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Teach abroad for the summer

So you’re thinking of building some much-needed experience teaching English over a summer? What are the options, whether online or in the classroom, and how easy is it to get started? Wonder no more!

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What types of teaching jobs are available during the summer? 

Perhaps you’ve just received your qualification to teach English as a foreign language, but it’s summer, and term time just isn’t for a few months yet. The job search doesn't have to halt, though, with English teaching jobs in the summer providing a really excellent option.

If you’re able to, you could move abroad and acclimatise first. However, that’s a real luxury, and for first-time teachers, or even those with a few jobs under their belt, a total loss of income just isn’t a good idea.

Or it could be that you want to build up some experience on a voluntary basis, to either boost your CV or to make extra sure that you’re ready for full-time employment. The answer to all of these quandaries is teaching English in the summer.

Yes, summer schools, camps and language schools can hold the key, not just to ensuring you’re a more attractive candidate to employers, but also for bridging a gap between school terms. 

It’s not just for the benefit of training TEFL teachers, either. Almost all universities have summer teaching abroad programs. Many are on a voluntary basis, but paid summer jobs could also be available. Check with your own school, or alma mater, to see if something’s available.

So, what’s on offer, what are the advantages and how can a TEFL teacher get involved?

Summer schools/camps 

When it comes to building new skills and developing excellent traits for teaching, it’s hard to beat a summer school or camp.

Residential camps help to build a rapport with students, including not just English lessons, but also practical activities and an overall culture where students are encouraged to speak in English.

What skills do you need to be a perfect candidate for a summer school or camp? Firstly, you need to be able to work in a team. You’re not just teaching English, you’re co-ordinating activities. Your relationships with staff and students are important, as is the ability to be flexible to the unique demands a camp brings. 

Leadership skills and creativity are also vital. A summer school/camp is a perfect opportunity to show your flair for the unique, and give memorable lessons in a different kind of environment. Both qualities blend into each other - you have to show initiative and wherewithal to put your stamp on proceedings.

Problem-solving skills are also vital. You’re likely to come up against challenges you’ve not faced as a teacher, so being able to think quickly is a boost. That, and of course, a real passion for teaching and for getting better at communicating will make you an outstanding candidate to teach at a summer camp.

Three of the best camps for teachers hoping to gain summer experience include XUK, the ACLE camp and Skouras in Greece.

Where to teach abroad during the summer 

Teaching English abroad is an exciting prospect, at a language school, doing a volunteer program, or finding short-term teaching jobs.

Whether it’s just for the summer or longer-term, teaching English abroad can open up a wealth of new cultures and experiences, all while learning vital teaching skills and making friends for a lifetime.

Here, though, we’re focussing just on the summer. Where is it possible to start teaching English abroad on a seasonal basis? What about visas, job opportunities and the like?

Here’s our guide on the worldwide prospects for finding English teaching positions around the globe.

Europe 

If you’re looking for a decent bet to land some summer work in a foreign country, Europe might just be the place.

With countries across the continent looking to boost their English proficiency, it’s pretty common for summer camps and summer schools to take in prospective ESL teachers with designs on teaching overseas. In Spain, Italy, Greece, Germany and Romania, language camps are popular and are often amalgamated with activities including rock climbing, rafting and adventuring around the local countryside.

Camp Europe, for one example, has a range of fantastic opportunities for both short and longer-term summer camps, for English learners of different school ages. In terms of visa issues, you aren’t likely to run into major issues without a degree or much in the way of experience, meaning that those taking the next step into a formal TEFL career are quids in.

One of our former students, Louise, wrote about her experiences teaching in a summer camp in Romania! 

Asia 

Teaching in Asia, if you’re coming from the US, Canada or the UK, is rather different.

Certainly, if you’re coming on a tourist visa, and have very short-term plans to get involved in English camps, then you might find opportunities at a voluntary level. There are fewer English language camps around Asia, primarily because visa requirements are stricter for native English speakers. 

If you don’t have a degree, nor plans to stay permanently, it can be difficult finding work exclusively for the summer. 

Africa

It’s definitely possible to find projects in Africa teaching English over a period in the summer. These excursions tend to be short-term, between 1-4 weeks, but the impact you can make teaching English or performing as a classroom assistant can be enormous.

While paid jobs teaching English in Africa on short-term contracts is extremely rare, the voluntary sector is full of opportunities. Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania, for example, have opportunities available now.

The difference is, as a teacher, you’re generally paying for the experience. If you’re able to afford it, entering volunteer programs to teach English abroad at a summer camp (of sorts) in Africa is more than worthwhile, but it won’t necessarily have the infrastructure of an English camp elsewhere.

Latin America 

A fascinating continent full of richly diverse culture, weather and terrain, Latin America is fast becoming one of the more popular places to travel and teach. You don’t need experience or, necessarily, a degree to get started, meaning that TEFL teachers who are newly qualified are jumping at the chance to explore from Mexico to Uruguay. 

