Teaching English in Portugal

By | December 16, 2016

Portugal is located in South-Western Europe and shares a border with Spain. This developed country has a very high standard of living and is now one of the world’s most peaceful countries. Portugal is a member of the EU, the UN and many other international organisations.

In the 15th century, Portugal sought to expand its territory and started to colonise countries around the world and grew to be the longest living modern-European empires lasting for nearly 600 years and only ended in 1999 after it handed Macau back to China in 1999.

As a result of this there are more than 250 million native Portuguese speaking people around the world, with the majority of them from Brazil which was Portugal’s biggest and most important colony.

Read more about Portugal from Wikipedia.

Why Teach English in Portugal

The Algarve

The Algarve – Image courtesy of WikiMedia.

Although a lot of Portuguese people can’t speak any English, there is a growing need for them to learn English. Tourism is a big industry in the country and many Portuguese are beginning to see how learning English can be helpful for them. As a result, there is a growing demand for native English speaking TEFL teachers.

Another reason why you might choose to teach English is that it has a much lower cost of living than most of Western Europe but still offers a high standard of living.

Finally, Portugal is a very beautiful country and there is plenty to do when you’re not teaching. There are old, gothic style cities, huge national parks, stunning beaches, fascinating culture and a great nightlife. Really, the question should be, why not teach English in Portugal?

Where to Teach English in Portugal

Similarly to most countries you’ll find that the most opportunities for teaching lay in the bigger cities, with Porto and Lisbon both being very popular destinations for TEFL teachers.

Types of Teaching Jobs in Portugal

Public Schools

Sunset at Lisboa

Sunset at Lisboa

Public schools teach English to their students, and these are often sought after jobs. However, a teaching job in the public schooling system can be difficult to get. You will need to be proficient in Portuguese to pass an admittance exam.

Teachers in Public schools are usually well looked after and although the salary isn’t all that high, you will usually be provided with health insurance and you will only have to work around 22 hours a week, including office time.

Private Language Schools

There are many private language schools dotted all over Portugal and it is in this type of school that most TEFL teachers will usually find work. There are many different private language schools and some have good reputations (for both teachers and students) and others don’t. Some will offer contracts, accommodation, a good working environment and others won’t.

When you apply for jobs, you’ll need to keep in mind that not all schools will be the same. Try to do your homework and find out everything you can about a particular language school before accepting any position.

International Schools

First light at Dona Ana

First light at Dona Ana

There are also a number of bilingual international schools in the country that also employ native English speaking TEFL teachers. These types of schools will have much higher standards than private language schools and you will usually need to have a postgraduate certificate in education and some experience to even be considered for a job.

In most cases, international schools will pay a much higher salary and will also provide a number of benefits including health insurance, paid holidays and more.

Private Lessons

Sometimes teachers will also take private lessons to supplement their income. The amount that you charge is up to you and can change depending on what you are teaching, the age of the students, and how many students you take for one lesson.

Taking private lessons can be quite lucrative and you can really earn a lot of money, but it doesn’t come without problems. You’ll need to arrange a suitable location that is safe and provides a good learning environment. Moreover, students often cancel or reschedule lessons are short notice, so you’ll need to be very flexible.

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Teaching Requirements and Qualifications


Altura – Algarve

Requirements vary for different schools and you’ll find that some schools will employ somebody just because they are a native English speaker. However, most schools will require that you have at least a bachelor’s degree and some kind of teaching certificate such as a TEFL, TESOL or CELTA. Some schools will even require that you have some recent experience teaching.

Those with the appropriate qualifications will be in a better position to negotiate and will usually get a better contract and higher pay. Moreover, if you are qualified and experienced, you will find many more opportunities than those that aren’t.

Expected Salary and Living Costs

[sociallocker id=”1681″]As a teacher in a private school you can expect to earn anywhere between €10 and €15 per hour and in some cases you might earn even more than this. The amount that you get paid will depend on a number of factors including where you are living, the school you are working for, and what experience and qualifications you have.

You will also be required to pay tax and the amount of tax you pay depends on your salary. The lowest amount you will pay is 13% and this increases as your salary increases.

The cost of living is cheaper than it is in Spain, but it can still be quite expensive depending on your lifestyle. If you find a job with a relatively high paying salary, you can enjoy quite a high standard of living and if you can live frugally, you might even be able to save a few Euros each month.

For more information about the cost of living in Portugal, click here.[/sociallocker]

Visa Requirements

Cascais Bay at night

Cascais Bay at night

Portugal is a member of the EU and as such, EU citizens are often preferred because they don’t need a visa. If you don’t come from the EU then you will need to obtain a working visa to work legally in the country. US citizens, for example, can get a 90day visa on arrival. After you have found a job, you can then begin the long and difficult task of applying for a work visa.

If you are working for a school, they will usually help you along with the process of getting the appropriate visa, but you will need to show a number of documents including proof of accommodation, health insurance, income and more.

Read more about obtaining a working visa for Portugal, click here.

How to Find a Job Teaching in Portugal

Porto Moniz

Porto Moniz

Schools in Portugal usually employ all year round, but the best times are when the terms start in December and January and then again in the summer around August time.

You’ll find that many schools advertise for teachers on various international, national and local jobs boards, so be sure to start looking online. Moreover, you should take a look at school’s websites because they often advertise on their own websites that they are looking for teachers.

Alternatively, you can look in local newspapers and other publications or you can even try contacting schools directly by email, telephone or in person.

Teach English in Portugal

The demand for native English speaking TEFL teachers is steadily rising in Portugal and although there is some competition for jobs, qualified and experienced TEFL teachers should have no problems in finding a relatively well paid position.

The cost of living is a little cheaper in Portugal than it is in other Western European countries, but you still won’t be able to save a lot of money unless you lead a fairly simple lifestyle or you take some extra private lessons when you’re not in school.


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 Portugal, we would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment and share your experiences with us.

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