Teaching English in Asia

Teaching English in Asia – Which Country is Best?

Reading Time: 10 minutes

Are you passionate about exploring new cultures, making a positive impact, and embarking on an adventure of a lifetime? Teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) might be the perfect avenue for you. Asia, with its diverse landscapes, rich histories, and warm hospitality, stands out as a hub for EFL opportunities.

From the bustling cities of China to the tranquil temples of Thailand, each country offers a unique experience for educators interested in teaching English abroad. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the most popular destinations for EFL teachers in Asia, exploring the vibrant possibilities that come with this fulfilling journey. Whether you’re an experienced educator seeking a change or someone looking to start a new chapter, let’s unravel the exciting world of teaching English in Asia.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Country to Teach English in 2024

Choosing where to teach English abroad is like selecting a travel destination, but with the added excitement of making a difference in students’ lives. Here are some cool factors to think about when deciding where to take your teaching adventure in Asia:

  • Where’s the Buzz? Check out places where English teachers are in high demand. More demand often means better job options and cooler experiences. (Below we look at some great options!)
  • Vibes and Culture: Think about the vibe of the place. Do you prefer bustling cities or chill countryside? Make sure the culture matches with your expectations.
  • Dollars and Sense: How much will it cost to live there, and what’s the paycheck like? Balancing the budget is key for a happy adventure.
  • Certain Requirements: Check if schools need special qualifications. Some places might want certain degrees or certificates.
  • Living the Good Life: Consider the perks of living there – healthcare, safety, and overall good vibes. A happy teacher makes a great teacher.
  • Lost in Translation: How are your language skills? Some places speak more English than others. Consider how much you’re ready to dive into a new language.
  • Paperwork and Legal Stuff: Look into the paperwork. Visa, work permits – all that legal stuff. No one wants surprises in a foreign land.
  • Growth Spurts: Think about your future. Are there chances to grow professionally? Some places offer awesome opportunities to level up your teaching game.
  • Chill or Hustle: Check the work vibes. Some places have a relaxed teaching scene, while others might have you hustling. What fits your style?

So, when you’re eyeing a spot to teach English in Asia, think about these things. It’s not just about the teaching gig; it’s about the whole adventure package!

TEFL/TESOL Certification for Teaching English in Asia

A TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certificate is a specialized training program that equips individuals with the necessary skills to teach English to non-native speakers. This certification covers essential aspects of language teaching, including lesson planning, classroom management, and language assessment. 

In the context of teaching English in Asia, having a TEFL/TESOL certification is not just an advantage but often a requirement. Unlike a general degree, this certification specifically addresses the practical aspects of language teaching, making it a valuable asset for educators. 

Many schools and language institutes in Asian countries prioritize candidates with this qualification, as it demonstrates a commitment to effective teaching and an understanding of the methodologies required for language instruction. In essence, a TEFL/TESOL certification is a practical and essential tool for educators aiming to navigate the diverse landscape of English language education in Asia.

The Best Countries for Teaching English in Asia

Teaching English in China

China stands out as a prominent destination for English teachers due to its robust demand for language educators. The country’s vast size ensures a plethora of opportunities in major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, as well as in smaller urban centers. Working as an English teacher in China offers unique advantages and challenges:

PROS:

  • High Demand: The consistently high demand for English teachers opens up numerous job opportunities.
  • Cultural Richness: Teachers can immerse themselves in China’s rich cultural heritage, exploring historical sites and experiencing traditional customs.
  • Competitive Salary: While the cost of living varies, many teaching positions offer competitive salaries, allowing for a comfortable lifestyle.
  • Diverse Locations: From bustling metropolises to serene rural areas, teachers can choose from a variety of locations to suit their preferences.

CONS:

  • Cultural Adjustment: Adapting to a different culture can be challenging, particularly for those unfamiliar with Chinese customs and social norms.
  • Language Barrier: While English is widely taught, there might still be language barriers, especially in more rural areas.
  • Air Quality: Some regions, especially in the north, face air pollution challenges, which could impact health.
  • Intense Work Environment: Depending on the school, the teaching environment can be demanding, with long working hours and high expectations.

REQUIREMENTS:

  • Bachelor’s Degree: Most institutions require a bachelor’s degree in any field.
  • TEFL/TESOL Certification: While not always mandatory, having a TEFL/TESOL certification enhances job prospects and prepares teachers for effective instruction.
  • Native English Speaker: Many schools prefer native English speakers, although exceptions exist.
  • Work Visa: Obtaining a work visa is crucial for legal employment.

