Teach English In Kenya:
Separates Man From Wildebeest
If & when you teach English abroad in Kenya, you will aget a chance to explore an ancient land. A culturally diverse country, you will be on a journey of discovery as you learn about different ethnicities, languages, food, dress and music. You may have come to teach English in Kenya. But your learnings, when you leave the country, will leave you much richer and wiser! After all, Kenya is often known as the cradle of humanity and is one of the regions with the earliest human habitation. There are very few places with a history so ancient and rich that ranks it high as one of the best countries to teach English!
Snapshot Of Kenya
If you are undecided where to teach English in Africa, you wont go far wrong if you choose to teach in Kenya, a magical place on the east coast. Turquoise seas lap sandy beaches, even as the majestic wildlife steal the show in the great grasslands of the Masai Mara. The warm people, the balmy weather and the laid-back lifestyle are some of the lovely advantages if you decide to teach English in Kenya.
The Different Opportunities To Teach English In Kenya
There are several opportunities to teach English in Kenya. This even though English is widely spoken in the country. Swahili is the official language.
However, English is taught from the primary school onwards and almost everyone you meet in the bigger cities in Kenya will have a working knowledge of the language. Most Kenyans regard good English skills as an essential tool to move ahead in their professional life. Tourism is one of the main revenue earners in the country.
Knowledge of English helps to gain employment in the tourism sector. The demand for English teachers is, therefore, quite substantial in the Kenyan market.
Over the past several years, the government has been keen to have locals fill such positions. This has reduced the supply of jobs for expatriates. However, with a bit of effort, you can still get a job to teach English in Kenya.
If you are looking for opportunities to teach English in Kenya, you must check out the language schools and private schools. Kenyan cities also have several international schools.
So, how do you go about getting a job to teach English in Kenya? Well, the best way is via the various job portals which specialize in ESL teaching jobs. Most of them regularly carry information about vacancies existing in both international schools and private schools. If you are applying to language school, it is important to carry out background research on the professionalism and work environment in these institutes.
Some Of Our Latest teaching Jobs In Kenya
If you are already on the ground in Kenya and have a few contacts, your job search might just have become a little easier! Be sure to personally hand in your resumes to various schools.
With the academic session beginning in January, the recruitment process in Kenya normally starts in November or December. However, there are several international schools which begin their academic session in September. A good plan would, therefore, be to apply to international schools by June-July. If for some reason, you are unable to land a job, you could then try sending your applications to private schools later during the year.
The toughest segment in the job market is to get a chance to teach English in international schools. This is because there is a vast gulf between the salaries and benefits in international schools and private schools/language institutes. Also, the work environment and facilities in the international schools are certainly a notch (or rather several notches) above the private schools in the country.
The Qualifications & Requirements You Will Need To Teach English In Kenya
If you prefer to teach English in Kenya in an international school, your qualifications and experience will certainly play an important role. Most of these schools will only recruit licensed teachers with 2-3 years of experience. You will also need a bachelor’s degree – though not necessarily in English.
Private schools are more flexible in their requirements. A TEFL certificate and work experience can help you land a job in the more reputed private schools. A Bachelor’s requirement is not mandatory.
Language schools are a good option for those who have a TEFL certification, but lack experience or a bachelor’s degree.
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How To Obtain A Visa & Wok Permit To Teach English In Kenya
Even if you land a job to teach English in Kenya, you are permitted to work only if you have a valid work permit. Teachers are normally eligible to apply for a work permit under Class D. This type of visa is granted only if your employer can prove that there were no other local candidates who can do the same work. The work permit is valid for two years but can be renewed successively every two years.
Post the approval of your work permit, you will have to get an alien registration card from the immigration department. This is mandatory for all foreigners who will be in the country for more than three months.
You have to submit the following documents along with your application for the work permit:
- Filled and signed application form
- Covering letter from employer
- Copies of your passport
- Two colored passport size photographs
- Copies of your academic/professional certificates
- Your CV
- The school employing you will have to show that they were unable to fill the vacancy locally
- A form to be specifically filled by your employer
- A processing fee of between $90-100
Your application form will be scrutinized by the Ministry of Immigration. A notification of approval is issued if your application is approved. This is valid for 90 days. After your employer has paid the required government fees, your passport is stamped with an entry permit.
