Taking a career gap year

Over 1.7-billion people across the world want to learn English, according to a study conducted by research and consulting firm J’son and Partners. As a result, more than 100 000 teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) positions open up every year. For millennial South Africans facing a quarter-life crisis – or looking to take a break from their nine to five office jobs – this presents an opportunity to travel abroad, learn new skills, and earn an income, without leaving a CV gap.

“It’s common for adults in their mid-twenties and early thirties to have a moment where they take a step back and re-evaluate their career trajectory – especially if they’re feeling overworked or unsatisfied. A career gap year presents an opportunity to take on more meaningful work, see the world before settling down, or explore job options that provide a better work-life balance. Either way, teaching English is your ticket to new experiences,” says Rhyan O’Sullivan, Managing Director at The TEFL Academy, South Africa’s leading TEFL qualification provider. 

In addition to traditional teaching positions at school abroad, qualified TEFL teachers have the option of teaching online. Those with dreams of a flexible work schedule can leverage this to stay home and spend more time with family, or adopt a digital nomad lifestyle to combine their personalised schedule with travel.

“Countries like Spain, Greece, Mexico, and Croatia now offer digital nomad visas to foreign nationals – provided you can prove that you have a remote job outside of the country you’re visiting. These are often easier to apply for than regular visas, and allow for longer stays. This means you can spend your time planning classes on a beach in Barcelona, or while sipping coffee at a sidewalk café in Croatia,” says Rhyan O’Sullivan.

To secure a job overseas, prospective teachers require a TEFL qualification – the globally accepted qualification to teach English abroad. When studied full time, a TEFL course can typically be completed within four to six weeks. On average, foreign language English teachers can expect to earn between R190 and R560 per hour, based on experience.

“The beauty of a gap year is that it’s flexi – it can be three months, or a year, or forever. It’s enough time to reflect, reassess your priorities, and make an informed choice about your future,” says O’Sullivan.

Offering accessible, flexible and cost-effective ways to get TEFL qualified, The TEFL Academy provides internationally accredited and regulated online courses. The company, who were selected as the Overall Top TEFL Course Provider of 2021 by Go Overseas, also hosts a jobs board on their website where potential teachers can browse through over 1 500 international teaching opportunities. For more information, visit www.theteflacademy.com.