Sweden offers a combination of big city sophistication and unspoilt Nordic wilderness. Since the devaluation of the Swedish crown this now comes with a considerably reduced price tag. Haunting islands and endless tracts of forest abound, and it’s the perfect place for hiking and getting back to nature.
In this predominantly Lutheran country the official language is Swedish, though Finish and Sami are supported as minority languages. English is widely spoken, and so you can expect a helping hand on the ground. With a population of just over ten million you won’t feel crowded out.
Prospects for teachers are good, however, the traditional private language institutes do not feature as strongly as in other European countries. This is because of the well-established network of Folk universities, or adult education centers, dominates much of the market. Nevertheless, openings exist within this program for those with either a degree or a TESOL qualification, both obviously being highly desirable.
The capital, Stockholm, has a charming old-town feel, and is a popular destination for tourists. Similarly Malmo, Gothenburg, Orebro and Uppsala offer cosmopolitan sophistication, and an old-town feel. If this gets too much for you then it time to venture out into the wilderness, to the lakes and forests. Hiking, skiing, and the hunting, shooting, fishing fraternity are all very much in evidence.
Anyone wishing to teach in a state or private school can expect to have a degree, a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education and a TESOL qualification. As with most teaching opportunities in Belgium, two years’ language teaching experience is a requisite.
Folk universities, offer some of the best TESOL opportunities, and here you will find yourself teaching anybody from the unemployed to executives. Programs vary, but the classes tend to be focused around conversation, rather than a traditional teacher/class arrangement, with the teacher, being more a moderator and facilitator for the group.
With language institutes you can, in the main, expect to find yourself teaching business people. Enthusiasm for English amongst the general population is as high as it is in Germany or Holland, meaning both the market is quite broad, and the motivation of those being taught is considerable.
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 Stockholm. Also the British Institute is a handy port of call. In addition to that the on-line Yellow Pages is a good resource. Timing is everything, since the academic year starts twice a year - September and January, and your best chance of getting a start is in the run up to these two months.
Nine-month placements are available with Folkuniversities, and if this catches your eye you can apply to Peter Baston who runs recruitment for the program. ([email protected] www.folkuniversitetet.se ) It should be noted that those who get hired into this program are not permitted to take on private students.
New arrivals would do well to seek out any English language press, book stores or associations, to check out notice boards. Also universities, libraries, tobacconists, and newsagents are good places to put up notices offering conversation practice.
Visas and Regulations
Some state schools are not prepared to go through the difficult process of hiring native English-speaking teachers from outside of Europe but you should check this with your prospective employer first. 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 Swedish 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 which means that they may not be as willing to take on anybody who is ineligible. Again check with your prospective employer.
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, organize a bank account into which their wages will be paid, and get a tax number from their local tax office.