Documents required for registration include:
- Application form
- Passport size photo
- Processing fee
With your work permit and alien registration card in hand, you are now set to teach English in Kenya!
What is It Like To Teach English In Kenya?
When you start to teach English in Kenya, you will realize that some cultural adjustments are required. Kenya is among the safest and most stable countries in Africa; therefore, security issues are unlikely to create much worry. However, the work atmosphere, as well as social equations, may be different for those in your country of origin. Here are some tips to break the ice with your Kenyan colleagues at school:
- It is important to greet everybody. Kenyan culture gives great respect to age and position, so be sure to follow this social norm. If you are meeting as a group, it is still prudent to greet everybody individually.
- Be punctual always, though this may often not be reciprocated!
- Office hierarchies are very important and you must be sure not to cross the line.
- Avoid all conflict. In case you do have an inter-personnel relationship problem, it is advisable to try and sort it out discreetly. Public display of anger or raised voices can further intensify the issue.
- You will have to get accustomed to making small talk before you plunge into business during a school meeting! A Jambo or Habari and exchange of pleasantries is a must, or your Kenyan hosts will take offence.
- Address your colleagues by their first name only after you to know them well. In Kenya, it is always better to be formal in your behavior.
You will have to work between 25-30 hours every week. This is just classroom teaching. Most Kenyan schools set aside at least 60-90 minutes for extracurricular activities. You will be often be assigned responsibilities to coordinate and conduct them. Students are respectful with teachers and it might take some time to break the ice!
Teachers are not paid too well in Kenya. Of course, it is a different matter if you get into an international school. Depending on your experience, your salary could be as high as $3000. Besides, you will get benefits like reimbursement of airfare or flight tickets, housing subsiding and paid vacations.
Private schools and language institutions do not pay too much. Your salary will range between $700-$1000 depending on the institution. There are unlikely to be any added benefits. You are expected to take arrange and pay for your accommodation and health insurance. You will also have to pay for your airfare. You will get a 2-month long vacation as well as other holidays during the year.
A word of caution. It is important to go through your employment contract very carefully. Some of the lesser-known schools are not very professional in their approach. The key to having a successful work tenure is to be very clear during the negotiation process and to ensure that your key demands are put down in writing in the employment contract. Unfortunately, at times even the contract has no sanctity.
What Can You Expect The Cost Of Living To Be As An English Teacher In Kenya
Your salary when you teach English in Kenya is likely to be in the range of $700-$1000. The cost of living in Kenya cannot be considered low. You may be surprised at the amount of money you need to spend on renting a house or refurbishing your wardrobe. The 2019 Mercer’s Cost of Living Survey ranked Nairobi as the 79th more expensive city in the world. Nairobi was higher up the ranking as compared to Toronto in Canada.
There are also unexpected expenses that you have to cope with when you teach English in Kenya. For example, you are dependent on bottled water. Also, Kenya is highly dependent on imports, which translates to higher prices for food items. Therefore, your grocery bill is likely to be higher than in a European country. Secondly, given the law and order situation in Kenya, you may have to budget some amount of money for security purposes. Appointing security guards to ensure the safety of your property and home is very common in the country.
Most expatriates prefer to live in gated communities with a security apparatus in place. If you opt for such an arrangement, it will mean a higher rental outflow per month.
Your expenditure on health may also be higher than expected. Kenyan cities have a decent health infrastructure but the cost of treatment is quite high.
Most expatriates in Kenya have employment contracts that cover these costs. However, teachers are not so lucky. Except for some international schools, teachers are not offered any additional benefits or perks.
When you arrive to teach English in Kenya, one of the first steps is to find suitable accommodation. The location is important as not all areas are equally safe. Naturally, areas perceived to be safe demand a premium rent. The rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is $300. You could rent an apartment of a similar size outside the city center at $150, almost half the price. However, the city center is always considered to be safer.
Most expatriates prefer to pay higher rent and stay in a safer area. Utility costs are also high in Kenya. Electricity and water are highly prized resources in the country. Your utility bill can be as high as $50 per month. This includes electricity, water and garbage collection. Internet and phone bills will account for another $50. Again, even though the rates are high, the quality of the services may not match those available in the more developed parts of the world.