SALARY & BENEFITS:

  • Salary Range: Salaries can vary widely, but on average, teachers can earn between 10,000 to 20,000 RMB per month.
  • Accommodation: Some schools provide accommodation or a housing allowance.
  • Airfare: Many employers offer flight allowances or reimbursements.
  • Health Insurance: Health insurance coverage is often provided as part of the employment package.

Teaching English in South Korea

South Korea remains a top destination for English teachers, offering a mix of modern amenities and a rich cultural experience. With high demand in both public schools and private language institutes (hagwons), here are the key aspects to consider:

PROS:

  • Structured Programs: Public schools in South Korea often have well-structured English programs, providing a clear curriculum.
  • Competitive Salaries: Salaries are competitive, and many positions include benefits like accommodation and airfare.
  • Cultural Immersion: Living in South Korea provides an immersive experience in a culture that seamlessly blends tradition and modernity.
  • Vibrant Cities: Cities like Seoul and Busan offer bustling urban life with a range of entertainment, dining, and cultural activities.

CONS:

  • Work Culture: The work culture can be demanding, with long working hours and high expectations.
  • Language Barrier: While English is taught, there might be a language barrier, especially in more rural areas. Tip: Take some Korean language classes before you move conveniently online.
  • EPIK vs. Hagwons: Choosing between public schools (EPIK) and private institutions (hagwons) involves different work environments and conditions.
  • Housing: While housing is often provided, it may be a shared arrangement, and standards can vary.

REQUIREMENTS:

  • Bachelor’s Degree: A bachelor’s degree in any discipline is a standard requirement.
  • TEFL/TESOL Certification: While not always mandatory, having a TEFL/TESOL certification enhances your competitiveness in the job market.
  • Native English Speaker: Most institutions prefer native English speakers, although some may consider fluent non-native speakers.
  • Clean Criminal Record: A clean criminal record check is typically required for visa purposes.

SALARY & BENEFITS:

  • Salary Range: Salaries range from 2.1 to 2.7 million KRW per month, depending on qualifications and experience.
  • Accommodation: Housing is often provided or assisted, either directly or through a housing allowance.
  • Airfare: Many employers provide a flight allowance or reimbursement.
  • Health Insurance: Health insurance is typically included as part of the employment package.

Teaching English in Japan

Japan’s allure for English teachers lies in its unique fusion of tradition and modernity. With a steady demand for English instructors, opportunities are diverse, spanning public schools, private language institutes, and conversation cafes. Here’s a closer look:

PROS:

  • Cultural Richness: Japan offers a rich cultural experience with a perfect blend of ancient traditions and cutting-edge technology.
  • Punctuality and Respect: Japanese culture values punctuality, respect, and politeness, creating a conducive working environment.
  • Public Schools and ALT Positions: Many English teachers work in public schools through programs like the JET Programme or as Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs).
  • High Living Standards: Japan boasts high living standards, efficient public transportation, and a strong emphasis on safety.

CONS:

  • Cost of Living: While salaries are competitive, the cost of living, especially in major cities like Tokyo, can be relatively high.
  • Language Barrier: Although English is taught, there might be a language barrier outside urban areas. Tip: Take some Japanese language classes before you move conveniently online.
  • Visa Requirements: Navigating the visa process can be complex, and requirements may vary.

REQUIREMENTS:

  • Bachelor’s Degree: A bachelor’s degree is typically a prerequisite for obtaining a work visa.
  • TEFL/TESOL Certification: While not always mandatory, having a TEFL/TESOL certification enhances your prospects, especially for better positions.
  • Native or Fluent English Speaker: Most employers prefer native English speakers or those with a high level of fluency.
  • Clean Criminal Record: A clean criminal record is usually required for visa purposes.

SALARY & BENEFITS:

  • Salary Range: Salaries can range from 200,000 to 600,000 JPY per month, depending on the type of position and qualifications.
  • Accommodation: Some employers provide accommodation or assistance in finding housing.
  • Airfare: Some contracts include a flight allowance or reimbursement.
  • Health Insurance: Health insurance is often included or available through the national health system.

