Teach English in United Kingdom

a world of opportunities

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Kirsten Colquhoun
April 9, 2024

Contents

Why teach in the UK
Where to teach
Requirements and qualifications
Jobs and programs
Salaries and benefits
Cost of living
Saving opportunities
Life and culture

The United Kingdom consists of four distinct countries. To the north is Scotland, in the middle is England, in the west is Wales and in the northwest, away from the mainland, is Northern Ireland. 

The UK is known for its beautiful landscapes, historical wonders and sporting enthusiasm – and its grey weather! From the enigmatic Loch Ness to the mysterious Stone Henge to the rugged coastline of Wales, the UK offers a glimpse into history while maintaining its place at the forefront of business, fashion, music and sport.

Why teach English in the UK?

A 2023 survey found that almost 250,000 international students came to the UK to learn English, creating almost 20,000 jobs in the ELT sector – many of which are teaching positions! 

Interestingly, in 2022, the top source markets for international students in the UK included Saudi Arabia, Italy and Spain. But students come from Kuwait to South Korea to Ukraine. All over the world!

But there are far more reasons to teach in the UK than EFL jobs:

  • Its diversity is welcoming. Whether in a vibrant metropolis like London or a small town like Inverness, you’re sure to find people from all walks of life.
  • The UK has lots to offer in arts and culture. Many international events take place in the UK, and they’re often affordable to attend.
  • Exploring is easy. The UK boasts efficient and cost-effective travelling options, making it easy to visit even the furthest reaches of the UK.
  • Its proximity to Europe. Continental Europe is just a hop, skip and a jump away from the UK. When the weather gets you down, jump on a plane, train or bus and you’ll soon be enjoying the sunshine.

Best places to teach English in the UK

There are many opportunities to teach every kind of EFL in the UK from seaside towns like Brighton to big cities like Manchester or university towns like Cambridge. But certain areas are major centres for EFL jobs. These include London, Cambridge, Bath, Brighton, Edinburgh, and Belfast. 

London

For the fashionista

London is the heart of the UK. If you’re looking for bright lights, big city, then London is for you. The majority of teaching positions are found in private language centres which are scattered all around the city. Many teachers offer private lessons if they need to supplement their income.

Cambridge 

For the history buff

Cambridge is a quaint town with an impressive history. The University of Cambridge attracts international students from all over the world, not only to study at the university but also to learn English in the shadow of the great institution.

Cambridge has a language centre on every corner and students flock here in the summer months for summer camps.

Edinburgh

For the history buff

Historic cobbled streets, striking architecture and world-famous whisky walks are the name of the game in Edinburgh. A bustling but small-ish city, Edinburghers are a social bunch who love nothing more than a meet-up in a pub.

Requirements and qualifications to teach in the UK

A degree is required to work in the United Kingdom, as well as a TEFL certificate. A visa is required for foreign workers. To teach in a mainstream school, licensed teachers need to apply for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), but this is not necessary for ESL teachers. Teaching experience is preferred. 

Do you need a visa for teaching English in the UK?

You don’t need a visa if you are an Irish citizen, have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, or have indefinite leave to remain.

If you are a non-UK citizen, you’ll need a visa to work legally in the UK. 

There are a few different options available to non-UK citizens:

  • If you have a job offer and meet the eligibility criteria you can apply for a Skilled Worker Visa. 
  • If you are an international student in the UK you may be eligible to apply for a Post-Study Work Visa.
  • If you have a tertiary qualification from a recognised institution, you can apply for a High Potential Individual Visa.
  • Young people from certain countries can apply to the Youth Mobility Scheme.
  • Indian citizens between the ages of 18 and 30 can apply to the India Young Professionals Scheme.
  • You might be eligible for an Ancestral Visa. 

Do I need teaching experience to teach in the UK?

For ESL positions, teaching experience is not required but preferred by employers. 

Which TEFL certificate do I need to teach  in the UK?

