From Certification to Classroom: Your Journey as a TEFL Teacher in South Africa

Taking a TEFL job in South Africa pretty much guarantees that you’ll be going on a unique journey which is filled with excitement, intrigue and great memories. However, the path to getting there is a little longer and more interesting than you might think. People have gone from Getting a Certification to Classroom after getting their TEFL Certification

When we think about teaching English as a foreign language, you might not think there’s much call for it in South Africa, because a lot of people speak English already. However, it is still a great TEFL opportunity available if you’re qualified and ready to get started. 

Understanding TEFL Jobs in South Africa

As is the case with most countries, the bulk of TEFL jobs are located in both public schools and private centres across South Africa. With that being said, you still have the potential to work in an international school or to set yourself up as a private tutor, which can be a highly lucrative exercise. This is also one of the fastest-growing aspects of teaching English as a foreign language around the world. 

Recently, however, South Africa has been making a real effort to bring in teachers from other parts of the world to work in public schools. Therefore, you have a good chance of being able to become a TEFL teacher. 

The normal work day tends to start at 7:30 AM and finish around 2:30 PM, so you have plenty of chances to explore the local area during your afternoons. It is normal to be contracted for up to 35 hours each week, but you won’t spend all of that teaching. Instead, you’ll be doing things like planning lessons and other jobs reasonably expected for a teacher. 

The class size in a public school will be anywhere from 25 to 35 students. However, your typical private centre class size is much more diverse – this can stretch from 10 to 50 students depending on demand, age groups and the time of year you’re teaching. Considering that you also operate around normal school times and working hours in these centres, there is a great demand for people who are prepared to work in the evenings or on the weekend. Suffice it to say, if you are coming to South Africa, you won’t be without work, as there are many opportunities on offer. 

Getting Trained to Work in South Africa

So, if you want to be able to teach English as a foreign language in South Africa, then you will need to have fluency in English – preferably at a native level – and at least 120 hours of training and a qualification under your belt. These are all things which help to make you qualified to teach out there. However, you can’t just rush out to South Africa once you do, you’ll need to have both a General Work Visa AND a job offer from a legitimate institution. These can’t be obtained once you’re there – you have to apply beforehand.

A General Work Visa is simple enough to obtain. You don’t need a bachelor’s degree to get one, thankfully, but as is the case with most opportunities in life, the more certifications you have, the better your chance of being offered a placement. The only thing we would try and emphasise is that South Africa has a reputation for being one of the most diverse countries for language, and English is, unfortunately, a commonly spoken language. This means that there is not always a high demand for people who want to teach English as a foreign language. Securing a placement is not impossible, but can take some time under these conditions. 


Wages in South Africa

If you are a newly qualified TEFL teacher, then you can probably expect to get paid an amount between 16000 and 26900 ZAR. This is equal to £900 to £1500 per month or £1100 to 1900 per month in USD. If you are an experienced teacher or you can secure a higher position thanks to a better qualification, then you might be able to make more money. 

If you want to get a bit of teaching experience before you go to South Africa, then you might want to look at something like a TEFL Internship. This is a good way for you to practise working in a classroom environment while still getting access to a full range of support. You’ll earn a pretty good living allowance while you work and you can get both accommodation and a placement arranged for you at the same time. 

Typical Costs of Living

When you consider things like the typical living costs and accommodation, the salary that you’ll make in South Africa as a TEFL teacher is pretty good and you should be able to save money while living comfortably. This is due to a good standard of living which has a low cost attached to it. 

To give a few examples in GBP, a typical meal can cost between £6 to £8 in a restaurant, a bottle of alcohol is normally £1.50, and public transport is usually only £1 to £2 for a two-way trip. 

If you live somewhere like Cape Town, then you will expect to spend the equivalent of £400 each month (excluding rent), and pay up to £350 for a one-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre. 

How to Find a TEFL Job

You can’t apply for a General Work Visa if you are already in the country, which is why you’ll want to look for a job well in advance. There are plenty of job boards across the internet you can have a look at, and they’re all regularly updated to ensure you can see what is available. 

A forward-thinking TEFL school or institute will post these types of opportunities on the boards because they want to attract a good crop of people to come and work for them, and they realise that this sort of thing can’t be restricted by geographical location. As a result, the application process is usually done online. 

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South African Weather

The type of weather that you will encounter in South Africa will depend upon where you want to work. Every area in South Africa has different parts of the climate to choose from. Broadly speaking, South Africa has a tropical climate due to its placement in the southern hemisphere.

The summer temperatures can range from 17°C through to 29°C in areas surrounding Cape Town, but if you go to Durban, which is much closer to the equator, then you’re likely to find temperatures reaching 40°C. If you live close to a mountain range, then you might get a lot of rainfall, and if you live by the coast, you will experience more wind than other places.

Private Tutoring in South Africa

So, if you want to get into private tutoring, whilst you are in South Africa, there is a growing demand for this type of work. You can expect to make the equivalent of roughly $17 per hour. It is recommended that you consider private tutoring alongside teaching full-time as it will help to bulk out your income and give you more experience. It will be up to you to advertise and find students in the local area, but it’s perfectly feasible as an option. The only other caveat is that you will be expected to provide a classroom environment yourself.

Finding The Right Place

There are numerous locations around South Africa where you could consider starting a TEFL career. As is the case with anything, it will be up to you to decide for yourself where you want to base your activities.

Cape Town is the capital city of South Africa, and is a diverse cooking part of different cultures and customs, making it a popular choice for many people. Most of the notable historical events in South Africa have taken place in and around the Cape Town area, so it’s worth looking at.

Somewhere particularly noteworthy that we would recommend is Durban. Durban is located on the east coast of South Africa and has a warm climate most of the year. There is a bustling city life that you will enjoy and plenty of opportunities to visit both cultural hubs and beautiful scenic locations, so there is something for everybody.

Durban is the third most prosperous city in the whole of South Africa behind Cape Town and Johannesburg, and is one of the most fast developing places in the country. With a population of over 4 million, there will be plenty of opportunities for you to teach English as a foreign language. The cost of living is quite reasonable, so there’s no reason why you couldn’t enjoy a comfortable standard of life on a teaching salary, and it’s a good place to start building up experience. Once you have a bit of experience, you could move around as you please, but Durban is a good place to start in our opinion.

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