Teach English in Cape Town

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A Guide to Teaching Abroad in Cape Town

Sitting pristinely on the southern tip of Africa, Cape Town is widely hailed as one of the most beautiful, influential, and multicultural cities on the continent. South Africa’s second largest city has for centuries been a top destination for immigrants from all over the world, reflecting its diverse character, and recently it was also named the very best place in the world to visit by the New York Times. Not convinced yet that traveling to teach abroad in Cape Town will be an incredible experience? Make the leap and prove yourself wrong.

Teaching Jobs in Cape Town

While English is the most common language you will hear throughout the city, the fact remains that over 70% of Cape Town’s population are not first-language speakers (35% speak Afrikaans, 30% speak Xhosa, and 8% speak one of South Africa’s other 11 official languages). This means that there is a large market for ESL teachers to teach abroad in Cape Town, helping second language speakers learn English and gain the leg up they need to compete in an increasingly globalized city.

Throughout South Africa, most teaching positions you find will be on a volunteer basis, and this trend is no different in Cape Town. South Africa remains a developing country, and so while Cape Town is a relatively prosperous port city, most national educational resources are already allocated to local teachers. Your best luck will be looking for work at language schools or on volunteer projects, where international educators have the opportunity to teach at low income schools or across the city.

This is not to say, however, that finding a salaried job to teach abroad in South Africa is impossible. If you are a qualified, experienced international educator, then you can look into positions teaching at private academies or international schools across the city, of which there are plenty. This will also open the door to move beyond ESL to teach other subjects such as math, science, and history.

Life in Cape Town

Cape Town is a city of paradoxes. It’s tremendous scenic beauty and impressive infrastructure are countered by widespread urban poverty and inequality. It’s bright future as a leader in South African development is continuously checked by its dark past of apartheid and colonialism. Yet while you teach abroad in Cape Town and immerse yourself within these conflicting characteristics, you will discover something great; a city working hard within itself to forge a diverse, progressive identity to guide it smoothly into a 21st century leader.

There are nearly 4 million people living in Cape Town’s metropolitan area, making it officially South Africa’s second largest city after Johannesburg. Cape Town was first established in 1652 as the first European settlement in South Africa, and over the past few centuries has evolved through many dramatic transitions to become the multicultural, emerging global city it is today. Cape Town is the third most influential economic hub on the continent, and the most popularly visited among international travellers as well.

From the peaks of Table Mountain to sprawling beaches that expand around the city’s southern coastline, it’s impossible to complain about any shortage of natural beauty while you teach abroad in Cape Town. Within the city itself a wide diversity of museums, restaurants, and other such venues will further make for time well spent among coworkers and new friends. Get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!

Salaries & Visas

As previously outlined, most teaching positions in Cape Town will be offered on a volunteer basis; though while you will not be making any money for your service, you will often be helped out in other ways, such as being provided meals and housing through the duration of your tenure. If you are earning a salary to teach abroad in Cape Town, it will usually be around $1,000 to $1,500 per month.

The good news is that Cape Town is a relatively affordable city to live in for many international educators coming from the industrialized world. While some costs of living can be high, such as rent, most other living essentials are on the cheaper end because South Africa’s economy is still developing. The local currency is the South African rand, which exchanges at roughly 15 ZAR to $1.

Accommodation & Visas

Depending on your employment situation while you teach abroad in South Africa, different types of accommodation might be offered you. For example if you are embarking on a volunteer teaching program which lasts for a few months, then you may be offered to live in a homestay or other such group housing situation with fellow international educators. If you are moving to Cape Town for a permanent teaching position, then you will likely be expected to secure your own apartment.

While visitors from some countries are allowed to enter the country for up to 90 days visa-free, you will usually need to apply for a visa in order to teach abroad in Cape Town for any longer than this period. Generally your host school or teach abroad program in Cape Town will endorse you through this process; for more information in the meantime, you can check out our South African Embassy Directory.

Benefits & Challenges

Impact. Especially because most teaching positions in Cape Town are offered on a volunteer basis, you can feel confident that your efforts will be making a positive impact on the lives of locals. Often you will be working with lower income residents, helping give them the tools they need to get ahead.

History. From ancient history to colonialism to apartheid to liberation, South Africa has a fascinating history to learn about. Cape Town has always been central to the country’s development, and is a great place to launch into this education for yourself.

Practice. Even if you have no intention of entering into a career in international education for the long haul, the communication skills you will develop by living in a foreign city and teaching in front of a classroom can take you far in any field you choose. Practice makes perfect!

Leaving home to teach abroad in Cape Town is an intimidating move for any aspiring educator, especially if you have not yet taught abroad elsewhere. The only way to learn is to sink or swim however, and through immersion in Cape Town you’ll undoubtedly thrive.

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A Guide To
Teaching Abroad in Cape Town


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