English Teaching Jobs in Turkey

Are there any ESL teaching jobs for non native speakers in Turkey?

ESL teaching jobs for non native speakers Most jobs are advertised for native speakers and many people feel like there is quite a bit of discrimination going on.  Are there any ESL teaching jobs for non native speakers?

Let's look at what you can do to improve your chances....

Are there any ESL teaching jobs for non native speakers?

I got my first teaching job by walking in to a school and asking if they needed anyone.

I was young, friendly, dressed smartly, completely inexperienced and totally unqualified!

But I am a native speaker………..so I got the job.

Luckily for the school I am a hard worker and I quickly became pretty good at the job.

But that's not always the case!

It’s a sad fact that it's very easy to get an English teaching job in most countries if you were born in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia or New Zealand.

It’s sad because so many better qualified (non-native) teachers struggle to find work. Why do so many employers assume that speaking English as your mother tongue qualifies you to teach it?

Many native speakers fall into the job because it's the easy option.  They don't necessarily want to be a teacher, but the money is OK and work is easy to come by.

All too often, they don't do a particularly good job and often leave after 1 year or, worse, in the middle of the year.  And sometimes without any notice at all.

On the other hand, non-native speakers have made a commitment to teaching. They've made a choice to dedicate themselves to the subject.

Teaching something you had to work hard to learn yourself is very different from teaching something you acquired naturally as a child.

Non native speakers can often empathize with the students much more easily because they've been a student of English themselves. They know how confusing prepositions are when you first try to learn them. They know how hard it is to recall irregular verb forms.

As a result they have developed strategies for explaining and remembering these things which they can pass on to their students to make their lives easier.

Many new native teachers have no idea what a preposition is let alone how to explain them to students clearly!

The challenges non-native speakers face

If you are a non-native speaker of English hoping to get a job as an English teacher, then it is going to be harder for you to find work. There is a strong preference towards ‘native English speakers’ and if you are not one then it will mean you need to do a few things differently in order to succeed.

This is article will set out the exact steps you need to take in order to overcome the challenges you face.

Despite the challenges, there are many success stories from people who have gone down this path successfully before you.

Let's look at what you can do to improve your chances of getting a job teaching English in Turkey....


TEFL jobs for non native speakers in Turkey


Facing the challenges of getting ESL teaching jobs for non native speakers in Turkey

There is little doubt that most English language teaching jobs in Turkey are advertised for native speakers. So it's a real challenge to get hired if that's not you. However, there are plenty of jobs to go around. Non-native speakers just need to do certain things to make themselves stand out in the crowd and get noticed!

  • Use your native tongue to your advantage

Many schools in Turkey now offer other foreign languages as well as English. It's much harder for them to find a native French, Spanish or Italian teacher than it is for them to find an native English speaker. Have you considered teaching English and your native language?  The two for one deal will be very enticing for many employers from language centers with business clients to private schools.

  • Spend some time in an English speaking country

If you can, it is great to spend some time (at least 6 months or more) in a country where you are going to be surrounded by English. If you have already done this make sure it is featured clearly on your CV.  Sometimes it can be just enough to tip the decision in your favour. Often a recruitment manager will need to justify your appointment to the General Manager or school owner and any time spent in the US or UK for example can really help them do that.

  • Polish your accent

Probably the biggest fear employers have is that a non-native speaker will have a heavy accent, so do all you can to improve yours. You might consider some English polishing with a native English teacher – a few lessons can make an enormous difference. Perhaps consider some Skype conversation classes with a native speaker on www.skypeders.com where all the native teachers live and work in Turkey.  You never know, making friends with some teachers in Turkey might even help you in your job search directly.

  • Get internationally recognised teaching qualifications

These days you have almost 0% chance of getting a teaching job without the proper qualifications. This is one area where you do have to invest some money in your future. No matter what degree you have, or how many years of experience you have, you must have an internationally recognised teaching certificate in order to qualify for a work permit in Turkey. If you are serious about working as a teacher in Turkey it is not even worth considering trying to do so without a qualification. A CELTA is the absolute best option because it is preferred by employers and also offers the most comprehensive training. However, if money is an issue an online TEFL like this one is absolutely perfect for your needs.

  • Create an outstanding CV

While it’s true that pretty much everyone could do with taking a serious look at their CV, as a non-native speaker you need to do some extra work to make your CV stand out.

Employers need to be given extra reasons, extra motivation, to take (what some might consider) a gamble on you.

If your CV, cover letter and accompanying emails are not written in grammatically perfect, high level formal English and completely error free, you have got next to no chance.

Don’t forget, you are applying for a job as an English teacher.

The most important skill required for that job is the ability to speak English extremely well!

As a non-native speaker you are being judged on your English from the very first moment.

Any mistakes on your CV will stand out like a sore thumb because this is a document you have spent time creating.  If there are mistakes, the recruitment manager will assume that you have checked the CV and you weren’t able to identify these mistakes, leading to only one conclusion about your English level.  Use a spell checker, use a grammar checker, ask a friend to proof read it, then check it again.

