The second-most populous country in the world, English is one of India’s official languages and as such is widely spoken around the country. While many people in India are studying English, the demand for paid TEFL teachers is quite low. There are plenty of voluntary positions to teach English in India, but as few state schools can afford to hire a foreigner, only those applying to expensive international schools are likely to find paid work. However, for those who are drawn to this fascinating country, a spot of voluntary teaching isn’t too hard to find and can be a great experience for newer TEFL teachers.

Although there remain many problems facing India the country has made impressive economic gains and output in recent years. India has always been a popular destination for western travellers seeking an adventure, and teaching English in India can be a great way to give something back to a local community, even if you aren’t getting paid for it. Hindi is the official language of the government and spoken as a first language by most people in India. English is used extensively in business and administration, and it is also important in education, especially as a medium of higher education, so whether you want to volunteer teaching children or adults, there will be an opportunity for you.

India has much to offer the adventurous TEFL teacher: a cheap cost of living, bustling cities, world-famous cuisine, white-knuckle rickshaw rides, amazing wildlife, epic train journeys, shopping heaven and ancient cultural sites. While you might not be able to find paid work (or, if you do, you’re unlikely to earn and save a huge amount) India still holds appeal for many intrepid TEFL teachers.

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Key Facts

  • Popular locations for TEFL jobs: Mumbai, Delhi, Jaipur, Nagpur, Shimoga, Bijapur, Nagercoli, and Bangalore
  • Average salary for EFL teachers: The basic monthly salary for full-time positions is likely to be in the region of 11,000 – 74,000 INR (£120 – £775 / $150 – $1,000) per month. Most positions are voluntary
  • TEFL qualification requirements: A 120-hour TEFL qualification will be required for all paid positions as a minimum
  • Prerequisite university degree: Necessary for paid positions, often in specific subjects
  • Term times: The school year usually starts in April
  • Currency: Indian Rupee (INR)
  • Language: Hindi and English
  • Teaching programmes: International Schools, Business English, Freelance, Voluntary
  • Age restrictions: None
  • Previous teaching experience: Necessary for paid positions

English is the second language in India, and it is now taught in state schools from the age of six. If you do secure a position teaching English, it is most likely to be voluntary work. Very few ordinary citizens in India can dream of affording the luxury of English conversation classes and there are also very few westerners who could manage on the low wages earned by typical local English teachers. However, there are plenty of opportunities for volunteering to teach English in India and you will have no problem in finding eager students who would jump at the chance to learn English. Expect to teach large class sizes and with limited resources.

Teaching English in India is a rewarding experience. TEFL teachers in India are generally treated with the utmost respect and Indian students tend to be hardworking. Although you can expect to live well by local standards if you secure a paid TEFL job, do not expect to be able to save a lot or get rich from teaching English in India.

Requirements for teaching English in India

Country Avg. monthly salary Degree required Start of term Teaching experience Housing & flights included Suitable for non-native English speakers Age restrictions
Cambodia £680 - £1,000
($900 - $1,300)
No November No No Yes Under 65
China £1,000 – £2,000
($1,300 – $2,575)
Yes September No Yes Yes, if degree obtained from an English-speaking country Under 55
Hong Kong £1,550 – £6,300
($2,000 – $8,380)
Yes August No Not usually Yes Under 60
India £120 – £775
($150 – $1,000)
Yes April Yes No Yes None
Indonesia £565 – £1,030
($745 – $1,355)
Yes July No Not usually No Under 60
Japan £1,600 – £2,000
($2,100 – $2,675)
Yes April No Sometimes Yes Under 65
Kazakhstan £360 – £470
($465 – $600)
Yes August Yes Yes Yes None
Malaysia £550 – £1,450
($720 – $1,900)
Yes January Preferred Sometimes Yes Under 65
Myanmar £600 – £1,500
($800 – $2,000)
Yes June Preferred Sometimes No Under 52
Mongolia £630 – £1,000
($875 – $1,400)
Yes September Yes Sometimes Yes None
Nepal Voluntary No April No Sometimes Yes None
South Korea £1,280 – £1,600
($1,670 – $2,000)
Yes March No Yes No Under 62
Taiwan £1,335 – £1,735
($1,700 – $2,220)
Yes September No Sometimes No Under 65
Thailand £740 – £980
($1,000 – $1,280)
Yes May No Sometimes Yes None
Vietnam £920 - £ 1,500
($1,200 to $2,000)
Yes August No No Yes Under 60

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Living Costs

India is one of the cheapest countries in the world, but the cost of living fluctuates greatly depending on where you’re based. While it might cost next to nothing to live in a small city or town, living somewhere like Mumbai or Delhi can be hugely expensive, with rent being comparable to capital cities around the world. As most TEFL opportunities in India are voluntary, the cost of living is quite important to potential volunteers – if your position doesn’t provide accommodation and other perks such as food, you’ll need to work out your finances carefully before undertaking the trip. Some positions ask teachers to pay a participation fee.

While rent might be high in the more popular cities, the cost of food is low across India, with cheap options available across the country. Public transport might be crowded and uncomfortable, but the price is also low. It’s important to bear in mind that India isn’t a place to travel to if you aren’t interested in more earthy adventures – life in India will likely be noisy, crowded, stressful, and uncomfortable, but for some TEFL teachers, that’s half the fun!

  • Accommodation: £223 – £351 / $293 – $462
  • Utilities: £43 / $57
  • Health insurance: Cost of typical visit to a GP: £9 / $12
  • Monthly transport pass: £12 / $16
  • Basic dinner out for two: £13 / $17
  • Cappuccino in expat area: £2.28 / $3.01
  • A beer in a pub: £2.14 / $2.81
  • 1 litre of milk: £0.54 / $0.71
  • 2 litres of Coca-Cola: £0.87 / $1.14

(living costs sourced from Expatistan)

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