South Africa is one of the most diverse countries in the world and one of the most rapidly changing. As it moves away from its legacy of apartheid and isolation, it’s growing into a more modern society and economy. Its economy was once based on heavy industry and mining, with little need for a multilingual workforce. But now it has shifted toward high-tech, international commerce, conservation, and tourism, and English has become the language of business. As a result, there’s a high need for teachers in South Africa to teach English as a foreign language, making it an ideal location to earn your TEFL certification abroad.
Most TEFL programs in South Africa are located in major metropolitan areas, especially where the high-tech economy is emerging.
Cape Town. At about 3.75 million, Cape Town is the second largest city in South Africa after Johannesburg. It is a center for the country’s growing information technology industry, and a popular site for the film industry. It’s an educational center, with a wide range of universities that offer TEFL courses. The crime rate in Cape Town has been declining over the past decade, making it a safer location for TEFL in South Africa.
Johannesburg, once known as Pretoria, was the center of apartheid system, the city most stigmatized by it. Language and history lovers will relish in the nearby township of Soweto learning on site about the apartheid uprising that ultimately brought the system down. Today, Johannesburg is one of the more economically stable cities in South Africa, and place that attracts a large professional class with a strong need for English language instruction.
Durban is where South Africa meets India, where the tropics kick in, and where the beaches rule. It is home to the largest population of people of Indian descent outside of India, has a sizeable Asian population. It is where you will hear the Zulu language as commonly as English and experience Maskandi, the combination of dance, music, chants, and drums. It is the rhythm, sound, and soul of South Africa, and it’s always in transition, just as the country is. Durban’s architecture reflects its history as a center of the British colonial rule, and it is still a major port city. Despite the English language prevalence, TEFL certificate pursuers are still welcomed to take TEFL courses in Durban, and they will no doubt delight in the city’s concoction of cultures.
Courses & Programs
Most TEFL programs in South Africa include 120 to 140 hours of instruction spread over four weeks, and include a practicum or internship. Many organization will assist students with job hunting, once TEFL certification is complete, and most promote volunteer opportunities, primarily in South Africa’s poorer townships. Costs of TEFL certification in South Africa ranges from about $900 to $1,650, which does not include travel costs to the location. A high school diploma is required to apply, although a college diploma preferred, and many TEFL programs will want students over 21 years old only.
Most TEFL courses in South Africa are structured with a balance of theory and practical skills. Beginning with a grounding in general teaching skills and techniques, and an emphasis on developing awareness and sensitivity to student needs and language awareness. The best TEFL certification courses will include lesson planning, classroom management, and language analysis from the perspective of a foreign learner, and offer practical experience. Practical teaching experience usually consists of training sessions of at least six to ten hours where students can teach foreign volunteer students, under the guidance of an instructor who will give both written and oral feedback and evaluations.
Salary & Costs
The cost of living in South Africa fluctuates. Generally, it is low – the U.S. Dollar has a favorable exchange rate to the South African Rand. Costs are higher in Cape Town and Johannesburg, but very low compared to cities like San Francisco, New York, or London. In most places, you can get a beer for less than $2, a Big Mac combo for less than $5, and rent a furnished one bedroom apartment for $500 a month or less. If you stay in South Africa to teach following your TEFL certification, expect to start at about $800 to $1,000 a month.
Accommodations & Visas
Housing is plentiful and reasonable. You’ll be able to choose from a wide range of hostels, guest houses, and hotels to stay in during TEFL courses in South Africa. Some families also rent rooms, especially in the smaller towns and rural areas. In cities, there are a wide range of apartments that can be leased long-term, and most universities have housing offices that will match students looking to share accommodations.
If you’re taking TEFL courses in South Africa for less than 90 days, you do not need a visa, but your passport cannot expire within 30 days of the time your visit ends. Students staying longer must get a study permit. Allow about 60 days for the process. Applications can be submitted through the school where you are studying or through a South African embassy. They are generally issued for 24 or 36 months or specifically your program’s length of time.
Benefits & Challenges
- Straightforward & Affordable. Getting a TEFL certificate in South Africa is economical and relatively easy. You’ll have a wide range of schools and programs to choose from, and an opportunity to find employment after your finish your course. During TEFL courses or while working as a TEFL instructor, there will be opportunities to experience and interact with business people, educators, and entrepreneurs who are on the cutting edge of IT developments, health care innovations, and public education.
- Endless Recreational Activities. Filling your spare time won’t be a problem during TEFL in South Africa. The countryside is lush and hiking, biking, scuba, snorkeling, and beach time are all easily accessible. Music and theater are everywhere, and you’ll have a chance to see the Big Five (buffalo, elephant, lion, rhinoceros, and leopard) on safari or at game preserves.
- Be Mindful of History. South Africa is hardly a generation removed from apartheid. The income gap between rich and poor is wide. Though no longer institutionalized, there are still stark divisions by race, prejudices remain, and crime is a concern.