The Top 7 Asian Countries to Teach English

Nicole with her students in Thailand. Nicole Segura

Written by  April 9, 2017

An unofficial ranking systems of the best places to teach English in Asia.

So, you’re interested in teaching or living abroad? But how and where will you start?

I’ve been in that exact same spot a little over three years ago. You have a million questions and you just don’t know where to start. But don’t worry, because I’ve got you covered with my rankings for the teaching lifestyles offered in different Asian countries, as well as my tried and tested tips for finding a job.

Here are seven countries where you can teach in Asia:

1. Taiwan

This is where I'm currently located. Taiwan is a great place to start and with the low cost of living you’ll be able to save a good amount of money. It’s a country known for its cuisine, great mountains for hiking or cycling, and beaches down south for catching waves on the weekends.

• Expected monthly salary: $1,500-2,500 USD for working 20 to 30 teaching hours at an after-school academy. Not many additional perks are given, but they do offer great healthcare.

• Requirements: Only a two-year degree is required and it’s a great option for couples.

• Living expenses: One-bedroom apartment: $150-350 USD per month; typical meal $2-5 USD.

2. Thailand

Thai life is very laid-back. Although you won't make a lot of money by Western standards, you’ll be living the good life and still have enough money to explore the beautiful country. Thailand is known for its spicy food, smiley people and waterfalls.

• Expected monthly salary: $800-1,200 USD for working 40 hours at a government school, but only 18 of those hours will be spent teaching.

• Requirements: A Bachelor degree is required. (However, it's worth noting that I did work with people who had "bought" a degree once they landed in Thailand.) 

• Living expenses: One-bedroom apartment: $100-300 USD per month; typical meal $1-3 USD.

3. China

I personally had a bad time in China due to the pollution. However, I know people who had a great time and re-signed another contract. It’s a great opportunity to save money and explore this vast country. China is known for its history, culture and a growing economy.

• Expected Monthly Salary: $1,200-2,800 USD teaching 16-30 hours at an after school academy. Many perks are given like housing allowance and reimbursed flights.

• Requirements: You can get a job with just a high school degree and sometimes they’ll pay for you to get your TEFL certification.

• Living expenses: One-bedroom apartment: $300-600 USD per month; typical meal: $2-5 USD.

4. South Korea

Due to all the perks you receive in South Korea, you will be able to save a lot of money. But it’s a highly sought-after position, so it might be hard for beginners to find a job as fast and there is a lot of paperwork involved. South Korea is known for its beauty industry, K-pop and having the biggest drinking culture in the world.

• Expected monthly salary: $1,500-2,700 USD for working 22 to 30 hours at an after-school academy, with probably the best perks in all of the Asian TELF/ESL market.

• Requirements: A Bachelor degree and TEFL certificate are required. You will also need to get them notarized, along with a police check from your country's police force.

• Living expenses: A one-bedroom apartment is $500-800 USD per month, but according to Korean laws your contractor must provide you with an apartment; typical meal is $5-10 USD.

5. Vietnam

There’s a good opportunity to save money. Short working hours means more time for exploring this exotic country. Vietnam has beautiful French architecture, markets galore, and world class beaches such as Ha Long Bay.

• Expected monthly salary: $900-1800 USD for working 18 to 25 teaching hours at an after-school academy.

• Requirements: Bachelor degree is the requirement.

• Living expenses: One-bedroom apartment: $300-450 USD per month; typical meal: $1-3 USD.

6. