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Portugal is a hugely popular tourist destination and as English is the global language of tourism, there are certainly plenty of opportunities to teach there.
It gets far less press than Spain but Portugal has no less to offer travellers looking for unusual sights, adventure and a truly original cultural experience; there’s much more to do than just lounging on the beaches of the Algarve! As one of the oldest national frontiers in Europe there are lots of famous sights to see: Wine tasters can head to the Douro Valley, nature lovers to Peneda-Gerês Park, visit the Conimbriga Ruins for a historical experience, while art lovers can visit Torre de Belem monument and the Gulbenkian Museum.
A nation of explorers, its modern inhabitants have inherited a vast cultural heritage and the remnants of a colonial past with a mixture of Brazilian, Indian and Japanese influences embedded in the Portuguese culture. A country so full of unique art, architecture and rugged landscapes lends itself very well to exploration and adventure explorers can find plenty of activities to get their pulses racing. The River Douro offers a wide variety of water sports including kayaking and white-water rafting with opportunities for surfing available in the Algarve regions; while Medeira and the Azores - famous for their biodiversity and adventure activities - are packed with opportunities for with climbing, trekking and mountain biking to name just a few!
As a more off-the-beaten-track country with a relaxed attitude, Portugal is a popular destination for travellers looking for something a little different. Working and living in Portugal is a great option not only for the sunshine and lower cost of living, but for the friendly locals and beautiful surroundings. From large frenetic cities in Lisbon to the calmer pace of the Islands ,living amongst the community offers a diverse range of experiences and an insight into the Portuguese way of life that backpacking would barely scratch the surface of!
Portugal is also full of historical landmarks and buildings worth visiting, but the most prominent element of Portuguese culture is the country's passion for the arts. Fado, the national music, is mournfully but passionately played on the Portuguese guitar in Lisbon and Coimbra; and there is a wonderful array of cultural experiences available, from the traditional folk dances such as the Vira and the Fandango, tasting Cozido à Portuguesa stew to soaking in the atmosphere at Lisbon's festival of St Anthony. Working and being a part of such a vibrant community is a potentially life-changing opportunity!
Having joined the European Union more than 20 years ago, social and economic change has been a high priority. Education has been an important part of social improvement following years of financial instability and dictatorship and is now compulsory up to the age of 15, with higher and state university education also available. Continuing improvements are a government priority and according to Eurostat 2006 primary and secondary educational expenditure represents 5.6 % of GDP (Gross Domestic Product). Though there are many measures in place to improve educational standards, funding and the quality of education are still lacking in some areas.
As the country’s economy and popularity as a travel destination improve, the importance of English is increasing throughout Portugal, and though the TEFL market is still relatively small, placements aren’t hard to find. Being an EU citizen will save you the task of getting a working holiday visa; requirements will vary depending on where you’re from, but generally you will need a certified TEFL qualification to teach.
The larger cities have more opportunities with major language schools such as Centro de Linguas and Berlitz; private schooling is an option, but with fewer hours on offer freelancing may help you gain experience and familiarity with the Portuguese language. Rural areas have fewer resources for English teaching, though demand is just as high. Work is likely to be poorly paid or volunteer based, though it is a very worthwhile experience and offers a chance to immerse yourself deeply into rural Portuguese culture.
A lower cost of living can mean a lower wage in some places around Portugal. Living in the cities can cost around €300 a month, which doesn’t put too much of a dent in a €900 salary, but can be a significantly larger percentage if you’re living and teaching in a less affluent suburban area. Placements can offer accommodation as part of the contract, and staying in a house share, guesthouse or homestay is a cheaper and friendlier option! Homestays often include bed and board so you can sample the local delicacies as well as having the chance to practice your new language skills with the locals!