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Travel & Teach - United Arab Emirates (UAE)


The United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven emirates or states, the best known being Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah. The Emirates enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world, part of which is the fact that the states are relatively crime-free. Combining the traditions of the East with the technology of the West, you will find this Arab-Islamic country to have one of the most liberal societies among all the other Arab nations. Although Islam is the official religion, other faiths are tolerated.

Much of UAE’s wealth is founded on oil and you can expect to find a real diversity of nationalities enjoying a very good standard of living as a result. Tourism is heavily promoted and with state-of-the-art communication services and transport, the presence of international luxury hotel chains, rich shopping malls and cultural centres.

There is a large expat community in the UAE and while it should be remembered that it is an Islamic state, the laws that govern everyday social interaction are fairly relaxed in comparison to other countries in the region, such as Saudi Arabia.

ips for teaching English in UAE:

* choose the 250-hour TESOL Level 5 Advanced course >> for the Middle East
* consider adding a 30-hour Business TESOL >> as this specialism is very much in demand
* dress for business and present a professional CV/resume >>
* ask any contacts you have in the Emirates to find out about working opportunities there  

Global English students are working all over the world with their accredited TESOL certificates. Find out
how TESOL training from Global English has made a difference to their lives:


Ebenezer Cobblah

I replied to an advert from an International school in Sharjah, UAE looking for a French and EFL Teacher. Within 2 days of the interview they called me to say they were offering me a
three year renewable contract. They sent an air ticket and an entry visa and asked me to leave for UAE immediately. So I did! I have been teaching both French and EFL in the Emirates since September 2003. I have fully furnished accommodation with two bedrooms and an annual return air ticket to the UK.

My salary is also very good: 8,000 UAE Dirhams, non-taxable too! So little spent and too much gained!

Trudie Fourie

I have recently accepted a position in the UAE. I am in Sharjah, about 20km from Dubai. I've been here for about a month now and am still settling in (at school) and exploring (the souqs and malls). The position is at an International Private School and I teach Business Studies and Business English. I also have other duties as Coordinator: Internal communication and Project leader: Accreditation (the school wants to get accreditation within the next year). So, Jack of all trades it seems!

The school is a bit disorganised and 'tomorrow is another day'-syndrome rules. It is so unlike the UK! It seems the informal structure is very much a characteristic of private schools here. It is a business with the main objective the enrolment of students. The school has 1600+ students! My new colleagues are warm and friendly and very, very laid back. Sharjah is an emirate of contrasts - developed and bare sitting comfortably next to one another. I find the architecture amazing! The mosques specifically. Delicate, fine works of art!

l already miss so many things taken for granted in London - the markets, the quality fresh produce (organic and sell-by dates don't feature here), the theatre, art house cinema and last but not least the convenience of the tube! Speaking of Christmas - I am longing for the dark, cold evenings of shopping, the rushing masses with coats, scarves and shopping bags flapping, the Christmas carols, Christmas lights and tempting window displays!

But, I am looking forward to my new experiences amidst a very different culture in a very hot, humid climate. So far I have ridden a camel, done a 4x4 desert drive and I have spent most of my first salary in the local souq. I believe there are many similar pleasures awaiting me.

I was lucky enough to get this position through an agency based in South Africa. The same agency placed me in the UK 4 years ago. After I obtained my GE qualification, I emailed them an updated copy of my CV. The reply was swift and here I am! To be honest, I never thought of the UAE as a possibility to put my newly acquired skill to teach Business English to the test, but negotiations went well for me and this tipped the scale.

When appointing a new teacher from overseas, the schools here take care of all formalities. The school organised my visa, paid for the flight and made the travel arrangements. On my arrival, I was met at the airport and taken to comfortable temporary accommodation.

