8 Top Government TEFL Programs for Teaching English Abroad

Government Programs are popular options for those looking to teach English abroad. In this article, we explore the top 8 teach abroad programs, their benefits, and requirements. 

8 Top Government TEFL Programs for Teaching English Abroad

If you're looking to teach English in countries like South Korea, Japan, and Spain, you might consider applying through a teach English abroad program offered by governments.

What is a Government TEFL Program for Teaching English Abroad?

Government TEFL programs place ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers in teaching roles throughout schools in a selected country or region. Teachers work as teaching assistants in most programs (commonly called “assistantship” programs), but this is not always the case. A country's education ministry typically runs these programs, and each has set criteria that you must meet to apply. Requirements may include citizenship from particular countries, a college degree, and a TEFL certificate.

While government programs are not the only available option for those looking to teach English abroad, they are extremely popular (some more so than others). Therefore, they can be highly competitive due to the limited number of spots available each academic year, especially in popular countries like France, Spain, and Japan.

In this post, we explore eight different government programs in six countries and outline the benefits and requirements for each.

8 Teach Abroad Programs That Are Offered by Governments

Table of Contents

France - TAPIF

TAPIF (Teaching Assistance Program in France) places Americans 20-35 years of age as assistant English teachers in elementary and secondary schools throughout France. The program is run by the French Ministry of Education and the Cultural Services of The French Embassy. Though similar TEFL programs are offered for Canadians and other English speakers, TAPIF is specifically for Americans who want to teach English in France.

TAPIF Overview & Benefits

  • Americans between ages 20-35 are placed as assistant English teachers in elementary or secondary schools in France;
  • Assignments are seven months long and last from October 1 - April 30 (no exceptions, no shorter contracts, no alternative dates);
  • Participants work 12 hours a week as assistant English teachers in up to three schools;
  • Participants may submit location preferences for where they want to teach, but assignments are determined by TAPIF and are given in April when acceptances are announced;
  • Assignments may be given in school districts in mainland France or in overseas departments such as French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Réunion;
  • Participants receive a stipend (net 790 Euro per month), health insurance, and a long-stay work visa for France covering the duration of their assignment with TAPIF.

TAPIF Requirements

TAPIF applications are evaluated based on a list of criteria that are indicative of a candidate’s potential for successful participation in the program. Candidates must:

  • Be citizens or permanent residents of the United States.
  • Be between 20 and 35 years old on the start date of the program. The grant's age limit is strict and they will not make exceptions. There are no similar programs for people not meeting the TAPIF eligibility requirements.
  • Have completed at least 3 years of higher (post-secondary) education by the start date of the program. Years of community college studies can count towards this requirement. Candidates must have also completed the majority of their primary and secondary school studies in the U.S. 
  • Must be native speakers of English and must have completed the majority of their elementary, secondary, and university studies in the United States.
  • Be proficient in the French language (minimum B1 level on Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). French majors and minors are encouraged to apply. Candidates without a French major or minor may apply if they have developed at least a basic proficiency in French (equivalent to 3 semesters of college French) and/or lived abroad in a Francophone country. A personal statement in French and letters of recommendation attesting to the applicant’s French skills, attitude, and work ethic are required.
  • The selection process favors applicants who have prior experience teaching or working with children, adolescents, and/or adults. This is not required, but all applicants should demonstrate at least an interest in education.
  • The application window is typically open from October to mid-January for positions beginning the following October.
  • TEFL/TESOL certification improves a candidate's chances for acceptance;

Read further:

TEFL Program France teacher in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

Hungary - CETP

CETP (Central European Teaching Program) is a teacher recruitment organization that places native-speaking English teachers in public schools and parochial schools in Hungary. CETP serves more than 100 different schools and has sent more than 500 English Conversation Teachers to the region over the past decade. The Central European Teaching Program is the single largest provider of English-speaking teachers to Hungarian public schools.

