I’ve been doing a lot of research into teaching English in Africa lately. Unfortunately, Internet research is predictably unrewarding, and garners only clichés (“Africa is great because you can go on safari”; the voice of wisdom speaks!) and the recycling of basic information. However, there are some interesting facts about TEFL in Africa that I would like to share with you so please read on.
ESL and EFL in Africa
English language instruction in Africa takes on many forms. There are the outright EFL (English as a foreign language) positions in, among others, Arabic and French speaking countries. Then there is English as a Second Language (ESL) in countries where English is the major language, but is not the mother tongue for many.
Also, you have teaching positions in state schools in English speaking countries (Nigeria, Kenya etc.). These roles are very much like teaching in an English primary school… albeit in equatorial Africa. As such, there are positions as teachers of subjects other than English.
As Bono and Geldof keep informing us, Africa is a very poor continent. Naturally the cost of living is often lower than other parts of the world, but salaries are commensurate to that. That’s if you get a salary at all. Opportunities to teach English as a volunteer seem to be far more common than paid positions.
Volunteer work requires something from you. But it might not be as altruistic as you think. Although a willingness to give of your time is essential, you might find that you break even from the venture, or even make something from it.
There are many schemes that demand an up-front payment for volunteer positions, often of a considerable amount. However, a little more research reveals that there are many volunteer positions that will provide accommodation and board for free, sometimes even with a small stipend for personal expenses.
Some volunteer organisations
So, what’s on offer in terms of volunteer work?
VSO - pretty much the benchmark, as far as volunteer organizations are concerned. Their programs for English teachers are demanding, but also rewarding. See the website for more details.
IFESH – The International Foundation for Education and Self-Help is a reputable organization that sends teachers to various parts of Africa. Their programs are well worth investigating if you want to volunteer as a teacher in Africa. Unfortunately, it is only available to U.S. citizens.
Idealist.org – an all-encompassing website for potential volunteers. Advertises positions across the world, not just in Africa.
In Thursday’s blog, I’ll be looking at paid teaching positions in Africa and rounding up this piece. It’d be great to hear from anyone with experience of teaching in Africa. If you can offer corrections or further information to the above, please leave a comment below!