Teaching English in Ukraine – a Guide
We spent two years teaching English in Ukraine for London School of English in Odessa, and now teach English for London School of English in Kyiv. Ukraine isn’t necessarily the first place people think about when considering teaching English abroad. Even though what you see in the news at the moment is conflict, most of the country is very peaceful. There’s a low cost of living compared to salaries, and as it’s not in the EU, teachers from all over the world can work there. Here’s our guide to working as an English teacher in Ukraine.
Why you should teach English in Ukraine
Ukraine can be a great place to teach. There is a huge need to learn English at the moment and students are generally keen. The better schools have excellent conditions and a professional teaching environment. The cost of living is low compared to the wages and you can have a good standard of life and still save money. As well as this, it’s not in the EU, so people from all over the world can teach there legally.
Kiev is a beautiful city full of stunning architecture, history and culture. There is an art scene now and some wonderful street art. It has proper seasons, with cold, snowy winters with access to skiing and other winter sports, and hot and sunny summers when the city is full of outdoor bars and restaurants.
Odessa is on the Black Sea. In the summer, it’s hot and sunny and you are walking distance from the beach. It’s famous for its nightlife, and in summer the superclubs at Arkadia are full of beautiful people having all-night parties.
The country is huge and diverse. Part of the Carpathian mountains are in the west of the country and have hiking and outdoor sports in the summer and ski resorts like Bukovel in the winter. The city of Lviv is similar to Polish cities, while those like Kharkiv towards the east are more Soviet in appearance.
Job Opportunities teaching English in Ukraine
The majority of jobs for English teachers in Ukraine are in the cities of Kyiv and Odessa. While there are some positions in other cities like Dnipro, there are less. Most jobs for non-Ukrainians are in language schools. The biggest chains are the British Council, International House, DEC, American English Centre and London School of English. The British Council are only in Kiev, International House are in Kiev, Odessa, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Poltava and Lviv, and LSE has three schools in Kiev and three in Odessa. American English Centre only takes American and Canadian teachers and have schools in Kiev, Odessa, Lviv, Kharkiv, Dnipropretrovs’k, Poltava and Zaporozhye.
There are also many smaller schools in the various cities, particularly in Kiev and Odessa, who recruit teachers.
Language school work involves classes of both adults and children who come after school and work to improve their language level. This may be in group classes or 1:1. Teachers also go out to businesses to teach English to employees. In some schools, like American English Centre, native teachers are used for communication classes. Language skills such as grammar and vocabulary are taught by Ukrainians. In others, like LSE, both Ukrainian and native speaking teachers cover both language and communication skills.
Summer Schools and summer camps in Ukraine
A shorter term option for working as an English teacher in Ukraine is to do a summer camp. Study.UA and DEC both run summer camps every year and recruit teachers to work on it.
If you want to find out whether you will like teaching English in Ukraine, you can also volunteer at a summer camp. You won’t get paid, but you get accommodation and food. Check out GoCamps and ESS. A friend of ours has volunteered with Go Camps and recommends it.
Language school work tends to follow the school terms. Courses start in September and run until June or July. Most are closed for a few weeks in the summer, unless they run summer schools.
Salary for English teachers in Ukraine
Jobs at the British Council offer a range from 19,000 to 25,000 and above. Again, you get an accommodation allowance on top of that.
International House offer 10,000 for new teachers. I’d assume that goes up, if and when you have more experience.
When you look at advertised salaries for teaching English in Ukraine, they seem low. However, bear in mind the cost of living. You can get a beer for less than $1. A full meal can cost less than $3. If your rent is covered by the school, you don’t have that many outgoings.
Find out more about the cost of living in Odessa in our blog.
Jobs can also offer paid holiday, sick pay and sponsorship for further qualifications like the DELTA or DipTESOL. They should also cover the cost of visas and work permit.
Requirements for teaching English in Ukraine
What you need to teach in Ukraine depends on where you want to work. The British Council only accepts teachers with a degree and a CELTA or Trinity TESOL Certificate, or a DELTA or Trinity Diploma, or Masters’ degree in TESOL or Linguistics with teaching practice. You won’t get a job there with an online TEFL.
London School of English in Kiev and Odessa prefer teachers with CELTA or Trinity TESOL, but will accept teachers with other qualifications. They tend to be wary of teachers who got certified in Asia though. Again, they don’t accept online certificates.
American English Center put their teachers through an in-house training course before they start teaching, so you don’t need to have a teaching certificate to work there. Smaller schools are often happy to get someone to teach at all.
If you are not sure what all these acronyms mean, we wrote a blog to help you: What’s with all the acronyms in teaching English?
Paperwork to be an English teacher in Ukraine
To teach legally in Ukraine you need a work visa and a work permit, and then apply for temporary residency, which comes in the form of a blue passport-like book called a Posvitka. Many teachers come in on a tourist visa, which their school then converts into the work visa. This often involves a trip over the border to the nearest Ukrainian Embassy in Moldova. This process is quite complicated. The professional schools will arrange this for you, and pay for it. However, these schools are also the ones that require specific qualifications to work there. Smaller schools are less likely to be able to employ you legally.
How to find a job as an English teacher in Ukraine
Other schools have job information on their specific websites. You can also look at the Ukrainian jobs sites rabota.ua and work.ua. Search for English teacher or something similar and the post in English will come up.
Another option if you want to teach English in Kyiv or Odessa is to fly to Ukraine and visit schools looking for work. You can usually get 90 days visa-free entry to come and look for work. Be aware, though, that after 90 days you need to leave and can’t come back for another 90 days, so this isn’t an option for long-term work. You need to convert your visa to a work visa within the 90 days.
If you want any more information about teaching English in Ukraine, get in touch with us either by leaving a comment or sending a message to our Facebook page.
Read our interview with teacher Anna about her experiences teaching English in Ukraine. New Teacher Tales blog.
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