I’ve been keeping this very much under wraps, but since it is all official now, I will go ahead and let you all know…
I’m a productive member of Turkish society now!
I have a job!
Yes, as you probably guessed, it’s as an English teacher. I should put that CELTA to use, right? And when the demand for native speaking English teachers is so high, it seems silly to deny a position I could do that pays pretty well. Yes, it’s at a private school (koleji), since the requirements for state schools are different. Will it be permanent? If I like it- sure!
While I’m here, let me give a few tips to those who are looking to be English teachers in Turkey. If you do a quick google search, you can see that a LOT of horror stories pop up. By no means am I a pro, but I do know a few “red flags”.
- Work Permit. In order to work in Turkey under ANY profession, you need a work permit. You are not allowed to work until it COMES IN. If a school tells you that you don’t need a permit- they are LYING. If they say you can start working after applying for a permit, they are LYING. If they say you need to pay for your permit out of pocket- they are LYING! The only thing you have to pay (and even then, they should pay for it) is the fee that comes after you’ve been approved for the work permit (lsat year it was 200TL). And they should be doing the application for you. If any of these things come up, that’s a big red flag.
- Not requiring any certification. Some schools say that you don’t need a certificate (or a good one) to teach “conversational” English because it’s not grammar and whatnot. That may be kind of true, but it is sketch AS HELL. If they don’t want a certificate from you for teaching (or they accept a sketchy one that has no clout), you may want to be wary about that position.
- Sign a contract you don’t understand. A lot of schools will give you a contract in Turkish, even though you don’t speak the language. Some may have a version in English, but not many do. If they don’t give you time to have someone help you translate the contract, or give you time to think about it or seek outside counsel, then run. Hell, even if they say they will explain it for you…you don’t know them! They may not tell you the whole truth! It is your right to understand the contract before you sign it*.
- Unwilling to budge. It they tell you xyz is part of the work they expect you to do, but your contract says otherwise…make a note on your contract. If they won’t allow you to make changes (which, like the US, is legally binding when written in) even though they SAID that xyz is your actual case, then be wary. They will say that each contract is standard because they are a corporation- but you have every right to make changes in pen. If they won’t do it, then they are likely planning to hold you to the standards written in the contract- even if they say otherwise.
These are more than just my own findings. While taking my CELTA I sought the advise of other English teachers in Turkey, and they confirmed my own thoughts. While Turkey is a great country that I think everyone should experience once, it is just like anywhere else…and will take advantage of the naive. Do your research and be prepared when looking for a teaching job here! I believe there is a blacklist out there for native English teachers, where others list schools where they had a bad experience.
*in Turkish labor law, it is stated that you cannot be held to a contract you don’t understand/ was wrongly explained to you. However, if you leave your job because of unfair work conditions or a contract you didn’t understand, you’ll lose your work permit/residency permit and have to leave the country. So be forewarned!