Renowned as one of the most peaceful countries and one of the safest places to travel abroad, the appeal to earn TEFL certification in Sweden is undeniable. Sweden attracts visitors from all around the world with its impeccably maintained natural areas, opportunities for outdoor tourism, and high standard of living. Since the majority of the Swedish population already speaks proficient English, TEFL teaching jobs in Sweden are highly coveted and extremely respected. Hard work and networking will be required to find a placement, but the rewards of living and teaching English abroad in Sweden are unquestionable.
English classes are typically taught through a folkuniversitet, a publicly subsidized university marketed toward adult education, though it is possible to do earn a TEFL certificate at a private educational institution. As business in Sweden is mainly conducted in English, those taking English classes are typically foreign business executives wishing to expand their market opportunities. Due to the limited demand for TEFL teachers, applicants with a bachelor’s degree who are native English speakers are preferred. Folkuniversitets are located in major cities including Stockholm, Uppsala, and Gothenburg.
Stockholm, the largest and capital city of Sweden, has all of the big city amenities you might want. A city consisting of islands, Stockholm boasts one of the best public transportation systems in Europe, making travel around the city affordable and enjoyable, with scenic coastal views from the windows of buses and trains. Stockholm is renowned as the cleanest metro area in the world, one of the most stylish cities, and has a global reputation as a “cool” city with an indescribable “it” factor; it’s no wonder this city draws over ten millions tourists annually. As a business hub, ESL teachers are more in demand in the city, and obtaining a teaching job in Stockholm is possible after completing your TEFL certification.
Uppsala, located just north of Stockholm, is a lively city with a young population, due to the two large universities located in the heart of the city. Uppsala offers everything you might want from a large city, including dining, shops, and nightlife, while retaining the charm and history of a small town. Earning your TEFL certificate in Uppsala, a city dedicated to education, certainly has its benefits!
Gothenburg, renowned for the cheerful demeanor of its inhabitants, has a cozy feel, resting on the western coast of Sweden. Originally a large port city, Gothenburg has recently transformed into an active hub of education. TEFL courses in Gothenburg are taught by first-rate teachers. Those looking for friendly attitudes and unbeatable views will find Gothenburg the perfect place to earn TEFL certification.
Courses & Programs
TEFL courses in Sweden are typically full-time, all-day classes that last for a duration of four weeks. During these four weeks, you will learn the vital skills to aid in the development of your student’s English language skills, including writing, speaking, and reading. These TEFL courses will be all-inclusive and include both traditional textbook education and hands-on classroom teaching opportunities, so prior teaching experience is not mandatory.
Online TEFL certification is another viable option for those wishing to save money or wanting to wait to travel abroad until they have their certification under their belt. These online TEFL courses last three months, allowing users to learn at their own pace from anywhere in the world. Combinations of online courses and on-site courses are also possible, typically with the basic certificate being earned online at home, then the TEFL educator certificate is awarded after hands-on experience teaching in Sweden.
Teaching jobs in Sweden are not a guaranteed part of TEFL courses, so connections and networking are vital to securing a position teaching English in Sweden. Flexibility is important during the first months of your stay in Sweden, after earning a TEFL certificate, as you may have to move around to find a teaching job. Though previous experience as a teachers is not necessary to enroll in TEFL courses in Sweden, it is preferred by many employers in Sweden; so having a bachelor’s degree in an area related to teaching can help set you apart in the competitive job market, although it is not a requirement of the job.
Folkuniversitet and private universities alike begin their semesters in September and January, so some planning ahead of time is necessary to ensure you have completed TEFL certification by the time classes start. Popularly, contracts are nine-months long, beginning in September and ending in June, though shorter, semester-long contracts can be arranged.
Salary & Costs
The cost of living in Sweden is notoriously high, and, while salaries for TEFL jobs will certainly cover the bare costs, including room and board, you shouldn’t plan on saving a lot of money while living and teaching English in Sweden.
TEFL courses in Sweden customarily cost around $2,000, which does not include costs of living while completing the courses. When budgeting for the beginning of your TEFL career, include room and board costs for the duration of the TEFL course, and an additional two to six weeks of job searching, as job placement is not a guarantee of most TEFL certification programs and TEFL jobs in Sweden are scarce.
With a TEFL certification, teachers can expect to earn anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000 a month teaching for a folkuniversitet or as much as $3,000 per month if placed with a private university. Those with a degree or experience teaching English abroad may negotiate higher wages too.
Expect to spend the majority of your earned salary on rent and food; Sweden’s government subsidizes costs of healthcare, communication, and public transportation. As a teacher, healthcare and public transportation costs will be free, while the price of a cell phone plan can be as low as $15 per month.
Accommodation & Visas
Due to the high cost of living, TEFL teachers-in-training often share apartments to save money. Costs of rent inside city limits and in popular districts are much higher than living options outside of the city; with cheap or free public transportation, living outside of the city and commuting in is the best available option. If teaching in Sweden in a smaller city, home stays are a feasible option, and Sweden is a famously hospitable country.
If you’re not a European citizen, obtaining a visa is a necessary hurdle to jump through in order to start teaching English in Sweden for any extended period of time. A work visa will allow a TEFL certified teacher to work full-time, whereas a student visa only allows part-time employment (up to 20 hours a week), and a tourist visa does not allow the holder to teach but you could attend TEFL courses on it.
Planning is required in order to obtain a work visa, as you will have to know the school or university you will be teaching for and have them sponsor your visa, which is extremely difficult to coordinate. However, some TEFL certification programs offer visa sponsorship before you travel to Sweden, an excellent option that insures you a longer stay. Keep visa requirements in mind when choosing a program to earn your TEFL certification with.
Benefits & Challenges
- The Search. Getting TEFL certified in Sweden and securing a English teaching job is as challenging as it is rewarding. If you’re passionate about experiencing Scandinavian culture while living in beautiful, clean, and natural metropolitan areas, Sweden is the ideal place to complete TEFL courses abroad.
- Living Costs. However, Sweden is a challenging place to live if you’re looking to save money; because of the way the government is set up, taxes in Sweden are extremely high, giving you little opportunity to put away any money for the future. On the other hand, these taxes are the reason Sweden has one of the highest standards of living in the world, with free health care and free education for all students -- domestic and foreign.
- Forward Thinking. Sweden is very liberal-minded, at the forefront of gun control and gender equality issues.
- Weather. While the mild summers attract visitors, beware that Swedish winters are bitterly cold.
- English Fluency. The majority of Sweden’s youth speaks fluent English, making it a great place to be a native English speaker, but a difficult place for those looking to teach English abroad. With perseverance and organization, however, there is still a demand for TEFL certified teachers in Sweden.
For those just starting their career, part-time or seasonal employment as a teacher is advisable until you can establish a strong network of contacts to find your dream teaching job in Sweden, a truly beautiful country.