We recommend our Level 5 TEFL Diploma to put your best foot forward when applying for teaching jobs in the UK. If you are unable to attend a Combined Course at one of our UK course locations, we suggest signing up for our Level 5 Observed Teaching Practice Course to add experience to your qualifications.

Can I teach English in the UK with no degree?

To work in a public or private school, you need a degree to qualify for Qualified Teacher Status. If you are eligible for any of the other working visas, a degree may not be required.

Can non-native speakers teach English in the UK?

Of course! There must be thousands of non-native English-speaking TEFL teachers in the UK. 

How much start-up capital do I need?

Here are a few costs you need to consider when starting out in the UK:

  • Accommodation: First month’s rent and security deposit.
  • TEFL certification: A TEFL course can cost between £100 and £350, 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 £120.
  • Living expenses: You will need one month’s worth of start-up capital of about £800 – £1,000 ($1,000 – $1,200).

Jobs and programs in the UK

TEFL teachers are in huge demand in the UK, with EFL students coming to the country either to live for 6 months or a year or for a summer camp to learn English. The unique element of working in the UK is that your classes will be multicultural. The learners have a direct motivation to learn and speak English so that they can communicate with their classmates.

Types of teaching jobs in the UK

TEFL teachers can find jobs in language schools, universities, summer camps, privately and online.

Private language schools

Most TEFL teachers in the UK teach in private language schools. The United Kingdom is a popular destination for international professionals and university students due to its welcoming business environment and diverse culture. 

Working in a language school you’re usually paid an hourly rate rather than a salary. The route into permanent and secure yearly employment can also be tricky, as the majority of EFL work, outside of some of the big cities, is seasonal. 

Read more: The Top Language Schools In The UK

Universities

Many foreign students come to the UK to study. However, even if they have a good level of English they might still find studying in English challenging, so they need extra lessons to brush up on their Academic English. 

You could find a position teaching English at a foundation level to students who have been accepted to study at a particular institution but need to improve their English level before they commence studying.

Working in an academic setting like a university pays more, but requires higher qualifications and more experience. 

Summer Camps

Summer camps are run by specialised companies or language schools. 

International students sign up for a week or two or three or even up to eight weeks to be on the camp. These students can be Young Learners but are mostly teens who are spending their school holidays on camp. 

There are different types of TEFL teachers on a summer camp:

  • Some TEFL teachers will live off-site and teach EFL lessons in the morning and then take part in the activities during the day.
  • Other TEFL teachers are residential, meaning they have the same responsibilities but they are given room and board on the camp site. 
  • Still others are pastoral, meaning they stay with the campers themselves, so they have added responsibilities relating to meals and bedtimes.

Private lessons

With such a large population of people in the UK for work purposes, coupled with the price tag of attending a private language school, there is a huge market for independent TEFL teachers to teach privately. 

Some teachers do this as a language exchange in which the TEFL teacher and the student take turns leading the lesson in their language. Others meet their students in local coffee shops and have a lesson for an hour a week after work.

Read more: 5 Characteristics of Summer Camp Teachers

How to get a job teaching English in the UK

If you are already in the UK and eligible to work, apply for teaching jobs through online job boards to secure interviews. Or you can pound the pavements, CV in hand.

Salaries and benefits in the UK

Teaching salaries and benefits differ from job to job. Language schools might pay an hourly rate, summer camps pay weekly, and universities can offer a set salary. 

What is the average teaching English salary in the UK?

  • Permanent positions at universities for EFL teachers pay from £20,000 to £40,000 a year.
  • Private language schools pay between £18 and £25 ($18 – $36) an hour.
  • On summer camps, salaries range from £400 to £550 a week, depending on your qualifications and experience,
  • For private lessons, TEFL teachers usually charge £20 – £25 an hour ($24 – $48) an hour.

What are the common benefits for teachers in the UK?

University positions may offer benefits such as paid holidays and a contribution towards your pension. Language school contracts usually don’t offer many benefits, but you should have a certain number of paid holidays. 

