Where does the new Lost Generation live?
November 18, 2008 8:10 PM   Subscribe

I'm a monolingual American trying to choose a foreign city to teach English in after I graduate from college. I'd like to go somewhere with a strong literary community (preferably expat Anglophone, though local would be better than nothing), but I'm having trouble finding out what cities livable on an EFL salary have that on offer.

Major cultural centers like Berlin and Tokyo undoubtedly do, but from what I can tell it'd be too much of a struggle to survive in one of those places. I'm not getting into EFL because I want to work a lot of hours; I'm getting into it because I don't want to work, I want to save as much of my time as possible for novel-writing and so on. But I need to be able to make friends with like interests. Can you think of someplace that fits the bill? (Incidentally, if this makes a difference in your answers, I have the money saved to do a CELTA certificate, and I have some volunteer teaching experience.)
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (9 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Afaik, all the artsy kids are going to Berlin these days, for exactly this reason. Berlin basically collapsed economically after the reunification, but it's still well Berlin. A friend had a two room flat in a posh neighborhood near the zoo for 400 euros per month. So I'd suspect that flat shares exist for 200 euro or less. I imagine all other expenses are normal German prices. You might find lesser literary communities in Spain or South America, but the salaries might drop too. So you should give a serious look at Berlin. Germany also has quite lenient visa rules for Americans, i.e. you can convert a tourist visa into a work visa & residency permit without returning to the U.S.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:27 PM on November 18, 2008

I mean that Berlin is likely the best great young (inexpensive) artsy city today. I can't speak about the literary community specifically, especially not anglophone.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:39 PM on November 18, 2008

Do you know anyone willing to claim that you know French? Apply for this. Plenty of time to write, work only 12 hours a week, ???, profit.
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel at 11:45 PM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm getting into it because I don't want to work, I want to save as much of my time as possible for novel-writing and so on.

I think mooseandsquirrel has it, looking for being a language assistant. Though that usually implies that you are actively trying to learn the language of that country and discover its culture.
If you want time to do things on the side, you might not want look into teaching English. I don't know what your ideas are about teaching, but you might not have contemplated the amount of time you need to plan to be able to be efficient on a regular basis, working in a different school system than the one you are used to.
posted by tweemy at 12:05 AM on November 19, 2008

I just had someone tell me that they had friends teaching English in Dubai and making a killing. They live in the "English section," but still have to follow a good bit of Middle Eastern custom. But it's apparently very lucrative.
posted by shopefowler at 12:27 AM on November 19, 2008

Shoot me a MeMail - I've been TEFLing for a few years now from Indonesia to Poland and am happy to give you some pointers.
posted by mdonley at 1:23 AM on November 19, 2008

I teach English in Seoul, South Korea - I give it bonus points for being a fairly easy place to live as a monolingual American like you. It goes without saying that I've picked up a bit of the local language, and you'll learn to read the Korean fairly easily (if I did it, anybody can!). As for the literary side of things, I keep an active blog about living in South Korea (memail for the address, don't want to make it look / sound like spam or hijacking) and am writing my first non-fiction book. Time for those projects is mixed in with traveling around the area - and there's tons to see. As for expats, there's about 500,000 of us throughout Seoul, with at least one meetup type of writers group.

If you're interested in teaching, aim for a public school - their hours are shorter than the hagwon - private English-teaching schools - but the pay is about the same. Either usually includes a free apartment or a stipend to find your own.

Memail for more information if you like - there's tons of jobs in the country.
posted by chrisinseoul at 3:29 AM on November 19, 2008

Lots of people usually suggest Chile as far as one of the better places for TEFL in South America, but after reading your description... instead of not commenting I thought I'd just mention that Chile does not sound like a good fit for you.

One suggestion might be when you start narrowing down cities, you could post some messages on Daves ESL Cafe forum
to ask more specific questions about jobs, expat life, etc and find out whether people currently there agree you'd find what you're looking for.
posted by nzydarkxj at 6:34 AM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

In many countries, University jobs involve the smallest number of hours for the largest amount of pay.

It's certainly possible to get by in EFL without working very hard. However that frequently involves trading on the tolerance, hospitality and/or desperation of your foreign customers. It's up to you how comfortable you are with that.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 1:04 AM on November 25, 2008

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