South Africa is so varied and complex, you could never hope to understand it by just visiting for a week or two. To really get to know the rhythm and beating heart of this country, you have to live there. It’s fair to say that South Africa is the nation Nelson Mandela built: a multicultural mix of languages, traditions, and history. While it’s a country of beautiful national parks and subtropical forests, it’s also a country with deep problems. However, don’t be put off by the problems. Being a teacher in South Africa will be one you’ll remember the rest of your life.
Where to Teach in South Africa
As its name suggests, South Africa is located at the southern tip of the African continent. The country’s population of 50 million people is divided into a number of different provinces, all of which were renamed almost 20 years ago. Wherever you decide to teach English in South Africa, you’ll marvel at the wildlife and bask in the warm sun. Here are the best places to teach abroad in South Africa.
Cape Town, located in southwestern South Africa, is as close as Africa gets to a European city, which means there’s an intriguing mix of cultures. Here you can stroll through the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, paraglide off Lion’s Head, and ogle at the painted faces of the Bo-Kaap. A trip up Table Mountain, the defining natural headliner of the city, and across the water to Nelson Mandela’s former prison Robben Island is a must.
Durban, the third most populous area in South Africa, is located in eastern South Africa on the coast of the Indian Ocean. This metropolis is a hotspot tourist destination thanks to its warm climate and endless beaches. Whether you’re looking to explore its nature reserves, shop to your heart’s delight at one of its many street markets, or soar down slides at uShaka Marine World, this city is the place for you.
Port Elizabeth, PE for short and nicknamed “The Friendly City,” is situated east of Cape Town and stretches along Algoa Bay. The city offers a subtropical climate with cowabunga surf spots and bathing beaches, and it’s the go-to spot for whale watching certain times of the year. You can also mosey through the gardens at St. George’s Park, or you could marvel at the towering elephants at the Addo Elephant Park.
Types of Teaching Jobs in South Africa
To live and work as a teacher in South Africa means you’re getting to know a community. You’ll experience the country on a different level than a tourist. It’s an incredibly immersive and rewarding way to see a place, but be prepared to work hard! Here are a few types of teaching jobs in South Africa.
Volunteer. This is one of the most common way to teach English in South Africa while experiencing the country. It’s an opportunity to assist staff with lessons and activities, conduct educational field trips, and create a more positive learning environment for the students in rural or underprivileged areas. Being a volunteer teacher offers plenty of rewarding work, and it’s a great opportunity to gain experience in the field.
TEFL/CELTA Courses. If you currently don’t have any type of ESL certificate, then taking courses in South Africa is a perfect opportunity to earn it while also exploring the country. It will be both an academic and cultural experience, as you teach students, learn the ropes of teaching, and visit tourist attractions. You’ll also be meeting people from around the world, and this opportunity could lead to future teaching jobs.
Teaching Salaries in South Africa
If you teach in South Africa as a volunteer teacher, you might be earning a small stipend every month or housing and food will be compensated instead. In some programs, if you have an actual job placement in an educational facility, a typical teaching salary in South Africa provides about $900 to $1,300 a month, although how much you actually receive will depend on your qualification, level of experience, and living arrangements.
Accommodations in South Africa
Often, volunteers or working teachers live on-site at a boarding school during their placement. This means a great deal of interaction with students at mealtimes and in the evenings. In some programs, you’ll share a house or apartment/flat with other program participants. Program fees or salary deductions will usually go towards covering living or accommodation costs. Some programs also offer homestay arrangements for its volunteer teachers, so you’ll be immersing yourself in the culture with its many languages, traditions, and customs.
South African Visas
If you’re teaching in South Africa for less than 90 days, you won’t need to apply for a tourist visa. However, if you’re staying for longer than 90 days, you’ll most likely need to apply for a general work visa, and the requirements can seem a bit overwhelming. You can start the process by visiting GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory, and program staff are usually helpful with applying for a visa.
GoAbroad Insider Tips
The country is still feeling the effects of the racial divide that characterised apartheid. Spending time in South Africa will allow you to learn about this dark and important period of recent history.
What to pack depends on when and where you travel. In summer, the hottest parts of the country will require mosquito nets and antimalarial medicine while in the cooler climates during winter, you’re best off packing plenty of thick jumpers!
From snapping photos of the Big Five animals on a safari to sampling wine at bistros, you’ll have the time of your life teaching in South Africa.