Find Your Dream TEFL Job

Quick Facts

  • Degree Required

    Bachelor’s Degree

  • Salary

    $0-1,900/month

  • Visa

    Work Visa in advance

  • Age

    21-65

  • Contract

    12 months

  • Cost of Living

    $900-1,300/month

  • Typical Students

    Children

  • Interview

    Phone / Video call / In person

What Kind of Teaching Jobs Are There In South Africa?

The majority of TEFL positions in South Africa are in public schools, most of which are on a volunteer basis. However, there are a handful of paid positions for competitive candidates. Though, since English is one of South Africa’s 11 official languages, you’ll usually need great qualifications and previous teaching experience to land a job.

Teaching at a public school in South Africa

Most public schools in South Africa will have limited resources, often with fewer textbooks and stationery than needed. However, despite some slightly challenging conditions, teachers will often find that students are incredibly keen to learn and that teaching in South Africa is greatly rewarding.

Finding a job

Most schools prefer to hire EFL teachers who are already in the country and who can interview in-person. With this in mind, one of the best ways to find work is to hand out CVs and applications personally, visiting schools door-to-door. You’ll often be asked to do an interview as well as a demo lesson, to show your teaching ability in the classroom.

If you’re applying for volunteering positions, you can often apply online rather than in-person. You’ll usually be asked to send a CV, covering letter, proof of your qualifications, a copy of your passport and possibly a criminal record check. You’ll usually be asked to do an interview via video call, and in some cases, you may be asked to do a demo lesson by video call.

When to apply

The most popular time for public schools to hire new staff is in the December/January break, so November and December are good times to look for work. However, if you are applying for volunteer work or you have experience teaching maths, science or technology, you should be able to find work year-round.

Teaching hours & Class sizes

Most public schools operate from around 07:30-14:30. Lower grades may end slightly earlier and higher grades may end slightly later. Some of the best public schools have about 30-35 students in each class. However, many public schools will have classes of between 45 and 60 students.

Salary & Bonuses

Paid EFL teachers earn between $1,000-1,900 per month, but the majority of positions for EFL teachers are unpaid. Housing, flight reimbursement and bonuses are not usually provided by TEFL employers in South Africa.

Vacation

Unlike many education systems, the South African school year runs for the entire year, with a long break between December and January and shorter breaks in-between other terms. You can expect to have time off during the South African school holidays.

Pros

  • A comfortable wage for paid positions
  • Benefits like free accommodation, airport pick up and orientation for volunteers
  • Early work days and free afternoons

Cons

  • Few paid TEFL jobs
  • Lots of local competition for work
  • Often few resources and large classes
4 images of South Africa

Other types of teaching work in South Africa

There are some opportunities to work at international schools and private language centres in South Africa, but these positions usually have higher requirements than public schools. To work at one of these schools, you’ll usually be expected to have at least two years’ teaching experience, potentially in maths, science or technology, as well as relevant qualifications.

There are also a growing number of private English tutors in South Africa. They often advertise their services online and earn $12-20 per hour.

Am I eligible to teach in South Africa?

Although there are technically no requirements set in stone to be an EFL teacher in South Africa, there are a few unwritten requirements that you’ll likely need in order to be able to find work. Most employers will expect you to be a native English speaker from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, the US or Zimbabwe. (As English is one of South Africa’s official languages, candidates who are not from a ‘native English speaking’ country will find it difficult to find paid work here.) At the moment, Zimbabweans make up about 70% of the foreign workers in South African public schools.

How can I get a visa?

If you plan to find paid teaching work in South Africa, you’ll usually need to have proof that you can legally work in the country before you can enter and start applying for jobs. This means you’ll need to apply for a General Work Visa through your local South African embassy. In most cases, you’ll need to show your passport, qualifications and potentially a criminal record check. If you plan to volunteer, the rules are slightly different, and your best bet is getting advice directly from the company that you plan to volunteer for.

Where can I teach English in South Africa?

The most popular places to teach in South Africa are the larger cities, like Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg. There is also the South African British Council office in Johannesburg where you may find some TEFL opportunities.

Cape Town makes great use of outdoor space and is ideal for those who enjoy open air activities, such as abseiling, hiking, surfing and even paragliding. Perhaps the most famous part of the city is Table Mountain National Park, a flat-topped mountain which is South Africa’s most photographed landmark and is home to over 3,600 species of plants and flowers. Cape Town is also one of the safer places to live in South Africa.

On the East Coast of South Africa, Durban enjoys a warm subtropical climate and 25 miles of stunning beaches and verdant forests. You’ll likely be teaching students who do not speak English as their first language, unlike many areas of South Africa, with Zulu being used by almost 80% of the city.

Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa and the second largest city in Africa, after Cairo in Egypt. The bustling city is home to many dynamic urban hubs while also being home to over 10 million trees, sometimes referred to as ‘the world’s largest man-made forest’.

What are the challenges of teaching English in South Africa?

 

If you’ve already done some research on South Africa, you may be aware that the crime rate is higher here than in lots of countries and has grown in recent years. Though this is certainly something to consider before making a move, it’s also worth noting that there are some areas that have much higher crime rates than others. So, you may want to do some research on specific cities and areas in South Africa, rather than writing the whole country off as dangerous!

