South Africa has eleven official languages (and there are dozens more spoken throughout the Republic) of which English is included. While the mother tongue for only about 10% of the population, English is understood to some degree by nearly everyone living in the urban areas. As such, there isn’t a huge demand for TEFL teachers in South Africa because much of the population already speaks English, and the language schools that do exist will predominantly hire locals who are themselves native English speakers. However, if you happen to be proficient in another language, you might be able to find work at one of the bilingual schools in South Africa. Bilingual schools include those speaking French, German, and some African languages such as Afrikaans. If you struggle to find paid work but still want to travel to South Africa, there are plenty of opportunities to work as a volunteer TEFL teacher, working with children from poor areas to help them improve their English.
A lot of TEFL teachers are put off working in South Africa because of its reputation for a high rate of crime. While it’s true that many locations in South Africa have a high crime rate, it’s estimated that more than 80% of crimes take place between people that know each other, so as a random person on the street, you’re less likely to be a target for crime than you think. However, it is a point worth considering, so make sure you do research into the safety of the area you want to travel to, and try to speak to people who are actually there to gage what things are like on the ground.
Teach English Online in South Africa
Teaching work can be hard to find in South Africa, even if you’re qualified and experienced as a TEFL teacher. If you work part-time, or perhaps are teaching as a volunteer in South Africa, you can earn extra money in your free time by teaching English online. While South Africa has a cheaper cost of living than around 60% of places around the world, it’s one of the most expensive countries in Africa, so you might struggle to get by without supplementing your income with some online work.
When you’re teaching online, you don’t have to limit yourself to finding students in the same country as you. Supplement your income by finding work on a TEFL platform anywhere in the world to find students at a time of day to suit you. When applying for TEFL jobs online, be sure to tell your employer what accent you have – if you say that you’re living in South Africa, they might think you have a South African accent. Unfortunately, many schools are unwilling to consider teachers with a South African accent, so don’t hinder yourself unnecessarily if you have a British, Irish, Canadian, or American accent – typically the most sought after. For a list of online schools you can apply to, read this article that lists some of the best schools around.
Volunteer in South Africa
While it can be hard to find paid work as a TEFL teacher in South Africa, there are plenty of volunteering opportunities that you can take part in. Most of these are run by a company who charge a fee to organise your trip, usually including accommodation and food but not transport to South Africa. Always read the project details to see what’s included and what extra costs there might be, particularly for visas.
Plan My Gap Year runs trips for English speakers (native or of a good level) to teach in South Africa. Volunteers will teach English and a range of other subjects to underprivileged children from government schools in Cape Town. Predominantly you will be a teaching assistant, there to support the local teacher, but it’s quite usual for volunteers to have the opportunity to plan and lead their own classes – you should be enthusiastic, creative, and be able to think on your feet. Expect to get up early and take (often, unreliable) public transport to your place of work. Lessons finish by 2:30, and after preparing your materials for the next day, the afternoon is yours. Explore the local area during your weekends. Accommodation is included in the fee but meals aren’t. Projects run from 2 weeks up to 12 weeks.
New Hope Volunteers runs a program to teach English in Cape Town. Volunteers are placed at the local schools and teach at a primary, middle, or high school level, where you will mostly be assisting the full-time teacher. You need fluency in the written and spoken English language.
GVI looks for volunteers to work one-to-one with underprivileged primary school children. As well as literacy, you might also be teaching numeracy, art, and sport.
RCDP looks for volunteers to teach English in Cape Town. Volunteers stay in a hostel or with a host family, on trips ranging from 1 to 12 weeks long. The Teaching English Project aims at enhancing written as well as spoken English language skills of these children. Volunteers can assist by taking classes, preparing curriculum, or organizing various activities for the children to participate in. Volunteers can work in the kindergarten, primary or secondary school, teaching for 2-3 hours per day.If you want to find out more about volunteering as a TEFL teacher, read this article.
TEFL jobs in South Africa
The school year starts in February, so for academic positions you should look no later than November to find work. Language schools hire around the year, but as we’ve outlined above, these positions are almost always filled by local teachers. As such, when applying for positions at bilingual schools and other academic institutes you’ll be looking to start work in the new academic year. You’re most likely to find work in the bigger cities in South Africa such as Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban. Some TEFL teachers find success by handing out CVs once they’re in South Africa – employers will be more likely to hire you if you’re actually in the country, and if you have the right to work there.
Bay Language Institute in Port Elizabeth currently runs all its classes online since the Covid-19 pandemic.
British Council South Africa. Sometimes there are positions for newly qualified teachers (with a first degree and CELTA) but most teachers will be hired from the talent pool and have already taught with BC.
Cape Studies offers courses in general English, Business English, exam preparation and more.
Durban Language Centre offers courses to learners of all levels. Group and individual classes available.
South African Citizens can apply to work with EF Education First in Bryanston.
The Getting to Know English Centre in Pretoria offers general courses at 6 different levels, from beginner to advanced. They also offer IELTS and TOEFL preparation classes.
Interlink prefers South Africans but will consider teachers of other nationalities who are native speakers, have the right to work in South Africa, and have a TEFL qualification (CELTA preferred). 70 Rand per hour.
International House has a branch in Johannesburg.
Knysna English School offers IELTS preparation classes, General English courses, courses for young learners, Business English, and English for Specific Purposes.
Lycée Jules Verne is a French/English bilingual school. If you aren’t local, you need to have French Department of Education credentials as well as English language certifications and be able to teach your discipline in English.
Magri’s Language Institute runs English courses for kids and adults. Teachers need a university degree, a TEFL qualification, and to have training in the Direct Individualised Approach.
Redhill School is an IB school. They only accept applications in reference to an advertised job.