Encompassing the crossroad between the European, Asian, and African continents, the Middle East has throughout history been one of the most dynamic regions on the planet. Widely regarded as the cradle of civilization, the region has been home to many great empires and dynasties, and today finds itself no less central to the global spotlight. Enrolling in a TEFL course in the Middle East is your opportunity to experience a vastly different way of life in a beautiful land, while developing the skills to help learners of all ages get a leg up with the English language.
While the boundaries of what constitutes the Middle East are not set in stone, the term is most often used to denote the region spanning from Egypt in the west to Iran in the east, and from Turkey in the north down to the Arabian Sea in the south. These parameters encompass 17 total countries, with a total population of just over 200 million people.
In the gulf, Saudi Arabia is becoming perhaps the most popular destination where to enroll in a TEFL course in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is a wealthy country and has recently instituted a plan to reform its economy by investing heavily in human development and social services; as such, English teachers from all over the world are highly valued. Smaller nations nearby such as Kuwait, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates can also be promising destinations where to enroll in a TEFL program in the Middle East.
To the west, Mediterranean countries such as Israel, Cyprus, and Lebanon can offer a much different cultural context where to enroll in a TEFL course in the Middle East. Whereas the rest of the Middle East adheres predominantly to Islam, these countries also observe Christianity and Judaism on a large scale, which creates a diverse, but no less culturally rich, environment where to study and teach.
Courses & Programs
Most TEFL programs in the Middle East will require at least 120 hours of classroom time, during which you will cover topics ranging from the basics such as grammar, writing, speaking, and listening, to more advanced areas of lesson planning, classroom management, and education strategy. Many TEFL courses in the Middle East will also include firsthand practice in front of a classroom as part of the program structure.
After completing your program and earning a TEFL certificate, you will then officially be certified to teach English anywhere in the world. As you might expect, many international educators who engage in a TEFL program in the Middle East choose first to stay on and look for work in the region. There is a high demand for English teachers at public schools, international schools, and language academies throughout the Middle East, and the pay rates are accordingly some of the best in the world.
Within and outside the classroom, you should be prepared to observe a more conservative standard while in the Middle East. Many countries have strict religious regulations regarding such things as dress, entertainment, and displays of affection, so it is important to take the time to learn the nuances of your new home and make your best effort to assimilate.
Costs & Affordability
TEFL programs range in affordability across the region, but for the most part you should expect to pay between $1,000 and $2,000 in course fees, and potentially more for other expenses such as transportation and housing on top of this. Don’t worry; as previously mentioned, TEFL positions in the Middle East are some of the best-paid in the world, so it is possible to make this initial investment back fairly quickly.
Different nations across the region will vary in their affordability as well, so keep this in mind while deciding on a destination for your TEFL program in the Middle East. As a general rule of thumb, costs of living across the Middle East are more affordable than in the advanced economies of, say, nearby Europe.
Accommodation & Visas
Housing options will vary distinctly around the region, as well. In more conservative countries such as Saudi Arabia it is common for international educators to live in designated compounds among other foreign nationals, while elsewhere you can more easily find an individual apartment or group living situation. Homestays are also sometimes offered for one-month TEFL programs in the Middle East.
What type of visa you will need to enroll in a TEFL course in the Middle East depends on the policies of your host country, and on other factors such as your home nation and the duration of your intended stay. For more information regarding your individual circumstances, check out our Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
Cultural Integrity. Do largely to its location at the crossroads between three major continents (Africa, Asia, Europe), the Middle East is home to a tremendous diversity of ethnic and cultural influences. In the age of globalization, it has further managed to hold onto a strong regional identity.
Educational Market. Once you complete your TEFL course in the Middle East, you can benefit directly from being in one of the hottest (and best paying) markets in the world for international educators. Why not stick around?
Truth of It. The Middle East perpetually finds itself at the center of the global spotlight, but it is impossible to gage the true richness of this region without travelling there for yourself. If you’re ready for an adventure, then make the decision and go.
Enrolling in a TEFL course in the Middle East can just be the beginning of a long and fruitful global career. After making the leap and proving to yourself that you can thrive in this dynamic region of the world, the opportunities are limitless!