Another challenge of teaching English in South Africa is the competition for paid TEFL work. As English is one of the official languages in South Africa, there are lots of local native English speakers who can fill teaching positions. So, you may find it difficult to find a paid job as an English teacher in South Africa. However, if you are not worried about making money, you should find it easy to find volunteer teaching jobs!

Cost of living in South Africa

On average, the cost of living in South Africa is relatively low in comparison to many other TEFL destinations, coming in cheaper than Thailand, Cambodia, the Czech Republic and Brazil. Overall, it is more expensive to live in South Africa than China, Ecuador, Malaysia or Vietnam.

In Johannesburg, a meal at an inexpensive restaurant usually costs under $10, a beer or a coffee costs $2, and a bottle of water costs about 70¢. A one-way ticket on public transport is roughly $2, a cinema ticket costs about $6 and monthly gym membership is about $35. The general cost of living in Cape Town is slightly cheaper than living in Johannesburg, though the cost of rent is considerably cheaper in Johannesburg. The cost of living in Durban is about 20% cheaper than living in Johannesburg, though EFL teacher wages are usually lower here too.

About South Africa

South Africa is known as the ‘Rainbow Nation’ due to its diverse culture and colourful scenery. Wildlife is abundant here, with many safaris and national parks as well as being home to some of the most famous predators, including lions, leopards and rhinos.

The country is located on the south tip of Africa, surrounded by the Indian Oceans and the South Atlantic, and boasts 1,739 miles of coastline. It is bordered by Botswana, Namibia, Maputo, Mozambique and Swaziland, and enclaves the country of Lesotho.

The main languages spoken in South Africa are Afrikaans and English but there are actually many official languages spoken across the country. The country technically has three capital cities; Bloemfontein – the judicial capital, Cape Town – the legislative capital, and Pretoria – the administrative capital. The local currency is the South African rand (ZAR) and the population is about 58 million.

South African culture

South Africa is a melting pot of different cultures, with varying prominence in different regions. There are people from various backgrounds, including African, European and Asian, and there are a number of different official languages spoken. There are also many other unofficial but recognised languages used in South Africa, with many locals speaking more than one language. Locals from different backgrounds tend to have different cultures and customs, including different primary skills, languages and religions. So, it’s not surprising that the country is extremely diverse and it’s incredibly difficult to summarise the culture here. Some major ethnic groups include the Zulus – famous for their delicate beadwork and use of magic, Xhosa – known for their ancestral worship and complicated dress used to portray social status, and Ndebele – distinguished by neck rings, colourful patterned clothing and houses decorated with stunning geometric designs. There are lots of growing urban cities, but the vast majority of people still live in rural areas where old traditions and customs still thrive.

Various photos of South Africa
4 images of South Africa

South African cuisine

South Africa has a long history of settlement and colonization by many different nations. As such, it has a diverse culinary landscape with dishes inspired by various countries and cultures. In general, South African meals are hearty, meaty and often have lots of flavour. Some popular local dishes include Potjiekos – meat and vegetable stew cooked in a cast-iron pot, Bobotie – spicy mince curry with raisins, nuts and bananas, Durban chicken curry, and Chakalaka – a spicy vegetable broth usually served as a side. Famous snacks include Bokkoms – dried, salted mullet fish, Biltong – South African beef jerky, and Boerewors – beef sausages seasoned with coriander, nutmeg and cloves. When it comes to South African desserts, you’ve got to try Milktart – a creamy, sweet tart, Koeksisters – plaited doughnuts served with syrup, and Malva Pudding – a sponge-like cake that uses apricot jam and is served with ice cream or custard.

Accommodation in South Africa

Generally, accommodation isn’t provided by TEFL employers in South Africa. So, you’ll need to find and pay for your own. Most EFL teachers choose to stay inside gated communities, which are attended by security guards. These are slightly more expensive than a standard apartment outside of a gated community but are worth the peace of mind for many foreigners living in South Africa. On top of this, you can usually expect high-quality facilities as well as perks like a swimming pool or gym.

The cost of a two-bedroom flat in a gated community in Johannesburg is about $750 per month, which is a comfortable price to pay on an EFL teacher’s wage, especially if you share the flat with another person.

Weather in South Africa

Located in the Southern hemisphere between the Atlantic and Indian oceans, South Africa has a subtropical climate with summer in December, January and February and winter in June, July and August. In Cape Town, the hot weather peaks in February, reaching an average temperature of 23°C, and the coolest temperatures are in June, averaging at 13°C. In Johannesburg, January is the peak summer month with an average temperature of 21°C, and June is the coolest month, averaging at 10°C. The amount of rainfall and sunshine hours varies across the country, with Cape Town receiving heavy rainfall and fewer sunshine hours in July, whereas Johannesburg has little rain during its winter months and received between 9 and 11 hours of sunshine year-round.

Please note: The information in this guide is accurate as of the time of writing. However, the laws and requirements to teach abroad can often change. Make sure to check the latest advice from the local authority of the country you plan to work in.

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