Nine thousand years of history, and a present-day physical division between Greek and Turkish society guarantees an interesting place to visit. Along with this, fabulous scenery, and wonderful stretches of unspoilt coastline make this an ideal place to relax and soak up the culture. Popular with the Pheonicians, the ancient Greeks, the Romans, and the crusaders, there is an architectural treat to be found almost everywhere you look.
Greek and Turkish are the official languages; however, English is quite widely spoken amongst the Greek Cypriot community. The population is 750,000, so it’s none too crowded. The local religion is 75% Greek Orthodox, with 14% Muslim.
Prospects for teachers are very good. There is considerable enthusiasm for English on the Greek Cypriot side because of long-standing ties with the UK. On both sides tourism is a big revenue earner, and there is a considerable need to cater for this. In addition to this there is a common practice of sending high-school students for extracurricular, supplementary English classes to make up for deficiencies in the state’s education system.
Lefkosia (Nicosia) is one of the last cities in the world with a UN demarcation line running through it. Despite this, it has good night life and a lively art scene. Outside this there are a thousand and one beach resorts and villages for the intrepid traveller to explore.
Anyone wishing to teach in a state or private school must expect to have a degree in English, and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education and TESOL qualification are seen as highly desirable. With this said two-years teaching experience is not a requisite.
With language institutes, at which you would be able to work with a certificate only, you can expect to find yourself teaching a diverse group ranging form high school students to those working in the tourist industry. Enthusiasm for English amongst the general population is quite high – particularly on the Greek Cypriot side, and the motivation of those being taught is good.
In the main you will find yourself teaching students who have many years experience of English. But expect all ranges. You may even find yourself teaching people of a different level in the same class, which will keep any teacher on their toes.
Getting a Job
When trying to get work in advance it is useful to contact the British Council in Lefkosia. They keep a list of language schools, both private and state. In addition to that the on-line Yellow Pages is worth consulting with the help of a local Greek-speaker.
The new arrival would do well to consult the English language paper, The Cyprus Mail, and it can be an idea to place an ad in this for private tuition. As ever, placing cards in universities, bookshops and tobacconists is a good way of drumming up some private tuition.
Visas and Regulations
Most state schools are not prepared to go through the difficult process of hiring native English-speaking teachers from outside of Europe. However, in some cases it is easier to place teachers from the US than from other countries, such as Australia and New Zeeland. Non-EU citizens should check with the Cypriot consulate in their native country to look for language exchange programs, etc. Americans may wish to contact Interexchange (www.interexchange.org), of New York, who run an exchange programme.
One of the complications is the reciprocal social security system that exists within the EU. High schools are required to register their staff for a social security card and also pay part of their contributions, they are generally not willing to take on anybody who is ineligible.
Most individuals working for institutes are self-employed, or ‘freelance’. Therefore, they are responsible for paying their own tax and social security. New arrivals are required to register with the police, organise a bank account into which their wages will be paid, and get a tax number from their local tax office.