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Teach English in Portugal

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Teach English in Portugal

Portugal is a beautiful country with historic cities, a pristine coastline, and friendly people. The cost of living there is relatively low when compared to other Western European countries and it's safe and welcoming for foreigners. This makes it an ideal destination if you want to teach English abroad. So, if you're ready for a Portuguese adventure, read on to learn how to teach English in Portugal.

How to teach English in Portugal

If you're dreaming of teaching English in Portugal, you can find teaching jobs in a number of different settings, including public and private schools, language institutes, private tutoring, and universities. Let's take a look at the options:

Private/Bilingual Schools

You can expect to work around 22 hours a week at private schools, with 45-minute classes for younger children and 90-minute classes for teenagers. 

Some private schools provide their teachers with a prepared curriculum while others may ask you to come up with your own. Teachers can also be expected to be responsible for activities and events in school.

Salaries offered by private schools to qualified teachers vary greatly, but they are mostly higher than what you can expect from working at a public school. You can also try to look for English teaching jobs at private international schools. These tend to offer the highest salaries.

Public Schools

While the salary at public schools is lower, such teaching jobs are stable and often come with perks like health insurance.

Weekly teaching hours are the same as in a private school, which is 22 hours per week working Monday to Friday. This is exclusive of lesson planning and other class preparations.

Teaching jobs at Portuguese public schools come with a 9 or 12-month contract. If you get a 9-month contract you can always fill in the gap by accepting summer school placement, or just take a well-earned break!

The only downside to public school jobs is that they are quite difficult to get. You will need to take and pass an admittance exam. The result of the exam will also play a role in where you will be assigned. Plus, the school may require you to have some knowledge of Portuguese.

Language Schools

Just as in other countries, there are also language schools that offer English classes in Portugal. Most lessons are scheduled for the weekends or evenings to cater to the students who work or study full-time. 

TEFL teachers often work part-time for several different language schools, particularly in the smaller locations where the schools only have a few students. 

Depending on location, and whether or not you get a full-time contract, certain positions offer accommodation, reimbursement for flights, Portuguese language instruction, and an annual bonus.

Private lessons

Working as a private tutor is a good option to supplement your income from your other teaching jobs. You can put ads for your private classes online or on community boards near schools, offices, and even at bus stops. You get to decide how often and how long you want your classes to be. You set your own schedule. The downside is that you’d be responsible for negotiating with your students (or their parents if you choose to teach younger kids) regarding your schedule and salary.

You can opt to provide generic ESL lessons or specialize in specific ones like business English or conversational English. You can also teach English online if you have a reliable internet connection.

Teach English in Portugal Salary

A teacher in Portugal can expect to earn a salary of €700 to €1,000 ($750 - $1,100) a month. This amount can vary depending on the teacher's qualifications and experience. Some private schools offer around €1,300 to €1,600 ($1,400 - $1,700) to teachers with relevant teaching experience. As for private tutors, you can charge anywhere from €10 to €18 ($10 - $18) depending on the location as well as the type of lessons that you're offering.

In addition to their salary, teachers can also receive benefits such as free housing or a stipend for housing costs depending upon their employer.

Requirements for teaching English in Portugal

There are different requirements for teaching English in Portugal depending on what teaching job you are planning to take. In some positions, you must have a degree in education or teaching English as a second language. Other positions, such as working in a private language school, may only require that you be a native English speaker and have a college degree. 

While it is not necessary, some schools prefer their teachers to have previous teaching experience. while others are content to hire individuals with just a TEFL certification.

Bachelor’s Degree

To teach English at a private school or a language school in Portugal, you will need to have a bachelor's degree or higher. However, if you plan on teaching at a public school, you will need a Portuguese degree in education. You may also get your foreign bachelor’s degree in education recognized by the Portuguese government.

TEFL Certification

Many language schools require their teachers to have an internationally recognized TEFL certificate. This is proof that you’ve undergone and passed training to teach English as a foreign language. A TEFL certification is also a good thing to possess if you plan on offering private tutoring services, as it gives you the necessary training to deliver your lessons with confidence.

If you do not have a certificate, you can take a TEFL course from any of the various online academies that offer them or do your TEFL course in Portugal.

If you take it online, you can finish at night or during weekends, so it doesn't interfere with your classes or work schedule.

Documents and Visa

If you're not an EU citizen, you'll need a visa to work in Portugal. Portugal therefore poses a challenging job market for non-EU citizens. Most schools choose not to hire teachers without existing papers because the process of sponsoring a work visa takes time and money.

If you are a non-EU citizen and wish to teach English in Portugal, then your best option is to obtain a student visa.

Student visa

Teachers planning to enroll in a recognized Portuguese university or language school may be eligible to work legally in the country. You will need to secure a student visa and a residence permit. The former will allow you to work in Portugal for a maximum of 20 hours a week. You can also work full-time during non-study periods and holidays.

You need to process your student visa in your home country. The entire process can take from one to three months. It is best to start it early because you must obtain a visa before you can travel to Portugal.

You will need to submit the following documents to the consulate or at a Portuguese Embassy in your home country:

  • Filled out student visa application

  • Valid passport with one blank page

  • The acceptance letter from the education institution in Portugal where you will study

  • Proof of your paid tuition fees

  • Two colored photos (passport-sized)

  • Proof of sufficient financial resources (bank statements)

  • Proof of accommodation (letter from your host family or rental contract)

  • Valid health insurance

  • Certificate of clear criminal records

Once you have your student visa, you can travel to Portugal. Upon arrival, you can immediately start the process of applying for a resident permit. This is done by setting an appointment with the local office of the Portuguese Immigration and Border Service. This residence permit will allow you to stay in Portugal for a maximum of one year.

