Teaching English overseas as a South African

Have you ever wanted to travel the world, but still be able to make a decent salary? Teaching English overseas is a popular option for many students as they leave university. This allows them to earn an income while they enjoy that gap year. Moneybags journalist, Ashleigh Brown, looks at what you need to do in order to teach overseas as a South African.

Being able to speak English is a valuable asset in this global community. But, besides just being able to communicate with most people around the world, it is also your ticket to a whole new adventure.

If you are feeling a little cramped in your job, or have just finished university and have no idea where to go next, then teaching English overseas could be an option for you.

Teaching is not for everyone, and there is no guarantee that you will enjoy the experience, but, as a South Africa you are in a pretty good position to start jet setting around the world as a teacher.

“South Africans generally enjoy a wide range of choice in terms of the countries they wish to teach in. Popular locations are usually split between Far East (South Korea, China, Taiwan, Vietnam and Japan), and the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Bahrain) in order of general applications to said countries respectively,” says Craig Feris, a facilitator at TESOL South Africa.

First off, you do not need to have a teaching degree. There are some programmes that accept just a Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BS) degree, and provide training when you arrive.

But, more often than not, you are going to need Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification.

“At the very least, you will need either a TEFL/TESOL certificate, a matric and/or some work experience.  The 120 hour TESOL course is definitely recommended as this is becoming more popular with employers due to the practical component.  It is definitely beneficial to have a degree (any degree) as well,” says Feris.

What is TEFL?

TEFL is a certificate that allows you to teach English to non-first language speakers.

However, there are different types of TEFL depending on what type of teaching you are going to be doing. Therefore, a TEFL certificate will normally incorporate a Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL).

TESL is normally used in countries where English is spoken as a first language, such as in America, and thus students will be learning English as their second language.

However, a TEFL certificate is used in countries where English is not a first language, thus making it a foreign language.

“This qualification concentrates on teaching the skills needed to teach English in another country, where students are not native-English speakers, such as China, Japan or Brazil,” explains the University of Toronto.

Where to go?

According to STA travel, the first step towards teaching English overseas is to decide on a location:

  • Do you want to teach among the hustle and bustle of a city or in a relaxed little village?
  • Do you want work where you can save lots or just enough to enjoy life while you’re there?
  • Money can also be earned through one-on-one teaching during your free time.

The paper work, the salary, and working conditions will all change depending on where you go. The most popular places to teach English are in Asia, where you can earn a decent salary.

“The location people tend to decide on depends on a variety of factors, varying between cultural or religious considerations, salary, and in unfortunate cases that are becoming increasingly frequent, whether or not various countries will hire people based on their racial background,” says Feris.

There are also teaching opportunities across Europe and America.

Though, moving across the world is not always easy.

“Initially, all beginner teachers who find themselves teaching in whichever country for the first time experience culture shock. The extent to which this new culture is embraced depends on each person’s outlook; some leave the country almost as soon as they’ve landed (called ‘midnight runs’), assumedly because of one or a number of unfavourable conditions relating to that person’s presence in the country. In exceptional cases some people find love and marriage and end up never leaving,” says Feris.

However, no matter where you go, you are going to need passport in order to not only travel, but to apply for your working visa in the country you are going to be teaching.

Where to study TEFL/TESL

There are a multitude of online places which offer TEFL/TESL courses, which offer different programmes, depending on what your needs are.

For example, TEFLOline offers five different courses, ranging from 40 hours to 140 hours. The 140 hour course will cost you R11 879.88. However, a similar course with TeachEnglishAbroad costs R5 399.

But, if you prefer going into a class to learn, there are some TEFL academy’s around South Africa.

TESOL South Africa offers courses in Cape Town. Their TEFL course is R4 800.

You can also find deals on Groupon for 120 hour TEFL courses.

Table of teaching information

Global Language Training has comprehensive information on the visa requirements, the average salary, and the peak hiring season for teaching destinations in Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East, as well as places which do not require you to have a degree.

Below we highlight three places from Europe, Middle East, Latin America, and Asia.tefl 1tefl2tefl3

Source: Global Language Teaching, correct as of 20 May 2015

At the end of the day, it all depends on why you want to go overseas. If you are going in order to save money, and come back with some more financial freedom, then you might want to teach in Asia.

If you are going so that you can live in a new place, and maybe even learn a new language as you teach, then anywhere would be great.

Most travel agents will have information on teaching overseas, as well as any organisation which offers TEFL/TESL courses.