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Teaching English in Africa

With a whole world of landscapes, wildlife and epic adventures packed into one incredible continent, it’s no wonder that Africa is considered one of the top TEFL destinations on the planet.

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Sweeping sand dunes and wild safari encounters. Cosmopolitan cities and vast mountain ranges. Incredible beaches and lush rainforests. It seems impossible that one continent should contain all of this within its shores and yet… this is Africa. 

With all of this to write home about, it’s easy to see why the pull of teaching English abroad in Africa is so strong. Whether you choose to teach in Africa as a volunteer, work in a top international school or find a position at a language centre, you’ll find a range of English teaching jobs scattered throughout this remarkable continent. 

African schools or programs typically require that their teachers are native English speakers. And many teaching opportunities are voluntary. As such, requirements tend to be relaxed. You’ll usually only need previous teaching experience or a degree if you want to land a job in one of Africa’s top international schools.

Most popular countries to teach English in Africa

From the great dunes of the Sahara Desert in North Africa to the rainforests and wildlife of West Africa, the safaris and wine valleys of South Africa to spotting the Big Five and hitting the beaches of East Africa, it’s true what they say: you really can experience a whole world of wildlife and landscapes within Africa. 

With 54 countries in total to choose from, it can sometimes be hard to know which one to pick for a teach abroad experience. Are you an experienced teacher looking to make a decent salary? The wealthy, major cities in countries like Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia might be the best place to look. Or are you a new TEFL teacher, hoping to see Africa and get some experience under your belt? Volunteer programmes in countries like South Africa and Algeria might be more up your street. Let's take a look at some of the most popular teaching destinations in more detail below.

South Africa

Home to a staggering 56 million people - who speak 11 official languages (including English, Afrikaans, Zulu and Xhosa) - South Africa is one of the largest countries in Africa. 

Its cosmopolitan capital Cape Town is arguably the continent’s most beautiful city, set against the stunning backdrop of Table Mountain. Meanwhile, the cities of Durban, Johannesburg and Pretoria are also popular destinations for teaching English abroad.

Finding a well-paid position to teach English in South Africa is no easy feat. English is spoken and understood by a large percentage of the population, meaning the demand for foreign English teachers is low. However, it is possible to find English teaching jobs in one of the country's bilingual schools if you happen to speak another language, such as French or German. 

For those who don’t fall into this category, don’t worry. You can still find work teaching English in South Africa as a volunteer.

Morocco

Despite being just an hour’s ferry ride away from Europe, those arriving in Morocco can be forgiven for thinking they’ve landed on another planet. From exploring the souks and squares of Marrakech to enjoying cafe culture in Casablanca, chilling out in the beachside cities of Tangier and Agadir, to setting out on epic adventures in the Atlas Mountains or the Sahara Desert, ESL teachers in Morocco will never be short of things to see and do out-of-school hours. 

While Arabic and French have long been the dominant languages of Morocco, English teachers are increasingly in demand in the northwest African kingdom. There are opportunities to teach business English to adults, as well as children, with English taught in schools to children 10 years and up. In addition, teaching jobs are available in universities for experienced teachers with qualifications from their home country. 

English teachers in Morocco can expect to make between £720 - £1,500 ($1000 - $2,100) per month, depending on location and experience. 

Algeria

Algeria might not be the first place that pops into your mind when it comes to deciding where to teach English in Africa. However, TEFL teachers shouldn’t discount this fascinating destination without finding out more. 

As the largest of the African countries, Algeria stretches from the Mediterranean coast in the north to snow-topped mountains, before covering vast amounts of the Sahara to the south. With beautiful beaches, Roman ruins and charming cities like Algiers to discover, the diversity of travel on offer in Algeria might just surprise you. 

Teaching English in Algeria is becoming more popular as the demand for English teachers grows. Generally, French is still considered the more important language to learn, but that attitude is changing as international business, tourism and studying abroad opportunities for Algerians increase.

Teaching positions in Algeria are likely to offer somewhere in the region of £820 – £1,600 / $1,130 – $2,350) per month.

Egypt

One of the most profitable locations for teaching English abroad in Africa, Egypt has a high demand for English teachers. Despite a few setbacks following political issues in the Middle East during the Arab Spring, teaching opportunities in Egypt are still plentiful. 

The northern African country is home to many good international schools that are always on the lookout for experienced TEFL teachers. While it is technically possible to teach English in public schools in Egypt, these kinds of teaching jobs are rare. It’s much more likely that teachers can find work in training schools, teaching business English to adults or private language institutes. Salaries tend to be relatively high in Egypt, with many TEFL teachers making between £1,600 - £2,200 ($2,000 - $2,700) per month. 

When not working, Egypt offers a wealth of things to see and do. From gazing in wonder at the Pyramids of Giza to cruising down the Nile, exploring Cairo’s hectic streets to relaxing on the beaches in Sharm El-Sheikh, it’s easy to see why Egypt has been attracting visitors since the time of the Romans.

Tunisia

While it might be one of Africa’s smaller nations, Tunisia is still worth considering as a unique teach abroad experience. Though French is still the more predominant language of choice, interest in learning English is on the rise.

In the Tunisian education system, children begin studying English at the age of 12 in school, while French starts at the age of 8. Because of this, teachers who happen to speak both French and English should have no problem finding teaching jobs. On the other hand, if English is your only language, you can still find work at international and private schools. 