I can tell you from a lot of experience, most CVs are terrible.

Rightly or wrongly, I make a judgement on someone almost instantly from the layout of their CV.  Let’s face it, at this point that’s all I have to go on!

The good news is that its really not that hard to make your CV better than most of the rest.


Understand how and when to apply, and who to apply to

Language schools tend to hire all year round as the need arises, but private schools and universities usually do the bulk of their recruitment at the end of one academic year in preparation for the next, so starting from March until about August when most positions are filled. You will see jobs advertised all year round but its sporadic and it can be hard to come into a class in the middle of a term and take over when someone else left off.

Certain places with a reputation to uphold will prefer not to advertise publicly in the middle of the academic year because it looks bad to parents. This is where networking becomes important, as these jobs will be filled by word of mouth.

One way to fast track the networking process is by leveraging the power of social media.  There are a couple of groups that are always active on Facebook:
  • Istanbul English Teaching Greenlist
  • Istanbul English School Blacklist
Job offers are always posted there and people give lots of feedback based on their personal experiences with different schools.  There are also offers from private tutoring jobs and language schools there too.
Be careful though.  You shouldn't necessarily believe everything you read in Facebook comments, quite often there is more to the full story than meets the eye.  I've witnessed first hand how easily the truth gets twisted when someone has an axe to grind.
Certain people have problems wherever they go and it might not be a general problem with the company at all.  Try and speak to more than one person about any school you are interested in and ultimately go and see for yourself.

There are a couple of straight up recruitment sites which are not teacher focused, but I have heard some teachers are using them:

I've never used them personally, and our school has never used them as a source of teachers so I don't know how effective they are.  It certainly can't hurt to try though.

ESL teaching jobs for non native speakers

Over the years we have successfully secured many ESL teaching jobs for non native speakers in good schools all over Turkey.  We have worked with teachers from Chile, Peru, Brazil, Russia, Germany, Italy and Belgium to name just a few.  The most important factor in the minds of the employers seems to be a non native speakers accent, so this is something worth focusing on if you are serious about working as an English teacher in Turkey.

If you have anything to add to this article please comment in the box below. 

Are you a non native speaker teaching English in Turkey already?

How easy was it to get a job and how did you manage it?

What questions do you wish you had asked before you took the job you have now?

To learn more about how to get hired as a teacher in Turkey with more specific advice on how to set yourself apart from the crowd, download our free guide to getting an English teaching below.

I'd be delighted to hear from you.


Images:  Copyright by Moyan Brenn




  • By hossein saremi 09 Feb 2015

    I am a english teacher in Istanbul.
    I am good researcher in teaching methodology can I work in your system?

  • By Hussein 11 Apr 2015

    Good Morning,
    I’m teacher of Englsih Language who has got 20 years experience of teaching as second language to different Nationalities and races as well as instituations, Public schools and private sector School amonger the International Schools, Coordinator, Principla, Administration advise and other school tasks which i’m capable to handle and dealing with students also with parents as far as it is concerned i have also been head of English Department and incharge of International couses at British council
    Please the is my personal contacts ahmedhussein206@yahoo.co.uk direct Phone #+967-739368962-734363942

    Thanks and Regards,

    Hussein Saggaf

  • By ashi 17 Aug 2015

    good evening,
    hi this is ashi,i’m a English teacher and been working in china for 1 year. now i wanna try another country as a English teacher for dealing new challenges and to visit new places in the world..

  • By marina ivanovic 20 Sep 2015

    Interesting article about non/ native teachers. I am a Spanish Language teacher, fluent in Russian and English. Large experience, interested in teaching Spanish in TR or elswhere!

  • By Dilek KARAKAS 14 Dec 2015

    Hello to everyone,
    I am Dilek KARAKAŞ, working in a language institute called AmericanLIFE Kadıköy Branch in Istanbul as the Director of Studies. Nowadays I am looking for a native-speaker of English. If you are interested in, please do not hesitate to contact. EMAIL: dilek.karakas@americanlife.com.tr
    Thank you al!

  • By Ann njeri 23 Dec 2015

    My name is Ann from Kenya. I am a non teacher of English. I am grateful for the above article and guidance. I promise myself to sit forma TELF come January. I want to teach English in Turkey and other places some day. Once again i appreciate and value your advice and encouragement. Thank you and God bless you.

  • By Senar Yıldız 08 Jan 2016

    Hi, We (DİLES) need native English speaker. Bursa – Turkey Contact: Mr. Senar Yıldız 90 224 2247545 http://www.bursadayds.com/

  • By Senar Yıldız 08 Jan 2016

    Hi, We need native English speaker. Bursa – Turkey Contact: DİLES Mr. Senar Yıldız 90 224 2247545 http://www.bursadayds.com/

  • By Dian Farhana 17 Jan 2016

    Hi, I’m a Singaporean. English language is not my mother tongue language but English language is the lingua franca in my country. I have a Bachelor’s degree in education with specialisation in Malay language and Literature. I also possess a Diploma in Law and Management from a local polytechnic in my home country. What are my chances of applying and getting a job as a teacher in Turkey? Also, I am planning to take a Masters degree in education and curriculum planning from Singapore university before I come to Turkey.

