Guide to teaching English in Africa
There are plenty of opportunities for English teachers in Africa and instructors specializing in art, music, IT, and physical or health education. As a diverse continent made of multiple regions and numerous ethnic groups, each teacher’s experience will vary. You may live and work in a bustling urban environment, a secluded rural town, on the coast, or in the desert. Either way, teaching in Africa is an adventure that has the potential to change the course of your life.
Interested in teaching English in Africa? We’ve got you covered! Keep reading to learn more about the types of teaching jobs, average salaries and benefits, and how to get a teaching job in Africa!
Types of teaching jobs in Africa
There are several ways to teach English in Africa: for example, volunteering with organizations like Teach for America or Peace Corps; teaching at international schools in countries like Kenya and Tanzania; serving as a private tutor for families who want their children taught by native speakers and working as an instructor at language institutes.
One of the best options for new teachers in Africa is volunteering at a local school. Many programs are looking for native English speakers with little to no experience instructing younger students in rural, neglected areas. Volunteers may be placed in public, private, or religious schools. While most schools need ESL instructors, you may also be assigned to teach math, science, computer literacy, or various other subjects.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, HIV/AIDS rates are pretty high. Therefore, volunteers have the opportunity to promote or establish health education programs that will raise awareness about how to make healthy decisions. For example, Support for International Change runs an AIDs awareness camp.
Mostly privately-run, international schools are situated in major cities across Africa. Children of expatriate or wealthy families mainly attend international schools, as instruction is primarily English. Some international schools follow the International Baccalaureate (I.B.) system, while others teach a bilingual curriculum. However, international schools seek experienced, qualified teachers who can commit to 2+ years.
You can supplement your teaching income in many large cities by offering private English lessons. Some families hire part-time tutors to improve their children’s spoken English. In addition, some business professionals are looking to practice their conversational English with a native speaker. As a result, private tutoring is becoming increasingly popular in Morocco and other Northern African countries.
Average salary and benefits for teaching English in Africa
An English teacher's monthly average wage in Africa varies depending on the country.
For example, the average salary of an English teacher in South Africa is between $400-$1,700 USD. However, the average salary is closer to $700 USD a month in Namibia. In Ghana, the average salary of a teacher is $150-260 USD a month. In Morocco, the average salary of an ESL teacher is between $1,300 - 3,200. And the salary for an ESL teacher in Egypt is between $450-$1,098.50 USD per month.
Common benefits included for teachers
While teacher benefits vary by country and even by the school you work for, some expected benefits for teachers in Africa may include:
- Paid leave
- Medical benefits
- Health insurance
- Refunded flights
- Tax-free salaries of up to $25,000 USD (in Tunisia)
Read more: How Much Money Can You Save Teaching Abroad?
Cost of living in Africa
As such a large and expansive continent, there are varying living costs across Africa. Generally, most capital cities or urban centers have costs of living comparable to large cities in Asia or the Middle East. However, if you choose to live outside of the city, in a suburb or small town, you will find that daily costs are lower. Keep in mind that food, oil, and clothing (amongst other goods) are often imported in some locations -- these will be your most significant expenses as housing is typically provided for teachers by the school or program.
- Food: $120-$190 USD per month (depending on eating habits and location)
- Transportation (monthly pass): $20-32 USD per month (depending on location)
- Entertainment (movies, bars/clubs, etc.): $54-73 USD per month (depending on location)
- Housing: $220-$887 USD per month (depending on location)
Where and how to find housing
If you're teaching English in the countryside or a remote area, the general recommendation is to seek a homestay or rent through an agency. However, suppose you're teaching English in an urban area with plenty of other teachers. In that case, it's usually easier (and cheaper) to find your apartment or house rather than relying on agencies and homestays.
Where to teach English in Africa
It’s difficult to pick a teaching destination in Africa when your options are spread across 54 countries! As with starting a new job in any new country, it's essential to do your research ahead of time! Start by exploring these major teaching cities in Africa:
Located in Southwestern Africa, Namibia is a melting pot of German and Southern African cultures. Although English is the official language, there is still a need for English teachers, particularly for grammar and reading skills.
Teachers will find that the Namibian people are very welcoming despite the country’s tumultuous political past. All teachers need to be native English speakers and hold a TEFL/TESOL certification and a bachelor’s degree. Although salaries are not very high in Namibia (volunteers receive a monthly stipend of around $350), teachers will make enough to provide for their daily lives. Note that imported goods, such as oil and clothing, are costly.
Most Moroccans speak both Arabic and French. However, as tourism and foreign business continue to grow domestically in recent years, English is quickly becoming the third primary language for the local people. While some customs and laws may surprise a teacher from an English-speaking country, time spent in Morocco will be valuable to your career and personal explorations.
Teachers can expect around $1,300 to 3,200 USD per month; you can earn extra money by providing private tutoring lessons. A teaching certification will help you secure high pay for tutoring lessons or full-time positions. Still, Moroccan employers are lenient with teaching qualifications and often hire those who have none.
