The first time I went to Europe in 2012, I fell in love. So much so, that I dreamt about living and working in that amazing continent. It was in 2013 that I landed my first job in Europe. It was a short 3-month stint. I went back to the Philippines to chase some dreams off my bucketlist—cause I was being haunted by regrets. But I promised myself, when I have achieved what I wanted, and when I was ready, I was going to be back. I didn’t realize that teaching English would be my key to this dream.
I obsessed about the research and the planning since 2013 and I’ve concluded that teaching English in Istanbul would be my way back. Turkey is an Asian country, but Istanbul is a magnificent city that is literally on two continents: Asia and Europe. How can I not be enticed by that??
Many friends have been asking details about my job… How I got this amazing opportunity.. What’s it like to be teaching English in a foreign country… And I decided to share it here in one big go. I won’t babble more and just get right to it… Here’s how I got my job as a Native English Teacher in Istanbul, Turkey.
Research, research, research. I had NO ONE (that I personally know) telling me what to do or how to get here. We live in an age of information, and I completely abused the internet to gather everything I needed to know.
Most ESL (English as Second Language) teaching positions require these:
[Note:They usually have other requirements, but these 3 are a MUST]
For the TEFL certificate, you can accomplish this in person or online. It’s a 120-hour course that’ll teach you everything about Teaching English as a Second Language. I applied to an International school in the Philippines that had good credentials and had proven success rate in teachers getting hired abroad. Once I was accepted and enrolled, I was assigned a teacher. My teacher sent me the coursework modules that I needed to study, and once I’ve mastered the content, he gives me worksheets/exams to do. When I pass, I move on to the next module. It took me 6 months to complete the course, because I was busy with a lot of things. Finishing the teaching certification will depend on you and how much time you can devote to it. With this certification, you don’t even need experience for teaching English. The program already teaches you how to do so.
Google is everybody’s bestfriend. There are so many websites out there that have job listings and all you have to do is look over each one. I found mine at the very famous Dave’s ESL Café. That website has a LOT of job listings from all around the world. Each job listing has the name of the institution, job description, application requirements and job compensation (salary, benefits, etc).
I started applying for jobs in June. Just like with the usual job application scenario, it is ideal to send out your application to a lot of companies/institutions/schools.
Make sure to include these in your email applications: A cover letter, your updated CV and two decent recent pictures of yourself.
I sent out around 20 job applications, heard back from 13 agencies/institutions, and did interviews with 5 of them. Typically, agencies do more than one interview. I experienced only doing 1 interview, and also doing 3 levels of interviews with different people. I also experienced being required to record a 15 minute video of myself speaking in English. It depends on their hiring process.
Three weeks later, I had 3 solid job offers. One in Moscow, Russia and two in Istanbul, Turkey. I chose the one that I have now because it was the most attractive one: good compensation and benefits.
While I was based in the Philippines, all the companies I had an interview with were all in Europe/North America. All interviews were done through Skype. I had interviews at 6am, 8pm, 3pm, even 3am. It didn’t matter what time it was in the Philippines, I had to adjust to their time zone. No matter what time your interview is scheduled, make sure that you look fresh and alert!
Even though the interview is via Skype and only the top half of your body can be seen, please do not wear house shorts, pajamas or underwear to go with your professional top and blazer. When you are fully dressed from head to toe, you get a more professional feeling in you that this interview is serious as fuck. Which in turn lets you project yourself better.
Before answering their Skype call, make sure you look presentable, you got rid of anything shady/ghetto looking beside/behind you (as the interviewer can see it and will definitely judge you), and that your surroundings are quiet. Who would want to hire someone who did an interview while a zoo was happening at their place?
If you want to get a job teaching English to non-English speakers, you have to make sure that the interviewer sees your excellent command of the language. Speak clearly, construct sentences that are grammatically correct and talk naturally.
It’s a must to relax because you don’t want to come off as too stiff. Personally, I do interviews with a smile and never relenting that good posture. Show them that you can carry yourself well through your body language and your answers.
As much as they are looking for someone to hire, you are also looking for a good company to work with. Don’t forget to ask them any clarifications you may have about the job description/compensation/benefits or about the job application itself. It’s better to know than to always wonder. Or worse, getting fuc*ed over in the future.
The number one annoying thing every Filipino has to go through to be able to travel: Visa Application. I had so much trouble with visa application!! I won’t share what I went through, but bottomline is, I got my butt to Istanbul!
For visa application, the agencies/institutions that hire you usually help you out with the visa application process. You may need to send them some important documents like a copy of your diploma, passport, etc.
You can apply for a work permit in your country, or you can go to Turkey on a tourist visa and then apply for a resident permit and work permit once you get here. It is more advisable to do the first one though, to assure that you don’t have any problems and to also lessen your chances of going to jail or being deported.
Job contract—check. Visa—check. But these two aren’t the only things that you would be needing before leaving the country. Before leaving, you should have saved enough money to get you through your first few weeks. Typical start-up money will depend on your location, so make sure to do research about the country.
My advice? Make a list of things to do and your priorities before leaving, so that you have a checklist and easily see what needs to be done first. These could include seeing friends, family, renting out your apartment, etc…
Now that I’m recalling the process of obtaining this job, I must say I am quite proud of myself and that I love the internet 400 times more. I did all the research and job application without guidance from anyone, except for Mr. Google and Mrs. Internet. Plus, I had my mom and a few contract-savvy friends look at my contracts when I had to choose. Everything worked out and I’m still living the dream of living and working in a European city. You don’t always need someone to guide you to reach some dreams. When you want it badly enough, you will do everything possible to achieve it. So don’t think that you need to find someone who did the same thing you want to do. Just have faith in yourself and trust in the capabilities that you have within you.
Have you ever lived and worked in a country away from your home? How did you get the job? I’d love to hear about your stories! And also…Don’t hesitate to message me should you have more detailed questions or are interested to find out more about obtaining work teaching English in Istanbul, Turkey.