CETP Overview & Benefits

There is a program fee for CETP participants but don’t write this opportunity off because of that. There are many aspects that sweeten the deal for teachers who participate in this program - many of which are very hard to come by for teachers in Europe:

  • Teachers are paid the same salary as Hungarian coworkers;
  • Participants receive national health insurance;
  • You will be provided with a private, furnished apartment with utilities included;
  • Additionally, program participants are not required to pay Hungarian income tax, meaning they get to take home several hundreds of dollars more in pay each year;
  • You will get picked up at the airport, work as the main teacher (not an assistant), receive paid holidays, and have both pre-departure and in-country support;
  • For teachers with student loans, CETP can provide a letter to assist with loan deferment. All teachers are provided with a work visa that allows them to legally live and work in Hungary and travel around Europe.

CETP Requirements

To participate in the CETP, you must:

  • Be a native speaker of English from the U.S., Canada, U.K., or a European Union (E.U.) country;
  • Hold a Bachelor’s degree, or be scheduled to receive your Bachelor’s degree before you begin teaching through CETP. They do sometimes have elementary schools in small communities who will happily take a teacher without a 4-year degree if this person has a TEFL certificate and at least 20 hours of classroom experience;
  • Be in good health;
  • Get at least 20 hours of classroom teaching experience, volunteer or paid, before departure.
  • Commit to at least one semester, though most applicants stay for a full year.
  • Exhibit flexibility, patience, sensitivity to cultural differences, and maturity;
  • Be at least 21 years old. CEPT will place teachers from 21 to 70+. While there is no age limit, please note that CETP’s host countries require that teachers be in good health and verify this with a doctor’s letter.

Read further:

A Hungary CETP TEFL Program teacher in her classroom with her students

Spain - NALCAP

If you're looking for TEFL programs in Spain, look no further than NALCAP (North American Language and Culture Assistants Program). Operated by the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sport, NALCAP recruits and places native English & French speakers from the U.S. & Canada as assistant language teachers in elementary and secondary schools throughout Spain. The program, also known as the Cultural Ambassadors Program - or the Auxiliares de Conversación (“conversation assistants”) in Spanish, recruits up to 2,500 Americans and Canadians to teach English in Spain each year. 

NALCAP Overview & Benefits

NALCAP is the most popular government program option for those wanting to teach English in Spain. Outside of this program, American TEFL-certified teachers typically need to obtain a student visa to legally live and work in Spain (but have to take language classes to maintain student status), which is not a requirement for NALCAP as a visa is provided to participants through the program. 

  • Americans between the ages of 21-60 (most participants are between the ages of 21-35 - the upper age limit for the Madrid region is 35) are placed as assistant English teachers in elementary or secondary schools in Spain;
  • Assignments last from the beginning of October until May 31; in Madrid, the duration of the program is from October 1 to June 30; a few spots begin after October 1 and these depend on availability;
  • Participants work 12 class sections a week as assistant English teachers in their assigned school(s);
  • Participants may submit preferences for where they want to teach, but assignments are determined by NALCAP and are given in April when acceptances are announced;
  • Assignments may be given in school districts in mainland Spain or in overseas regions such as the Canary Islands and islands like Mallorca;
  • Participants receive a stipend (net 700 Euro per month - sometimes higher in Madrid), health insurance, and a long-stay student visa for Spain covering the duration of their assignment with NALCAP;
  • Participants are responsible for covering travel costs to and from Spain as well as housing costs.

 

 

NALCAP Requirements

NALCAP applications are evaluated based on a list of criteria that are indicative of a candidate’s potential for successful participation in the program:

  • U.S. or Canadian citizenship;
  • Academic Requirements: Hold a minimum of a BA or BS by the end of the academic year preceding the start of the program, be a junior or a senior, or have become a university graduate;
  • Demonstrative communicative skills in Spanish - the official program website states: "Official college transcripts, high school records, Spanish language certificates or others may be uploaded as an extra proof of language competence."
  • Demonstrate that you are in Physical and Psychological Condition: you will be required to submit a medical form.

Spain has several other Government programs available - you can check them out here.