Teaching English in Vietnam

Vietnam is rapidly becoming a sought-after destination for English teachers, driven by a growing demand for language instruction. Here’s a closer look at teaching English in this vibrant country:

PROS:

  1. Increasing Demand: Vietnam’s demand for English teachers is on the rise, creating numerous opportunities for language instructors.
  2. Cultural Richness: Cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi offer a unique blend of historical charm and modern dynamism.
  3. Affordable Living: Vietnam boasts a lower cost of living compared to many Western countries, allowing teachers to live comfortably.
  4. Scenic Landscapes: Beyond the cities, Vietnam’s landscapes are diverse and breathtaking, offering a range of travel experiences.

CONS:

  1. Language Barrier: Outside urban areas, there might be a language barrier, and English proficiency can vary among locals. Tip: Take some Vietnamese language classes before you move conveniently online.
  2. Work Permits: Navigating work permit requirements can be bureaucratic, and the process may vary.

REQUIREMENTS:

  1. Bachelor’s Degree: A bachelor’s degree is often required for obtaining a work permit.
  2. TEFL/TESOL Certification: While not always mandatory, having a TEFL/TESOL certification enhances your teaching prospects and earning potential.
  3. Native or Fluent English Speaker: Many employers prefer native English speakers or those with a high level of fluency.
  4. Clean Criminal Record: A clean criminal record is typically required for visa and work permit purposes.

SALARY & BENEFITS:

  1. Salary Range: Salaries can range from $1,000 to $2,000 USD per month, depending on qualifications and the type of institution.
  2. Accommodation: Some contracts include accommodation, or teachers receive a housing allowance.
  3. Airfare: While not always provided, some schools offer flight reimbursement.
  4. Cultural Immersion: Living in Vietnam provides an excellent opportunity for cultural immersion and exploration.

Teaching English in Taiwan

Taiwan stands out as an attractive destination for English teachers, offering a blend of demand, urban dynamism, and cultural richness. Here’s what you need to know about teaching English in Taiwan:

PROS:

  1. Strong Demand: Taiwan has a consistent demand for English teachers, especially in private language schools known as buxibans.
  2. Urban Dynamism: Cities like Taipei offer a dynamic urban environment with a mix of modernity and traditional charm.
  3. Safety and Cleanliness: Taiwan is often lauded for its safety, cleanliness, and a high quality of life.
  4. Cultural Attractions: Beyond teaching, Taiwan’s rich cultural heritage and culinary scene provide ample exploration opportunities.

CONS:

  1. Cost of Living: The cost of living in Taiwan, particularly in cities like Taipei, can be higher compared to some other Asian countries.
  2. Language Challenges: While English is taught in schools, outside urban areas, there might be language challenges. Tip: Take some Chinese language classes before you move conveniently online.

REQUIREMENTS:

  1. Bachelor’s Degree: Having a bachelor’s degree is a common requirement for securing a teaching position.
  2. TEFL/TESOL Certification: While not always mandatory, a TEFL/TESOL certification enhances your teaching credentials.
  3. Native or Fluent English Speaker: Being a native English speaker or demonstrating a high level of fluency is often preferred.
  4. Clean Criminal Record: A clean criminal record is typically necessary for obtaining a work permit.

SALARY & BENEFITS:

  1. Salary Range: Salaries range from $2,000 to $2,500 USD per month, depending on qualifications and experience.
  2. Health Insurance: Many schools provide health insurance as part of the employment package.
  3. Housing Assistance: Some contracts include housing assistance or accommodation.
  4. Cultural Experiences: Taiwan’s festivals, traditions, and friendly locals make it a culturally enriching experience for teachers.

Teaching English in Thailand

Thailand, with its vibrant culture and expanding demand for English education, is a captivating destination for English teachers. Here’s an overview of teaching English in Thailand:

PROS:

  1. Growing Market: Thailand’s market for English teachers is on the rise, offering a range of opportunities in private language schools and international schools.
  2. Cultural Richness: Immerse yourself in the rich cultural tapestry of Thailand, from bustling markets to serene temples and lively festivals.
  3. Natural Beauty: Beyond the classrooms, Thailand’s stunning landscapes, pristine beaches, and lush jungles provide a backdrop for unforgettable experiences.
  4. Warm Hospitality: Experience the renowned Thai hospitality and friendliness, making your stay culturally rewarding.

CONS:

  1. Salary Disparity: Salaries can vary widely, and while the cost of living is generally lower, the compensation might be less than in some neighboring countries.
  2. Language Barrier: Outside major cities and tourist areas, there might be language barriers, and English proficiency can vary. Tip: Take some Thai language classes before you move conveniently online.

