Teach English in South Africa

a world of opportunities

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Kirsten Colquhoun
April 9, 2024

Contents

Why teach in South Africa?
Where to teach
Requirements and qualifications
Jobs and programs
How to get jobs
Salaries and benefits
Cost of living
Saving opportunities
Life and culture

South Africa is a country of extremes. From the bustling metropolis of the city of Gold in the north and the world-famous beaches in the south to the desert in the west and the tropical heat of the east, South Africa has something to offer everyone.

Why teach English in South Africa?

South Africa is a fascinating country. The demand for teachers is not as high as in other English-speaking countries, which is probably due to its location at the southernmost tip of Africa. 

But it’s a hub for English learners from other African countries, and a surprising number of learners from Europe, Asia and South America.

Here’s why you should teach English in South Africa:

  • In South Africa, you can make a difference. There are numerous opportunities for volunteer work for teachers and students for those interested in giving back to the local community.
  • It’s a lifestyle like nowhere else. South Africa has good food, the great outdoors, arts, culture and music, sports, great weather – and an attractive exchange rate for most!
  • In South Africa, you’ll feel at home. In this friendly country, you’ll find making friends easy – and you’ll probably hang out with your students too!

Best places to teach English in South Africa

In South Africa, you can find teaching opportunities in language schools, privately, in a volunteer position, or online.

A few cities in South Africa are home to the bulk of private language schools: Cape Town, Johannesburg (Joburg) and Gqeberha. These are the best cities to find a teaching job.

Cape Town

For the outdoorsy type

Cape Town is known for its natural beauty, and for good reason. Cape Townians enjoy starting (or ending) their day with a walk along the beach, a run in the mountains, or a cold water dip in a tidal pool. An international city, Cape Town attracts all types of people and is home to many different nationalities.

Johannesburg

For the city slicker

Joburg is the big city of South Africa. The financial hub, it’s busy, exciting and cosmopolitan. Teachers in Joburg are likely to earn more than those in Cape Town, with the added bonus of a lower cost of living.

Gqeberha

For the laidback teacher

Gqeberha is known as one of the more relaxed cities in South Africa. Situated on the coast, this city is becoming known as the “water sports capital” of South Africa. 

Requirements and qualifications

A visa is required to work in South Africa if you’re not a citizen. The requirements for this vary between nationalities. A degree is needed for most TEFL jobs, and a TEFL qualification is the bare minimum you must hold.

Do you need a visa for teaching English in South Africa?

Yes. If you are not a South African citizen you need to apply for a visa to teach in South Africa. Teachers need to apply for a General Work Visa.

Do I need teaching experience to teach in South Africa?

No. TEFL positions in South Africa are great starting points for new TEFL teachers. Because of this, there is a big focus on professional development for teachers.

Which TEFL certificate do I need to teach in South Africa?

Your TEFL certificate should be at least 120 hours. It should cover all the fundamentals of teaching English as a foreign language. Your qualification should be from a reputable, accredited and internationally recognised TEFL course provider.

Can I teach English in South Africa with no degree?

Yes, but it’s difficult. Some language schools may employ TEFL teachers without a degree, but not all. The more qualifications and experience you have, the higher your salary will be.

Can non-native speakers teach English in South Africa?

Absolutely. Being such a melting pot of ethnicities and languages, South African employers recognise that the competence of a language teacher does not depend on their first language status.

How much start-up capital do I need?

Here are a few costs you need to consider when starting out in South Africa:

  • Accommodation: First month’s rent and security deposit.
  • TEFL certification: A TEFL course can cost between $100 and $500, depending on the length and level of the course and the course provider. 
  • Document fees: Any costs related to certifying and notarising your degree and TEFL certificate.
  • Flight ticket: Variable. 
  • Visa application: The cost of a visa is subject to your home country. You can expect to pay between $100 and $150.
  • Living expenses: You will need one month’s start-up capital of about R10,000 ($550).

Jobs and programs in South Africa

South Africa is a popular destination for international professionals and university students due to its welcoming business environment and diverse culture. 

Types of teaching jobs in South Africa

In South Africa, TEFL teachers can find jobs in private language schools or private lessons or online. Volunteering is another option.

Private language schools

There are language schools around the country, mostly centred in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Qgeberha. These centres run classes for adult learners from a wide variety of countries and backgrounds. 

Classes range from General English to exam classes, group classes or one-to-one. You could be teaching a Brazilian student or a Swiss businessman; no two weeks will be the same. Sometimes groups of children will be brought in for summer courses, but this is not common.

Private lessons

Many TEFL teachers teach private lessons to supplement their income. Foreign students are regular visitors to South Africa and private students aren’t hard to find. The only caveat is that you cannot teach students from your language school, privately.

