Africa is a vast continent with an incredible array of people, cultures, languages, and landscapes. Within this region, you can enjoy activities ranging from trekking on a camel around the great pyramids in Egypt to exploring a modern art gallery in Nigeria to viewing native penguins from a boat in South Africa. Ask anyone who has spent time in Africa, but in any country you visit, you're guaranteed to be amazed.
These experiences and more can await you when you pursue your TEFL certification in Africa. From the Sahara desert to the Serengeti, from small villages to vibrant cities, Africa will astonish you at every moment. With great cuisine, friendly people, and adventure at every turn, Africa is a fantastic place to begin your journey of teaching English abroad.
120-Hour TEFL Courses
The 120-hour TEFL course format is the most common, in Africa (and around the world). Typically, 120-hour TEFL courses are conducted completely on-site, but they can also be a combination classes with online coursework and in-person supervised practice teaching.
Classes that are completely on-site can be more intensely scheduled, usually in a four-week block, while combination classes can give a little bit more scheduling flexibility. Classes can vary quite a bit in terms of how much support they give with finding housing and organizing social activities. If you're considering a 120-hour TEFL course, it helps to read reviews from past teachers to get a sense for the value and quality of education they received.
TEFL + Teach
TEFL + Teach programs are an excellent option for anyone looking to kick-start their career. These combined TEFL course and teacher placement programs typically take place during an intensive four-week 'block,' and they can be invaluable if you plan to teach in the same country where you complete your training. Many but not all TEFL + Teach programs include accommodation, social activities, and basic lessons in the local language as well. These types of classes are the least common option throughout Africa, but there are a few providers if this is the right TEFL course type for you.
This is one specific type of English teaching certification that's accredited through the University of Cambridge in England, and it’s generally considered equivalent to the TEFL/ TESOL. It usually is conducted in a 4-week block intensive (though there are occasionally extended versions of the classes that take place over 16 weeks). The only place to take a CELTA class on the African continent is currently Cape Town, South Africa.
Planning Your Trip
When to Take Your TEFL in Africa
Depending on the country you’d like to live in and the type of certification that you’re interested in pursuing, you can find a variety of courses at different times of year. South Africa features the vast majority of TEFL options in Africa, with classes available year-round and generally starting at the beginning of each month.
It makes sense to get your certification right before a hiring season in your country of choice, assuming that you'd like to start teaching right away. In South Africa, most hiring takes place during the summer for positions that start in the fall and last throughout the school year. In Egypt and Morocco, most hiring for classroom English teachers takes place during the summer for jobs that start in the fall, and in winter for jobs that start in the spring. It’s a good idea to consult with your TEFL program leaders about hiring seasons in advance, so that you can plan the timing of your program accordingly.
Popular Destinations for TEFL Courses in Africa
South Africa is hands-down the most popular destination for TEFL courses in Africa, but it’s far from being the only option. Egypt, Morocco, and Nigeria all have great options for obtaining your TEFL certification.
Most English teaching certification classes take place in the larger cities in the region, including Cairo and Alexandria in Egypt, Marrakech in Morocco, Cape Town in South Africa, and Lagos in Nigeria. This means that whatever country you choose, you’ll have modern amenities as well as access to all the best that the country has to offer!
What to Look for in a TEFL Course in Africa
When choosing a course, check first to make sure that the entity giving the course is accredited and will provide you with a recognized certification. Most intensive courses are four weeks long, so be wary of courses that are shorter in duration.
Look for a minimum of at least 100 course hours of instruction time, plus at least six hours of supervised teaching time. In addition, look for courses that have plenty of positive reviews from previous students. Finally, ask about the program’s job search assistance and/or job placement options -- if the program has pre-existing relationships with schools in the country or in the region, this can be a major bonus and make your transition to teaching much smoother.
Very few TEFL programs in Africa will provide housing, but many will help you find housing by providing you with a list of resources including preferred neighborhoods and expected price ranges. Some may also put you in touch with other students in your cohort so that you can look for roommates in advance. Rent in most countries in Africa will be significantly less than rent in the US, Canada, or Western Europe, but it can vary greatly between countries and neighborhoods within major cities.
Visa requirements can vary greatly country by country in Africa. In general, travelers from the US, Canada, and the EU can obtain tourist visas on arrival in Egypt and Morocco, and they do not need a visa to enter South Africa. However, it’s important to check with the embassy of the country where you’d like to take your certification classes to determine the most up-to-date visa requirements for citizens of your country, as the rules do occasionally change. You should also check with your certification program to see their visa recommendations as well.
Health & Safety
Africa as a whole is generally safe for foreigners. That said, when in Cairo or Cape Town you’ll want to use the same basic street smarts that you would use in any other large city in the world. In addition, it’s a good idea to be aware of US State Department or similar advisories for your destination. Similarly, you should be aware and receive vaccines recommended by the World Health Organization for whichever country you will be living in.
It’s normal to experience an upset stomach during your first few weeks in any new country, so plan on bringing your favorite stomach remedy with you just in case. In addition, it’s recommended to drink bottled water rather than tap water in most of Africa.
When to Apply for English Teaching Jobs in Africa
Hiring seasons can vary country by country, so it’s important to talk with your TEFL program coordinators about the hiring seasons in the country or countries that most interest you. Ideally, your program will have connections with local schools in-country or in the region and will be able to help you network. In general it's a good idea to think about what type of school you'd like to work at (public or private), and what your preferred age range is for students, so that you can look strategically at the options that are available.
In South Africa, most hiring takes place during the summer for positions that start in the fall and last throughout the school year. In Egypt and Morocco, most hiring for classroom English teachers takes place during the summer for jobs that start in the fall, and in winter for jobs that start in the spring. Some schools will hire foreign English teachers in advance before you travel, but other schools may only interview candidates who are already in the country. Networking ahead of time with established English teachers in your country of choice can be very helpful in navigating the English teaching job market.
Average Salary for Teaching Jobs in Africa
Salaries for teaching English in Africa can vary, but they’re generally commensurate with cost of living. In most cases you’ll be making enough to live quite comfortably in the country where you’re working. In some cases you might end up with extra take-home pay to boost your savings, but this shouldn’t be expected for this region.
Tips for Finding a Job in Africa
Beyond looking at your program’s job assistance offerings, it’s a great idea to network with the wider community of expats. Odds are good that you’ll meet someone who knows someone who’s looking for a teacher, or you’ll find other more established English teachers who can help you find leads for schools that are hiring new staff.