A former colony of France, Senegal is a unique place to teach. While Wolof is most people’s native and first language, French is recognized by the government as the official language. English has become the primary second/third language, as the Senegalese Ministry of Education aims to make it a compulsory subject in all schools.
Intending to educate future students to be trilingual, schools across Senegal are looking for French and English teachers. If you can nab a position at a private school, a typical foreign teacher’s salary is around $26,000 USD per year. In addition, volunteers receive housing and sometimes food. Private schools require their teachers to have a TEFL certificate and 2+ years of teaching experience; volunteers do not need a TEFL certificate.
There is a need for improvement in many of Egypt's schools. Skilled English teachers are in demand to teach at elementary schools, language schools, and academies.
The Ministry of Education launched the New Schools Program to provide better support and qualified teachers in Egyptian public schools. As a result, teachers can earn between $450-$1,098.50 USD per month. While this is certainly enough for daily life in Egypt, note that daily costs are much higher in urban centers such as Cairo.
As one of the more progressive countries in Africa, Ghana’s government is making strides to increase universal healthcare and education access. However, it is a giant undertaking, and more work needs to be done. English teachers in Ghana will find that most students have a solid grasp of the language, but written English needs improvement.
Progressively playing a more significant role in international and regional cooperation, Ghana’s focus on English language education is impressive. Native speakers will find a great deal of opportunity in Ghana’s local schools, as they have the chance to dive in headfirst and challenge the existing language curriculum. Teachers typically earn around $150-260 USD per month, which may not seem like a lot, but is enough to cover daily expenses.
Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban are three of South Africa’s most prominent cities, and all have plenty of opportunities for TEFL teachers. However, if you prefer a more remote location, head to Pretoria or Nairobi.
How to get a job teaching English in Africa
Teaching English in Africa is an integral part of the continent’s development. The more English speakers there are in Africa, the better equipped they will be to communicate with people from other countries, which can help improve trade and business relations.
Where to find jobs
Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification courses are available throughout Africa and give you all the skills you need to teach effectively in any school environment. Depending on your preference and budget, you can choose from either an online course or a classroom-based one.
When to apply
Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) jobs are available throughout the year, but certain seasons tend to be busier than others. Therefore, it’s always good to apply for positions during the summer and winter months. The fall and spring months also see an influx of TEFL job searches from teachers and students due to seasonal demand fluctuations.
African schools or programs typically require that their teachers are native English speakers. However, many employers are lenient with other qualifications, such as a TEFL certification and prior teaching experience. If you plan to volunteer, you will only need to have native fluency in your teaching language. If you plan to teach at an international school, you may be required to have 2+ years of prior experience on top of a bachelor’s degree.
It is difficult to obtain a work visa in many African countries unless you plan to commit to more than two years of employment at a particular school. Short-term teachers or volunteers will most likely work on a tourist or temporary visa. If you sign a contract with a school or organization for longer than a year, your employer will provide visa sponsorship. Since there isn’t a huge market yet, few schools or volunteer organizations will arrange residence permits or work visas for paid temporary jobs.
What’s it like to live & teach English in Africa
As an ESL teacher abroad, it’s essential that you take the time to research the country’s etiquette and classroom culture, as it can be vastly different from what you’re used to at home! ESL teachers should be respectful and understanding while adapting to a new classroom environment.
Classroom & work culture
As an English teacher in Africa, you will likely be surrounded by a very different culture from your own. However, this does not mean that it's impossible to adapt to the local culture. If you want to be successful as an English teacher in Africa, you should try your best to fit into their way of life and respect the local customs.
- Business casual or business formal depending on what type of school you're working at.
- If you are teaching in a rural community, You will probably want to learn some of the local languages, and it's important that you do. In addition, you'll need to communicate with your students, so learning a few keywords or phrases is a good idea for success.
Culture & etiquette tips
- Dress appropriately when going out. In many countries south of the Sahara Desert (such as Nigeria), dressing conservatively is considered part of showing respect for others' customs and beliefs—so keep this in mind when picking out your wardrobe!
- Most Northern Africans and some Western Africans practice Islam and research local customs and regulations before your departure.
Ready to find your dream teaching program in Africa?
Start researching and comparing teaching programs here at Go Overseas in the Teaching Programs in Africa section below.
Want to read more? Get started with these articles:
Teaching Programs in Africa
TEFL Courses in Africa
A TEFL Certification will help you acquire the skills and qualifications to teach abroad in Africa
How much do teachers make in Africa?
There is such a wide variety of countries in Africa, each with their own teaching rates. Salaries also depend on the type of teaching job -- a volunteer teaching position will pay less than one at an international school. Generally, you can expect to receive anywhere from $350 to $2,000 per month as an English teacher in Africa.
Where can I teach English in Africa?
With 54 countries in Africa, it can be hard to narrow down just one place to teach in! However, a few popular teaching destinations include Namibia, Ghana, Senegal, Morocco, and Egypt.