Teaching English in India
In general terms, teaching English in India is not the same as teaching in your home country. Whilst there are notable exceptions, the average school in India doesn’t have a lot of money to operate with and may not be able to afford to employ mothertongue teachers. Their facilties may be rudimentary and your equipment may well be limited to a blackboard and a box of chalk. However, the difference a good English teacher will make is substantially higher.
India isn’t normally at the top of many people’s list of places to teach English. Thanks to its colonial past and its huge IT industry, many outsiders assume that English is widely spoken, but this is not true. The country, a beautiful place to visit with a rich and hugely varied culture, lifestyle and scenery, is unquestionably hampered by an under-funded and inefficient education system. A report by the British Council in recent years suggested that India was in real danger of being ‘left behind’ because of a severe shortage of good quality English tuition.
Teaching vacancies for English teachers in state schools are limited, mostly due to a lack of funding, and the majority of paid jobs are offered by private language schools. Even then, salaries are not very good. English teachers heading for India often begin their search in Mumbai, India’s largest and most cosmopolitan city. The city boasts a large number of international schools and so work is available. Whilst salaries may be low, so too is the cost of accommodation and it’s relatively easy to rent furnished apartments at a reasonable cost.
Volunteer ESL Teachers
If you can survive without paid employment, there are plenty of volunteer projects offering jobs for qualified English teachers in India, and a quick search on Google will unearth pages of results. In most cases, the schools or organizations running the project will provide teacher accommodation. Jobs teaching English in India are usually open to both native and non-native speakers. It’s worth bearing in mind that although teaching English in India is rarely profitable, the experience and sense of achievement you will gain can be priceless.
Qualifications, visas and salaries
ESL / EFL qualifications are not always essential, but those shools in a position to pay a reasonable salary will generally insist on a degree and TEFL certification. As is the case in almost every country, properly qualified ESL teachers will find it easier to find work. Teachers require an employment visa in order to teach English in India and information on visas can be obtained on the Indian Embassy website for your country. Visa applications can normally be made online. It is impossible to offer a guideline on typical salaries as they can vary zero to $12,000 a year!
Living in India
Life in India, for the average European or North American national will take a little getting used to. Religion and caste play a huge part in India and teachers should be sure to read up on local culture before starting work. In any event, teachers should always dress and behave conservatively. Western dress code, especially for women, should be left at home. It you are open-minded and enjoy meeting and dealing with people from different cultures, India is a fascination teaching destination.
There are many websites offering advice on living in India but for information about the country as a whole and the places you might like to visit, we’d recommend browsing the LonleyPlanet website: www.lonelyplanet.com/india