Salaries are tax-free but I think the benefits are worth a mention. These include:

- 1 year fixed contract that will automatically be renewed unless one of the
parties give notice of non-renewal
- Furnished accommodation
- Medical insurance
- Transport to school
- Gratuity of one month's salary after every year of service
- Return ticket once a year

The school hours are the same than in the UK, but meetings don't feature. They have very much a crisis-management kind of approach. There is also a huge lack of communication between management and staff, between staff in departments, etc. You can very much do your own thing. International schools here range from Kindergarten to A-level. My school has 1600+ with a staff of around 120! The majority of teachers leave at the end of the school day at 2:05pm and I can only smile at the congestion around the time-out machine during these times! Bear in mind that these observations might relate to this school only - being a private school! There are many British-based schools around where the opposite may be true! The laid-back approach is very much a cultural thing, though. Coming from London, the slow pace, no haste approach really gets to me sometimes!

On the other hand, if you show initiative, you get what you ask for as far as resources, training needs, etc are concerned. During my first week here I was treated to a 2 day conference in Dubai in one of the best hotels! The same goes for accommodation needs. They provide what you need. What impressed me most was the fact that singles get their own flat - so no sharing!

Life is good otherwise. Your tax-free salary goes a long way. With all necessities taken care of by your employer, one only spends on taxi-fares (a must due to a lack of public transport), food and other personal treats. The prices of most commodities compare quite favourably with their UK counterparts.

I hope the above information will be useful.

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Travel and Teach

As an oil rich nation with a number of  internationals living there, English is the lingua franca and demand to learn English is good. Teachers generally come to the UAE for one of two reasons: either they are attracted by the prospect of lucrative pay or they are accompanying a partner who is working in the region. 

Teachers can expect great salaries (minimum 3,000 USD per month) subsidised or free accommodation and a low cost of living. This means the UAE boasts some of the best standards of living for EFL teachers. 

However, in order to take advantage of such great contracts it really helps to be living there already (as the partner of an oil worker, for example). The region works on 'who you know' and a candidate deemed as the right person in the right place at the right time will usually win out over someone from overseas who is markedly more qualified. In addition, parents like their children to learn English from a native speaker and you can expect regular, well paid work privately once in place, although it is not advisable to travel to the Middle East and find work on spec. Instead, do get in touch with the UAE consulate or embassy to find out up to date regulations for entry.

If applying from abroad, you usually need to be very experienced and well-qualified, sometimes to Masters level in TEFL. Certainly you will need a university degree, preferably in English or teaching and a good TESOL qualification. Universities, as you can imagine, will expect higher level qualifications whereas some private institutes, such as Berlitz, may accept lower qualifications. Most adverts for UAE positions appear on the internet on sites like www.tefl.com but there are not as many of these as you might expect and competition is fierce for such posts.

It is strongly recommended that you take:

* the 250-hour TESOL Level 5 Advanced course >> for the Middle East
* the 30-hour Business TESOL >> for UAE
since few in TESOL have a specialism and so this can be very appealing to employers and ensures you have the key skills for the market.

You may also be able to find work teaching English to children privately. In this area being on the spot may be more important than degrees and certificates. If this is something you'd like to do, we suggest you add the 30-hour Teaching English to Young Learners >>.

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Global English course comparison

Key Comparison data
Courses Level 1 Level 1 + Young Learners Level 1 + business Level 1 plus 1-2-1 Level 2 Level 2 + Young Learners Level 2 + business Level 2 + 1-2-1 Teaching business English Teaching English to Young Learners Teaching English 1-2-1 Grammar course Weekend face-face
Price £195.00 £295.00 £295.00 £295.00 £315.00 £395.00 £395.00 £395.00 £140.00 £140.00 £140.00 £50.00 £170-£190
Duration (hours) 70 100 100 100 150 180 180 180 30 30 30 20 20 or 28
Time limit (months) 6 6 6 6 18 18 18 18 6 6 6 6 n/a
Modules 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 2 2 2 1 n/a
Content General English General English + Young Learners General English + Business General English + 1-2-1 General English General English + Young Learners General English + Business General English + 1-2-1 Business Young Learners One to One Grammar General


Yes . ACTDEC Yes. GE Yes. GE Yes. GE Yes. GE Yes.20 or 28 hour
Course book provided No Yes Yes No* No Yes Yes No* Yes Yes No* No No
View live teaching excerpts Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No. n/a
all courses can be started at any time, have personal tutor support and a 14 day money back guarantee
* includes 1 years subscription to materials provider 'handouts online'