Online

The cost of living in South Africa is relatively high when we compare it to local salaries. However, it’s pretty low in comparison to countries outside Africa. 

Because of this, Cape Town especially is becoming a hub for digital nomads from all over the world who come to enjoy the natural beauty and great lifestyle. 

Teaching English online in South Africa, teachers need to be aware of electricity cuts (loadshedding) and bad connectivity. But it doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem for the approximately 10,000 foreign remote workers!

Other teaching programs in South Africa

Volunteering

South Africa is a great place to look for volunteer work and gain valuable TEFL experience. There are a lot of social organisations which place you in a local school or teaching centre and would welcome your skills with open arms. 

It’s possible to find these opportunities before arriving in the country. If you’d rather be sure of what you’re getting into before you get there, go this route – though they might charge a fee for the programme.

How to get a job teaching English in South Africa

The best way to get a job teaching English in South Africa is by being within the country. Printing out your CV and approaching language schools in person is the easiest way to get noticed. You can also contact the language schools directly. 

Positions with higher qualifications – Academic Managers or Directors of Studies – are advertised online. 

And if you’re an online teacher then you don’t need to worry about anything except your digital nomad visa.

Salaries and benefits in South Africa

South Africa offers an amazingly carefree lifestyle. You’ll undoubtedly fall in love with the beauty of the cities and the friendliness of its people, but South Africa is not known for very high salaries in any field – don’t expect to come to South Africa to save a lot of money.

You’ll probably earn an hourly wage rather than a monthly salary, and you won’t be guaranteed set hours. During the low season (South African winter, June – August), some language schools may only be able to offer part-time hours. 

What is the average teaching English salary in South Africa?

  • The average salary of a TEFL teacher in South Africa ranges between R10,000 – R25,000 ($550 – $1,250) a month.
  • Private language schools pay R75 – R150 ($4 – $8) an hour.
  • For private lessons, TEFL teachers usually charge R150 – R500 ($8 – $25) an hour.
  • Online teachers charge upwards of R100 ($5) an hour – up to R500 ($25) for more specialised lessons.

What are the common benefits for teachers in South Africa?

Schools are unlikely to contribute to airfares, visas or accommodation. But you’ll be able to enjoy 12 paid public holidays every year.

Cost of living in South Africa

The cost of living in South Africa is relatively high in relation to local salaries, but the reason you would come here is the lifestyle and the experience.  If you’ve got foreign currency in your pocket, South Africa is a dream destination!

What is the cost of living in South Africa?

The average monthly cost of living is between R10,000 – R25,000 ZAR ($530 – $1,300 USD).

Here are some of the usual costs for living in South Africa – but bear in mind, these can vary depending on which city you are in:

Accommodation

  • A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre: R8,000 ($450) a month
  • A one-bedroom apartment outside the city centre: R6,000 ($320) a month

Utilities

  • Electricity, water, and gas: R2,000 ($100) a month

Food and groceries

  • Monthly shop: R2,000 ($100)  
  • Meal at an inexpensive restaurant: R350 ($20)

Transport

  • Monthly travel pass: R800 ($40) 
  • One-way ticket: R30 ($1.50)

Internet 

  • Unlimited: R800 ($40)

Entertainment

  • Gym, cinema, clubbing: R2,500 ($135) a month

Is it possible to save as a TEFL teacher in South Africa?

If you’re earning in rands then it’s not likely that you’ll be saving a ton of money. A better idea is to spend your earnings in the country to really enjoy this special place.

Our top tips to save money in South Africa:

  • Get a loyalty card from the supermarket you frequent the most. There are always discounts and specials for card holders.
  • Be mindful of your electricity usage. Unplug appliances and turn off lights when not in use.
  • Avoid shops and restaurants at tourist hotspots.
  • Where possible, rideshare with friends to save on petrol costs. Take public transport where possible.
  • Take advantage of the many free activities to do around South African towns and cities. Most beaches, mountains and community parks are free to visit and open to the public – and many museums and art galleries on certain days too.

Life and culture in South Africa

It might have a controversial history and a reputation for its crime, but South Africa has spectacular natural beauty and a rich culture that will welcome you with open arms. You might find that once you’ve arrived, you’ll never want to leave!

South Africa recognises 12 official languages, including sign language. No matter where you are in the country, you’ll be surrounded by different nationalities, ethnicities, and languages. 

It’s not known as the Rainbow Nation for nothing!

At the same time, South Africa is a vast country. One part of the country can be quite different to the next. Be sure to travel across the country to experience everything it has to offer.

South Africans are a hard-working bunch, but strongly subscribe to the saying: work hard, play hard. Expect to be regularly invited to a braai (barbecue) with friends or colleagues, or out for a drink after work.

