Latvia is a country in the Baltic area in Northern Europe. It shares borders with Estonia, Lithuania, Russia and Belarus. It is one of the smallest countries in Europe with a population of just over 2 million people. It is a relatively new country and was founded in 1918; however it was incorporated by the Soviet Union, occupied by Nazi Germany and only gained full independence in 1991.
Since then, Latvia has gone on to become an active member of the EU and now uses the Euro as its currency. It is also a member of other international organisations such as NATO, UN, WTO, IMF and more.
The country has a temperate climate with short snowy days in the winter and long warm days in the summer. This Baltic state is composed mostly of lowlands, hills, forests and is home to more than 12,5000 rivers.
Read more about Latvia from Wikipedia.
Why Teach English in Latvia
There is a growing demand for English teachers in Latvia and there are quite a few schools that actively employ native English speaking teachers. As the country continues to develop and become even closer with other European countries, the English language is becoming ever more in demand. Coupled with a growing tourism industry, you’ll find that many Latvians are eager to learn the English language.
Although the salaries are not the largest, the living costs are relatively cheap when compared with other European countries, especially those in the west of the continent. As a result, your salary will go quite a long way and you’ll be able to afford a fairly comfortable standard of living, but unless you find a really well paid job, take on some extra classes, or even find a few private students, it will be unlikely that you’ll save much.
Latvia is a stunning country and there is a lot keep you entertained when you’re not teaching. Riga is a very old city with all the modern conveniences. Outside of the city are vast forests, rivers and more. So if you’re into the outdoor lifestyle then you’ll find lots to see and do!
Where to Teach English in Latvia
You will find that most schools are in the capital city Riga. You might find some opportunities outside of Riga, but it is highly unlikely and the majority of teachers will live and work in and around Riga.
Types of Teaching Jobs in Latvia
There are a number of language schools in the country including some well-known schools such as International House and Berlitz. There are also many lesser known schools and they all vary when it comes to salary, working conditions, teaching hours and more. Therefore, it’s always wise to try and do some research from other teachers prior to applying for work. Some language schools teach other languages such as German, Spanish, Russian, Italian and French. So if you’re bilingual, there might be some opportunities for teaching other languages.
There are also a number of international schools in the country that provide either a dual-language education or solely teach in English. These schools also employ native English speaking teachers but they will often have much higher standards than your usual degree and teaching certificate. They will usually require a postgraduate certificate in education alongside recent and relevant experience. However, they will pay a lot more than language schools.
To supplement your income, it’s entirely possible advertise both online and locally for private students. After you have been in the country for a little while and have done some networking, you might be able to find a few private classes to teach.
However, private lessons should usually be seen as a supplement to your day job. To take lessons you will need a safe place to teach, or meet in a public place. You must also bear in mind that students will often rearrange lessons or cancel at short notice and this therefore means that it isn’t the most reliable source of income. On the plus side, you can be your own boss, teach who you want to teach and have some very flexible working hours.
Teaching Requirements and Qualifications
There is no requirement to have a degree to teach English in Latvia, but most language schools and all international schools will require at least a bachelor’s level of education. Language schools will usually require that teachers have an internationally recognised teaching certificate such as a CELTA, TEFL or TESOL. You might find that some schools will have lower requirements, but you will usually be offered a much lower salary and opportunities will often be few and far between.
International schools will usually require that teachers are qualified teachers in their home country with a postgraduate certificate in education. Moreover, they will usually require that you have some recent and relevant experience in a classroom.
Language schools will also usually require some experience, but you might find that some schools will employ inexperienced teachers, but again, you should expect a lesser salary than those with experience.
Expected Salary and Living Costs
[sociallocker id=”1734″]If you are working in a private language school in Riga, a good salary would be between $10 and $20 per hour. You will find that some schools pay less and other pay a little more. Usually, the more qualifications and experience you have, the higher the salary you will be offered. The local currency is the Euro and that is how you will be paid, so you will have to take into account current exchange rates. You should also remember that you will need to pay income tax out of your monthly salary.
Living costs are rising quite quickly, especially in Riga. But if you’re working 25 hours per week and take a few private classes, you will still be able to afford a fairly comfortable lifestyle.
One of the biggest expenses you’ll face is your heating bill, especially throughout the longer winters!
For a more detailed look into the cost of living in Latvia, take a look at Numbeo.[/sociallocker]
As stated above, Latvia is a member of the EU and as such, EU citizens don’t require a working visa. For this reason, EU nationals are often preferred candidates over non-EU citizens. If you come from a country outside of the EU, then you will need to obtain both a residence and work permit to work legally. There are a number of rules that you must follow and it can differ depending on your country of origin.
For further information, take a look at the official website of the Latvian government here.
How to Find a Job Teaching in Latvia
You’ll find that a number of schools actively recruit online and you will come across advertisements for vacant teaching positions. However, it is likely that you will be asked to complete an interview in person and therefore, it should be easier to secure a job when you are already in the country. Therefore, this could pose a problem for non-EU citizens who have not yet obtained a residence permit.
Another way to find a job is to contact the schools directly and enquire about vacant teaching positions. You can use search engines to find their websites, telephone numbers and addresses, and make enquiries. Finally, if you are already in the country, you can also try visiting schools in person.
Teach English in Latvia
People tend to have very mixed views about Latvia and Latvian people. Although, you will have to endure some long and very cold winters, there is a lot to see and do when you’re not working.
You won’t get rich working in Latvia, but you can make enough money to be able to afford a relatively decent standard of living.
Although I have never worked in this country, every effort has been made to ensure that this information is correct. This blog post has been written after extensive research online, interviews with teachers who have worked or are working in the country, and local schools have been contacted. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. If you have worked or are working in Lithuania, we would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment and share your experiences with us.