From its Biblical sites to its ultramodern cities, Jordan is a land of great contrasts. In spite of being steeped in history, this Middle Eastern nation has managed to adapt to present times, combining the old with the new in a unique and delightful way. There have been no major instances of conflict or unrest in Jordan in recent years, even though this country shares its borders with Iraq, Syria, Israel and Palestine. In fact, this destination has been popular with expats from all across the globe because of its high earning potential, superior living standards, well-developed healthcare system and natural beauty.Contrary to what you may have heard, getting a job in Jordan is no piece of cake. According to local laws, employers cannot hire international workers without getting approval from the ministry of labor beforehand. Professionals who meet the required criteria are granted a work permit for up to a year, which can be extended for another year if required. Failure to adhere to these rules can result in strict penalties for the employer and deportation for the employee. Before moving to Jordan, it is therefore imperative that you have a proper job offer in hand, where the employer is willing and able to sponsor your work visa.
In recent years, young adults from the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa have been successful in finding work teaching English in Jordan. Since the country aims to produce a bilingual society in the near future, there is a huge demand for native speakers who can teach English to the local population, either through private classes or by working in an educational institution. Of course, you will need to have the required certification from a recognized accreditation body (such as the British Council or TEFL Academy) and ample work experience to qualify for such jobs. In addition to some prior teaching experience, fluency in spoken and written Arabic will be an added advantage during your search.
However, before you decide to take up an English teaching job in this nation, it may be a good idea to ask yourself if the profile and the location are suitable to your lifestyle as well as your requirements. Is teaching English in Jordan really the right job for you?
Jordan offers teaching opportunities for ESL trainers as well as licensed classroom facilitators. Most teachers who move to this location find it to be a fairly progressive place. The local people value education, and many are keen to learn English. As a teacher, you may be able to earn a fairly competitive salary, especially with the right employer. This, coupled with reasonable living costs and low tax rates, will usually make the assignment worth your while. However, it’s important to look at other factors too, and to base your decision on a full understanding of what you are signing up for.
Over the past two decades, the educational system in Jordan has improved to a great extent. Student enrolments at international schools and universities are increasing on a yearly basis, which has resulted in a higher demand for native English teachers. There are several academic institutes across the urban cities in Jordan, especially Amman, Zarqa and Irbid. However, the majority of teaching jobs are available in the capital, Amman.
Jordan is home to a number of international schools, many of which hire teachers of different nationalities. The curriculum followed by these institutes is global, and English is one of the main languages used. There is a requirement for native English speakers to teach not just the language itself but other subjects too, including math, science, liberal arts and information technology.
With a significant increase in the number of people interested in learning English, numerous private training institutes have cropped up all over the country. These training centers offer courses of varying durations in basic, intermediate and advanced English. Most of the learners are adults with business or professional backgrounds. Students who attend classes are generally required to take a test, and they receive a certificate if they pass. A majority of these institutes only hire native English speakers as teachers.
The British Council in Amman offers short-term training contracts to some of their employees from the UK or even other nations. Working for an international organization that specializes in educational as well cultural relations and also offers activities involving the arts, technology, and science can be an excellent opportunity to develop your skills and gain international teaching experience. There are classroom courses for children as well as adults, and as a teacher, you will be required to enable your students to communicate in English with confidence.
At the same time, you may also play a role in the development of long-term relationships with the government and other organizations to promote the knowledge of English. More experienced trainers often get involved in teacher training, ELT projects, content designing and examining work. Of course, to be eligible for a job like this, you must have the Cambridge Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) or the Trinity Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL or CertTESOL), along with a minimum work experience of two years teaching English to adults as well as young learners. Being bilingual or multilingual will be an added advantage.
Traveling to Jordan for a couple of weeks or months as a volunteer as an English teacher for underprivileged children is a great starting option. While this is not a lucrative choice, you can be sure of going back home with an amazing, enriching experience, as well as with the satisfaction of having made a positive difference in the world. This also gives you the opportunity to interact with people of another culture.
