Teaching English in Ukraine – a Guide
Ukraine is a great place to be an English teacher. There’s a low cost of living compared to salaries so in Ukraine TESOL teachers to live well, the Ukraine CELTA course is one of the cheapest in the world, it’s a country where you can teach English without a degree and as it’s not in the EU, teachers from all over the world can work there. Teaching is a great job in Ukraine for English speakers, both native and non-native.
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. Here’s our guide to working as an English teacher in Ukraine.
Why you should teach English in Ukraine
English Teachers in Ukraine are in Demand
There is a huge need to learn English at the moment and students are generally keen. The country is leaning towards the EU and this means improving their communication in English. Academic staff in universities all need to achieve a B2 (upper intermediate) level of English and school leavers need to achieve at least a B1 (intermediate).
Ukraine is a hub for IT and there are so many IT companies in Kyiv, Odessa, Kharkiv and other cities outsourcing skills to America, Canada, the UK and European countries. IT specialists here need to be able to effectively communicate in English and IT companies have in-house English teachers or use English language schools to provide lessons to their staff. All of this means that there are lots of jobs in Ukraine for English speakers.
There are some excellent schools
The better schools have excellent conditions and a professional teaching environment. There is professional development in terms of lesson observations and teacher training. The decent schools are well-equipped with teaching materials.
Local Ukrainian teachers are serious about their profession. There is an IATEFL, TESOL Ukraine conference every year and the organisation Teachers for Teachers brings guest speakers to run workshops regularly. In the last year, Hugh Dellar, Tom Godfrey and JJ Wilson have given presentations and workshops here.
The cost of living in Ukraine is low
The cost of living in Ukraine is low compared to the wages and you can have a good standard of living and still save money. You can buy a beer for around dollar, and eat out for less than $5. It costs 8 grivna to take the metro anywhere in Kyiv (about 30 cents). Salaries for English teachers in Ukraine may seem low, especially compared to jobs in some Asian countries, but packages often include accommodation, paid holiday and a flight allowance.
Find out more about the cost of living in Odessa in our blog.
Non-EU citizens can teach English in Ukraine
While this may change with Brexit, at the moment, it’s difficult for non-EU citizens to teach English in EU countries. Since Ukraine is not in the EU, all expats need a labour permit to work there. Whether you are from the UK, South Africa, Australia, Brazil or another country, you can teach in Ukraine.
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, although many run summer courses or summer camps for children.
Salary for English teachers in Ukraine
English teaching jobs in Ukraine can be either hourly paid or salaried. Hourly pay starts at about 200 grivna per hour, while salaried work starts at about 15,000 grivna per month, after tax. Salaried jobs often also include either accommodation or an accommodation allowance, as well as paid holiday and sick pay. Some schools will cover the cost of your labour permit and residency and pay for it. Other benefits to look for are flights home and sponsorship towards further qualifications like the DELTA or DipTESOL.
Like we said, these salaries may look low, but for living in Ukraine, they are very comfortable and will allow you extra to save, if you are careful with money. Teachers can afford to go out at weekends, to eat out often and to travel internationally during holidays.
Requirements for teaching English in Ukraine
What you need to teach in Ukraine depends on where you want to work. Smaller, hourly paid schools will give English speakers jobs running conversation clubs and helping students with their speaking skills. They don’t always ask for any kind of qualification for this. However, they also don’t offer visas or residency permits.
The schools that will organise and pay for your visa and residency are generally those who ask for full TEFL certificates. This means a course that includes assessed teaching practice of real students, not an online course. There are several schools where you can take the CELTA in Ukraine, mentioned below, but schools will also accept Trinity certTESOL in Ukraine.
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?
Where to teach English in Ukraine
Teaching English in Kyiv
Kiev, or Kyiv as it is actually spelled, 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.
The majority of jobs for English speakers are in Kyiv and this is where most English language schools that employ expat teachers are. While there may be some part-time work in universities most English teaching work in Ukraine is in language centres.
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.
The big schools are the London School of English, Kiev, where we work, the British Council, International House, Kiev, ILC, Grade, Study UA and the newly opened British Study Centres. See below for more information about these schools.
