Teaching English abroad is one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences in the lives of many million people. With the right qualifications and mindset, the world can truly be your oyster when it comes to teaching English as a foreign language. Due to globalization and English being the most used language for international business and communication, it is no wonder that the opportunities for teaching English are simply limitless. But where are the best places to teach English? Fellow bloggers and I write about our experiences on the best places to teach English abroad in this post.
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Here are the best places to teach English in Asia:
by Linda Goes East
China is one of the best places to teach English abroad, especially when you are new to teaching. It is true that China’s laws regarding teaching visas aren’t as strict as in other countries, allowing even non-native English speakers to come to teach in the country. However, these regulations are constantly changing, so it’s best to do your research before coming to China.
Due to the economic boom in China over the past decades, the growing middle class is ready to spend millions of dollars on their children’s English education. This has led to an exploding number of English language schools in the country, making it relatively easy to find a job in China. I worked at a private English academy and was the only full-time English teacher at the time. Working in the private sector, my work hours were not the usual 9-5/Monday-Friday hours. However, I worked Wednesday through Sunday with Monday and Tuesday off and the working hours were from 1PM to 9PM. While these working hours might not seem appealing, it was actually great as I could sleep in or do chores in the mornings while I had Monday and Tuesday off to do shopping or make official visits.
China is a wonderful country to gain teaching experience. The cost of living is relatively low, which is great for teachers to live comfortably. Housing is often times offered from the school. I loved living in China and teaching as it allowed me to explore the country to the fullest. During my time in China, I traveled across the country during my vacation and public holidays. I can recommend to come to China to teach English.
by Gina Bear
Teaching English in Japan was a very rewarding and difficult experience. Living in Japan can be hard as you will always be the foreigner kept at arm’s distance. Sometimes you’ll feel like a bull trying to navigate your way through a china shop, but there’s always a silver lining. I came to Japan on the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program and staycationed on the beautiful island of Okinawa for three years.
I was able to learn about the culture of the students while they learned English from me. Since Okinawa is so unique, I became acquainted with the indigenous language and even the local instrument, the sanshin (snake skin banjo.) It was an excellent opportunity to really get to know the young generation and grow my hopes for a bright future for Japan. Japanese classrooms are completely opposite from American classrooms. There’s 40 students per class and a very Confucian mindset. My students would be silent until they felt comfortable and the respect I received made me feel accepted as their teacher.
As the year went by, I discovered that my students were hilarious and we would always find something to laugh about. They surprised me daily as they showcased their abilities to play musical instruments like professionals. They could also draw incredible paintings with deep expression, and try their hardest to communicate in English. Whenever we would understand each other, I would feel a deep sense of joy swelling in my chest for the small wins we could accomplish together. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life and even though I reside in Korea now, Japan holds a very special place in my heart.
When I was given the opportunity to teach abroad as part of my education degree, I jumped at the chance! Especially when I found out my destination would be Kathmandu, Nepal. I worked for 4 weeks in a private school right in the nation’s capital. The school taught children from kindergarten up to high school age, and despite being private, it still seriously lacked in resources. The school had blackboards and chalk, paper and pencils, and just one workbook per class. But despite this, the children had no lack of creativity and enthusiasm. In fact, the kids I taught in Nepal seemed more excited to learn than the children I’ve taught in the UK or Japan.
During my month with the school I planned all my own lessons, which resulted in numerous different games around learning English. The kids really seemed to respond to this, as the traditional methods of teaching were rote learning and corporal punishment. So coming into a foreign teacher’s class, where we used improvisation games and Jeopardy to practice their language skills, was a welcome break for them. I also had the chance to go on lots of school trips with the children, as I was there during their winter camp activities. We saw lots of the sights of Kathmandu, and the kids were so excited to practice their English with the other tourists we saw.
