Monday, September 02, 2013

Teaching English as a Non EU Citizen in the E.U.

So as of late, I have been contacted by quite a few Americans who have either read on the internet or spoken with a TEFL course advisor (not us) stating that its easy enough to work under the table and earn anywhere from 1800 to 2000 euros per month in western European countries such as France, Spain and Italy. That is absolutely untrue.

Maybe it was possible 10 years ago...maybe, but it is certainly not happening now. Consider this, there are plenty of native English speakers who are E.U. citizens already living in such countries, why would a non EU citizen be in such demand that they could earn twice the minimum wage? I must say that this so called advice is irresponsable and bordering on criminal. Governments are now cracking down heavily on unreported income and companies that do such practicse risk heavy sanctions as well as the possibility of being shut down.

For anyone considering teaching English in this part of the world know that the standard pay is minimum wage...if the given country has a minimum wage set. So for France that equates to approx. 1200 to 1300 a month. Yes its true if you teach Business English, if you have some experience and you  gradually make contacts you can earn a good deal more. But understand that just showing up with a TEFL certificate will get you 1200 to 1300 euros per month. It doesnt matter your nationality.

So above was a lot of negativity. Now some positivity...despite the economic crisis, the ESL business is holding steady and there is a lot work available. If you are a non EU citizen and would like to teach in, lets say western Europe, here are some facts.

It is possible to work legally in the EU as a non EU citizen but it requires planning ahead of time. I have recycled an older post and have updated it as some things have changed and for the better.

First things first, the E.U. question. Yes, it's true, you must hold an E.U. passport or have the correct visa to qualifiy for any job position in the territory. Unlike its neighbors, Spain and Italy, the French mostly follow this rule and as such I will focus on France for a moment.

However, it is still possible to work in France if you are non E.U. if have can obtain the "Carte Sejour". As a non E.U. person, the easiest option is to enroll in a French language school in France. Once enrolled, the language school will issue you an "attestation" stating that you have committed to lessons with them and you can use it to get a student visa. The student visa allows you to work 20 hours a week. At the end of your visa, for however long it is, if you have a job at that moment you can renew your visa as a carte sejour. With this you can legally work full-time. This is probably the easiest route no matter what your age.

If you have mastered the French language or have absolutely no interest in long term lessons of any kind, the other option is to become an "Autoentrepreneur". It means a free-lance professional. While you can do this in any domain, "English Teacher" is probably the easiest to break into as you are a native English speaker, so it will tempt potential clients to choose you over a French person. To do this you apply for a long term visa, similar to the student visa process but longer, stating that you will support yourself as an Autoentrepreneur. Once in France you can register yourself with URSSAF the government entity that oversees this statute. The registration is actually the easiest part of this entire process. Then you are free to start looking for work. Looking for work can mean looking directly for clients OR looking for work at a language school in the form of a short term contract deal. In fact, now many companies would prefer to hire an autoentrepreneur because they would not have to pay as much tax for that individual.

All in all, the E.U. issue doesn't have to be an obstacle to living and working in France. However, it does mean that more work and money will be required just to set up. Also know that there is no way to avoid the visa paperwork in your home country before coming to France and without a doubt, it will continue when you arrive. G.G.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Will you be a Happy Expatriate?

There are certain personality characteristics that are inherent in people who live abroad successfully and happily. Do you already possess some of these traits?

It takes a certain amount of courage to leave your home country, a place you are familar with, and go off to live in a country/countries where you have never lived. There is no way around this. You must be capable of taking that great leap into the unknown or else your dream of living abroad will remain just that- a dream.

There will be many things that happen in your host country which are done differently than in your home country. Know that you cannot change a culture. However things may done and whether or not you approve, in order to exists  comfortably, you must follow both the spoken and unspoken rules that exist in your host country. If you keep an open mind and a willingness to adapt to your surroundings, you will succeed. 


You are going to have setbacks during your quest. This is normal for anything we want to accomplish in life if its worth having. However, living abroad will sometimes test your determination even more because you will be outside of your comfort zone- by possibly not speaking the language, not yet having friends, undergoing the stress that goes along with worring about money or finding a place to live. Therefore you will have to be able to talk to yourself positively and keep after the goal. Know that you will receive rejection so expect it, learn from it and be prepared to move on and continue until you get what you want.


Finding a job and a place to live in a foreign country requires a well-rounded repertoire of resources. This may include the prospects you turned up in your research before you left home, as well as any opportunities you may have discovered once you arrive. The best resources are personal contacts and references, local newspapers, local residents, and especially the internet. But having the information is not enough; what counts is how fully you exhaust and utilize those resources. Therefore, it is essential that you do your homework, keep very thorough and organized notes, follow up on every lead, and don’t overlook any possibility. 


The best way to thrive in a foreign destination is to develop a strong network of friends and acquaintances. Not only will they provide you with companionship, but also with information on the city and the culture, valuable survival tips, and emotional support through difficult times. And the friendships you form on your travels will last you a lifetime. 


There’s nothing more reassuring than the comfort and support of a close-knit family. But once you’re traveling in the world, you’ll need to become more self-reliant. You’ll need to be able to make your own decisions without seeking the advice of your parents, siblings or friends. You must be capable of spending at least some time by yourself and even enjoying life, sometimes, on your own. Also, you’ll have to get used to taking care of life’s basic necessities on your own. 


Theoretically, the whole point of wanting to spend time abroad is to experience life from a different point of view and live a life that is different from the life you already know. So if we can assume that that is one of the goals, then you have to be ready to embrace the differences that you will certainly encounter. Some will be pleasing and some not so much but you must be willing to try new things. There will be different food, a different language, different ways of doing things, different pastimes and different ways of thinking. So jump in and explore what your new home has to offer and partake. In fact you should look forward to trying new things as opposed to seeking out the closest thing that resembles home.

A True Traveler

So this should seem obvious, but yes if you want to live abroad, you should actually enjoy the act of traveling and by that I mean the process. The process includes; planning the trip, actually heading to the target country and travelling around the destination country and its neighboring countries.

A Desire to Live Life to Its Fullest

Living abroad can be one of the most personally enlightening and enriching experiences that life has to offer. But to thrive in a new and unfamiliar culture, and to get the full benefit from the time you spend there, you must have a broad sense of perspective and an unconditional willingness to let go of your expectations and immerse yourself in the experience. Live the lifestyle, eat the food, and get to know the people, their history, their language and their culture. Make friends, make money, and yes, make mistakes. But whatever you do, make the most of it!  

If you don't already have some of these qualities, its doesnt mean that you're not cut out for living abroad. You can always develop and improve these traits as long as you have a willingness to change which there again would lend itself to living abroad. G.G.

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