Made up of seven different emirates, each ruled by their own emir, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a land of luxury, oil, coasts, lakes, and deserts. From Abu Dhabi to Dubai, people of all backgrounds can find something to enjoy in the UAE, in fact, they always do! The majority of the population in the UAE is comprised of foreigners (true emirati can be pretty hard to come by). Offering one of the highest salaries for foreign English teachers in the world, the UAE is a great, albeit competitive, place to earn TEFL certification abroad. If you’re looking for a country that requires high quality in everything from food to vacation to salary, look no further!
Most TEFL programs in the United Arab Emirates run for six weeks and include both online and in class instruction. However, if your preference is solely face to face training, there are TEFL certification programs in the UAE that do that too. With the majority of teacher training organizations based in Dubai, you can earn TEFL certification, choose where you want to teach, and get placed all within a month and a half of arriving.
Dubai is the most popular place to get trained and teach English in the UAE because of its location and the amenities it offers. What most excites people about coming to Dubai is the amazing shopping and great food; but, what’s great about Dubai is that there are actually places for every kind of budget, so if you’re a teacher looking to save money, don’t think it’s possible to do so in Dubai.
Abu Dhabi is a great alternative location for TEFL courses in the UAE, as it offers all the same amenities as Dubai, minus the traffic jams and headaches. With money from oil pouring all over this city, it appears Abu Dhabi is hitting its prime. So, while Dubai might seem a hectic, forever-in-a-growth-spurt phase, Abu Dhabi has a laid back feel to it and the city is carefully planning its growth. As a final note, Abu Dhabi features some of the best food in the United Arab Emirates, whether it’s shawarma, kebabs, falafel, or even non-middle eastern food, Abu Dhabi has it all.
TEFL Programs in the UAE
While in general, it isn’t a bad idea to get your TEFL certification before going abroad, there are several TEFL courses in the UAE that are worth waiting for and investing in. Most TEFL certification programs in the UAE consist of up to (and sometimes more than) 120 hours of coursework. Basic TEFL certification courses in the UAE teach participants everything from teaching methods to writing exercises to grammar theory and classroom management. Most TEFL programs also include a required amount of practice teaching prior to certification. All ESL training courses in the United Arab Emirates lead to either CELTA or TEFL certification.
Previous experience is not required to participate in TEFL programs in the United Arab Emirates, or in most any country for that matter. It is, however, not a bad thing if you are already a licensed or experienced teacher before arrival, as your background will greatly help you in your TEFL courses as well as in the classroom. While earning TEFL certification in the UAE, it’s possible to get a side job providing private tutoring to families or working at smaller public schools in more rural areas as an informal ESL teacher.
Another option is to go to the UAE, find a place to live, and earn a TEFL certificate online, while you look for jobs and get used to living in the Emirates. Online TEFL courses are incredibly easy to find and easy to complete. Most online TEFL programs also require 120 hours of coursework, but course content tends to vary, so be sure to research to get what you want.
Costs & Affordability
Despite being one of the more expensive countries to live in the world, the United Arab Emirates is still a place where you can earn your TEFL certification, find a great job, and end up saving money in the end. Most TEFL certification programs in the UAE cost around $1500.
Other costs you should prepare for before earning TEFL certification in the UAE include: rent and meals. Apartments can cost as much as $1800 near the center of major cities and around $1300 the farther you go away from the city center. Be on the lookout for TEFL certification programs in the UAE that include accommodation for students, and job opportunities that provide housing for hired teachers for that matter. An average meal at an inexpensive restaurant will cost around $6. In general, it’s a good idea to go grocery shopping to cut back on the expenses of daily meals. In terms of flights, if you can secure a job before heading to the UAE, some schools will reimburse you for the cost of your flight.
Pay is probably one of the biggest motivators for people to go teach English in the United Arab Emirates; once you complete your TEFL certification in the UAE and score a job, you can earn up to $3000 a month tax-free (this is prrrreeetty great in comparison to other popular countries for TEFL jobs). If you can budget properly and find a low-rent apartment, saving money won’t be hard at all in the UAE.
Keep in mind that you will be paid more as you gain more experience, but a newly certified teacher will earn around $2000 a month teaching English in the UAE. In order to bolster your salary, it is more than possible to privately tutor students or families and earn extra money at a per hour rate.
Accommodation & Visas
In terms of housing in the United Arab Emirates, your options will most likely depend on your preferences and the benefits of the job that you eventually get. Many schools in Dubai and Abu Dhabi actually provide apartments for foreign teachers, thus bringing the day to day cost of living down significantly. Most apartments are relatively luxurious with good air conditioning and comfortable beds.
Prior to coming to the United Arab Emirates, a work and residence visa will be required. These usually take up to three months to process, but can be completed in as little as one month if necessary. If you can find a teaching job in the UAE before departure, your school or organization will likely help you through the visa process. Be prepared for an in-depth and thorough examination before obtaining a visa; you will have to undergo an HIV test and in some cases, a criminal background check, to be approved for entry into the UAE.
Be sure to check out GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory for up-to-date information on visa requirements for the UAE.
Benefits & Challenges
The benefits of getting your TEFL certification in the United Arab Emirates are numerous, including having access to some of the most luxurious amenities in the world, earning one of the best tax-free teacher salaries in the world, and being able to partake in some of the most tasty cuisine on Earth.
However, keep in mind that some of the challenges can be a little off putting to some, unless you keep an open, hard working attitude. Some obstacles you might encounter as a TEFL student in the UAE include an expensive cost of living, a tempered social life due to an alcohol ban, and strongly contrasting cultural differences.
In the end, every experience of living abroad is purely what each traveler makes of it. If you’re having trouble with the cost of living in the UAE, make sure to budget more diligently, if cultural differences are a bit shocking, look and research deeper into what’s bothering you and it’ll probably help you make more sense of everything.
The United Arab Emirates is an amazing place to not only earn your TEFL certification abroad, but it is also among the best nations to teach English Abroad due to high salary rates, amazing luxuries, and a high level of motivation among students. Make the experience your own and don’t just get your TEFL certification in the UAE, gain a life changing experience.