Friday, January 22, 2021

What Is It Like Teaching English in Ukraine During COVID19?




Teaching English in Ukraine is an interesting way to make a living. When people think of where they want to teach, many opt for the high paying areas in Asia such as South Korea or China. Others go to the UAE or Saudi Arabia. But fewer consider Ukraine. 

Is It Possible To Get a Teaching Job In Ukraine During COVID19?


In this article, I will give you an idea of what you can expect if you are looking to move to Ukraine. Just like anywhere else, Ukraine has a unique COVID19 situation, with lockdowns and job issues. For those who are looking to apply from abroad, coming to Ukraine is very possible, but there are challenges here, just like anywhere else. I will also show that, for those who do move to Ukraine to teach ESL, you can find work, but your choices will be more limited.

During the COVID19 pandemic, the reality of teaching English abroad has been changed. I recently posted an article about which countries are allowing teachers to enter. If you are looking to teach during COVID19, getting into a new country is going to pose a challenge for you, especially if you are not a native speaker from a handful of countries. Even then, it’s difficult to change where you live. This is all the more true for those who have families.


I came to Ukraine during the beginning of the COVID19 pandemic in March of 2020. I had a teaching job lined up and landed in Kyiv three days before the first lockdown. At that time, all the schools closed down for a period, and then online teaching became the norm as schools set up internet-based programs. 

Why Did I Choose To Teach in Ukraine?

I had taught in Ukraine previously in 2014 and 2015, and I enjoyed living here. The cost of living is low (it was far lower at that time), and the culture is different than anything in the west. At the time, I felt like Ukraine had a slower pace of living than the places in the US that I lived in (Ukraine has become more fast-paced in the last few years). It seemed almost pastoral, but still offered the excitement of something different than I was used to. 

Some things I really like about Ukraine are:
•The cost of living is low. It used to be lower, but it’s still much cheaper than the United States. In Dnipro, where I live, you can find a nice apartment for around $300 to $350 per month.
•The culture is one-of-a-kind.
•The food is amazing. Even if you are a vegetarian, Ukrainian food is absolutely fantastic.
•The people are fun to teach. Students seem happy to be in the classroom and many want to be challenged and learn.
•The places to visit are all amazing. Whether you want to go to the sea, forest, or mountains, Ukraine has it all. There are ancient castles in the Carpathians and beautiful beaches around Berdyansk. Riding the train is interesting, comfortable, fun, and inexpensive. There is nothing like riding a full Marshrutka in the heat of summer, either!
•Proximity to the EU, Russia, and the Middle East. I can fly to Istanbul for less than $100 round trip. Likewise, Romania and Poland are next door. Want to go further into Europe? You can take the train or take an inexpensive flight. Want to go to Egypt? It’s super easy, and it’s the vacation spot of choice for many Ukrainians.

 How Do You Find Work As An English Teacher In Ukraine?


It is not too hard to find teaching work in Ukraine. There are plenty of language schools in the country. There are plenty of private schools in the big cities, such as Kyiv, Lviv, Odesa, and Kharkiv. In addition, there are schools in medium-sized cities such as Dnipro (where I work), Zaporizhia, and Vinnytsia. If you are looking at smaller cities, you may have to look harder or consider tutoring online.

Getting a Visa in Ukraine is possible even during the COVID19 pandemic. In fact, it’s not too hard, but you’ll need a sponsor. Some English schools will pay all the fees. I had to pay to go to Istanbul and have it done. It cost me about $300 for the visa itself. While it can be pretty bureaucratic, it’s not too difficult if you have good help and know what to expect.

If you visit Ukraine from certain countries, you will be given a 90-day visa on arrival. You can use this period to look for work. Otherwise, you may be able to find work online. Few schools will pay for a flight for you to get into Ukraine. Many may offer small services such as airport pick up and help getting used to life in Ukraine. Some schools pay for housing. Others leave that up to you.

I have found that the average wage in Ukraine is around $1000 to $1,400. You don’t need a college degree to teach in Ukraine, unlike many other countries.

One struggle during the Pandemic that I have had is getting enough hours in my job. While most schools promise employees a set amount of hours, this is hard to deliver during COVID. The demand is not as high as the supply of schools, and I have found that my classes have been reduced (to about 50%) and fewer students are in my classes than before. Schools may have also cut back on bonus structures. This is the reality of working with an English center in Ukraine.

If you find a job at an international school, this may not be as big of a problem. There are some international schools in cities like Kyiv that are recruiting for teachers. Some schools need English teachers, but state that they are not hiring native speakers at this time. It’s best if you look at the current job offers online before coming, so you know exactly what to expect.

If you are the adventurous type that wants to come to Ukraine and look for work once you arrive, you may have better luck than if you are only applying online. With that said, many of the larger schools state that they are currently not recruiting until demand is higher.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is very possible to come to Ukraine and find work during COVID19. However, it is not without its challenges. As someone who lives here, I would recommend waiting until the situation improves before looking for work. For those who are looking to teach ESL, China, Taiwan, and South Korea are probably the best bets. The middle east is good for those with a teaching credential. Hopefully, in the coming months, the situation will improve in Ukraine and demand will once again exceed supply.

Update: I no longer work in Ukraine, but enjoyed our time there, and will likely return one day. It is definitely an amazing place to live and I do miss it. I recommend supplementing your income with a business of your own. We have our own Etsy store and did really well with it.

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