Read further: 

A Spain NALCAP TEFL Program teacher in his classroom with his young students

Japan - JET Program

Founded in 1987, JET stands for the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program, a cultural exchange and teaching abroad program sponsored by the Japanese government that employs university-educated, native English-speakers to teach English in Japan. Accepted participants (this program is highly competitive) are placed in positions throughout Japan, from big cities to provincial towns. While you can request preferences, your teaching location will ultimately be chosen for you.

JET Program Overview & Benefits

The JET Program hires for three different positions with three different acronyms (ALT, CIR, and SEA). 90% of program participants are ALTs, short for Assistant Language Teachers. ALTs work in public schools in Japan as assistants to Japanese teachers of English (known within the Program as JTEs), though what this means in terms of teaching responsibility can vary widely from school to school.

  • Successful applicants sign a one-year contract and can spend a maximum of five consecutive years on the JET Program.
  • Participants typically work Monday - Friday, 35 hours a week as an assistant English teacher.
  • Enjoy 20 paid vacation days per year.
  • Participants may submit preferences for where they want to teach. Assignments are determined by JET and are given when acceptances into the program are announced.
  • Housing may or may not be paid for or subsidized. 
  • Roundtrip flights are provided for JET participants.
  • First-year JET participants receive an average yearly salary of ¥3,360,000, (approximately $2675 per month) with yearly pay increases.

JET Program Requirements

JET applications are evaluated based on a list of criteria that are indicative of a candidate’s potential for successful participation in the program:

  • Have a sincere interest in Japan and have a willingness to learn & adapt to Japanese culture; 
  • Have a strong interest in Japan, potentially by studying and learning the Japanese language and the Japanese education system;
  • Be a U.S. citizen by date of application;
  • Have a Bachelor's Degree before the designated date of departure;
  • Haven't previously participated in the JET program in the last 3 years or for a total of 5 years, or previously declined a position with JET;
  • Haven't lived in Japan for a total of 6 years in the past 10 years prior to departure;
  • Be interested in working with young learners;
  • Possess a TEFL/TESOL Certification – This greatly improves a candidate's chances for acceptance.

Read further:

A JAPAN JET Program teacher with his students in a classroom

South Korea - EPIK Program

EPIK, which stands for English Program In Korea, is a teaching abroad program sponsored by the Korean Ministry of Education. Accepted participants are placed in public school positions throughout the country, so while you can list your preferences, assignments are decided on a first-come-first-served basis, and your location will ultimately be assigned to you. You can increase your chance of getting the placement you want by making sure to apply ASAP when the application period opens.

EPIK Program Overview & Benefits

  • EPIK teachers will work at primary or secondary public schools in designated Provincial Offices of Education (POEs) across Korea, which will then determine what school the teacher works at; 
  • Teachers typically work 8 hours per day, Monday-Friday, and average 22-25 teaching hours per week (the rest of the hours are dedicated to lesson planning);
  • Free housing, medical insurance, & roundtrip airfare, a one month's severance pay is provided for all EPIK teachers;
  • 2-2.7 million won yearly salary depending on your resume and teaching experience with pay increases each year;
  • 18 paid vacation days and 13-15 National Holidays off per year;
  • Participants may submit preferences for where they want to teach, but assignments are determined by the program and are given when acceptances are announced.

EPIK Program Requirements

  • 3-4 Year BA/BS Degree
  • TEFL certification (note: If you have a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in Education, a TEFL course is not officially required).
  • Native English speaker with citizenship from one of the Big 7 English-speaking countries
  • Be in good physical/mental health
  • Must be under the age of 62
  • A clean background check (nothing at all showing up)
  • 1-year commitment required

Read further:

A South Korea EPIK TEFL Program teacher with 3 of her students

South Korea - GEPIK Program

Standing for the “Gyeonggi English Program in Korea”, the GEPIK Program places English teachers in the Gyeonggi province exclusively (the area surrounding Seoul). GEPIK is sponsored through the Gyeonggi Provincial Office of Education, and if accepted, English teachers work at one school and are the only native English speaker at that school. 