    • By Chris Poole 10 Feb 2017

      Hi Dian,
      Sorry for the late reply.
      With the qualifications you have mentioned you have a decent chance of getting a job.
      Please send your CV and I will try to give more detailed advise.

      Good luck!

  • By frida 03 Mar 2016

    thank you soooooooooooooo much.this article was so impressive and it is written honestly .

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  • By Annida Khoirunnisa 20 Feb 2017

    Thanks for this useful article. I need help in reviewing my CV. Where should i send it to you?

  • By Sameera 16 Apr 2017

    I am a French teacher in Canada. Are there jobs in French?

  • By Sweta Sinha 17 Apr 2017

    Hi, I’m an Indian and although English is not our native language, however English is the lingua franca in our country. I have been educated in an only English speaking Missionaries of Charity run institution. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree with major in English Literature in 2003 and through out my educational life, the medium of communication was English only. I have recently finished my CELTA with a pass B from British Council and also hold a TESOL/TEFL Certificate. While i have no prior teaching experience, as I was into Sales, Marketing and PR previously. However, given the chance, like you ,Iam also a fast learner and love to communicate to people and take challenges in life. Hoping someone who believes in non natives gets to read this and gives us an opportunity. Thank you.

  • By Soah 17 Apr 2017

    Please please answer me! I am from Morocco, I have bachelor degree in English studies (linguistics), I am not a native speaker, but I have a very good accent, and I am planning to apply for CELTA in Morocco, I am hoping to work in Turkey, do you think I’d get accepted? I’ve always wanted to be a teacher! And i want to teach in turkey. Thank you a lot for your article.

  • By Amina Guenaoui 12 Sep 2017

    I am Amina from Algeria, I am 33 and I have a Bachelor degree in English Language Teaching from the University of Oran, Algeria. I have been teaching English in middle School for 10 years. I have an excellent English accent. I’d like to teach in Turkey because it’s really an amazing country . I would also like to restart my life there.
    I’m looking forward to receive a positive reply.
    Thank you,

  • By Amr1 23 Jul 2018

    I’m teacher of Englsih Language who has got 20 years experience of teaching as second language to different Nationalities and races as well as institutions, Public schools and private sector School in Egypt.I’m very keen on working in Turkey.. Thanks

  • By Farah 23 Aug 2018


    I have a Ph.D in English literature and a CELTA certificate from the U.K. I am living in the U.K. for the moment but I would like to teach English in Turkey. I’m a non- native speaker but I have a teaching experience in more than one subject including English and Social Sciences. How can i find teaching positions I Turkey?

  • By irfan 17 Nov 2018

    hello Farah
    I am writing you on behalf of CETC in Turkey (Canadian Education & Training Cooperation). I am an education coordinator in the Company. We are hiring English Teachers in Istanbul in a very good conditions (good salary, accommodation and Istanbul travel card for public transportation ). As a company we are providing English teachers to public and private schools. So, if you want to work with us and discover a new culture and places, please don’t hesitate to contact with me for more detail.

  • By irfan 17 Nov 2018

    Hello everyone
    I am writing you on behalf of CETC in Turkey (Canadian Education & Training Cooperation). I am an education coordinator in the Company. We are hiring English Teachers in Istanbul in a very good conditions (good salary, accommodation and Istanbul travel card for public transportation ). As a company we are providing English teachers to public and private schools. So, if you want to work with us and discover a new culture and places, please don’t hesitate to contact with me
    for more detail , my wats app number: +905436246417

  • By Priyam 06 Jan 2019

    Greetings! Wishing everyone a happy and a prosperous new year! I’m based out of India at the moment; hold a degree in Media & Communication with a double major from a top-tier University in Australia. Lived in Melbourne for six years before moving back to India. All my education has been in English from kindergarten to post-graduation; was taught by faculty from BBC (All English speakers). I’m seeking an opportunity to teach English in Turkey. Thanks n regards, Priyam.

  • By Fatima 20 Jun 2019

    This article is very helpful and answered most of my questions. Thank you for this. Is it possible for my CV to be reviewed somehow? I would highly appreciate it!

  • By Samar 03 Apr 2021

    Hello, thank you for the information in this article.
    I am not an English native speaker but I have BA in English language and literature – Information technology and i have 2.5 years experience in the teaching field. I am planning to enroll in an in-person TEFL course in Turkey this summer and then try to find a job there. If anyone has tips or advices for me that would be great.
    Thank you.

  • By Thierno Aly 21 May 2021

    My name is Thierno Aly.I am from Mauritania.I have a Baccalaureat degree in Frenh language and literature but I also have have a Bachelor’s degree in English language and literature.I have been tr3ined to be a bilingual teacher( english/french).so I would like you to hire me in your school for the next school year.Receivr my greetings!

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