Eating out in Kenya can be quite an adventure. The dining scene has high-end restaurants which serve varied cuisines including western and east Asian. Since most of the ingredients are imported, you will be presented with a fairly hefty bill at the end of the evening. The local joints which serve Kenyan food are much cheaper. Eating out in an inexpensive restaurant will cost around $5. A three-course meal for two people in a mid-range restaurant will be $30.
Local transport consists of buses and taxis. They are inexpensive. But expatriates normally avoid using public transport due to safety concerns. Buying and maintaining a car is expensive. A new sedan costs around $16,000. Gasoline is around $1 per liter.
The high-end supermarkets stock varieties of oil, cheese and sauces that you need to whip up gourmet meals at home. However, since almost everything is imported and highly taxed, your grocery bill could very well end up giving indigestion! A better way to indulge in your culinary ambitions is to shop at the local market. Kenya’s local produce is abundant, fresh and much more reasonably priced than the supermarket.
Things To See And Do Whilst Teaching English In Kenya
If you get an opportunity to teach English in Kenya, one of the highlights of your stint is the exploration of this beautiful country. From untouched wilds to sandy beaches, Kenya is mesmerizingly beautiful. There are plenty of places to see and things to do whilst teaching English in Kenya.
Say Hello To The Lions...They don't bite... :/
There is no way that you can go to Kenya and not go on a safari to meet the majestic African lion! There are several wilderness sites in Kenya. This includes the national park at Nairobi, making the city the World’s only Wildlife Capital. The Masai Mara game reserve is of course, famous for its annual wildebeest migration when more than 1.5 million animals stream into the open grasslands.
With over 95 species of mammals, amphibians and reptiles and over 400 bird species, the Masai Mara is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Africa. Other places to spot wildlife and birds in Kenya are the Samburu National Reserve, Lake Nakuru National Park, Amboseli National Park, Buffalo Springs and Shabha National Park.
Explore The Lakes
Kenya has several spectacular lakes, each with its special appeal. Lake Nakuru is one of the most photographed water bodies in the world. Home to the gracious pink flamingo, the sight of the elegant birds coming together as a massive flock to cover the surface of the lake is a sight that is quite unmatched. The life around the lake is also interesting as the area is home to the black rhino, white rhino, zebras, buffalos and more.
Kenya also shares the world’s largest lake, Lake Victoria with Tanzania and Uganda. The source of the mighty river the Nile, Lake Victoria is teeming in aquatic life. Other lakes worth exploring in Kenya are Lake Naivasha and Lake Elementeita.
Visit the World Heritage Sites
There are six UNESCO designated World Heritage Sites in Kenya. These include the Lamu Old Town, Fort Jesus, Kenya’s Lake Systems, Lake Turkana National Park, Mount Kenya National Park and Mijikenda Kaya Forests
The monasteries remind us of the Coptic legacy in Egypt’s rich culture and history.
Enjoy the Sun & the Sand:
Vast expanse of unspoilt beaches, turquoise waters stretching into infinity and the golden sun shining down on you – Kenya’s beaches are the perfect place to relax and rejuvenate. Some of the more popular beaches are the Diani beach, the North Coast, Malindi and Watamu.
Should You Choose Kenya As Your Next Destination To Teach English?
Do not make the mistake of rejecting an opportunity to teach English in Kenya, because you are not too sure about the quality of life. Kenya offers a very comfortable lifestyle for expatriates. Its large cities like Nairobi. Kisumu and Mombasa are bustling places with modern buildings. Facilities and amenities may not match those in the first world countries. However, Kenya is one of the economic powerhouses of Africa. You can be sure that your stint in this beautiful country will enrichen your life with several beautiful memories of a relaxed life in great surroundings.
However, If you are looking for work abroad opportunities to build a nest egg, then Kenya is not the right place for you. The salary for teachers in Kenya is at best modest and the cost of living is high. But when you teach English in Kenya, you get the chance to explore a magnificent country rich in culture, wildlife and natural beauty. So, our advice to you would be to say, “Jambo, Kenya”!