The smallest of the Scandinavian countries, Denmark sees itself as setting a world benchmark for liberal society and freedom of speech. Vibrant cities and towns are offset by breathtaking, unspoilt countryside. One of the most striking facets of Denmark is that it is a clean place where everything, such as public transport, seems to work well.
With a population under 5.5 million you are unlikely to feel crowded out. The official language is Danish, but a good standard of English is widely spoken.
Thanks to the widely held desire for self-improvement English studies are pursued as a hobby by a large portion of the population. Hence there are considerable opportunities for even inexperienced teachers to get a start. However, as with many countries the mainstay, and what really pays, is business English, and suitably qualified and experienced teachers can earn good wages in this area of the market.
Copenhagen, the capital, is a thriving metropolis with slick architecture and a very modern feel. Outside of this you have innumerable towns and villages where you can expect the same uniform cleanliness and efficiency. Enthusiasm for the great out doors is strong, and in the wintertime snowmobiling and cross country skiing are popular.
Anyone wishing to teach in a state or private school must expect to have a degree, a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education, a TESOL qualification and two years’ language teaching experience. Language academies tend to be a little more relaxed with their requirements.
There are a large number of adult education colleges where people study English as a fun, leisure activity. With these institutions more emphasis is placed on confidence, and the ability to be entertaining, than on qualifications.
Finally there are language institutes geared to the business English market. As is often the case, pertinent business experience and confidence outweighs qualifications and teaching experience.
In all areas of language tuition you will find yourself teaching highly- motivated students who are seeking to develop already quite competent English skills, and in the main you will find yourself teaching students who have many years experience of English. Hence, expect intermediate, upper intermediate and advanced students. Whilst it is exhilarating and rewarding to teach such students, it is important to prepare your classes well and make sure you are clear about the areas you are teaching - particularly with grammar. You don’t want to find yourself being corrected about tenses by your students!
Getting a Job
When trying to get work in advance it is useful to contact the British Council in Council. They keep a list of language schools, both private and state. In addition to that the on-line Yellow Pages is useful for tracking down language school entries. Addresses for adult education colleges, or Folkeuniversitet, can be found at www.folkeuni.dk.
On the spot, it is useful to track down any English language newspapers or expatriate societies. Also the usual business of placing ads in bookstores, libraries, tobacconists, etc. can lead to conversation classes.
Visas and Regulations
Most private and 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 Zealand. Non-EU citizens should check with the Danish 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.