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Living in Budapest

Budapest, capital of Hungary, is one of those places where people go for a month or two and find themselves still here years later. It seems to be due to a combination of factors—the gorgeous architecture; the stunning tableau of the Danube slicing the city into its two main parts of Buda and Pest; the vibrant night life and day life; the proximity of nature, via the Buda Hills and the nearby Pilis Hills where well-marked walking paths wind through tranquil forests; and the simple fact that Budapest is an exceedingly liveable, comfortable city where everyone seems to find a niche that suits them perfectly.

We asked some of our trainers to give their take on life in Budapest, and on Hungary; click on one of the topics below to get a better idea.

What qualifications are required for teaching English in Hungary?

Answer:

This is a complicated question (or answer rather) and there might be a point or two not covered here, but here’s a summary:

  • First, one needs to understand that there are courses that are ’accredited’ and courses that are not.  To teach on accredited courses (at a language school or wherever), one must meet certain requirements; to teach on unaccredited courses, the requirements are much less rigorous.  Incidentally, a language school is likely to have a mix of accredited and non-accredited courses.
  • If you are Hungarian, to teach on accredited courses you need a language degree from a Hungarian university.
  • If you are a native English speaker, to teach on accredited courses you need to provide transcripts/other documentation proving that you attended at least 10 years of education in a native speaking context.
  • If you are a non-native English speaker and non-Hungarian, you need to have a language degree from a university in your country (or somewhere), and have this officially recognised in Hungary. There’s a process for doing this, i.e. it’s doable.
  • In any case, to teach on non-accredited courses, there are no such requirements.
  • The Cambridge CELTA is a highly preferred qualification in Hungary (and the rest of the world), in the private language school sector.  It’s actually a requirement at some schools (like International House).  Some language schools accept a so-called ’equivalent’—another 4-week TEFL course.  It’s worth reading up on what differentiates TEFL courses (see for example this FAQ page) so you don’t find yourself with a qualification that is not recognised in places where you want to go and teach!

As is the case in most countries in the world, to teach (and get paid) legally in Hungary, you need to be able to provide invoices for your work, which means having some sort of legal status (e.g. legal freelance status, or a small company), an accountant, etc.  Nearly all private sector positions teaching English are freelance.   Needless to say, literally thousands of English teachers, both Hungarian and non-Hungarian, have set themselves up to teach and invoice, so there’s lots of help/support available.

What standard of living can an English teacher expect to have?

Answer (watch the video or read the summary underneath):

Gary discusses the decent standard of living in Budapest that TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) teachers can experience; apart from enjoying the bars and restaurants, he notes that a key advantage of Budapest for TEFL teachers is its location in Central Europe: this means that those involved in ELT (English Language Teaching) can travel to many attractive locations from Budapest. He offers his own examples: Croatia, Austria, Spain and France, among other places.

Is Hungarian difficult?

Answer: (Watch the video or read the summary underneath)

In the video, Neil concedes that Hungarian is a difficult language, but that this should not be a concern: CELTA applicants who come to Budapest a) are able to pick up the basics of Hungarian b) English is widely spoken in Budapest. It is therefore not difficult for CELTA trainees to get around and enjoy living in Budapest. He has some advice concerning Hungarian for all those who wish to teach EFL (English as a Foreign Language) in Budapest: it is worth learning some Hungarian as Hungarians will be very appreciative of the effort made, even if they will not always understand what you have said.

What’s living in Budapest like?

Answer:

How do I get a visa to enter Hungary?

Answer (watch the video or read the summary underneath):

Borka points out that most applicants who take the CELTA in Hungary at IH Budapest do not require a visa; she offers some examples of countries for whom this is true (e.g. citizens of Australia, United States, Canada do not require a visa to take the CELTA course at IH Budapest). She then gives examples of countries whose citizens do require a visa (e.g. Russians, Ukrainians, those from the Far East and Middle East may require a visa to take the CELTA course at IH Budapest) and outlines the steps that IH Budapest takes: sending a letter of invitation upon acceptance onto the CELTA course which the prospective CELTA participant can then use when applying for a visa in their own countries. She notes that this is usually an easy process.

How can I get a job in Hungary after the CELTA?

Answer (watch the video or read the summary and additional comments underneath):

Chris states that ELT in Hungary tends to involve freelance work for most teachers. He notes that there is high demand for qualified TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) teachers, but that upon completion of the CELTA course, graduates need to be prepared to travel to different ELT schools with their CV / Resume in order to find work. He observes that within two months of completing the CELTA course, a CELTA graduate is likely to have a full ELT timetable and sufficient income to live on based on their work for various English language schools across Budapest.

The ELT work landscape in Hungary is shifting all the time, not so much in terms of demand– this has never been a problem– but in terms of regulations. For teaching in an accredited institution, and this includes many or most language schools, there are guidelines that apply to Hungarians teaching English and separate guidelines that apply to non-Hungarians. We’ll be posting more details here as the situation settles, but do feel free to write us and inquire in the meantime.