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The Pearl of the Gulf: TESL in Bahrain

By  Zeynep Bayraktaroglu May 22, 2012

How to teach English as a Second Language in the Middle East.

Why teach in Bahrain?

Taking a deep plunge into the world of ESL, I suddenly found myself teaching at a remote corner of Oman to Bedouin students whom, in all probability, were seeing an uncovered woman for the first time in their lives. Although I enjoyed teaching in the Gulf, after spending a year in Oman, I felt the need to improve my accessibility to a “Western” style social life.

The question was where to go next within the region? As a single woman, Saudi Arabia was out of the question; Kuwait and Qatar had their limitations; and Dubai, with all its glamour, was costly when living standards were considered. Bahrain, known in the Gulf as the gateway to freedom, seemed to be the wise choice.

As the regional joke goes, a Saudi wife tells her husband, “Let’s have fun tonight.”

The husband says, “Sure. What do you want to do?”

“Tie me up and do anything you want,” replies the wife.

The husband, pleased with the idea, ties his wife up and goes to Bahrain.

But the nightlife coveted by Saudis and Kuwaitis is not the only reason to work in Bahrain. If you’re not entirely driven by money and interested in getting in touch with the indigenous flavors of the Gulf, Bahrain is the perfect place to be. You'll be able to escape the distractions of modern life and integrate with the locals. Soon enough you might get invited to smoke shisha with your new friend or to attend a local wedding ceremony. As you discover the delights of another culture, you’ll still be able to save money, as you won't need to pay rent or tax.

Here's my advice on how to finding a TESL job in Bahrain:

How to get the job

Applying: Although both American and EU citizens are issued a 15-day visit visa (renewable to for up to three months) upon entering the country, showing up and handing out your resume is advisable only during the peak hiring season, which takes place the last week of August and the first week of September. At this time many schools are trying to fill their last-minute staffing needs. During low hiring season, it’s more productive to contact schools via email prior to arrival.

Qualifications: Candidates should at least have a relevant university degree and a TEFL certificate.

Visa process: Once you're hired, your employer will typically handle the required paperwork and the fees of your work visa and resident permit within two months. 

A typical expatriate package includes: a tax-free salary, accommodation, travel costs and visa expenses. But before you accept a placement, do your homework. Some schools allow their students to pay their way to academic success, so seek the advice of experienced expat teachers.

Who is hiring?

Al Raja School, formerly known as the American Mission School, is the oldest school in Bahrain. Offering a solid education, it maintains a tight discipline of its keen and well-mannered students.

Bahrain School, run by DoDEA, provides a reputable education. You must be an American citizen and strictly follow the online application procedure.

St. Christopher’s School, one of the most highly regarded international schools in Bahrain, follows the National Curriculum and recruits those with complementary qualifications.

Ibn Khaldoon National School, offers generous compensation for staff and sound education for students.

Sheikha Hessa Girls’ School, which counts female students from the Royal Family amongst its students, only employs female teachers.

The Bahrain Bayan School provides a decent educational program and staff benefits.

ISC Manama observes the rigid Choueifat methodology. 

The British School of Bahrain follows the National Curriculum in a pleasant setting.

Riffa Views International School is a newly established institution in recently constructed vicinity called the Riffa Views. It offers up-to-date teaching practices and superb benefits, especially for American citizens.

American Cultural and Educational Center offers various courses for adults and young learners. The institute hires a few full-timers, but mainly employs part-time teachers, who are able to bring in considerable profits for themselves. 

The Berlitz Center’s director expects an uninterrupted availability and a commitment to a minimum of 20 hours over six days per week. Schedules change every two weeks.

British Council offers a solid curriculum and notable benefits to its limited number of staff. 

Zeynep Bayraktaroglu holds a bachelor’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies from Rutgers University, and she has taught English in the Gulf for six years.

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