But the most important thing to remember when living in South Africa? Your sense of humour. South Africans love to have a laugh.

Start your teaching journey with a certified TEFL course provider!

Contents

South Africa is a country of extremes. From the bustling metropolis of the city of Gold in the north and the world-famous beaches in the south to the desert in the west and the tropical heat of the east, South Africa has something to offer everyone.

Why teach English in South Africa?

South Africa is a fascinating country. The demand for teachers is not as high as in other English-speaking countries, which is probably due to its location at the southernmost tip of Africa. 

But it’s a hub for English learners from other African countries, and a surprising number of learners from Europe, Asia and South America.

Here’s why you should teach English in South Africa:

  • In South Africa, you can make a difference. There are numerous opportunities for volunteer work for teachers and students for those interested in giving back to the local community.
  • It’s a lifestyle like nowhere else. South Africa has good food, the great outdoors, arts, culture and music, sports, great weather – and an attractive exchange rate for most!
  • In South Africa, you’ll feel at home. In this friendly country, you’ll find making friends easy – and you’ll probably hang out with your students too!

Best places to teach English in South Africa

In South Africa, you can find teaching opportunities in language schools, privately, in a volunteer position, or online.

A few cities in South Africa are home to the bulk of private language schools: Cape Town, Johannesburg (Joburg) and Gqeberha. These are the best cities to find a teaching job.

Cape Town

For the outdoorsy type

Cape Town is known for its natural beauty, and for good reason. Cape Townians enjoy starting (or ending) their day with a walk along the beach, a run in the mountains, or a cold water dip in a tidal pool. An international city, Cape Town attracts all types of people and is home to many different nationalities.

Johannesburg

For the city slicker

Joburg is the big city of South Africa. The financial hub, it’s busy, exciting and cosmopolitan. Teachers in Joburg are likely to earn more than those in Cape Town, with the added bonus of a lower cost of living.

Gqeberha

For the laidback teacher

Gqeberha is known as one of the more relaxed cities in South Africa. Situated on the coast, this city is becoming known as the “water sports capital” of South Africa. 

Requirements and qualifications

A visa is required to work in South Africa if you’re not a citizen. The requirements for this vary between nationalities. A degree is needed for most TEFL jobs, and a TEFL qualification is the bare minimum you must hold.

Do you need a visa for teaching English in South Africa?

Yes. If you are not a South African citizen you need to apply for a visa to teach in South Africa. Teachers need to apply for a General Work Visa.

Do I need teaching experience to teach in South Africa?

No. TEFL positions in South Africa are great starting points for new TEFL teachers. Because of this, there is a big focus on professional development for teachers.

Which TEFL certificate do I need to teach in South Africa?

Your TEFL certificate should be at least 120 hours. It should cover all the fundamentals of teaching English as a foreign language. Your qualification should be from a reputable, accredited and internationally recognised TEFL course provider.

Can I teach English in South Africa with no degree?

Yes, but it’s difficult. Some language schools may employ TEFL teachers without a degree, but not all. The more qualifications and experience you have, the higher your salary will be.

Can non-native speakers teach English in South Africa?

Absolutely. Being such a melting pot of ethnicities and languages, South African employers recognise that the competence of a language teacher does not depend on their first language status.

How much start-up capital do I need?

Here are a few costs you need to consider when starting out in South Africa:

  • Accommodation: First month’s rent and security deposit.
  • TEFL certification: A TEFL course can cost between $100 and $500, depending on the length and level of the course and the course provider. 
  • Document fees: Any costs related to certifying and notarising your degree and TEFL certificate.
  • Flight ticket: Variable. 
  • Visa application: The cost of a visa is subject to your home country. You can expect to pay between $100 and $150.
  • Living expenses: You will need one month’s start-up capital of about R10,000 ($550).

Jobs and programs in South Africa

South Africa is a popular destination for international professionals and university students due to its welcoming business environment and diverse culture. 

Types of teaching jobs in South Africa

In South Africa, TEFL teachers can find jobs in private language schools or private lessons or online. Volunteering is another option.

Private language schools

There are language schools around the country, mostly centred in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Qgeberha. These centres run classes for adult learners from a wide variety of countries and backgrounds. 

Classes range from General English to exam classes, group classes or one-to-one. You could be teaching a Brazilian student or a Swiss businessman; no two weeks will be the same. Sometimes groups of children will be brought in for summer courses, but this is not common.

Private lessons

Many TEFL teachers teach private lessons to supplement their income. Foreign students are regular visitors to South Africa and private students aren’t hard to find. The only caveat is that you cannot teach students from your language school, privately.

Online

The cost of living in South Africa is relatively high when we compare it to local salaries. However, it’s pretty low in comparison to countries outside Africa. 

