“Yugoslavians are brothers in blood, cousins in language, and foreigners in culture.” is a common Slovenian saying, and it’s true that whilst a former Yugoslavian republic, Slovenia is a modern country with a low cost of living, which draws in many an English teacher.
The larger language schools like Berlitz will advertise vacancies online; but a lot of TEFL teachers will move to Slovenia before searching for a job, as they can contact schools directly with their CVs.
Demand for people to teach English in Slovenia is moderate but competition is low, and as long as you’re TEFL-qualified, you should be able to find a job without any prior teaching experience. A modern country with a low cost of living means you should be able to save some money without being too far out of your comfort zone: plus the ability to travel to neighbouring countries is a huge plus for many teachers too! Having joined the EU in 2004, it’s important in Slovenia to be able to speak English; with the bulk of vacancies in Ljubljana, where the majority of international companies are based.
To teach English in Slovenia, you will need a degree (unless you're teaching at a summer camp, then it isn't necessary) and to have completed the 120 Hour Online TEFL Course course; although the 140 hour course is recommended if you have no teaching experience.
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Accommodation in the cities of Slovenia is quite cheap, especially if you share with someone else. A 3 bed apartment in Ljubljana costs around £740/$1,185, so split between the 3 of you; you’ll only be spending 25% of your earnings on accommodation, leaving you with plenty of money to explore Slovenia during your time off from teaching!
The cost of food is fairly reasonable, and you can pick up a Kranjska Klobasa (traditional Carniolan sausage) in a bagel with mustard, at one of the many café’s for £2.75/$4.40 or if you’d prefer to cook at home, a chicken and a kilo of potatoes costs around $5.
Come the weekend, Slovenians love a big night out and there’s no way you’ll be able to avoid being swept up in this atmosphere! One of the most well-known bars in all of Slovenia is Pr’Skelet in Ljubljana: head down to this dungeon-themed bar with skeletons casually hung up on the walls, where you can enjoy an extremely strong cocktail for £5.50/$8.80.
Although meat (mainly pork) features in many Slovenian dishes, it’s served with a herby twist; as Slovenian cuisine also draws influence on Alpine and Mediterranean dishes.
Slovenians typically have soup before their main meal, with a favoured flavour being beef noodle soup with carrots. For the brave, try the Slovenian national dish of Mavželj – minced pork (including parts of the head and brain!), served with a hearty dosage of potatoes, cabbage and turnips. Dober tek!
Slovenian desserts are usually in the form of pastry and breads: the most traditional being Potica, which is a pastry and can be served with over 80 fillings in total: try ground walnuts or poppy seeds. It’s quite a festive dessert, so if you hold a Christmas party at school, you can be sure you’ll get to try some of these!
Make like the Slovenians and wash all of this down with a traditional honey brandy, found everywhere as 1 in 250 Slovenes keep bees – well, they have to do something with all that honey! It’s socially acceptable to drink this whenever, wherever: warm or cold, straight, added to a coffee or even as part of a cocktail. You can pick up a bottle for around £30/$48 from major Slovenian supermarkets.
Situated by the Adriatic Sea, Slovenia enjoys four distinct seasons, so if you teach English here, you’ll get to experience everything! The winter is fairly cold at around 4 degrees, and snow covers the country for an average of 65 days a year. However, come summer, the sun is out and it’s 30 degrees Celsius, with locals and tourists alike descending on the cobblestone streets for a refreshing drink at one of the many quaint outdoor bars.
Your new TEFL employers are sure to help you to find a place, as adverts placed for apartments and rooms are advertised all in Slovenian. The standard of accommodation is good, as you would expect in a modern country – especially in Ljubljana and Maribor. If you live further out in a smaller town or village, you’re likely to live in a cute little wooden cabin, very traditionally Slovenian.
Berlitz and Elite learning are the best known language schools in Slovenia with branches in Kranj, Ljubljana and Novo Mesto. If you’re lucky enough, you could also get a teaching job at one of the prestigious international schools, like the British International School of Ljubljana, where you receive a higher pay, and 10 weeks paid holiday (most of which is taken over the summer).
The majority of demand for teachers in Slovenia is in Ljubljana, as most of the population live here; although international and private schools in other towns and cities will be looking for teachers too – especially Maribor and Celje. As the school term starts in September, more vacancies are advertised between May and August, so it’s worth applying for jobs during these times to give yourself the best opportunity of securing a place!
Even though they are the second and third largest cities respectively, Maribor and Celje are both very small. Maribor is close to the Austrian border, so it’s ideal if you want to cross over to the other side; and Celje has a beautiful castle but realistically, unless you would like a quiet country life, these two towns don’t compare to the capital.
Slovenia’s towns and cities are all fully equipped with a modern bus service, running from the centre to the outskirts. Buses are fairly reliable, tending to stick to a schedule, and are quite cheap, with a one-way ticket costing 95p/$1.55. If you find you’re using the buses a lot in Ljubljana, you can get an Urbana card, where you can pre-load credit so you don’t have to worry about having spare change.
Taxis are reasonable in Ljubljana, and you can take a 15km journey for just £12.80/$20.50 – so if you’re trying to get home after a few too many drinks, it’s definitely the way to do it!
The good news for those thinking of teaching English in Slovenia is that generally it’s a very safe place. Even in the capital there aren’t any ‘no-go’ areas so if you would prefer to avoid public transport (or the cost of paying for taxis) you can safely get around on foot!
Slovenia’s train company SZ offers routes all through the country for reasonable prices: travel between the two largest cities of Ljubljana and Maribor costs as little as £13/$20.
With its Central European positioning, you’re in the ideal location to discover the rest of Europe. Trains are the cheapest form of getting around – it costs just £23/$37 one way to Vienna for instance; although it’ll be quite a boring trip as it takes 6 hours! There is the option to fly direct, which cuts travelling time down to 50 minutes, but it’s quite a bit more expensive at £152/$243 return, so you’ll need to factor this in.
It may be the number one tourist hotspot in Slovenia, but no stay is complete without a trip to tranquil Lake Bled! Visit the 24m high Iglica waterfall, with a wooden staircase to the side so you can enjoy the views at the top; before heading to Bled island in the centre of the lake, home to the beautiful gothic Church of Assumption.
Slovenian students may seem reserved and shy when you first meet them, but once you’ve taught them for a few classes they will soon open up and you will be able to form good working relationships with them!
If we’re being honest, Slovenia isn’t exactly the best place for shopping: but the good thing about it is you can find unique designs from cool Slovenian designers. Look out for labels such as Alenka Draž and Matjaž Vlah (he’s an expert in amazing shoes!) to show off to your friends at home.