Okay, so you know for sure that teaching English as a secondary language is something you want to do. The only question left now is where should you work?
Well, if the potential for a lucrative salary, job security, and the opportunity to experience a range of different cultures sound in any way appealing (of course they do) then you might want to consider the Middle East.
Where is the Middle East?
This might appear as a bit of an elementary school question, but defining the Middle East is not as obvious as you may think. It is generally accepted that the Middle East is a region that straddles both the continents of Asia and North Africa, stretching from Egypt to Iran, Turkey to Oman. So, within that region are around 18 countries, each with its own unique cultures, customs, and traditions. There is no clear-cut, universally accepted definition, but that about sums it up.
Therefore, when we say “teach in the Middle East”, we’re generalizing quite a lot. Not every country is made equal when it comes to job opportunities and living conditions, however. This actually makes choosing a destination a bit easier. Read on for more information on teaching English in the Middle East.
Best TEFL Destinations
The United Arab Emirates
Nestled in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula, this oil-rich, sand dune-filled country is a great place for TEFL tutors to work in. With a relatively strong job market combined with some of the highest average salaries in the industry, it’s no wonder the country has made it on this list. For anyone new to the country, especially coming from a Western country, you might experience a bit of culture shock in this socially conservative nation. Also find things to do in Dubai so that you can enjoy. Just be aware of local laws, such as no drinking alcohol in public places or embracing members of the opposite sex.
- Job types: private tutoring, university, language schools.
- Salary: $2500 – $4000 per month.
- Requirements: a TEFL certificate is necessary; a degree will sometimes be a requirement.
- Best locations: Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Turkey possesses the unique position of being geographically located on both the continent of Asia and Europe. This placement has had a massive impact on the culture of the nation, which is itself a remarkable mixture of Turkic, Balkan, Greek, Arabic, and Persian cultures. As one of the wealthiest and most populated countries in the region, it has a strong demand for English teachers, especially in its cosmopolitan cities of Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir. Turkey is very mixed in terms of its social outlook; while it is very much a muslim country, the government is officially secular and it is generally not as conservative as, say the Gulf States or Saudi Arabia. For instance, alcohol can be bought and is consumed fairly regularly, women do not need to cover up, and life is not segregated.
- Job types: private language schools, universities, privately, summer camps.
- Salary: $1000 – $2500 per month .
- Requirements: a TEFL certificate and a degree in any field.
- Best locations: Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, as well as smaller cities and towns.
This country is pretty similar to the UAE in terms of both culture, conditions, and job demand. Like the UAE, Qatar has made the majority of its money from the oil industry, is mainly made up of sandy desert, and is very socially conservative. The oil boom has led to rapid development in the last few decades, with soaring skyscrapers and modern city towers etching the skyline of Doha, the capital. Closer links to the Western word have been forged over the last few years, which is partly why there is a strong demand for English teachers here.
- Job types: private lessons, language schools, business English.
- Salary: $2000 – $4000 per month.
- Requirements: A TEFL certificate is necessary; a degree in any field is sometimes.
- Best locations: Doha
The above is hardly an exhaustive list of all the potential places one could teach English in. However, it should give you a rough idea of the sort of salaries and opportunities available to you in the region, as well as the qualifications needed. As you can see, requirements tend to be stringent in the Middle East and education of the highest standard is not uncommon. Make sure to research in depth before you choose your destination. Good luck!