FAQs About Teaching English in Istanbul

IMG_8514This post is long overdue. Since my first month in Istanbul, I’ve been receiving weekly emails from recent college graduates who want to do what I’m doing. Maybe they never had a chance to travel abroad. Perhaps they want to immerse themselves in another culture. Or more frequently, they just don’t want to be a “big kid” yet. Well, I completely understand because I was in the exact same position. I graduated in December and even though I love my degree and my prospective career path, I knew that it was “now or never.” Even though everyone thought I was crazy to move abroad (especially to Turkey), I listened to my gut and here I am six months later grinning from ear to ear.

So here’s my meager attempt to provide candid answers to the five most popular questions I’ve received:

What’s the first step?:

Once the idea of teaching abroad has piqued your interest, the first step is to do some research. I highly recommend getting your teaching certificate because you’ll be more likely to get a job and can command higher wages. I did some research online and found International TEFL Academy (ITA). Their representatives answered all my questions and were great allies as I began the process of arranging my trip abroad.

Which course did you take and how much did it cost?:

You have two options through ITA: an 11-week online course ($1,350) or a 4-week on-site course ($1,750).  I opted for the latter option and it was worth every penny. I had wonderful instructors who provided me with one-on-one instruction and went out of their way to make me feel comfortable in Istanbul.

If you decide to get your certification through ITA, mention that Ayni Hailicka referred you and you’ll receive a $50 discount on your course fee!

How much do you make and what’s the average cost of living in Istanbul?:

I followed a non-traditional route, so rather than working at a language school, I’m doing mostly private tutoring. I make between $12.50-25 an hour depending on a number of factors and I generally work 20-30 hours per week. The cost of living in Turkey is low, so I only need about $1,000 each month to live comfortably (that includes my alcohol fund). However, I make between $1,500-2,000, so I’m able to save money each month.

If you prefer a more stable work schedule, I recommend working at a language school. I think they pay roughly $1,000 a month and you’ll generally work about 25 hours a week. Like I said, I don’t work at a language school, so these numbers may vary.

What kind of students do you teach?:

Because I find all my students through networking and referrals, I teach students from six years old to 60 years old. I play games with the kids, prepare the high school students for English proficiency exams and practice general conversation skills with adults. Even though I love kids, I prefer working with adults because they actually WANT to be there, unlike the kids.

How can you teach English in Turkey if you don’t know Turkish?:

English is part of the teaching curriculum in schools here, so it’s rare to have a student who is a true beginner. They’re exposed to English in school, television, music, movies, etc. My main job is to help them improve their English — not teach them everything from square one.

More in-depth answers:

If I’ve failed to answer your most basic inquiries, please visit ITA’s alumni page where they created a bio and question-by-question account of my experience. Check it out here.

If you have any other questions about living in Istanbul or teaching in general, please don’t hesitate to email me at hailayn@gmail.com. I’m more than willing to Skype people as well. I want everyone to have the opportunity to live and work abroad, so if I can help in any way, please let me know!


2 responses to “FAQs About Teaching English in Istanbul

    • Hi there,

      That’s definitely a valid question. I can only speak to my experience and say that I NEVER found myself in a predicament or scary situation. To be honest, I felt more safe in Istanbul than I did in downtown Portland, Oregon. Interesting thought, huh? As we all know, it’s important to use your best judgement and avoid putting yourself in a situation that could potentially be dangerous, but that goes for any city/country.

      Thanks for asking!

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