Teaching English in Portugal

Portugal is a modern, developed democracy with a distinguished history. It is the westernmost country of Europe bordered on the one side by Spain and the other by the Atlantic Ocean with a pleasant Mediterranean climate. It has a population of about 10 million with a high quality of life ranking.

Small, private language schools are springing up everywhere from the towns and cities in the industrial north to the more tourist oriented Algarve in the south. In recent months the government have announced further investment in English in state schools so that young children are taught English from an early age; this will undoubtedly lead to further expansion in the private sector and an increase in the number of English teachers in the country.


A full-time teaching job can be between 18 – 24 contact hours. However, many teachers start out by working for fewer hours at two or more smaller private schools. It is common to work on Saturdays also.

The result is that you could find yourself teaching a class of teenagers between 10 and 12 in the morning, having a couple of hours break then another class of teenagers a couple of bus stops down the road then another break and finally teaching a group of businessmen in their factory that evening.

Although there are some Business English‏‎ classes, most teaching is with teenagers and some younger children. Students tend to be enthusiastic about learning English. Many schools have contracts with local primary schools so you could well be teaching classes there as well.

Salaries are around €800 ($1011 USD, £643) to €1000 ($1264 USD, £804) per month before tax which is enough to live on reasonably well and enjoy Portugal’s amenities. Schools will often help find accommodation for new teachers and this work out roughly half the salary.

Finding Work

Many jobs are found on the spot rather than through advertisements from schools. The academic year‏‎ run from around the end of October to June so finding work is easiest around the end of September. Some jobs also come available in January. Much of the country shuts down during August so this is not a good time to be there looking for work.

You can find a list of schools through the local Yellow Pages or sometimes through adverts posted in the English bookshops, especially in the larger cities such as Lisbon and Porto.


Most schools require a degree and a TEFL Certificate. Although speaking a little Portuguese will help, it is by no means required to find work.

Portugal is part of the European Union‏‎ and therefore it is difficult to find work there unless you have a passport from a European country such as the United Kingdom or Ireland‏‎.

Teachers will be required to register with the local tax office (the school will often help with this) and if you are intending to stay any length of time, a residence permit can also be useful and this can be applied for after you have been in the country for more than 3 months.


The country is known for its relaxed lifestyle. It can be hot in Summer and cool in Winter. In general people are very friendly towards foreigners and the food is excellent and cheap. Cities such as Lisbon are very lively and great fun to live in.

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Posted in Country Guides.

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