Teach English in Latvia – the following answers are from English teachers who have taught, or currently teach English in Latvia.
Do I need a degree to teach English in Latvia?
“Most language schools will expect you to be university educated, but it isn’t a legal condition for people from other EU countries.”
Do I need a TEFL qualification and/or experience?
Most language schools require a CELTA, Trinity Cert TESOL or equivalent as a minimum qualification.
What are the visa requirements?
Language schools often help with residency and work permits for EU nationals. Schools do not often recruit non-EU nationals due to the administrative costs involved.
Where are the jobs?
The majority of schools are in Riga.
When is the best time of year to look for work?
Schools tend to recruit in the summer months ready for a September start.
What kind of teaching schedule can I expect?
25 hours a week is common.
Are there opportunities for private teaching?
“You can get private students (by word of mouth is the best way) but most schools take a very dim view of this.”
What about the cost of living?
a cup of coffee 2 lats
a beer 2 lats
a meal in an average restaurant 10 lats
a return coach ticket to Vilnius 30 GBP
50% of respondents in our survey thought that the cost of living in Latvia is quite high compared to salary; 50% thought it is about right.
What’s the best way to get around?
“Bus and tram. Some schools will lay on taxis for teachers to get to in company classes.”
The following are more general comments from English teachers who have taught, or are currently teaching English in Latvia.
I’ve been working in Latvia as a teacher of English for several months. I quite like it because the children are very nice and hard-working. There are two main disadvantages. First of all, the salary is too low, and most teachers have two workloads to survive, Secondly, there is a lot of unnecessary paper work to do. Some colleagues I know admit that it is exhausting and do not advise working at school. I am working in a language centre and it is a much more flexible job. Moreover, I have a certain freedom when I teach and have time for creativity. So, for those who would like to try, I advise checking language centres or private institutions for extra-curricular activities.
The private language schools vary enormously in terms of working conditions, pay, and benefits. I know, I’ve worked here for over 3 years now. You could be earning anything from about 400 lats a month (accomm not incl) to over 700 lats with accomm incl. That represents a huge difference to your standard of living. Really do your homework and make sure your school is reputable. There’s not much going on outside the capital, Riga, which has found itself firmly on the stag and hen party / budget airline trail and prices have gone up a lot as a result. Official inflation is about 9%, but in actuality the cost of food is going up much more than this and clothes are as expensive (if not more so) than major European capitals. A nice place to teach for a year or two, but the winters can be gloomy and as you’d expect usually freezing cold. The infrastructure is still a hangover from Soviet central planning.
Is it hard for Canadians to teach English in Latvia because we are not in the EU? Will no school hire me even if I have university degree in English? Is it not better to have a native English speaker?
The short answer to your first question is yes. The fact that you are not an EU citizen will, unfortunately, probably override any qualification such as a degree in English for a lot of schools. It’s not to say that it’s impossible, just much more difficult.
“Is it not better to have a native English speaker?”
…Depends on your point of view I think. Being a native speaker doesn’t automatically mean you’re a better teacher than a non-native speaker (I’m speaking generally here – I don’t know if you personally are a good teacher or not of course !!) Some would argue that non-native speakers who are very familiar with the specific difficulties facing Latvian speakers are in a better position to teach effectively.