Alongside full-time teaching jobs, many teachers also offer private tutoring as a way to boost their income. To get an idea of how much you can make teaching English in Tunisia, a basic monthly salary for full-time positions is likely to be in the region of 3,750 – 7,700 TND (£980 – £2,000 / $1,400 – $2,830) per month.

Download our teaching English in Africa guide

Requirements for teaching English in Africa

Interested in teaching in Africa? Great news! With so many countries - each of which will have its own set of requirements for prospective teachers - you’re guaranteed to find one that matches your qualifications and experience. 

Just completed your TEFL course and looking to get some invaluable, on-the-ground teaching experience? No worries! Volunteer programmes and government-backed teach abroad schemes often don’t require prior teaching experience. Qualified teacher in your home country hoping to secure a well-paid job at one of Africa’s top schools? Easy! Private international schools and universities will love that you match their requirements!

When it comes to teaching in Africa, there really are teaching positions for everyone, regardless of what qualifications they hold. 

Qualifications

While every country might set out their own requirements for teachers, there are a few common qualifications that come up time and time again. These can generally be broken down into two types, which are:

  • Qualifications required by a school or employer. 
  • Qualifications required by the government in order to legally live, work and teach in the country.

The most commonly required qualifications to teach English in Africa include being a fluent English speaker, holding a TEFL certification and having prior teaching experience. Some countries (for example, Tunisia) will also require their teachers to have a bachelor’s degree in order to gain a work visa.

Qualifications will, of course, differ between different kinds of schools and teaching institutes. Many of the top international schools - whether in Egypt, Morocco or South Africa - will expect their teachers to have a university degree, teaching qualifications and past experience. On the other hand, volunteer programmes don’t usually ask for much in the way of qualifications. This means you can teach English abroad with no experience in Africa quite easily.

Work visas

What kind of visa you’ll need to teach English in Africa will vary between each different country. For volunteer placements or short-term contracts, many teachers will work on a tourist or temporary visa. This is because official work visas are quite difficult to obtain, and usually require a contract of 12 months or more.

If you do want to teach in Africa for longer than one year, you will almost always need your school or employer to sponsor you for a work visa. If this is the case, you might be required to show proof of your university degree, TEFL certification, teaching experience or English fluency level if you are a non-native speaker.

Check the legal requirements for each African country thoroughly before you agree to get on a plane. While there are always those who seem to get around the rules, teaching illegally in any African country is not recommended.

Teaching English jobs in Africa

As the demand for English speakers in Africa grows - particularly in the tourism, business and education sectors - so does the demand for English teachers. This means that teaching jobs can be found in almost every corner of Africa, although some places will obviously have a higher demand than others. 

The majority of paid teaching jobs can be found in the capital cities of Marrakech, Cairo, Cape Town and Algiers. This is where the highest number of expats live and, therefore, where the biggest concentration of international schools, private schools and language schools can be found. 

For those hoping to volunteer or TEFL teachers simply looking for a unique, authentic experience in Africa, don’t discount small, rural locations. While jobs in these locations might pay less, the cost of living will be much lower…and you’ll also get to see a side of Africa that the tourists never do.

Types of teaching jobs

Thinking about teaching English abroad in Africa but unsure what kinds of jobs are available? Don’t worry - there are positions for teachers at all stages of their careers! 

Jobs on the continent can usually be broken down into five types; voluntary, public schools, private and international schools, language schools and private tutoring. While these options might look slightly different in each country, in general, they will usually offer the same kinds of jobs for foreign English teachers. 

Let’s take a look at each of these in more detail below:

Voluntary

One of the most common ways to teach on the African continent is through voluntary work and volunteer programmes. These can be government-backed or run by organisations and NGOs, like the Peace Corps for American citizens. 

In most cases, volunteer English teachers in Africa will be placed at rural or local schools where the level of English education will be very low and resources might be extremely difficult to come by. It’s also fairly common that, although you’ll predominately be there to teach English, you might end up teaching some other subjects too. If you expect the unexpected, and treat each day as an adventure, teaching English to African students can be exceptionally rewarding. 

Volunteer programmes all vary and, while some may offer accommodation and a small living allowance, others will have to be either fully or partly funded by teachers themselves. However, for those who have never taught before, volunteering as a teacher in Africa can be an incredible way to gain some hands-on experience.

FAQs

  • Q. How much money can you make teaching English in Africa?

    Salaries differ greatly between countries and schools, with English teachers in Africa able to make anything from £720 - £2,200 ($1000 - $2,700) per month. 

  • Q. How do I become an English teacher in Africa?

    To teach English in Africa, you’ll most likely need to be a native English speaker, hold a TEFL certification (or be willing to get one) and, in some cases, have previous teaching experience. However, many volunteer programmes are flexible with their requirements, making them a good choice for those who’ve never taught before. 

  • Q. What countries have the most demand for English teachers in Africa?

    Jobs can be found throughout Africa but countries like Egypt and Morocco have the highest demand, with a constant need for English teachers. 

  • Q. Can you teach English in Africa without a degree?

    Yes! Many countries in Africa are happy to take teachers without a degree, especially on volunteer programmes. If you don’t have a degree, a TEFL qualification can help you find a job and also have the confidence to teach without any prior experience.