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Tips for Finding Work as an ESL Teacher in the Middle East - Tunisia, Jordan, Iraq + More
Written by: Adam Lucente
Last Updated: February 5, 2020
As I understand it, it’s a fairly straight-forward process to find teaching work in Asia. I wouldn’t know. I’ve only taught in the Middle East and North Africa, specifically Tunisia, Jordan and Iraq. I also participated in informal language exchanges in Lebanon that had an English-teaching component. Finding teaching work in the Gulf, where there are tons of jobs, is fairly simple, although the hiring standards can be quite high. It’s easier for new teachers to get jobs in places like Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco, but there’s not a ton of information about teaching in the region online. In this article, I’ll explain how I found my teaching jobs in Tunisia, Jordan and Iraq, and offer some advice for other countries, too.
Tunisia is the first place I worked. I took a job with an American NGO called AMIDEAST in Tunis. With offices all over the Arab world, AMIDEAST often posts jobs on the individual country pages on its website. You can contact the English Language departments for each country on the site. I applied to a posting they had on their Tunisia page.
There are lots of ESL jobs in Tunisia. You should look into AMIDEAST, Wall Street English, Lingua Land, and the many American and British schools for children. There are also jobs in the cities of Sousse, and I imagine other cities. However, Tunis is by far the biggest teaching hub in the country. It’s easier to find jobs once you arrive in Tunis, but I recommend applying online first.
In Jordan, I again worked for AMIDEAST. The vast majority of my teaching career has been with AMIDEAST, but in Jordan I was offered other jobs and worked for a short time at a private school as well. Once again, I applied by contacting their English language department and taught at their center in the capital Amman. The other job I was offered happened because a friend recommended I reach out to them. Like in Tunis, in Amman it’s easier to find jobs once you land, but I do suggest applying online first. In addition to AMIDEAST, check out Berlitz, Consortium For Global Education, and Modern Language Center.
There are also many jobs at American and British private schools. However, these are not ESL jobs. You’d be teaching English, social studies, or something of the like at an English-language elementary, middle or high school. The kids will mostly, but not entirely, already be fairly fluent in English. Outside of Amman, I believe there are teaching opportunities in the city of Irbid, which has a large university student population.
I currently teach for AMIDEAST again, this time in Erbil, Iraq, which is the capital of the Kurdistan Region. It’s worth pointing out that I teach in the Kurdistan Region because this area has a separate visa regimen and there are lots of teaching jobs in the Region specifically. In addition to AMIDEAST in Erbil, there is Cambridge College of English, Hiwa Center, Macos ESL, and University of Kurdistan-Hewler. Other universities may also have ESL positions. In Duhok, there is Da Vinci Language Institute, and in Sulaymaniyah, there is IDEL Institute for Education & Training Services. T
he three Kurdistan Region cities of Erbil, Duhok, and Sulaymaniyah also have several English elementary, middle and high schools. However, like with Jordan, these are school teacher jobs, not ESL. ESL jobs in the Kurdistan Region can be more selective, but I wouldn’t discourage new teachers from applying. I would not recommend flying there without a job, however.
In the parts of Iraq controlled by the federal government, there are also jobs. Baghdad has language centers, and as Mosul rebuilds, I’m seeing some organizations and universities post about jobs there. Traveling to these parts of Iraq requires a visa for U.S. and E.U. citizens, so you’ll need to receive a job offer before you go. I also think Baghdad and Mosul are better suited for experienced teachers.
I’ve been told by teachers that are in Egypt, you can fly to Cairo, knock on doors, and get hired fairly easily. There are also language centers in Morocco. In Lebanon, it’s very hard to get a work visa. There are, however, volunteer teaching opportunities in refugee camps in Beirut and Tripoli. The Palestinian territory the West Bank also offers volunteer teaching opportunities, in addition to paid jobs. As previously mentioned, there are many jobs for experienced teachers in the Gulf that you can find online, particularly in Saudi Arabia. Finally, Turkey has a plethora of ESL jobs you can find online. With all of the Middle East, Dave’s ESL Cafe is great for job postings. I often see jobs in the Gulf, Iraq, Turkey, and Morocco there, and other countries, too.
Adam Lucente is a journalist and English-language teacher from New York City. He learned Arabic in college and has since taught in Tunisia, Jordan, and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. As an ITA Alumni Ambassador, Adam has shared many of his experiences and insights with others interested in teaching in the Middle East through numerous articles.
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