GEPIK Program Overview & Benefits

Like EPIK, the GEPIK program is fairly structured in terms of the application process. Applications must be submitted well in advance. Benefits of this program include:

  • Roundtrip airfare 
  • Furnished housing 
  • Medical insurance
  • 20 days of paid vacation a year

GEPIK Program Requirements

  • 3-4 Year BA/BS Degree
  • TEFL Certification (note: If you have a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in Education, English, or Linguistics, a TEFL course is not officially required).
  • Native English speaker with citizenship from one of the Big 7 English-speaking countries
  • A clean background check (nothing at all showing up)
  • Be in good physical/mental health
  • Must be under the age of 62
  • 1-year commitment required

Read further: Official Gyeonggi Provincial Office of Education Website

South Korea - SMOE Program

Standing for the “Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education”, The SMOE Program is sponsored by the city government of Seoul and places teachers into school districts around Seoul, South Korea’s capital city.

SMOE Program Overview & Benefits:

Benefits of this program include:

  • An urban lifestyle
  • Choosing your school level preference
  • Furnished housing
  • Roundtrip airfare
  • Medical insurance
  • 21 days vacation
  • A paid 9-day orientation

SMOE Program Requirements

  • 3-4 Year BA/BS Degree
  • TEFL Certification (note: If you have a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in Education a TEFL course is not officially required).
  • Native English speaker with citizenship from one of the Big 7 English-speaking countries
  • A clean background check (nothing at all showing up)
  • Be in good physical/mental health
  • Must be under the age of 62
  • 1-year commitment required

Read further:

A South Korea GEPIK and SMOE TEFL Program teacher with his local friends in Korea

Georgia - TLG 

The last top TEFL program on our list, Teach and Learn with Georgia (TLG) is a progressive education movement initiated by the Georgian government and administered under the Georgian Ministry of Education and Science. They recruit native English, French, Italian, and German language speakers to co-teach alongside local teachers in public schools throughout Georgia. TLG aims to improve Georgia’s nationwide foreign language proficiency in an effort towards further participation in the global community.

TLG Overview & Benefits

Academic Roles: At school, volunteers co-teach with at least three local foreign language teachers for a minimum of 25 hours per week, which includes time spent planning lessons. 

Non-Academic Roles: At home, volunteers are expected to provide their host families with three hours of foreign language lessons each week. Volunteers participate in cultural exchange activities with their host families and integrate with the local communities.

Teach and Learn with Georgia offers the following benefits to TLG Volunteers:

  • Monthly Salary of Georgian Lari*
  • Round-trip flights to and from Georgia
  • Medical Insurance
  • Paid vacation during winter holidays
  • Housing and Living Accommodations
  • Sim card on the TLG Corporate Network
  • 24/7 Support from the TLG Staff
  • Orientation Training Upon Arrival
  • Mid-term trainings
  • Airport pick up
  • Professional Practice and life experience

*The monthly salary is 750 GEL. After taxes, the net amount directly deposited into the volunteers’ personal bank account amounts to 600 GEL. From this stipend,  the volunteers give their host families 200 GEL each month to cover basic costs that are incurred when hosting a volunteer such as food and utilities. Those volunteers who do not live with host families (rent, etc.) will receive a monthly salary of 625 GEL. After taxes, 500 GEL.

TLG Requirements

  • Native speaker in the language being taught (English, French or German)
  • Education:
    - BA/BS in education, didactics, linguistics, methodology in teaching a foreign language or in any related discipline
    - OR BA/BS in any discipline and teaching experience
    - OR a final year Bachelor’s degree student of the following disciplines: education, didactics, linguistics, teaching a foreign language or in any related discipline
  • Clean nationwide Criminal Record Check
  • Medical test clearance
  • French and German native speakers should possess English language skills to the level of B1
  • Ability and willingness to adapt to unfamiliar customs and family norms
  • An open mind, and a strong motivation to make a difference

Read further: Teach and Learn with Georgia

So here are some of the best TEFL programs abroad offered by governments. As always, don't hesitate to reach out to an International TEFL Academy advisor with any questions, we're happy to help!

Posted In: Teach English in Georgia, Teach English in Hungary, EPIK, Teach English in Spain, Teach English in South Korea, Teach English in France, Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF), JET Program, Teach English in Japan

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