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Top Teach Abroad Locations for Winter Sports

By Kathy Deady

Teaching English abroad isn’t all beachside classrooms and sun-drenched siestas. Teach Away also places hundreds of teachers in countries where the mountains are the locals’ backyard and snow sports are a way of life. To mark the start of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, here are our top five teach abroad locations for action on the slopes – don’t forget to pack your goggles!

1. Japan

A clue to how big snow sports are in Japan is that there are over 500 ski resorts here, around as many as there are in the States, but in a country a fraction of the size. The popular Hokkaido region benefits from a Siberian weather front, which blesses the surrounding mountains with some of the fluffiest and deepest powder anywhere in the world. Ski packages and lift passes are surprisingly affordable, too.

Japan is a teaching abroad hotspot, offering a wide range of teaching options in most towns and cities. ESL instructors are suitable for paid roles in both public and private schools, as well as private language colleges. Many adults and students enroll in private tuition after school or work, so there’s also the possibility of tutoring outside of your usual hours.

2. Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is one of the up and coming ski and snowboard destinations of the future. There is already a choice of great, basic skiing areas surrounding Almaty city, which have so far escaped huge hoards of seasonal tourists and boast largely untouched snowfall. Plans have recently been approved to transform a large alpine area into several new, eco-friendly resorts with international appeal.

Kazakhstan is an ideal location for professional teachers and ESL instructors alike when considering teaching abroad. Despite many misconceptions about this incredible country, cities are technologically advanced, urban living standards are exceptional and the economy is booming. Education initiatives are passionate about their schools and offer teachers competitive packages.

3. Morocco

Surprised to see Morocco on the list? That’s understandable. While the North African country isn’t known for its winter sports, we’ve included it for providing a novel and memorable ski opportunity. There is one main and impressive ski area in Morocco, Oukaimden, which is to the south of Marrakech. Don’t expect the runs to be as well groomed as you may be used to, but this is part of the fun. Although there are chair lifts, you’ll also find a unconventional, if very touristy, alternative to getting to the top of the hill – by donkey. There are a couple of smaller locations to the south and east with unpredictable snowfall and rudimentary facilities.

Due to a government drive to improve literacy rates, there are a rising number of ESL teaching positions in Morocco, especially in urban areas surrounding Marrakech, Fes and the capital, Rabat. If you’re considering teaching in Morocco, it’s definitely an advantage to have some knowledge of conversational French or Arabic for day-to-day living and to fully appreciate the rich and vibrant culture.

4. France

The magnificent Alps draw thousands of avid skiers from around the globe every year, and it’s easy to see why. Hundreds of high class resorts mean miles of exciting terrain to explore, including some of the world’s most challenging runs. The French also take apres-ski very seriously and end a day on the slopes by enjoying fondue, cured meats and wine with friends.

Schools in France normally expect their ESL teachers to have a few years’ experience of teaching English to children. Basic French language skills are also considered a bonus, but this is not essential. There are short and long term opportunities with adult private language schools in Lyon and Marseille and the surrounding commuter towns, which are within reach of popular skiing areas. Read about Beck’s experience of teaching English in France here.

5. Russia

Since the recent surge in international visitors and the current Winter Olympics, government and businesses alike have identified the value of the tourist, resulting in an increased adult interest in learning English. English tuition has also begun to be introduced more widely into mainstream schools and as a result, there is a growing demand for ESL instructors across this vast and varied country.

Russia’s premier ski region and Winter Olympic host city, Sochi, can be found in the southwest hook of the country, along the coastline of the Black Sea. Parts of this area of the stunning Caucasus mountain range regularly see seasonal snowfall of around 14m. It is hoped that the huge investment in resort infrastructure will help Russia on it’s way to becoming a prestigious alternative European ski destination.

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