Teaching English in India

By | September 29, 2014

India is a south Asian country that shares its land borders with Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Burma, and Bangladesh. Nearby countries include Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Thailand and Indonesia.

This multicultural country is home to a number of religious faiths including Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism. Other popular religions were later introduced to India and are still popular today, these include Christianity and Islam.

India was a British colony until just after World War Two. Since that time, the economy has grown to become the tenth-largest in the world. However, it still faces many issues with corruption, poverty, healthcare and more recently terrorism.

Read more about India from Wikipedia.

Why Teach English in India

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal in March 2004” by Dhirad, picture edited by J. A. Knudsen – see permission. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

India has long been a country that captures the imagination of many westerners. Exotic spices, fabric, food and luxurious items from India are popular around the world.

There are modern cities where state-of-the-art buildings live side-by-side with ancient temples. The colourful streets, hot climate, diverse culture and historic traditions keep the allure of India alive today.

There aren’t, however, many teaching opportunities for native English speakers for a country of this size. English is officially the second language of India and Indians are more than qualified to teach the language themselves.

You will find some opportunities, but competition for jobs is fierce.

On the other hand, you will find many volunteer positions in poorer rural areas that would be more than happy for free help from foreigners who can teach English.

Where to Teach English in India

You’ll find that most paid positions are located in the bigger cities of New Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Jaipur and others. Volunteering positions are available all over the country both in cities and in rural areas.

Types of Teaching Jobs

Private Language Schools

India Gate

India gate“. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

English is part of the national curriculum and there are very few private schools around. The public schooling system doesn’t have the funds to employ native English speaking teachers and English is usually taught by Indians. Therefore, you won’t find many opportunities to teach.

When you do find a job in a private institution, the competition for jobs will be very high. You will also need to be well qualified to stand a chance of getting a job. This means that you will need at least a bachelor’s degree and a teaching certificate such as a TEFL, TESOL or CELTA, some experience will also be helpful.

International Schools

There are also international schools, but they will require that you are a fully qualified teacher with experience in your home country. Therefore, for most TEFL teachers this isn’t an option. Here the salaries will be high and you will get many benefits which include accommodation, visas and more.


India is home many international call centres and many English speaking countries have their call centres based in the country. Here you will find opportunities to help give Indian people a western accent and foreigners are usually preferred for this type of job.

Jobs of this type are usually for North American and British English speakers.


Most teaching positions ware unpaid volunteer positions and you will usually find yourself working in rural areas. This might include orphanages, women’s groups or some other kind of orphanage. More often than not, teaching English will be coupled with other projects that you will be actively involved in.

You won’t get paid and you will need to have enough money to fund your own living costs, but you might find that some organisations will let you live onsite for free and provide you with meals in exchange for your time.

Sometimes people pay a company to volunteer and you will live with host families, your visa will be arranged and they will find the volunteering opportunity for you. In other cases, you might find an organisation by yourself and just provide your time for free.

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Teaching Requirements and Qualifications

Volunteers don’t need any kind of qualifications and experience. It’s just enough that you’re willing to donate your time and that you can speak English. In most cases, it’s not even limited to native English speakers.

For paid positions, you will need to be well qualified because of the competition for jobs. You will need to have at least a bachelor’s degree as well as a teaching certificate such as an internationally recognised TEFL, TESOL or CELTA.

Expected Salary and Living Costs

[sociallocker id=”2119″]This isn’t a place where you should expect to earn a lot of money and therefore you shouldn’t expect to save a lot. The TEFL market isn’t as strong as other Asian countries and you will find that most jobs are on a volunteer basis.

For paid positions, you can expect anywhere between $150 and $1000 (USD) per month with the majority of jobs on offer at the lower end of the pay scale.

In some instances, the institution or business that you’re working for may even provide an apartment or provide accommodation allowance, but not always.

The cost of living in India is very low when compared to western countries and you should be able to make enough to cover your basic living expenses and maybe a little more. As is the case in most countries, the cost of living is cheaper the further away you get from the city centre.

Find out more about the cost of living in India from Numbeo.[/sociallocker]

Visa Requirements

In most cases your employer or organisation will sponsor your work visa, but you might be required to pay the cost yourself.

There are many types of visas and most teachers will need to get an employment visa. To get one you need a tourist visa that is valid for six months, two passport sized photos, letter of intention from your employer/organisation, and a current resume. This can cost around $200 (USD).

For more information about employments visas click here.

How to Find a Teaching Job

You won’t often find teaching jobs advertised on ESL jobs boards, but you will occasionally find them. It is usually the case that teachers find jobs after they have arrived in the country by contacting schools directly. You can do this via email and telephone calls, but you’re far more likely to find something by visiting schools in person.

You will find many volunteering positions online, especially companies that take a fee to make all the arrangements for you.

Teach English in India

Mumbai Skyline

Mumbai Skyline at Night” by Cididity Hat – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

There are very few teaching jobs available for native English speaking teachers and the ones that you do find will often be very competitive. The salaries aren’t huge and you’re not likely to make enough to save money. For these reasons, India isn’t a popular destination for TEFL teachers.


Although I have never worked in this country, every effort has been made to ensure that this information is correct. This blog post has been written after extensive research online, interviews with teachers who have worked or are working in the country, and local schools have been contacted. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. If you have worked or are working in India, we would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment and share your experiences with us.

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