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Living in Portugal: Expatriate Resources

Teaching English in Portugal

The Easiest Western European Country in Which to Find Work

Americans with TEFL certification find Portugal to be the easiest Western European country in which to find work as an English teacher. However, most schools won’t hire teachers without a certificate unless they have considerable previous teaching experience.

The International House School in Lisbon offers one-month TEFL courses about five or six times a year. The 1999 cost was 180,000 escudos ($1,100). Most teachers who have taken the course--whether in Portugal or elsewhere--agree that it is an intensive and stressful yet satisfying experience. The course combines practical hands-on experience with theory and teaching techniques. The certificate is highly regarded throughout Portugal. And taking the course within Portugal, rather than at home, means you will be able to take advantage of your language school’s local contacts and placement services.

I took the course in August and was offered a job teaching business English at Centro de Linguas in Lisbon during the first week of September. I had a contract with a fixed salary, but many schools also pay by the hour. You can also find private students by putting signs up in the embassies. Many expatriates living in Lisbon would like to improve their English.

Although tourist visas expire after 60 days, my school gave me a letter to take to the Misterio de Finances to extend my stay for the duration of my nine-month contract. (It takes about a year to be approved for a work permit; I would suggest going through the process only if you plan to stay longer than one year.)


Centro de Linguas,, Av da Republica, 14-2, 1050, Lisbon; 011-351-1-353-3733, fax 011-351-1-352-3096; Specializes in teaching business English in companies. Pays for transportation and free Portuguese lessons for all levels. Pays about $800 per month on contract for first-year teachers (part-time work is also possible). The pay is enough to live on; however, for extras bring savings from home.

American Language Institute, Av. Duque de Loule, 22-1, 1000 Lisbon; 011-351-1-314-6107, fax 011-351-1-352-4848. Pays approximately $20 per hour for teaching general English to all levels.

International House,, Rua Marqués Sá Da Bandeira 16, 1050 Lisbon; 011-351-315-1496, fax 011-351-353-0081;

Some other places to contact are the British Council, Cambridge Schools, and Oxford Schools--all of whom have branches throughout the country.

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