Teaching English in South Africa

The Republic of South Africa is located at the southern tip of Africa. South Africa is the only country in the world with three capital cities. Cape Town, the largest of the three, is the legislative capital; Pretoria is the administrative capital; and Bloemfontein is the judicial capital.

South Africa is known for its diversity not only geographical or climatic, economic or social, but also ethnic and linguistic.

English is the most commonly spoken language in official and commercial public life, however it is only the fifth most spoken home language of the eleven officially recognized languages. According to the 2001 National Census, the three most spoken first home languages are Zulu (23.8%), Xhosa (17.6%) and Afrikaans (13.3%). Despite the fact that English is recognized as the language of commerce and science, it was spoken by only 8.2% of South Africans at home in 2001, an even lower percentage than in 1996 (8.6%).

In 2006, South Africa’s population was estimated at 47.4 million people.


Public schools are often over-crowded, understaffed and under-funded. Schools in the townships might have classes with up to 70 students with just a single teacher. They have the basics of a blackboard and chalk and often lack other resources.

More and more private schools are springing up, attracting the most skilled teachers away with lucrative contracts.

The day in state schools usually finishes by 2.30pm.

There are 4 academic terms a year:

  • January-March
  • April-June
  • July-September
  • October-December.

Teaching Qualifications

Requirements vary according to the type of school and area.

ATEFL / TESOL Certificate is a must in most places along with a Degree. However in some schools, particularly in the townships, a desire to help and the energy to do so is all that’s required.

Teaching Rates

In the private sector a good rate would be around 70R an hour for a part-time position. For a full-time position you could be looking at 10.000 R.

With the school day usually finishing by 2.30pm there are lots of opportunities for private teaching. In the city hourly rate can be anything between R150 and R300.


Cape Town has grown into the third largest city in South Africa. It is a relatively safe place though there are areas better avoided.

Renting or buying an apartment in Cape Town has become more expensive due to the large influx of tourists buying property.

The cost of living in Cape Town is not cheap. Taxi rides are so expensive that you could be better off getting your own car. However public transport is efficient and available at low cost, making it easy to get into the city center from most parts of Cape Town.

South Africa has great high speed internet access services such as Vodacom’s 3G HSDPA which is mobile broadband. According to one teacher in Cape Town, who lived in both the States and China, South Africa beats both those countries when it comes to technology!

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Posted in Country Guides.

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