Why Kazakhstan is perfect for the independently-minded TEFL teacher
If your ideas about Kazakhstan come from the Borat movies, think again. This immense country of huge cultural and geographic diversity is developing fast and is using its oil wealth to invest in its future. And as the country opens and becomes more cosmopolitan, the demand for talented TEFL teachers is soaring. If you want to try something different and teach English in Central Asia’s emerging powerhouse, Kazakhstan is the place for you.
Well-paid TEFL posts: There are plenty of TEFL jobs in Kazakhstan as the government wants to increase the teaching of English to help the country become better integrated into the global economy.
As a teacher, you’re most likely to work in either the capital city, Astana on the Northern steppe close to Russia, or Almaty in the South East near China. Even though these major cities have developed reputations for being expensive, you’ll find your TEFL salary, typically USD1,500-2,800 a month, is enough to have a good standard of living, with enough left over to travel around and experience this remarkable country.
What to expect as a TEFL teacher: You’ll be able to work in a public school or private language schools and there may be some opportunities for private tutoring. Often teachers must cover their own airfares and housing, but there are also jobs that include return flights and accommodation. Typically, you’ll work 20-30 hours a week, so there will be plenty of time off to travel and soak up the experience of living in Kazakhstan.
The people of Kazakhstan have a reputation for being friendly and welcoming, but one thing to watch out for is the bureaucracy. You’ll need to be patient sorting out visas and work permits and you will be required to carry your passport with you when you are out and about.
Waiting to be discovered: Kazakhstan is the world’s largest land-locked country and the 9th largest overall, bordered by Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. It enjoys a wild and varied terrain. You could visit flatlands, steppe and rock canyons, or travel to deserts and snow-capped mountains. But you’ll have to be ready for huge variations in temperature. Summer days on in some areas can reach over 30° C, plunging to below -45° C in deep winter.
A Soviet republic until the fall of the USSR in 1991, Kazakhstan has taken huge steps forward in the intervening quarter century. It is increasingly recognised as Central Asia’s most powerful economy and is estimated to generate 60% of the region’s GDP, largely through its oil and gas industry. This increasing wealth is being reinvested back into the country’s infrastructure, with many investments in road, rail and building projects.
The city of Astana typifies this progress. Designated as the capital city in 1997, it has developed from a small city on Kazakhstan’s northern steppe to be one of the world’s most glitzy and futuristic cities.
In Astana you can visit the Khan Shatyr, which looks like a giant circus tent – but, is a vast shipping mall designed by Norman Foster. It even features an artificial beach with sand imported from the Maldives. Other wonderful buildings in the capital include the Bayterek tower, designed to symbolise a mythical egg in a tree or the Shabyt ‘Palace of the Arts’, which some say looks like a giant dog’s bowl. You can visit Lonely Planet if you want to find out more about Astana’s way-out architecture.
Sophisticated cities and outdoor adventures: While relatively undiscovered by Western visitors, Kazakhstan is far from a backwater. You could ski cheaply in the Shymbulak ski resort, enjoying empty slopes and no queues or visit the major cities for sophisticated Western-style shopping centres, restaurants, night clubs and coffee bars. The more adventurous can mountain bike or trek deep into the Tien Shan mountains, experiencing the country’s traditional nomadic lifestyle. And if culture is your thing, try the major museums and art galleries in the big cities. In fact, you could visit the home of literary giant, Dostoyevsky, in Semey, near the border with Russia. It is now a museum, displaying notes from most famous works including “Crime and Punishment”.
So, what are you waiting for? Paramount International Careers specialises in Kazakhstan teaching appointments. If the idea of Kazakhstan’s dramatic scenery, sophisticated cities and culture combined with the great outdoors, sounds the right location for your TEFL adventure talk to one of our team to find out more. firstname.lastname@example.org