Thanks to burgeoning international business in Asia and booming tourist industries in Thailand and South America a qualified English teacher literally has the world as their oyster, as locals clamour to master the English lingo.
The largest market is currently Asia with a mass of jobs available in China, Japan, Taiwan and Thailand. If you’re looking for somewhere a bit more niche and unexplored how about considering South Korea. The main requirements to teach are a 4-year degree. Megan found her placement in Seoul through ESLpia (no longer in business) and has been teaching there for five months.
The experience has been so positive that she intends to extend her contract for another year. Her employer provides her with free housing and a monthly salary of $1 500 (£1000, 1 200 euros) which enables her to make the most of Seoul’s amazing shopping facilities and nightlife, go traveling at the weekends and put some money aside for savings. Another scheme, Pegasus, also runs a programme starting in February and September to teach in Korean public schools. Successful applicants are likely to earn around $2000 (£1 300, 1 600 euros) a month, alongside a free apartment and a $300 (£200, 250 euros) signing bonus. If this hasn’t convinced you yet, the hours are also shorter than working for a private academy and the South Korean government will reimburse your airfare too!
If the Asian market doesn’t appeal to you or if you’re put off by the qualification requirements, plenty of jobs can be found in Central and South America. Laura who has been teaching in Costa Rica for the past three years says that whilst qualifications may impress an employer they will have little influence on your salary. The best way to land a job is to enquire after positions in the offices of schools, demonstrating willingness and excellent English skills at the same time. As a tip, Costa Ricans place a high value on personal appearance; so avoid looking like you’ve just got back from the beach! Schools generally hire at the beginning of January and end of April so this is the best time to look for work. Although TESL training is only really necessary if you are trying to land a job from overseas, few training opportunities exist in the country, so you may like to gain some experience before you arrive. Laura earns around $600 (£400, 500 euros) a month. This is not a huge amount, but comfortably covers the cost of living and is more than compensated for by the breathtaking rainforest scenery.
Elsewhere on the continent, Mexico has the largest number of jobs with the highest salaries. What’s more a whole variety of teaching posts awaits you, be it instructing in businesses, or working in the language departments of universities, primary and secondary schools or nurseries. Accommodation is often provided by your employer and it is common for them to reimburse your flight too. Pay ranges from $600-$3000 (£400-2000, 500- 2 400 euros) per month dependent on qualifications and experience. If you’re lucky you’ll be able to afford to live comfortably and still have some cash left over to explore this richly-varied country, steeped in culture. Universities and language centres advertise readily on the internet but its also possible to find work by consulting the Yellow Pages or just asking around when you arrive. Further south, Brazil, Argentina, Columbia, Chile and Ecuador all have big TESL markets and pay reasonably well with salaries around $10-$20 (£7-£13, 8-16 euros) per hour.
At a first glance it may be hard to find paid work in Africa. Although it’s true that many countries, particularly in the Sub-Sahara have limited funds to pay teachers, don’t fall into the voluntary-work trap where you will sometimes be made to shell out $1000s to volunteer. Paid work is out there, it may be just a little harder to find. It also means that a qualification is likely to help secure you a job. For a decent wage try approaching oil-companies or lager city-based NGO’s who may want English training for their employees. North African countries currently experiencing a boom in their tourist industries, such as Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia are a hot spot for evening and weekend private tuition. If you’re considering working in Egypt, jobs at private language schools are advertised in TES (Times Educational Supplement) on Fridays and the Guardian EFL pages on Tuesdays from spring onwards. These schools tend to be at the elite end of the market and will require a CELTA qualification. There are however significantly more opportunities if you are willing to seek work on arrival and there is ample opportunity for freelance teaching with the average hourly rate around $8-10 per hour. Ultimately adventure-seeking teachers will find work wherever they wish if they look hard enough. Although salaries are unlikely to be as high as elsewhere in the world, Africa is a land of tremendous contrast, radically different to western culture and teaching there can be highly rewarding.
So, whether you’re looking for a short-term cash earner on your Gap Year or a stepping-stone to a lengthy career spanning a multitude of countries, teaching English can be an incredibly varied and rewarding experience. In short, an education for both yourself and those you teach!
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