Because of this, Cape Town especially is becoming a hub for digital nomads from all over the world who come to enjoy the natural beauty and great lifestyle. 

Teaching English online in South Africa, teachers need to be aware of electricity cuts (loadshedding) and bad connectivity. But it doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem for the approximately 10,000 foreign remote workers!

Other teaching programs in South Africa

Volunteering

South Africa is a great place to look for volunteer work and gain valuable TEFL experience. There are a lot of social organisations which place you in a local school or teaching centre and would welcome your skills with open arms. 

It’s possible to find these opportunities before arriving in the country. If you’d rather be sure of what you’re getting into before you get there, go this route – though they might charge a fee for the programme.

How to get a job teaching English in South Africa

The best way to get a job teaching English in South Africa is by being within the country. Printing out your CV and approaching language schools in person is the easiest way to get noticed. You can also contact the language schools directly. 

Positions with higher qualifications – Academic Managers or Directors of Studies – are advertised online. 

And if you’re an online teacher then you don’t need to worry about anything except your digital nomad visa.

Salaries and benefits in South Africa

South Africa offers an amazingly carefree lifestyle. You’ll undoubtedly fall in love with the beauty of the cities and the friendliness of its people, but South Africa is not known for very high salaries in any field – don’t expect to come to South Africa to save a lot of money.

You’ll probably earn an hourly wage rather than a monthly salary, and you won’t be guaranteed set hours. During the low season (South African winter, June – August), some language schools may only be able to offer part-time hours. 

What is the average teaching English salary in South Africa?

  • The average salary of a TEFL teacher in South Africa ranges between R10,000 – R25,000 ($550 – $1,250) a month.
  • Private language schools pay R75 – R150 ($4 – $8) an hour.
  • For private lessons, TEFL teachers usually charge R150 – R500 ($8 – $25) an hour.
  • Online teachers charge upwards of R100 ($5) an hour – up to R500 ($25) for more specialised lessons.

What are the common benefits for teachers in South Africa?

Schools are unlikely to contribute to airfares, visas or accommodation. But you’ll be able to enjoy 12 paid public holidays every year.

Cost of living in South Africa

The cost of living in South Africa is relatively high in relation to local salaries, but the reason you would come here is the lifestyle and the experience.  If you’ve got foreign currency in your pocket, South Africa is a dream destination!

What is the cost of living in South Africa?

The average monthly cost of living is between R10,000 – R25,000 ZAR ($530 – $1,300 USD).

Here are some of the usual costs for living in South Africa – but bear in mind, these can vary depending on which city you are in:

Accommodation

  • A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre: R8,000 ($450) a month
  • A one-bedroom apartment outside the city centre: R6,000 ($320) a month

Utilities

  • Electricity, water, and gas: R2,000 ($100) a month

Food and groceries

  • Monthly shop: R2,000 ($100)  
  • Meal at an inexpensive restaurant: R350 ($20)

Transport

  • Monthly travel pass: R800 ($40) 
  • One-way ticket: R30 ($1.50)

Internet 

  • Unlimited: R800 ($40)

Entertainment

  • Gym, cinema, clubbing: R2,500 ($135) a month

Is it possible to save as a TEFL teacher in South Africa?

If you’re earning in rands then it’s not likely that you’ll be saving a ton of money. A better idea is to spend your earnings in the country to really enjoy this special place.

Our top tips to save money in South Africa:

  • Get a loyalty card from the supermarket you frequent the most. There are always discounts and specials for card holders.
  • Be mindful of your electricity usage. Unplug appliances and turn off lights when not in use.
  • Avoid shops and restaurants at tourist hotspots.
  • Where possible, rideshare with friends to save on petrol costs. Take public transport where possible.
  • Take advantage of the many free activities to do around South African towns and cities. Most beaches, mountains and community parks are free to visit and open to the public – and many museums and art galleries on certain days too.

Life and culture in South Africa

It might have a controversial history and a reputation for its crime, but South Africa has spectacular natural beauty and a rich culture that will welcome you with open arms. You might find that once you’ve arrived, you’ll never want to leave!

South Africa recognises 12 official languages, including sign language. No matter where you are in the country, you’ll be surrounded by different nationalities, ethnicities, and languages. 

It’s not known as the Rainbow Nation for nothing!

At the same time, South Africa is a vast country. One part of the country can be quite different to the next. Be sure to travel across the country to experience everything it has to offer.

South Africans are a hard-working bunch, but strongly subscribe to the saying: work hard, play hard. Expect to be regularly invited to a braai (barbecue) with friends or colleagues, or out for a drink after work.

But the most important thing to remember when living in South Africa? Your sense of humour. South Africans love to have a laugh.

Start your teaching journey with a certified TEFL course provider!

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