Why South Africans Aren’t Hired as Online English Teachers

There are numerous companies that hire South African teachers so there is an opportunity to teach, but overall South Africans have more difficulty with getting hired as an online teacher as when compared to other nationalities.

The reasons for this are numerous but we will do our best to be fair and explain why an ever growing list of online teaching companies are deciding to pass on hiring South African teachers all together or are not renewing contracts for current South African teachers.

Here are the main reasons South Africans are not being hired:

  • South Africans are not native English speakers generally.
  • Internet and electricity issues in South Africa.

South Africans are not native English speakers generally

This will annoy the small population of South Africans who are English South African, but in general countries in the ESL world like Thailand and China have caught on that most South Africans don’t actually speak English as a native language.

Around 7% of the country is actually English South African who speak English as their native language. The rest speak Afrikaans and then English as a second language.

This results in varied quality of teachers from South Africa. I’ve worked with teachers who can’t spell correctly because English is not their native language. Also, parents want their students to study with a native speaker, particularly if it’s online. Not an Afrikaans speaker posing as a native speaker.

Resource intensive to process applications

The issue for a lot of online teaching companies is how resource intensive it is to sort through applications from South African teachers. With getting hundreds of applications a month, it simply becomes a waste of time and resources to process South African applications, schedule a time to interview and then find out they are not actually a native speaker.

Companies like SayABC used to hired South Africans, but as speaking English as a native language is a requirement, they simply can’t allow Afrikaans speakers who pose as native speakers to teach. It will hurt their business as SayABC (like VIPKID) are marketed as premium online teaching companies to parents.

It’s this difficulty of finding the proverbial needle in a haystack (that is a South African who speaks English as a native language) that causes most online teaching companies to simply not bother with applications from South African teachers as the overwhelming majority of applications are from non-native English speakers from South Africa.

Internet and electricity issues in South Africa

The “rainbow nation” is now being regarded as a first world country that is being transformed into a 3rd world country. With political violence, crime, poor quality internet and power outages, it’s too risky for a lot of online teaching companies to hire South Africans.

If you’re a company like SayABC for example that has a platform where you can teach up to 4 students at a time, you simply can not risk hiring a teacher from a country with internet speeds that are too slow to conduct class properly.

It’s also risky to hire teachers who live in a country that has rolling blackouts (load shedding). If you’re a parent what will you think if the expensive online teaching company you’re paying for has teacher no-shows? It’s bad for business and it’s simply better to not bother hiring South African teachers as the negatives outweigh the positives.


I know this will be an unpopular post but we’ve received numerous private messages via our contract form and comments on particular posts demanding why South African teachers are not considered.

I know it’s quite unfair if you’re English South African and speak English as a native language, but the overwhelming majority of South Africans don’t speak English as a native language and thus are not as desirable as a North American or UK citizen.

This combined with the rolling blackouts th public utility company has implemented makes it more difficult than it’s worth to hire South Africans. Parents pay a premium for their children to study with a native speaker. Afrikaan speakers are simply not native English speakers and combined with the risk of being a no-show it’s not worth for most online teaching companies to hire south Africans.

Now, we don’t want this post to be all doom and gloom. Again there are numerous online teaching companies that hire South Africans. Check out our list to learn your best options for South African online English teachers.

Also, online companies are aware that many South African teachers use a VPN to appear to be located somewhere else. This is a type of fraud, so please don’t do it. You’ll just end up wasting everyone’s time.