So you want to teach English but don’t fancy the typical South East Asia destinations, or even the less-crowded (but still rather popular) South America and Central Europe. Have you ever considered some of the lesser-known Eastern European countries (although these certainly wouldn’t consider themselves so!)
Yes, we all know that the likes of Russia, Poland and Hungary offer well-paid TEFL jobs for those with little experience (a 120 hour Professional TEFL Certificate with i-to-i will suffice!); but what if you’d prefer somewhere a little off the beaten track so to speak, where demand for TEFL teachers is high, but the countries aren’t overrun with them. Somewhere like the Baltic States?
Nestled in the south of Scandinavia and west of Russia lies the beautiful countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. They may be small compared to their over-powering neighbours, but they sure pack a punch and have their own unique culture that’s fascinating to explore. Plus, they offer an interesting mix of East-meets-West, so although you’ll be teaching in Eastern Europe, you’ll still enjoy your Western luxuries.
The northern-most of the Baltics, Estonia considers itself more Scandinavian with strong ties to nearby Finland. The majority of TEFL jobs are available in the capital of Tallinn, although second-largest city Tartu – and to some extent, Narva – offer many opportunities too.
You’ll certainly enjoy living in Estonia, with your TEFL colleagues eager to show you their home – spend your summer evenings relaxing in the sun with a can of Kiss cider, or wrap up warm in the winter and enjoy some traditional cuisine at the inviting inns.
To the south of Estonia is Latvia – home to the largest city in the Baltics Riga, with a population of 650,000. Riga is beautifully medieval, although it’s clear to see the Latvian-Russian divide (just across the train tracks lies Maskavas Forstate – or ‘little Moscow’ – the poorest area of the capital). There’s a multitude of restaurants and bars to try out with your new Latvian friends should you settle there. Alternatively, Daugavpils has a high demand for English teachers – located a mere 33km from the Belarussian border, it’s much more edgy and ‘rough around the edges’, and is considered the most Russian of all Latvian cities.
Last (but certainly not least) is Lithuania, whose capital – Vilnius – is the only Baltic capital not to have a port. Much like the rest of the Baltics, the capital is where most of the opportunities lie – and Vilnius is a gorgeous place to live. You can explore the beauty of the Old Town with its cobblestoned streets and castle, before heading on over to the New Town with the shops, bars and restaurants lining Gediminas Prospektas. Alternatively, other opportunities can be found in Kaunas and Klaipeda (which is near the seaside resort of Palanga and breath-taking Curonian Spit).
No matter where you teach in the Baltics, you’ll have an amazing time soaking up the culture and learning about the colourful yet tragic history. The people there are often reserved but open up with time – something to note when taking the needs of your students into consideration. However, the friends you’ll make from your time teaching English will no doubt be friends for life, and you’ll love your time TEFLing in the Baltics.
To find a job in the Baltic States, the best thing to do is travel in-country and find work whilst on the ground – handing your CV out to schools is the most effective way. However, do keep a lookout on our jobs board as vacancies may be advertised on there.
So now you’re all ready to head off and teach in the beautiful Baltics, you just need to get TEFL qualified with i-to-i – it really is that simple!