Ever wondered how people find good English teaching jobs in Asia, the kind that allows them to travel the world for months or even years when their contracts end? You’ve come to the right place! Check out my advice and let me know some of your own tips in the comments below.
Choose your country
Think about what you really want to get out of your English teaching experience and then look closely at each country in the region. Singapore seems to pay the most, followed by Korea – so if you’re after the money they are your best choices. If you’re looking for more of an “experience” I’d go for Taiwan or China. I taught in Taiwan and it was full of young people straight out of university. I went through training with around 50 other people so there was an instant support network and people to party with. Singapore was far different, but I hear the social side of things is pretty good in Korea. If you’re looking for something a bit easier I’d go for Thailand, Indonesia or Cambodia. They seem to work less hours and have plenty of holidays – the only problem being the pay isn’t as good.
China is a bit of a mix of all the above countries; there is money to be made but also some low wage jobs that don’t require a lot of effort. I’ve heard Vietnam is a great place to teach and from what I saw would be a fun place to live (especially Hanoi). Japan is probably the most exotic option but the high cost of living means you won’t be able to save as much as Taiwan, Korea, Singapore and maybe even China. If you’re not a native English speaker it’s still possible to teach in Asia, you’ll be limited to places like China and Cambodia though.
Always take into account the perks when making a decision based on money. You get free housing in Korea and China, a free return flight (on contract completion) in a lot of places and even a $7000 end of contract bonus in Singapore.
Check out my thoughts on teaching English in Singapore here, and Taiwan here.
Once you’ve decided on a country, head to Dave’s ESL Cafe and have a look for jobs. It’s widely recognised as the best place to find good English teaching jobs in Asia, particularly if you’re looking to teach in Korea or China. It’s a good idea to scroll through as many job advertisements as you can to get an idea of the average wage and working conditions, and when you find one you want to apply for I’d recommend doing a quick Google search of the company. Teaching English in Asia is pretty dodgy in terms of workers’ rights and employers’ ethics – and if people get screwed over by a company the first thing they’ll do is moan about it online. Take these “reviews” with a grain of salt though – some people get fired for simply not being good enough teachers but will still moan about it as if it wasn’t their fault!
Ask to email/talk to a current (or former) teacher
It’s good to get a first-hand account of how day to day life at your chosen school is. Try and talk to someone from the specific school you’ll be teaching at, as conditions vary wildly between branches at big companies. If a school isn’t willing to let you talk to their teachers it probably means none of their teachers would recommend it, so it’s best to move on.
So, you’ve found your perfect English teaching job and are preparing for the interview – make sure you come across as someone who actually knows how to speak English. You’ll often be given a short test on things like verb tenses and articles – you don’t want to miss out on your dream job because you failed the test.
Don’t give up!
If it’s your first time teaching English you might be in for a shock – it’s harder than it looks. A lot of people think it’s too hard and head home early with their tail between their legs. You might have followed all my advice and still feel like you’ve ended up in the worst school in Asia, but if you stick at it it’ll get easier. I always recommend people finish their first contract, because if you can survive for a year it automatically means you’re a decent teacher and you’re reliable – meaning you’ll walk into pretty much any English teaching job after that. You can always break contracts later on, as long as you have that first contract/reference in the bank.
Let me know if you have any questions about finding good English teaching jobs in Asia…
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Friday 6th of July 2018
How important is it to have a degree to get a job in Singapore?
Tuesday 10th of July 2018
You definitely need one for the kind of schools that I worked at, you may be able to get some tutoring work without one though.
Tuesday 16th of August 2016
Hi I'm a qualified Australian Teacher and would like to teach in Singapore, including English tutoring. Where do I look for work? Thank you for your article. Motivating and interesting. Thank you. Hope to hear from you. Regards Rosanne
Saturday 14th of May 2016
I want to teach English in Taiwan or Singapore. I have completed the Tefl 140 hours course.
Saturday 6th of December 2014
Great advice! I loved teaching English in Taiwan. The students are so respectful and eager to learn. Although I love Thailand, the education system is a bit, um, disorganized. I'm thinking of going back to Taiwan to teach and hopefully learn the language.
Friday 3rd of October 2014
Hi! Did you have a TEFL certificate when you started teaching in Singapore?