Across Jordan, you will also find a number of students and expats from native English-speaking countries offering private classes to the local population or to other, non-English speaking migrants. There is no fixed curriculum followed here, and many teachers use material from other institutes or create their own content. While this may seem like a good option to make a quick buck, remember that it is against the law to earn money in this country without a proper work permit. You may get into trouble with the authorities or your current employer in Jordan if you try to do this unofficially. To avoid any trouble, make sure that you get a go-ahead from the company that is sponsoring your work visa before you start offering private English teaching classes to individuals. If you are working with an educational institute, you may not get approval as it may be seen as a conflict of interest.
When you apply for a teaching job in Jordan, the type of qualifications and work experience potential employers look for will vary. While a bachelor of education degree is preferred, it isn’t necessarily a mandate. Many expat teachers in this country have a bachelor’s degree in arts or science, along with a valid teaching license in their home countries. The international schools usually prefer to hire teachers with a four-year BA, along with a CELTA or CertTESOL.
Private institutes also require their teachers to be certified in TEFL. It therefore may be a good idea to undergo this course if you are interested in teaching English overseas. In fact, the TEFL academy often assists students with placement overseas on completion of the program. You don’t have to complete this course in your home country; you can get certified while living in any part of the world, including the Middle East. Visit this website to read more about the process of getting certified.
If you are a first-time English teacher, you will need to attend a personal interview after you arrive in the country in order to get a job. Without prior experience, few organizations will be willing to pay for you to attend an interview. This means that you will be responsible for your own airfare and accommodation when you first arrive in Jordan.
It is standard for new employees to undergo a probation period for up to three months. You and your potential employer need to negotiate and agree upon this duration; over the course of this time frame, both parties have the right to terminate the contract without any liability apart from the employee’s salary. The good thing is that your employers cannot extend the probation period beyond your agreement. It’s also good to know that you cannot be put on probation by the same company again once your contract is terminated.
Even after clearing your interviews, it may be a while before you can join an organization, since your employers will need some time to obtain your work visa. If an institute asks you to join immediately, while you are on your visit visa, be cautious about accepting their offer. These employers may not be willing to sponsor your paperwork, and may expect you to live in Jordan on a dependant’s visa or exit the country and return every three months. Drawing a salary without a legal work permit is against the law, and you may get into serious trouble for it.
As soon as your job offer is finalized, your employer will have to apply for your work permit. To speed up the process, make sure that you have these documents ready beforehand:
– Completed visa application form
– A valid passport
– Two passport photographs
– A national visa or original residency visa
– Confirmation of cover from a health insurance provider
– Proof of address
– Bank statements
Your potential employer will also have to submit a reference letter and pay the fees for your visa. At the same time, you may also be asked to submit additional paperwork, such as copies of your certificates and prior work experience letters.
A drawback of teaching English in Jordan is that the salary is often quite low. The average pay for an English teacher ranges between Jordanian Dinar or JOD 450 (US$635; £477; €532) and JOD 850 (US$1,200; £900; € 1,005) per month, depending on your work experience and qualifications. Teachers who work fewer hours per week (20 to 30) will get paid less than the others. However, they can make additional money by offering private classes.
Some teachers barely break even in spite of cutting corners, as the cost of living in this country is not as low as one might think. This is mainly because teachers do not get reimbursed for their accommodation and have to pay rent. As a result, many end up sharing apartments with their expat coworkers or friends.
Any expat who has taught English in Jordan will testify to the fact that students are highly respectful towards their teachers, regardless of their age, gender and nationality. On the whole, most Jordanians are pleasant and hospitable to migrants. Crime rates are low and you will find several outdoor activities to keep you busy during your stay. Moreover, this country has a sizeable expat community, so you are likely to make friends from all over the world here.
However, keep in mind that the culture in Jordan is completely different from that in Western countries, and that you need to show utmost respect towards the beliefs, traditions and values of local people at all times, even if you don’t agree with them. The local people follow certain norms when it comes to interacting with one another, especially people of the opposite gender, and expect the same behavior from visitors.
The lifestyle that you take for granted back home may not be acceptable in this part of the world. It may therefore be a good idea to stay in Jordan for at least a couple of weeks before deciding to make a more permanent move.
Have you taught English in Jordan? Share your experiences in the comments below, or answer the questions here to be featured in an interview!