REQUIREMENTS:

  1. Bachelor’s Degree: Having a bachelor’s degree is typically a requirement for securing a teaching position.
  2. TEFL/TESOL Certification: While not always mandatory, a TEFL/TESOL certification is highly beneficial and can open up better opportunities.
  3. Native or Fluent English Speaker: Being a native English speaker or demonstrating a high level of fluency is often preferred.
  4. Adaptability: Thailand values teachers who can adapt to different cultural norms and teaching styles.

SALARY & BENEFITS:

  1. Salary Range: Salaries vary but generally range from $800 to $1,500 USD per month.
  2. Accommodation: Some schools provide accommodation or assistance in finding housing.
  3. Cultural Immersion: Enjoy a unique cultural experience with Thai traditions, festivals, and a cuisine that’s renowned worldwide.
Wat Arun Bangkok

Teaching English in Indonesia

Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago with a rich cultural tapestry, offers enticing prospects for English teachers. Here’s an insight into teaching English in Indonesia:

PROS:

  1. Diverse Opportunities: Major cities and private language schools in Indonesia provide a range of opportunities for English teachers.
  2. Cultural Diversity: Experience the diverse cultures across the Indonesian islands, each with its unique traditions and customs.
  3. Natural Beauty: From the vibrant streets of Jakarta to the tranquil beaches of Bali, Indonesia’s natural beauty is a constant source of inspiration.
  4. Friendly Locals: Indonesian people are known for their warmth and friendliness, making it a welcoming environment for expatriates.

CONS:

  1. Language Challenges: Outside urban areas, English proficiency may vary, and Bahasa Indonesia is the primary language.
  2. Infrastructure Differences: Infrastructure and facilities can differ across regions, impacting the teaching environment.

REQUIREMENTS:

  1. Bachelor’s Degree: A bachelor’s degree is often a requirement for securing a teaching position.
  2. TEFL/TESOL Certification: While not mandatory, having a TEFL/TESOL certification enhances your competitiveness.
  3. Cultural Adaptability: Demonstrating an ability to adapt to diverse cultural settings is highly valued.

SALARY & BENEFITS:

  1. Salary Range: Salaries can vary, with averages ranging from $800 to $1,500 USD per month.
  2. Accommodation: Some schools provide accommodation or assistance in finding housing.
  3. Island Lifestyle: In places like Bali, enjoy a unique island lifestyle with a blend of cultural experiences and tourism opportunities.

Teaching English in Cambodia

Cambodia, with its rich history and cultural vibrancy, is emerging as a sought-after destination for English teachers. Here’s a glimpse into teaching English in Cambodia:

PROS:

  1. Rising Demand: Cambodia is witnessing a growing demand for English teachers, particularly in urban centers.
  2. Cultural Experience: Immerse yourself in Cambodia‘s rich cultural tapestry, from the ancient wonders of Angkor Wat to the bustling markets of Phnom Penh.
  3. Affordable Living: Enjoy a relatively low cost of living, making it feasible to explore and experience the country.

CONS:

  1. Educational Infrastructure: While improving, the educational infrastructure may vary, and resources could be limited.
  2. Language Barrier: Outside urban areas, English proficiency may be lower, and Khmer is the primary language.

REQUIREMENTS:

  1. Bachelor’s Degree: Many schools prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree.
  2. TEFL/TESOL Certification: Having a TEFL/TESOL certification enhances your qualifications.
  3. Cultural Sensitivity: Demonstrating an understanding and appreciation for Cambodian culture is crucial.

SALARY & BENEFITS:

  1. Salary Range: Salaries range from $800 to $1,500 USD per month, depending on factors like experience and location.
  2. Accommodation: Some schools provide accommodation or assistance in finding housing.
  3. Cultural Immersion: Experience the unique blend of ancient temples, vibrant festivals, and warm hospitality that Cambodia offers.

Are you ready to teach English in Asia?

As you can see, teaching English in Asia isn’t just a job; it’s a journey filled with cultural discovery, unforgettable experiences, and the chance to make a lasting impact. Whether you’re drawn to the neon-lit streets of Tokyo, the ancient wonders of Beijing, or the tropical landscapes of Thailand, there’s a perfect spot for every aspiring English teacher.

Grab your TEFL/TESOL certificate, pack your sense of wonder, and get ready to embark on a chapter that promises not just professional growth but a whole lot of fun and excitement. Asia awaits, and the classroom is your gateway to a world of possibilities!

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Linda

Linda has been living in Asia since 2012 and loves sharing her travel and life experiences on her website. She currently works remotely in Online Marketing and also teaches various English classes in South Korea.

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