Cost of living in the UK

The cost of living in some UK cities is quite high. If you’re moving to the UK from a foreign country you’re likely to benefit from a preferential exchange rate, but try to keep your living costs as low as possible!

What is the cost of living in the UK?

The average monthly cost of living is between £700 – £1,000 without rent. 

Prices vary between big cities and smaller towns.

Accommodation

  • A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre: £1,000 ($1,100) a month
  • A one-bedroom apartment outside the city centre: £800 ($545) a month

Utilities

  • Electricity, water, and gas: £250 ($200) a month

Food and groceries

  • Monthly shop: £200 – £300 ($250 – $380)  
  • Meal at an inexpensive restaurant: £30($40)

Transport

  • Monthly travel pass: £65 ($38) 
  • One-way ticket: £2.50 ($1.60)

Internet 

  • Unlimited: £30 ($30)

Entertainment

  • Gym, cinema, clubbing: £100 ($100) a month

Is it possible to save as a TEFL teacher in the UK?

Saving a ton of money should not be your number one priority for coming to teach in the UK. But a teaching position should afford you a good lifestyle within the UK. With low-cost airlines and last-minute deals, you’ll be able to afford it’s super easy to take a few trips in Europe – or even across the pond in the States.

Our top tips for saving money in the UK:

  • If you’re keen on eating out, look for 2-for-1 deals at pubs or specials at restaurants. Local markets offer a range of food at low prices.
  • Use public transport to travel within the cities. Get a travel card like the Oyster card for further savings.
  • Check out tourist passes like the London Pass for access to tourist attractions at great deals – or even for free.
  • Accommodation is expensive. Consider sharing a house or flat with friends or colleagues to save on costs. If you can, live a little outside the city centre.

Life and culture in the UK

The UK is a highly diverse region. Expect to hear many different accents around town – even different UK accents!

The UK people love to walk and go out in nature. There are some stunning areas of natural beauty that have been preserved in the country. 

London has its very own character. Apart from the major tourist sites, such as the River Thames, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London, it also has a vibrant multi-cultural population.

Don’t leave the UK without participating in a pub quiz!

Read more: The Best Ways To Travel And Teach In The UK

Start your teaching journey with a certified TEFL course provider!

Contents

The United Kingdom consists of four distinct countries. To the north is Scotland, in the middle is England, in the west is Wales and in the northwest, away from the mainland, is Northern Ireland. 

The UK is known for its beautiful landscapes, historical wonders and sporting enthusiasm – and its grey weather! From the enigmatic Loch Ness to the mysterious Stone Henge to the rugged coastline of Wales, the UK offers a glimpse into history while maintaining its place at the forefront of business, fashion, music and sport.

Why teach English in the UK?

A 2023 survey found that almost 250,000 international students came to the UK to learn English, creating almost 20,000 jobs in the ELT sector – many of which are teaching positions! 

Interestingly, in 2022, the top source markets for international students in the UK included Saudi Arabia, Italy and Spain. But students come from Kuwait to South Korea to Ukraine. All over the world!

But there are far more reasons to teach in the UK than EFL jobs:

  • Its diversity is welcoming. Whether in a vibrant metropolis like London or a small town like Inverness, you’re sure to find people from all walks of life.
  • The UK has lots to offer in arts and culture. Many international events take place in the UK, and they’re often affordable to attend.
  • Exploring is easy. The UK boasts efficient and cost-effective travelling options, making it easy to visit even the furthest reaches of the UK.
  • Its proximity to Europe. Continental Europe is just a hop, skip and a jump away from the UK. When the weather gets you down, jump on a plane, train or bus and you’ll soon be enjoying the sunshine.

Best places to teach English in the UK

There are many opportunities to teach every kind of EFL in the UK from seaside towns like Brighton to big cities like Manchester or university towns like Cambridge. But certain areas are major centres for EFL jobs. These include London, Cambridge, Bath, Brighton, Edinburgh, and Belfast. 

London

For the fashionista

London is the heart of the UK. If you’re looking for bright lights, big city, then London is for you. The majority of teaching positions are found in private language centres which are scattered all around the city. Many teachers offer private lessons if they need to supplement their income.

