fine natural beaches and countryside, is definitely a place to start.

Image © Wasfi Akab

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