5 Misconceptions About Teaching English in the Middle East

From Bahrain to Saudi Arabia, the Middle East is a hot place to teach English abroad (literally!) From gender differences to covering up, we’re here to put you straight on any Middle East rumours that may be doing the rounds…

1. It’s dangerous to work in the Middle East

If you follow travel advice and respect the local culture, teaching English in the Middle East doesn’t need to be more dangerous than anywhere else your TEFL adventure takes you. There are obvious ways to stay safe – avoid countries at war (err, yep!) and, if you’re in an area where public displays of affection are against the law, don’t do it! Simples.

lanterns

2. It’s normal to be asked for upfront fees when you’re offered a job

With high salaries (one of the best regions in the world for pay) and attractive teaching packages, TEFL jobs in the Middle East are basically in demand. This means they also sadly attract scams. You might need to pay your own personal costs such as visa fees, accommodation and transport. BUT, be extremely wary if you’re asked for upfront fees to simply to get a TEFL job – this isn’t normal.

camels in the middle east

3. If you’re a woman you have to cover up when you’re teaching

It’s obviously important to respect the local culture wherever you are – especially in the Middle East. But, this doesn’t mean you always have to cover up completely. Countries such as Saudi Arabia segregate men and women, with only female teachers allowed to teach female students. If you find yourself in this all-female situation, you’ll be allowed to take off your outer layers (perfect in the scorching hot summers!). Read more of what it’s like to teach English in Saudi Arabia as a female.

4. No locals will speak to you

This is definitely not true! As long as you’re respectful, you’ll be welcomed into the local community. But be warned, if you’re used to western life you’ll find some significant differences – for example, women and men are not permitted to mix socially in a number of Middle Eastern countries and might even eat in separate sections in a restaurant. If you’re looking for somewhere to party or date, this probably isn’t the place for you…

tiles temples in middle east

5. Everywhere in the Middle East is rich

It’s true that there’s a lot of money floating around the Middle East. But don’t be fooled into thinking that everywhere is the same – the contrast between the riches of Qatar and the war-torn Yemen is huge. However, if you’ve been attracted to the Middle East by the teaching salaries, you’re unlikely to be disappointed. You’ll generally get an excellent tax-free salary that is often topped up further through free accommodation and reimbursed airfares. TEFL packages here are amongst the best on offer anywhere in the world! Perfect for saving for future travels we say!!

Ready to start your own Middle East adventure?

Check out Teaching English in Bahrain here / Teaching English in Saudi Arabia here / Teaching English in the United Arab Emirates here.

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