Cambridge 

For the history buff

Cambridge is a quaint town with an impressive history. The University of Cambridge attracts international students from all over the world, not only to study at the university but also to learn English in the shadow of the great institution.

Cambridge has a language centre on every corner and students flock here in the summer months for summer camps.

Edinburgh

For the history buff

Historic cobbled streets, striking architecture and world-famous whisky walks are the name of the game in Edinburgh. A bustling but small-ish city, Edinburghers are a social bunch who love nothing more than a meet-up in a pub.

Requirements and qualifications to teach in the UK

A degree is required to work in the United Kingdom, as well as a TEFL certificate. A visa is required for foreign workers. To teach in a mainstream school, licensed teachers need to apply for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), but this is not necessary for ESL teachers. Teaching experience is preferred. 

Do you need a visa for teaching English in the UK?

You don’t need a visa if you are an Irish citizen, have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, or have indefinite leave to remain.

If you are a non-UK citizen, you’ll need a visa to work legally in the UK. 

There are a few different options available to non-UK citizens:

  • If you have a job offer and meet the eligibility criteria you can apply for a Skilled Worker Visa. 
  • If you are an international student in the UK you may be eligible to apply for a Post-Study Work Visa.
  • If you have a tertiary qualification from a recognised institution, you can apply for a High Potential Individual Visa.
  • Young people from certain countries can apply to the Youth Mobility Scheme.
  • Indian citizens between the ages of 18 and 30 can apply to the India Young Professionals Scheme.
  • You might be eligible for an Ancestral Visa. 

Do I need teaching experience to teach in the UK?

For ESL positions, teaching experience is not required but preferred by employers. 

Which TEFL certificate do I need to teach  in the UK?

We recommend our Level 5 TEFL Diploma to put your best foot forward when applying for teaching jobs in the UK. If you are unable to attend a Combined Course at one of our UK course locations, we suggest signing up for our Level 5 Observed Teaching Practice Course to add experience to your qualifications.

Can I teach English in the UK with no degree?

To work in a public or private school, you need a degree to qualify for Qualified Teacher Status. If you are eligible for any of the other working visas, a degree may not be required.

Can non-native speakers teach English in the UK?

Of course! There must be thousands of non-native English-speaking TEFL teachers in the UK. 

How much start-up capital do I need?

Here are a few costs you need to consider when starting out in the UK:

  • Accommodation: First month’s rent and security deposit.
  • TEFL certification: A TEFL course can cost between £100 and £350, 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 £120.
  • Living expenses: You will need one month’s worth of start-up capital of about £800 – £1,000 ($1,000 – $1,200).

Jobs and programs in the UK

TEFL teachers are in huge demand in the UK, with EFL students coming to the country either to live for 6 months or a year or for a summer camp to learn English. The unique element of working in the UK is that your classes will be multicultural. The learners have a direct motivation to learn and speak English so that they can communicate with their classmates.

Types of teaching jobs in the UK

TEFL teachers can find jobs in language schools, universities, summer camps, privately and online.

Private language schools

Most TEFL teachers in the UK teach in private language schools. The United Kingdom is a popular destination for international professionals and university students due to its welcoming business environment and diverse culture. 

Working in a language school you’re usually paid an hourly rate rather than a salary. The route into permanent and secure yearly employment can also be tricky, as the majority of EFL work, outside of some of the big cities, is seasonal. 

Read more: The Top Language Schools In The UK

Universities

Many foreign students come to the UK to study. However, even if they have a good level of English they might still find studying in English challenging, so they need extra lessons to brush up on their Academic English. 

You could find a position teaching English at a foundation level to students who have been accepted to study at a particular institution but need to improve their English level before they commence studying.

Working in an academic setting like a university pays more, but requires higher qualifications and more experience. 

Summer Camps

Summer camps are run by specialised companies or language schools. 

International students sign up for a week or two or three or even up to eight weeks to be on the camp. These students can be Young Learners but are mostly teens who are spending their school holidays on camp. 