As with Asia, it can be hard to get in and teach English without having a permanent job offer on the table. Though the summer months are the same as in the west, English-learning summer camps aren’t really as much of a “thing” in Latin America.

Therefore, if you’re planning to devote a small amount of time to teaching English in Latin America, it’s best to look for short-term contracts.

At home 

The best opportunities might actually be at home, as opposed to landing a teaching job abroad.

In the USA and other English-speaking countries, there are plenty of summer schools for those learning English. This can include people who’ve recently moved or need extra help for English for the upcoming school year.

In the US, there are always summer jobs going across the 50 states for English teachers in the summer. Summer camps and summer schools recruit widely, from New York to San Antonio. In terms of cost-effectiveness, and building experience, searching your own backyard for summer teaching opportunities could be the best decision you make.

Download our guide to teaching English around the world

Requirements for teaching abroad during the summer 

Obviously when you’re looking to teach English abroad, or more locally, there are requirements to meet. From a parent or student’s perspective, you wouldn’t necessarily want someone unqualified to teach your child or yourself English, especially if it’s at a high cost.

So, what does someone need to teach English at a summer camp or summer school? Let’s dive in.

TEFL certification

If you want to teach English as a foreign language, you need a TEFL certificate. It really is that simple.

While you could get away with not having a degree or teaching experience (we’ll get to that), not holding a TEFL qualification from an accredited, high-quality course provider is a major red flag for any employer. That’s true whether it’s a seasonal job, or something more long-term.

120 hours is the industry standard. However, if you’re looking to teach Business English, prepare students for particular English proficiency exams, or want to work with young learners, taking an Advanced TEFL course might be the best course of action.

In short, a TEFL certificate says you have exactly the right credentials to teach English. It’s like having a driver’s license to get behind the wheel of a car.

Degree 

Do you need a bachelor’s degree to teach English abroad during the summer? Well, it depends on where you want to go.

To get a visa for certain countries, with the specific aim of teaching English, you will need a degree. The Middle East and Eastern Asia, for example, are very strict about this requirement. Generally speaking, no degree, no entry to teach.

The same isn’t true, though, of much of the rest of the world. If you have a traveller’s visa and are working on a voluntary basis, or have a short-term contract, you are unlikely to need a degree. Similarly, if you’ve learnt to teach English abroad and you’re studying for an education degree, that kind of summer experience over the course of a Bachelor’s would be really helpful.

As is often the case, there’s not a simple yes or no answer here. Ultimately, it depends on where you want to go in the world.

Teaching Experience 

Summer camps and summer schools are great opportunities for those who don’t necessarily have experience teaching, but want to start teaching English abroad. That, in itself, tells a story.

Sure, for more illustrious organisations - private language schools, universities - you may need teaching experience to some degree. That’s anything from having given presentations at work, mentoring a younger pupil at school, or something similar. 

However, broadly speaking, you don’t need to have a breadth of experience for a summer school or summer camp. Generally, the teachers taking these opportunities are there to build experience, and so it’d be strange if years of extensive English teaching were required.

Visas 

Ever the thorny issue, visas can cause headaches for a lot of people hoping to teach English abroad. As we’ve covered, a degree is essential for entry into some countries, while others want to see evidence of a career in a particular area before you’re allowed entry.

However, do not despair. For summer camps and jobs, temporary visas can be offered. As an example, were you to travel to France for a month to partake in a summer camp or school, you could enter the country on a traveller’s visa, and work voluntarily.

It’s worth consulting a consulate for the country you want to go to, or using online resources like Visa Guide to navigate the entry requirements for different nations. 

How much can you earn teaching English for a summer? 

Fully qualified ESL teachers will likely earn wages comparable to full-time jobs at summer schools or summer camps. Depending where you go, accommodation will also be provided, as well as sponsorship for a visa.

However, many summer camps and schools are looking for volunteers. Board and food might be covered in many cases, however a salary isn’t always a guarantee for teaching jobs.

If your ambition is to make money from teaching English abroad, or locally, at a summer school or camp, you might be in luck when you start your job search.

Again, much depends on where you are and what kind of institution you’re teaching English abroad in. The role, too, is important: “Activity leaders” in US summer schools for English learning can make up to $800 per week, whereas an ESL teacher at a summer camp can earn ​​$19-21 per hour. 

In the UK, you can make approximately £400-500 a week, provided you have reasonable qualifications and experience. 

Abroad, meanwhile, it’s far more varied. South Korea, for example, has job postings advertising seasonal work for 2.1 to 2.3 million Won, equivalent to just under £1,500. In Japan, work for two or three months will see you earn about £1,600 per month, on average. These are jobs where salary is advertised - this will often not be the case.