Ukraine is an oft-forgotten or overlooked destination due to the recent inner turmoil of the country. However, it's a beautiful, historic, and affordable country to travel and explore while also obtaining a TEFL certification and tangible teaching skills.
Full of culture and layers of history, Ukraine boasts seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Its cuisine is just as rich –- be prepared to be stuffed with red beet borsht, olivier potato salad and sweet blinchiki when stepping through the door of someone’s home. Gaining several pounds isn’t uncommon when accepting the warm hospitality of future students and local friends by deciding to take a TEFL course in Ukraine!
Ukraine is fervent to keep up with the European Union and realizes that English is integral to progress on the world stage. With a literacy rate of 99.7%, there’s no surprise that Ukrainians of all ages, from grade school to professional businessmen, are eager to increase their English language proficiency. With a TEFL course in hand, you can unlock a teaching career in the Ukraine.
Ukraine offers TEFL, TESOL, and CELTA courses in its main cities of Kiev, Odessa, Lviv, and Kharkov. CELTA is the most prominent type of course found in the country.
TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language)courses encompass teaching students whose primary language is not English. TESOL and CELTA are types of TEFL courses and are sometimes used interchangeably. Ukraine prefers to hire teachers who have completed TEFL courses that are over 100 hours with at least 6 hours of ESL practicum.
To get a TESOL(Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) completion, you need 180 hours or more of classroom study plus 20 hours working with ESL students. The most prominent provider of the TESOL Certification in Ukraine is in Kharkov at the International House.
CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) is a specific brand of TEFL created and run by the University of Cambridge. CELTA is a reputable brand that will allow recipients to work anywhere in the world. This course requires completing 120 hours of class time and 6 hours teaching ESL. On a full-time basis, it should take about four weeks to complete.
When to Take your TEFL in Ukraine
Although TEFL courses can be taken at any time, Ukraine mainly offers in-person TEFL courses between May and August. The course timing works out well as most hiring happens in August before the start of the school year or the spring. Finishing the course during or before that time is ideal.
An alternative hiring time is during the summer months as many teachers finish their contract before summer and those positions need to be filled. This includes summer camps that have the English language in their curriculum.
Popular Destinations for TEFL Courses in Ukraine
Some of the most popular destinations for TEFL courses in Ukraine also align with where job opportunities lie. This includes all the big cities such as Kiev, Lviv, Odessa, and Kharkov.
- Kiev: Kiev is the capital of Ukraine and one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe. This city is bursting with incredible architecture and historic sites such as St. Sophia Cathedral, which has been designated as a UNESCO heritage site.
- Lviv: Lviv is in western Ukraine and was originally part of Poland. Its culture and architecture are quite different than that of Eastern Ukraine, which was part of Russia. Lviv has retained European influence and is said to be the most visited city in Ukraine. It may have something to do with the plethora of quaint coffee shops with perfectly brewed coffee!
- Odessa: Odessa is in southern Ukraine, bordering the Black Sea. This beach town acts as a getaway for most of the country during the summer months. Due to the influx of tourists, it has also become known for its robust nightlife!
- Kharkov: Kharkov is just two hours by car from the Russian border so historically it has been heavily influenced by Russian architecture, language, and culture. It’s known for its museums, art programs, and Freedom Square, the largest city plaza in Europe.
What to Look for in a TEFL Course in Ukraine
If you are flying all the way to Ukraine to take your TEFL course, take a course that's in a classroom setting. Many schools within Ukraine favor in-person TEFL courses over online TEFL courses. Not only is it better to get to know cultural intricacies and build a network, but it will provide a better qualification for future employment.
Another reason for taking an in-person course includes the need to have at least 100 hours of coursework and at least 6 to 20 hours of practice with ESL (English as a Second Language) learners. Most of the time online courses do not have the capacity to guarantee practicum hours with real ESL students.
Another thing to consider is the type of aid provided to students after the TEFL course. Most TEFL courses help students find jobs, but the type of assistance can vary greatly. Determine if this course will help with the job application process, which may include resources like interview coaching, meeting hiring requirements, and navigating the visa process.
Health & Safety
Since the 2014 civil war, tensions have been high especially in the Eastern Regions near Kharkov and in the areas of Donetsk and Luhansk. Although it’s much calmer now, it’s important to monitor the news. The capital city of Kiev and most of Western Ukraine are currently not dangerous.
In addition to country-specific precautions, watch out for petty crime in big cities. Generally, it’s also a good idea to purchase travel and medical insurance.
When to Apply for Jobs
Most jobs for TEFL certificate holders will be in foreign language schools or teaching English to children or adults and business professionals privately. Big cities have more opportunities for jobs, including Kiev, Odessa, Lviv, and Kharkiv.
Most teachers contracts are for the full school year, from September to June. Therefore, June is the perfect time to look for vacancies at foreign language schools for the next school year. Although the fall semester has a higher demand, it's also possible to find positions at the start of the winter semester since some teachers may finish their contract at the end of December.
If you are interested in working at a summer camp as an English teacher, staff training begin at the beginning of June. It's recommended to start looking at these positions two to three months ahead of the summer season.
Private lessons are a great addition to school income and can be obtained year-round. Although listings can be found online, most private lesson opportunities can be found by tutoring current ESL students, their friends or through other recommendations.
Average Salary of Post-TEFL Jobs
Typical teaching contracts in Ukraine range between 10 and 12 months covering the full school year. During the year, teachers can estimate to make $1,000 per month. Although that is very low in comparison to the United States, the cost of living in Ukraine is considerably lower.
It costs about $0.09 for a metro ride and a regular meal eating out would cost between $3 to $6. With these prices, teachers can aim to spend $500-$700 a month leaving several hundred dollars left for savings.
Depending on the school or job, subsidized living expenses and help with accommodation costs are also possible.
Tips for Finding a Job in Ukraine
In addition to understanding your likely salary and cost of living, obtaining a visa to work after the course is essential.
To study and work, students are awarded a 90-day visa that is used for the TEFL course. For those interested in staying after the TEFL (over 90 days), you will need to apply for a work visa and permit.
To get the work permit, paperwork needs to be submitted by the place of hire. Once the work permit is received, applicants can submit a request for the IM-1 visa. Most of the time, applicants have to be outside of Ukraine to receive this visa.
Some well-known, professional schools can help with the visa and work permit process once hiring has commenced.