An English teacher working in a private course in Istanbul needs extra income. Some courses pay dreadfully- my starting salary at DIlko was 1250TLE for 100-120 teaching hours per month, which is appallingly low but which I accepted because there were some perks attached, like a free hot Turkish lunch and a family atmosphere. Most private language schools pay hourly- average 15-25 Lira per hour, and some offer perks like a housing allowance, or bonuses upon completion of contract, or overtime. I’m happy at InLingua, working on an hourly wage. I have a full time contract, which amounts to 80 hours a month. (I cannot emphasize how wonderful it is that full-time is defined as 80 hours a month.) I’m scheduled for over thirty hours a week, but when one works with adults with full time jobs and families, during cold and flu season, there are a staggering amount of cancellations, and I’m grateful every month for the cushion. 80 hours of work a month gives me enough to live pretty comfortably in Istanbul, and I make quite a bit more working fewer hours than I ever did at Dilko.
But still. A little extra never hurt. I have a thing for expensive face cream.
Most teachers take privates on the side, and that’s really where the money is. A quick browse through Craigslist shows that the lowest charge for private lessons is 25 Lira, which is insane. CHILD. CHARGE MORE. Everyone I know is charging 50-75TLE/hour, and I’ve heard of people successfully charging over a hundred. If you’re willing to put in the time to find students, and to put up with the uncertainty, with never knowing if your students are going to cancel or even simply disappear, you could live quite comfortably just teaching a few privates a week. There are an awful lot of ifs in that scenario for me. I like having an office full of people whose job it is to find me students, and who will guarantee my paycheck every month. But then, what is one to do, if, like me, you work almost every evening, and all day on weekends? How does one find private students who can meet at eleven in the morning on Wednesdays, or after six on Saturdays? I can’t. But there are always other options.
This week I picked up some work doing transcriptions. It isn’t a tremendous amount of money, but I can work on them whenever and wherever I want. All I need is my laptop and some headphones. The first tape script was an interview with- I actually don’t know who, but someone who knows an awful lot about Turkey’s economy- for a business journal. At a half hour of dialog it should have taken me about2 hours to complete and edit. It took me closer to 8, but I imagine my time will improve when I don’t have to stop every few seconds to google financial terms I don’t know, spelling them phonetically, based on what I hear a Turkish man tell an Irish woman. Sample sentence: “Both household and corporates were switching from affects (?) to Turkish Lira…” Are affects a financial thing? I have no idea! I googled “affets to Turkish Lira” and came up with a lot of (interesting) non-sense. I trolled through Currency Exchange sites looking for any world currency that sounds remotely like “affects.” None. 45 minutes or so of blind groping later, I had learned that FX is the same thing as ForEx is the same thing as Foreign Exchange. Mystery solved. A new depth of ignorance found. The hardest was identifying the name of the town where some bank or other has a foreign office. It took an hour on Google to find “Amalty,” which turns out to be a city in the Caspian region. It looks very nice, and congratulations, citizens of Amalty, for being able to purchase Turkish financial products.


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