3 Things to Consider For South Africans Planning to Teach English Abroad

Interested in getting out of South Africa and exploring another country and another continent? Tired of biltong, Spur burgers, and the local Pick and Pay?

Before you start planning your move overseas to teach English, keep in mind these three things:  visas, costs, and language. Let's break these three down further.

1. Visas

 “The Green Mamba”, is the nickname for the South African passport because many countries simply won’t welcome you with your green leather bound passport alone. You’ll need to apply for a special visa in the majority of countries. For example, if you want to teach English in Europe, you’ll need to research the requirements of obtaining a Schengen Visa.  Special visas to enter many countries typically come with not only piles of paperwork, but also heavy fees. 

If this isn’t what you had in mind as you planned on jumping on a plane to teach English abroad, I would recommend looking at this master list of places you can enter simply with your “Green Mamba”. 

You’ll find South America and Central America as excellent choices for teaching English. One more consideration for visas being, as you check out where you can teach, be sure to check out routes to get to these countries.  For example, if you want to teach in Nicaragua, you will probably have a connecting flight in the United States, which means you’ll need to also apply for a transit visa or C Visa.

Before booking a flight or making a plan for a country to teach in, it’s extremely important to take into account these transit visas.

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2. Cost 

When you decide to move abroad, you are going to have tuition for your TEFL course, your plane ticket, and your start-up costs as you move to this new country. 

Your start up cost will include paying for an apartment, transportation, and food, as you are settling in as an English teacher.  The value of the South African Rand should be taken into consideration as you are planning your move abroad. 

Moving to Colombia where the cost of living and value of the currency is similar will be an easier move than to Japan where the Yen is extremely high compared to the Rand.  Check out Numbeo, this is an awesome website that will show you how much an apartment, a cup of coffee, or your electric bill will cost in Rand throughout the world.  This will be invaluable as you are planning your adventure.

Also consider that all International TEFL Academy tuition costs are in US dollars.  If you are wondering how much a class is in Rand you can convert it with a currency converter easily. You may find the prices high compared to online and in person classes offered from South African TEFL schools, but consider the old saying “you get what you pay for."

If you find a class for 700 Rand via Groupon, steer clear.  To help guide you on picking a TEFL class check out 7 Key Tips for Evaluating a TEFL SchoolYou can also checkout reviews for International TEFL Academy on Go Overseas website.

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3. Language

Yes, you are South African and you are proudly from the Rainbow Nation, which boasts 11 official languages. If you want to teach English overseas, many jobs will require you to prove that English is your first language or the language used for your education.

Only 9.6% of the South African population is classified as “native” English speakers.  If your first language is Zulu, Xhosa, or Afrikaans, when you are applying for jobs overseas you may have to submit your transcripts and proof of your schooling being instructed in English to validate that you are in fact fluent and an expert in the English language, although it may not be classified as your first language. 

You can read more on our website about being a non-native English speaker here.

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Take Aways

As you are doing your research and planning, let these 3 considerations of visas, costs, and language guide you into making the best decision about if teaching English abroad is feasible for you.  For many the research, planning, and financial planning stage can be anywhere from 6 – 18 months.  Contact an advisor if you have more questions or assistance with the beginning stages of your plan.

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