Spanning both the European and Asian continents, Istanbul, Turkey might be the closest to teaching at the center of the world that you can get. Istanbul is quite literally where East meets West, providing an impressive array of architecture, food, and entertainment. Whether visiting ornate mosques, exploring the elaborate Grand Bazaar, or teaching in Istanbul, one of the most welcoming communities on the planet, teachers are sure to enjoy themselves. The Turkish have a saying that expresses their welcoming nature best, "Whatever religion you are from, whichever country you come from, whatever language you speak, you are 'God's Guest’."
Teaching Jobs in Istanbul
Not only will you be welcomed as a guest to Istanbul, the city will also welcome you warmly as a teacher! Although primarily filled with English teaching job opportunities, there are a variety of teaching jobs in Istanbul when it comes to both subjects and settings. Private schools offer teachers a formal educational setting based on standard Turkish curriculum, and private English schools are, not surprisingly, centered on a curriculum focused on English language development. Generally, teachers do not need to know the Turkish language in order to teach in Istanbul at Turkish institutions, as all instruction will be held in English.Students begin primary education schooling the September after their sixth birthday and they remain in primary education until the end of the school year of their 14th birthday. During the last four years of primary education, students can choose between studying at a general education middle school or Imam Hitap, a form of religious vocational school.
Turkish schools run approximately nine months, or 180 days a year, and abide by Turkish holidays, during which teachers will also receive time-off. The year is divided into two semesters, including a Fall semester from September to January and a Spring semester from February to June. Students receive a two-week break in February and a three-month break during the summer. Typically, teachers will be obligated to work 40 hours per week, Monday to Friday, with a few additional hours of lesson preparation outside of the classroom. Students are usually in classrooms from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during the week, with an hour lunch break at noon.For those that desire a less formal setting, there are opportunities to teach English in Istanbul personally to Turkish families. In these positions, teachers usually live with the family and provide English instruction for at least 15 hours per week. This type of teaching job in Istanbul provides a schedule that is much more flexible, as it depends mainly on the availability of the family.
Life in Istanbul
In a good sense of the word, life in Istanbul is a thrill. There is a wealth of both Western and Eastern entertainment and food throughout the city! Transportation around the city is reliable and cost-effective; this includes ferry rides across the Bosphorus Strait, buses, subways, and more. However, unless you plan well ahead of time, do not rely on a car to get you to your destination on time during rush hour. Instead, stick to public transportation if possible during the busiest hours of the day.
The Turkish pride themselves on their warm hospitality, and it is important for those who teach abroad in Istanbul to keep this in mind. Along with the wonderful experiences locals will want to share with you, Turkish students and adults may ask pointed questions about your personal life, which may include if you are married and why or why not. They ask these questions not because they are judgemental or close-minded, but because they are genuinely curious and want to get to know you better. However, if any of these conversations make you feel uncomfortable, be sure to have a few answers prepared ahead of time that will quickly close the topic.
Salaries & Costs
There are many different teaching jobs in Istanbul, and consequently, salaries will depend on the length and setting of the position. Typically, shorter teaching placements in Istanbul of one to four months will require that teachers pay a “program fee,” which will cover training, insurance, and other small fees. These program fees can cost approximately $1,500, depending on the program. Housing is not always included in this cost, but organizations often have accommodations available for teachers near the school for an extra fee. Teaching jobs in Istanbul tutoring families also typically include a program fee, and because tutors live with the family, this fee covers training, some food, housing, and insurance costs. Flights, visas, and personal travel costs are usually not covered by teaching program fees.
Generally, the longer the contract is, the more accommodating organizations or employers will be. If your teaching job in Istanbul is a year or longer, your placement provider or employer will often cover flight reimbursement, guarantee a decent salary, provider international insurance, and cover visa costs as well as other small costs associated with your position. You pay more with your time than money the longer you teach in Istanbul! The average salary for longer-term teaching jobs in Istanbul can be anywhere between $1,000 and 2,000 per month, which, in Istanbul, is plenty! Groceries, transportation, and souvenirs are also incredibly affordable, so whether you are being paid monthly or you simply saved a few bucks before teaching in Istanbul, you can remain financially comfortable during your stay!
Accommodation & Visas
Rent is incredibly cheap around Istanbul. If you want to save your extra cash for entertainment purposes during your teaching job in Istanbul, rent a place outside of the city-center, where housing will cost approximately $250 per month. If you have friends or colleagues with whom you wouldn’t mind sharing an apartment, a three-bedroom apartment in the city-center will cost approximately $950 per month. Unless you are provided accommodation by your employer or placement provider, begin your search for an apartment near the school to avoid long travel times.
Gaining clearance to teach in Istanbul can be obtained both before and after arriving in Turkey. However, obtaining a visa post-arrival is much more difficult, requiring at least seven months of processing and a great amount of coordination on the part of your employer, all while risking teaching illegally for a number of months. The Ministry of Education will raid schools from time to time, dismissing anyone teaching in Turkey illegally; therefore it is highly recommended to begin the process in your home country.
Teachers must obtain a work permit, work visa, and a residence permit to legally teach in Istanbul (the last only being required if remaining in the country for longer than 90 days). The first two documents will be obtained through the Turkish consulate or embassy in your home country. The residence permit will be obtained at a police station once you arrive in Istanbul, and must be acquired within thirty days after your arrival.
Benefits & Challenges
The greatest challenge for teachers who decide to teach in Istanbul is simply getting there! Teaching jobs in Istanbul are numerous, so obtaining a position will not be difficult if you are adequately trained. Numerous organizations provide teachers with training (such as TEFL certification), educational materials, and guaranteed teaching jobs in Istanbul. Once there, the city and its local population will welcome you with open arms.Teaching abroad certainly puts various aspects of your life on hold, and program providers are aware of this. For larger organizations, you will also receive professional guidance and a large professional network to assist you in the transition between countries and possible careers following your teaching job in Istanbul. Providers want to see you obtain success and happiness, so start your journey to success by teaching abroad in Istanbul, Turkey!
Read our comprehensive guide on teaching abroad in Turkey.