As we said, there are a lot of IT companies in Ukraine and some employ in-house English language teachers to provide lessons for their staff.
Teaching English in Odessa
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.
There are fewer language schools in Odessa that employ expat teachers, although teaching English is still a popular job in Odessa. Our school, the London School of English, has two centres there, including one on the main street of Deribasavskaya. The American Language Centre is there as well. Along with these, several smaller schools employ expat teachers on an hourly basis, such as SpeakUp, and Bridge.
Find out more about living in Odessa in our blog What we liked about Odessa
Teaching English in Kharkiv
There are a lot of English language centres in Kharkiv, although not many will employ full-time expat teachers. International House has a school there, as does the American English Centre.
Teaching English in other Ukrainian cities
There are English language schools in cities such as Lviv, Poltava and Dnipro that employ expat teachers, such as International House and American English Centre. If you go around the English language centres, you will find some that will give you an hourly rate for some classes there.
English Language Schools in Ukraine
London School of English
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.
Salaries start at 22,000 grivna a month and increase with experience and qualifications. They also give teachers there own fully furnished apartment, holiday pay, flights home and cover all visa and work permit costs.
The British Council
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.
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, and paid holiday.
The huge language school chain International House has a school in Kyiv offered courses to children, adults and businesses. At the moment, expat teachers generally do a lot of business classes. Salaries are around 20,000 grivna a month and upwards and include an accommodation allowance.
International House, London, created the original CELTA course, and thus, they expect their teachers to have either the CELTA or the Trinity certTESOL.
Fellow blogger Amy taught English at International House in Kyiv. You can read more about it in our New Teacher Tales interview.
ILC used to be part of International House before there was a split. It offers a range of courses and the CELTA in Ukraine. Their centre is near KPI metro, near London School of English, Kyiv and International House, Kyiv.
Grade has a school in Kyiv that offers a lot of exam classes, especially for Cambridge exams. They do not expect their native speaking teachers to have a CELTA or Trinity certTESOL, although they prefer it. Many of their positions are hourly paid.
DEC School in Kyiv has several schools around the city and employs expat teachers as well as Ukrainians. They ask for a teaching qualification, but it doesn’t have to be CELTA or Trinity.
American English Centre
American English Centre only employs Americans and Canadians but they do not require teachers to have a CELTA or Trinity certificate. In their schools, local teachers teach the grammar and vocabulary, while the native teachers help students to practice speaking skills. American English Center put their teachers through an in-house training course before they start teaching
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 in Ukraine 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.
CELTA in Ukraine
Ukraine is one of the cheapest places in the world to do the CELTA, and you can take the CELTA course for less than $1000. It is offered in several schools in Kyiv, as well as in Odessa, Kharkiv and Lviv.
The full-time course is four weeks long and includes assessed teaching practice on groups of Ukrainian students. It can also be taken part time, with sessions in the evenings or at weekends.
For CELTA courses in Kyiv, the British Council, International Language Centre and Grade Education Centre, offer the course both full-time and part-time throughout the year. You can find dates and prices on their websites.
The London School of English run the CELTA in Odessa twice a year, in May and June.
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.
The work visa is a ‘D’ visa and it is got from a Ukrainian Embassy outside the country. Teachers either get it in their home country, or come in on a tourist visa or 90-day exemption, which their school then converts into the work visa. This often involves a trip over the border to the nearest Ukrainian Embassy in Moldova. With the D visa, you can get the Posvitka.
The legalisation 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. In the past, teachers have stayed for their 90 day entry, then simply crossed the border to renew their stay. However, now the regulations state that you can only stay in the country for 90 days in every 180, so this is not possible.
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.
International Schools in Ukraine
If you are a qualified teacher in your home country and you want to teach in Ukraine, you should look at International Schools. These are schools that follow the UK, US or Australian curriculum and their students are usually expats or rich locals. This means that you would teach whatever your specialist subject is. The packages for International Schools in Ukraine are much better than for language schools. If you think you are qualified for this, look at the British International School, Perchersk School International and Kiev International School.
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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