Teaching English in the UK

By | November 25, 2016

The United Kingdom is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is an island located north of France and to the west of the Netherlands. The UK only shares a border with one country and that is the Republic of Ireland.

The UK is a very developed country and is (at the time of writing) the world’s sixth largest economy. It was the first country to become industrialised and was the world’s richest and most powerful country during the 19th and early 20th centuries. At this time, the UK was the head of the British Empire that spread across the whole world. This is one of the reasons why the English language has spread throughout the world too.

Today, the country has a population of more than 60 million and is considered to be a multicultural society with people from all over world living on the island.

Read more about the UK from Wikipedia.

Why Teach English in the UK

London Skyline

London Skyline – Image courtesy of WikiMedia.

The United Kingdom might be the home of the English language and most of the people living in the UK use it as their first language, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any opportunities for people who want to teach English there. In fact, there are many opportunities for people that want to teach English in the United Kingdom.

Although a small island, the UK has a very high rate of immigration and immigrants from former colonies and other countries have been moving to the UK for decades. Nowadays, many Eastern Europeans are migrating to the UK because of the recent acceptance of Eastern European countries in the EU. On top of this, it is also a popular country for people to go and study English abroad. Therefore, there are many language schools in the country that all look to employ native English speaking teachers.

Where to Teach English in the UK

As is usually the case, you will find the most opportunities in the bigger cities and towns, but there are teaching jobs available all over the country.

Types of Teaching Jobs in the UK

Private Language Schools

Stonehenge From Inside 5


Most people that teach ESL in the United Kingdom will do so in language schools. There are schools in virtually every city and big town across the whole country and you’ll mostly be teaching general English to students from many different backgrounds.

Usually, you will be contracted to 25 teaching hours per week or you could be employed on a freelance self-employed basis.

Private Language schools are of varying quality, some will treat their teachers very well, whereas you might just be another cog in the wheel at other schools. Therefore, try to do some research about potential employers before accepting any teaching position.

Private Lessons

The White Cliffs of Dover

The White Cliffs of Dover

It’s also possible to find students that are interested in taking private lessons and although this can be a good way to supplement your income, it can pose a few problems.

Firstly, when you are self-employed, you will be required to pay and arrange your own taxes. In the UK, this can be fairly complicated and most people would need to employ an accountant to do this for them.

Secondly, you will need somewhere to teach your students. You or your students might not feel comfortable doing lessons in your own home or your student’s home, so you might need to find a suitable location for your lessons.

Finally, students can sometimes be unpredictable. They can cancel or reschedule classes at very short notice meaning that you will need to be very flexible to accommodate any last minute changes.

However, if you find enough students, private lessons can be very lucrative and you can earn a decent salary. It can even be more than what you would get paid in a school, but you have to work very hard to build up a good number of students.

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Teaching Requirements and Qualifications

Inverness Castle - Scotland

Inverness Castle – Scotland

As the United Kingdom is the home of the English language, UK citizens will obviously be the preferred type of teachers. Even native English speaking teachers need to be relatively highly qualified to stand a good chance of securing a job.

An online TEFL will not be enough and you will need a more in-depth, classroom based TEFL, TESOL or CELTA. In some cases, this might not even be enough for some schools and you might want to consider getting a diploma in teaching English, something like a DipTESOL or a DELTA.

On top of this teachers would also be expected to have a bachelor’s degree of some sort and those with a bachelor’s degree in education will stand out from the rest when applying for jobs.

Although it is possible to find jobs without any experience, you will probably be earning a lower salary than those with experience.

Expected Salary and Living Costs

[sociallocker id=”1664″]If you do secure a job in the UK, you can expect to earn between £12 ($20 USD) and £20 ($30 USD) per hour. This amount will be taxed and you will be required to pay both PAYE (Pay As You Earn) tax and make monthly national insurance payments. If you work for a school and they pay you salary this will be taken care of for you. If you are self-employed and freelancing, you will be required to arrange this by yourself.

The cost of living in the UK will vary depending on where you are living. Generally speaking the further north you are the cheaper your living costs will be. London is by far the most expensive city to live in the UK and is also one of the most expensive cities in the world.

The cost of food, transport and accommodation can be quite expensive and TEFL teachers can’t usually afford a particularly high standard of living, but you will be able to earn enough money to live fairly comfortably. If you can live quite frugally, you might even be able to save a few pounds a month too.

For more information about the cost of living in the UK, see Numbeo.[/sociallocker]

Visa Requirements

As stated above, most schools will prefer British and Irish applicants, but other native speakers might find some opportunities working in the UK. They would, however, need to get the appropriate visa.

There are different types of visas available and the process can be long and confusing. Take a look at the UK Border Agency website for full details about applying for a work visa for the UK

How to Find a Job Teaching in the UK

South Walsham Broad, Norfolk

South Walsham Broad, Norfolk

Language schools in the UK generally recruit TEFL teachers all year round and you can find vacant teaching jobs in a number of ways.

Firstly, schools often advertise online and you’ll find vacancies on international TEFL jobs boards, national jobs sites and local websites. You’ll generally find that most schools will also advertise for teachers on their own websites too. So your first port of call should be to take a look online.

Secondly, schools will also advertise locally in newspapers and with job agencies, so you should also try looking around the local area too.

Moreover, you can also try contacting schools directly either by phone, email or in person. Take a proactive approach and you will probably find opportunities that you wouldn’t normally find when looking for advertisements.

Teach English in the UK

You might not think that the home of the English language needs many TEFL teachers but you would be wrong! The UK is a popular destination for people that want to study English because they will be immersed in the language. Secondly, many people migrate to the UK and sometimes they also need English lessons. Therefore, you will find that there is quite a demand for TEFL teachers in the UK, but you will also find that competition for jobs in some areas can be quite high too.

Living in the UK, you will have a good standard of life, but it comes at a price. The UK can be a very expensive place to live and you will have to live frugally to make ends meet and save money at the same time.


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 the UK, we would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment and share your experiences with us.

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