Six things about teaching English in Libya

Tripoli, near the hotel I stayed at for my visit to the ELTEX conferenceThis year I had the amazing opportunity to go to Libya to give a plenary at a conference. While there I did a little asking around about English teaching there. This is the first of my Six Things about teaching in a particular country. I should note here that this is not intended as a guide for prospective teachers wishing to travel abroad. I am more interested in work by teachers from the country itself.  Being there for a limited time meant that I couldn’t get really in depth information, but what I could glean I share here. 

1. When is English taught? English is a mandatory subject from the 5th grade of Elementary school in Libya. The academic year in Libya begins in September and finishes in May.

2. How does one become a language teacher in Libya? To become a language teacher in Libya in the state system, one needs to study in either a teacher training college or a language college. These are four-year programmes of academic study.

3. How much do teachers make? An English language teacher who has bachelor degree and works in the public sector gets between 400-600 LD (Libyan dinars) per month. On the other hand, the estimated payment for private sector teacher is between 1500 –3000 LD per-month depending on their qualifications and experiences.  (1 euro = 1.7 dinars)

4. Where does the majority of English language teaching take place? The majority of language teaching takes place in Tripoli. However there is a growing market in Benghazi. Most of the students are employed by oil companies or are people who wish to work in the oil business. 

5. Teacher training? Teacher development programmes? There is very little by way of teacher training schemes. There are a few seminars and workshops done by Teachers Forum or by the Academy of post graduate studies. The British Council also does some teacher training for language teachers. There is an annual conference. 

6. Who are the teachers? The majority of language teachers in Libya are Libyan. However, most of the foreigners who are working in the field are English, Indian and, curiously, Iraqi.

Many thanks to Samer Hamdi, training manager at Alalameya Centre and Magda Al-Sharef Giornazi, Macmillan representative for their assistance as well as the other Libyan teachers I met who helped me with this list.


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Published in: on April 15, 2009 at 3:36 pm  Comments (13)  
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  1. Teaching in Libya is one thing – especially when told by somebody with a vested interest in the subject and possible outcome. But teaching Libyan students? From what I’ve heard, from reliable sources such as teachers, that’s a very different story.

    Perhaps you could arrange a “six things about teaching Libyan students” for us all, Lindsay. I’m sure it would be much more provocative and enlightening!

    • Hi Sandy, well you’re right it could be more provocative but I leave that kind of thing to the multitude of job forums that are out there which have no shortage of postings about what it’s like teaching one nationality or another (e.g. Dave’s ESL Cafe). Provocative yes, enlightening I doubt I could do on this topic…

  2. I taught in Libya for awhile and found the students to be keen. Maybe a little more reserved than in other Arab states, but they did work for the government after all.

  3. Americans couldn’t teach in Libya until fairly recently anyways, right?

    • I don’t know. I didn’t think to ask that question!

  4. am adegree holder in english have been teaching for the past five years in contemporary english grammar ,usage and writing and i want to be parts of your teaching staffs in libya and am dedicated and hard working teacher and need your respond

  5. Americans were never barred from teaching in Libya. However, during the embargo years, Americans were discouraged to travel to Libya. At that time, the American English teachers in Libya were mostly wives of Libyan men returning from America.

    • Thank you for the clarification on that. Interesting.

  6. thank you very much for these information. I want to know why libyan students are suddenly interested in learning English because in the previous years English is cancelled from the syllabus in libyan schools. libyan students are very weak in English in general and particularly in vocabulary.Can you tell me what causes this weakness.
    Thank you very much.

    • Hi there
      The question “what causes this weakness” is the golden question many people ask, about many languages. We get it in Spain too – what causes Spanish people to not learn English as well as Swedish people? for example. There is no easy answer. Lack of exposure, not enough hours of instruction, lack of real communication in classrooms are some of the general answers given (although not specifically for the Libyan context). For more specific answers about Libyans I would suggest getting in touch with a local teacher or person responsible for education there. I met many very professional teachers while I was there. Thanks for dropping by.

  7. helloo dear Sirs. thanks a lot for ur interest in libyan context, English language learning here is witnessing rapid changes, many approaches have been recently adopted and the reliance on GTM is declining. many universities and language centres started searching for teaching business in here. as the country is openning up with world, the demand of qualified english teachers has icreased. many language centres and universities openned branches here, some uk universities started exchange programs with some libyan universities,like the program I have recently joined , between Misurata university in Libya and Nottingham Trent university in the uk. another thing to mention, that libyan students master the language better than their peers in the arab world, specially in terms of mastering a native-like accent.I assure u that u will meet libyan teacher and speakers of the language who will never expect them to be libyans. finaly, after all what happened here, where language was banned and ill-stretegies of ministry of education and the bad curriculum besides the negative perception of the language as it is considered to be a foreign language, and u find libyan students at such a level with mastery of the language, I guess it is a positive ppint to the libyan students. I assure u that libyan students will do great, not only in english language studies, if they get better educational system,more motivation and supprot.

  8. Hello there!
    I am a graduate of an English degree and I am teaching here in the Philippines. Am I qualified to teach there in Libya? If not, what requirements do I need to get to qualify for a teaching position? Thanks a lot.

  9. Learning English is not difficult as long as you practice consistently.


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