The 2019 matric results are in, and young South Africans are considering their options for the year ahead. Those who did not get into university, or who would rather travel than see the inside of a lecture theatre, may choose to take a gap year instead.

Matriculants with a sense of adventure can opt to teach English as a foreign language overseas, as a way to earn money, gain experience and travel the globe – all at the same time.

“Many matriculants find themselves in a situation where they have no real plan or focus for the coming year. This can be frustrating, especially if your peers are busy planning their move to university or joining the workforce. Teaching English gives young South Africans the opportunity to spend the year doing something worthwhile,” says Rhyan O’Sullivan, Managing Director of the TEFL Academy, South Africa’s leading course provider of teaching English as a foreign language.


While a university degree is not essential to getting a teaching job overseas, a TEFL qualification, the globally accepted qualification to teach English abroad, is always required. “Many countries in South America and South East Asia take on teachers without university degrees,” says O’Sullivan. 

Data collected by the TEFL Academy indicates that the main reasons young people choose a TEFL qualification are related to money, lifestyle and safety. “Young South Africans are interested in living and working overseas because there are often better opportunities to make more money. For some, a higher standard of living and general safety are also big draws,” says O’ Sullivan.

Taking a gap year can also help ease the transition from school to work or university. “TEFL teachers can earn important employment skills. When living and working in a foreign country, you become self-sufficient and self-reliant, and develop strong organisational and communication skills. These transferable skills are valued in all workplaces, and will help further a career in any field,” says O’Sullivan.


When studied full time, a TEFL course can typically be completed within four to six weeks. For matriculants looking to start their adventures early this year, now is the time to register, advises O’Sullivan; “Countries like South Korea begin their yearly intake in April. Students who begin their training now will have just enough time to complete their course and apply for a job.”

South African TEFL teacher salaries across the globe:

Mexico: R28 000 – R46 000 per month (no degree required)
Spain: R15 500 – R23 000 per month (no degree required)
Argentina: R14 500 – R22 000 per month (no degree required)
Hong Kong: R26 000 – R70 000 per month (degree required)
South Korea: R21 000 – R23 000 per month (degree required)


 Offering accessible, flexible and cost-effective ways to get TEFL qualified, The TEFL Academy offers internationally accredited and regulated combined and online course. For more information, visit