Teach English in Portugal Jobs

There are many great places to teach English in Portugal, from cities like Lisbon and Porto to more rural areas. Wherever you choose, you can be sure to have a rewarding and memorable experience.

Where to teach

Let's take a look at some of the popular locations where you can teach in Portugal:


Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and the largest city in the country. It is also a popular destination for tourists, so there are many opportunities for TEFL teachers to find work here. However, the city is relatively expensive compared to other places in the country, and finding affordable housing can be a challenge.


Porto is the second largest city in Portugal and is known for its port wine production (if you've not tried port yet, put it on your list!). It isn't as expensive as Lisbon, and it also has a large student population. This makes it a great place to find teaching jobs in schools and universities and to offer private classes. There are also many language schools in Porto that hire teachers all year round.


Coimbra is a university town in central Portugal. It is home to one of the oldest universities in Europe, and there are opportunities for English teachers to find work in the university or one of the many language schools in the city. Coimbra is relatively small, so it may not be the best choice for those who want to live in a big city. But if small is your thing, then it's ideal!


Setubal is a port city located south of Lisbon. It is a popular tourist destination, and there are plenty of opportunities for English teachers to find work since many business owners want to be able to communicate with their English-speaking clients. 

The city is also home to a large university, so there are teaching jobs available at the university as well. Setubal is less expensive than Lisbon, but it is not as cheap as some of the other cities on this list.


Funchal is the capital of the Portuguese island of Madeira. It's a popular tourist destination so it is also an ideal destination for private tutors looking to land clients. Plus, Funchal is home to a number of schools and colleges which offer English language courses. Thus, there are many teaching opportunities available here.

Where to find jobs?

If you're looking for an English teaching job in Portugal there are several ways to find jobs. The most common way is through online job boards and hiring sites. You can also search for jobs on the websites of specific schools or language institutes. Another option is to contact a recruiter who specializes in finding jobs for English teachers.

You can also network with other English teachers in Portugal to see if they know of any open positions. You can do this by joining social media groups and checking forums where other teachers post available teaching positions at their institutions.

When to apply?

The best time to look for jobs teaching English in Portugal is typically from June to around August. Many schools and language institutes begin their hiring process during this time to fill positions for the upcoming academic year. 

There are also several online job boards and websites that list English teaching positions in Portugal throughout the year. However, the competition for jobs is generally highest during the late summer and early fall. Thus, those who begin their job search outside of this time period may have a better chance of securing a position.

What’s it like to teach English in Portugal

When teaching English in Portugal, it's important to be aware of some of the cultural differences that may exist between your students and yourself. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Classroom Culture

TEFL teachers can expect a warm and welcoming classroom culture in Portugal. Students are eager to learn and appreciate the opportunity to use their English skills in the classroom. Teachers will find that Portuguese students are attentive and willing to participate in class activities. There is a strong sense of camaraderie among classmates, and students are quick to help each other out. The overall atmosphere in the classroom is one of cooperation and respect.


Portugal is a relatively conservative country. This means that dress code is important when teaching English. Be sure to dress neatly and avoid anything too revealing or casual.

Learn to speak Portuguese

While speaking the language is not required to qualify for a job teaching English, it would be very helpful if you learn how to speak Portuguese. Just knowing basic phrases will make it easier for you to communicate with your students and colleagues.

Be mindful of your jokes and comments

Portuguese people tend to be very formal in their interactions with others. This means that they may not respond well to humor or casual conversation starters. Instead, focus on being professional and respectful.

Most Portuguese people are Roman Catholic. Be sensitive to your students' beliefs and avoid controversial topics if possible.

Cost of living in Portugal

As an English teacher in Portugal, you can expect to spend up to €1,180 ($1,300) per month on housing, utilities, transportation, food, and entertainment. Housing costs will take up the majority of your expenses, with average prices for a one-bedroom apartment in Lisbon ranging from €690 to €940 ($750 - $1,000) per month. This is of course cheaper in other locations.

Utilities such as electricity, water, and gas will add around €100 to your monthly expenses.

If you plan on using public transportation to get around, a monthly pass will cost you around €40 ($44). And finally, food and entertainment will cost you an estimated €246 ($270) per month. While living in Portugal as an English teacher is certainly not the cheapest option, it is possible to live comfortably on a budget of €1,180 ($1,300) per month.

Life in Portugal

When you're not in the classroom, there are plenty of ways to enjoy your time in Portugal. The country is home to some beautiful beaches like those in the Algarve region. Lisbon, the capital city, is a great place to explore with its historic buildings and lively nightlife. And if you love to hike or bike, you'll find plenty of trails to explore in Portugal's stunning countryside.

And of course, no visit to Portugal would be complete without trying some of the delicious local food such as fresh seafood, Portuguese custard tarts, and of course, port!

So, if you are planning on going abroad to teach English, Portugal should be high on your list of countries to explore.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much do English teachers make in Portugal?

The average salary of English teachers in Portugal can be anywhere between €700 to €1,000 ($750 - $1,100) a month from working at a public school. The salary is a little higher in private institutions, ranging from €1,300 to €1,600 ($1,400 - $1,750). Private tutoring fees can earn you between €10 to €18 ($10 - $20). 

 Does Portugal need English teachers?

Yes, there are numerous teaching jobs open to those who want to teach English in Portugal. You should keep your eyes open for job opportunities before the school year starts.

Are teachers paid well in Portugal?

The salary of English teachers in Portugal is enough to cover your basic needs. You can also supplement your income by offering private tutoring services or working for several language academies. 

Can you teach English in Portugal without a degree?

Most Portuguese schools require their teachers to have at least a bachelor's degree. If you don't have this but still dream of teaching English abroad in Portugal, you should take a TEFL course and obtain your TEFL certification. Some language academies will allow native English speakers to work for them if they have the necessary TEFL certification.

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