So the infamous Article 50 has been signed, sealed and delivered to Brussels. What does Brexit mean for someone thinking of doing a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course or wanting to teach ESL in Europe?
Well that depends on where you're from.
If you're from the Emerald Isle, carry on as normal, your EU passport will make you as welcome to work in Europe as before Brexit but with the added advantage that if there are less native English speaking teachers in the labour market (guessing that Brit's won't be so numerous on European shores at that point). The assumption is that the balance of power in the employment market will start to tip in favour of the teachers, permitting higher salaries and better working conditions to be offered.
The same points apply to ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers from any other EU country. We mentioned Ireland as lots of native English speaking ESL teachers come from there but we should also give a nod of recognition to our non-native colleagues who gain recognised TEFL certification and work in the ESL industry. Their high level of English coupled with their first hand experience of having had to learn English as a foreign language makes them a welcome addition to any English teaching department. These guys and gals are about to become a highly sought after commodity as the number of TEFL qualified ESL teachers with EU passports is set to plummet after March 2019.
If you're from the USA, Canada, Down Under or pretty much anywhere outside of the EU then nothing will change for you. The rights you had to get a work visa and teach English in Europe won't change at all with the whole Brexit episode although you will enjoy the benefits of there being less native English speaking ESL teachers in the EU.
But what if you're from the United Kingdom? As United as it may or may not be at the moment, the UK will no longer be part of the EU after March 2019.
Every day low quality news outlets fill their printed and online pages with speculation about what might happen after March 2019 but not even Merkel, May or Junkers know. The hope of liberal minded Brit's who want to travel is that nothing changes and the whole free movement package stays as it is, including travel and work. I personally won't be holding my breath for that so fingers crossed that there is enough free movement allowed post-Brexit to pop off to do a one month TEFL course in Barcleona, Seville or Florence without a visa and then enough wiggle room to get a work visa to hang around for as long as desired in our chosen EU country, teaching English.
Doing a one month TEFL course is the most popular entry route to the ESL industry for those wishing to travel and if Brexit means that Brits need a stamp in their passport to get there it really wouldn't be a very big hurdle as a tourist visa would undoubtedly cover it and which country wants to turn tourists away?
Staying on after a TEFL course to teach in the EU won't be impossible for UK nationals either. Let's face it, the EU has an abundence of non EU nationals working and residing in it, Yanks and Aussies manage to get EU work visas to teach English so why wouldn't a British passport holder? Paperwork, queues and language barriers don't seem appealing but hey, learning about the ineficiencies of the local beurocrats is part of integrating in to the local culture. Remember too that for each American with their EU work papers in order you'll find another ten who are working cash-in-hand. If you don't believe me head for a late night sports bar on Superbowl night!
The point here is that although many Brit's in the EU will get the correct bit of paper to work and pay taxes many casual or nomadic teachers probably won't. So the post-Brexit reality will involve thousands of British ESL teachers in the EU working cash in hand whilst on tourist or student visas.
What would Nigel Farage make of that?