There are different types of TEFL teachers on a summer camp:

  • Some TEFL teachers will live off-site and teach EFL lessons in the morning and then take part in the activities during the day.
  • Other TEFL teachers are residential, meaning they have the same responsibilities but they are given room and board on the camp site. 
  • Still others are pastoral, meaning they stay with the campers themselves, so they have added responsibilities relating to meals and bedtimes.

Private lessons

With such a large population of people in the UK for work purposes, coupled with the price tag of attending a private language school, there is a huge market for independent TEFL teachers to teach privately. 

Some teachers do this as a language exchange in which the TEFL teacher and the student take turns leading the lesson in their language. Others meet their students in local coffee shops and have a lesson for an hour a week after work.

Read more: 5 Characteristics of Summer Camp Teachers

How to get a job teaching English in the UK

If you are already in the UK and eligible to work, apply for teaching jobs through online job boards to secure interviews. Or you can pound the pavements, CV in hand.

Salaries and benefits in the UK

Teaching salaries and benefits differ from job to job. Language schools might pay an hourly rate, summer camps pay weekly, and universities can offer a set salary. 

What is the average teaching English salary in the UK?

  • Permanent positions at universities for EFL teachers pay from £20,000 to £40,000 a year.
  • Private language schools pay between £18 and £25 ($18 – $36) an hour.
  • On summer camps, salaries range from £400 to £550 a week, depending on your qualifications and experience,
  • For private lessons, TEFL teachers usually charge £20 – £25 an hour ($24 – $48) an hour.

What are the common benefits for teachers in the UK?

University positions may offer benefits such as paid holidays and a contribution towards your pension. Language school contracts usually don’t offer many benefits, but you should have a certain number of paid holidays. 

Cost of living in the UK

The cost of living in some UK cities is quite high. If you’re moving to the UK from a foreign country you’re likely to benefit from a preferential exchange rate, but try to keep your living costs as low as possible!

What is the cost of living in the UK?

The average monthly cost of living is between £700 – £1,000 without rent. 

Prices vary between big cities and smaller towns.

Accommodation

  • A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre: £1,000 ($1,100) a month
  • A one-bedroom apartment outside the city centre: £800 ($545) a month

Utilities

  • Electricity, water, and gas: £250 ($200) a month

Food and groceries

  • Monthly shop: £200 – £300 ($250 – $380)  
  • Meal at an inexpensive restaurant: £30($40)

Transport

  • Monthly travel pass: £65 ($38) 
  • One-way ticket: £2.50 ($1.60)

Internet 

  • Unlimited: £30 ($30)

Entertainment

  • Gym, cinema, clubbing: £100 ($100) a month

Is it possible to save as a TEFL teacher in the UK?

Saving a ton of money should not be your number one priority for coming to teach in the UK. But a teaching position should afford you a good lifestyle within the UK. With low-cost airlines and last-minute deals, you’ll be able to afford it’s super easy to take a few trips in Europe – or even across the pond in the States.

Our top tips for saving money in the UK:

  • If you’re keen on eating out, look for 2-for-1 deals at pubs or specials at restaurants. Local markets offer a range of food at low prices.
  • Use public transport to travel within the cities. Get a travel card like the Oyster card for further savings.
  • Check out tourist passes like the London Pass for access to tourist attractions at great deals – or even for free.
  • Accommodation is expensive. Consider sharing a house or flat with friends or colleagues to save on costs. If you can, live a little outside the city centre.

Life and culture in the UK

The UK is a highly diverse region. Expect to hear many different accents around town – even different UK accents!

The UK people love to walk and go out in nature. There are some stunning areas of natural beauty that have been preserved in the country. 

London has its very own character. Apart from the major tourist sites, such as the River Thames, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London, it also has a vibrant multi-cultural population.

Don’t leave the UK without participating in a pub quiz!

Read more: The Best Ways To Travel And Teach In The UK

Start your teaching journey with a certified TEFL course provider!

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