It really was such a special experience teaching in Nepal. The children were a dream to work with, and the staff were all interested in learning a different way to teach from me. The memories I hold from that short visit will stay with me forever, and I only hope I can return to see them all again one day!
by Linda Goes East
South Korea is among the best places to teach English abroad. The reasons for this are high salaries and great benefits. During my one-year teaching in South Korea, I was able to save $10,000 dollars while living comfortably. Depending on your lifestyle, teachers are able to save even within a year. That’s why many people teach English in South Korea to pay off college debt or save up money for their future.
Adding to the financial aspect is that Korea is a country with a wonderful culture and stunning natural landscapes. South Korea is home to 21 national parks. That is quite astonishing for a country with the size of the U.S. state of Minnesota. Living in South Korea, it’s very easy to explore the country due to its small size. The public transit system is very advanced making it easy to visit all different parts of the country by express bus or high-speed train. There is always something new to see in the country’s capital of Seoul. This vibrant megacity is filled with exciting things to see and do. I love wandering around the main palace or check out the vast shopping scene. Don’t forget to try out as much Korean food as possible when in the country.
Teaching in South Korea is a very rewarding experience. I taught kindergarten and elementary school children and had a blast. The children are very sweet and eager to learn. Of course you will also experience the Korean mentality towards education which can sometimes seems a bit extreme. Some of my kindergarteners did not only attend our English speaking kindergarten half the day, but they also went to Chinese class, ballet training and took piano lessons.
by Div and Bean Write
When I moved to Phuket, Thailand, I had taken “winging it” to a whole new level. I arrived without a job lined up, or a place to stay. However, within a week I had an amazing job as a K1 homeroom teacher, I’d met a network of teachers and I had managed to find a pretty sweet apartment. Life was good.
Teaching in Thailand was probably one of the best decisions I have ever made. It showed me that there was a lot more to the ESL experience and that I wanted to to pursue teaching as a career. Then, there was also the part about living on an island and feeling like you are on holiday every Friday afternoon-Sunday night.
As a homeroom teacher, I taught about 70% of my K1’s curriculum, and roughly spent about 6 hours a day with them. I got to watch grow and shape as individuals, as well as develop in the classroom. For the first time ever, I felt like a conventional teacher because I had so much responsibility, and was expected to do the duties that any teacher would do back home.
The whole experience was incredibly challenging and rewarding, because I was constantly having to learn and adapt. What I most loved about my job was that my days were filled with wonder, laughter and joy, which made every effort worth it.
by The Next Somewhere
Coming from teaching in Korea, teaching in Vietnam is a different beast entirely. When I left Korea, I researched different places in Asia that would be comparable to Korean salary. Vietnam seemed to be the best fit. You make a little bit less than a Korean entry-level salary but, the standard of living is so much lower. When finding a teaching job in Vietnam, you just arrive to the country and start searching. We chose Ho Chi Minh City instead of Hanoi because of the modernity. There is a huge demand for teachers in Vietnam that it’s easy to get a job the minute you touchdown. Just don’t make the mistake of job hunting during Tet like my boyfriend and I did. Tet is the country’s biggest holiday (similar to Chinese New Year) and the whole country shuts down for legit a week.
We couldn’t find anything! Luckily, an opportunity at a language center appeared, which offered benefits like housing assistance, insurance, and a sponsored visa and work permit. There isn’t a base package for benefits so you have to ask what’s included in your contract. Another thing is that without a work permit, foreigners are taxed 20% so make sure you receive your permit pronto! Many schools in Vietnam require a TEFL certificate and a college degree so if you can’t produce evidence you have one or the other, getting a job is insanely difficult. The language center I worked for was a supplementary English school. I only had to work 24 teaching hours per week which was not bad at all. The curriculum was easy, almost too easy, and the kids were great.
English learning in Vietnam differs from Korea because kids here actually want to learn English and love to speak in English! It isn’t a task to them; it’s actually a whole lot of fun! But their eagerness is accompanied by a playfulness that might feel overwhelming if you’re not good at classroom management.
Where are you headed next?
Teaching English is an exciting and rewarding experience. Each ESL destination has its own pros and cons. You need to decide for yourself which country you want to live and work in – or you try them all out!
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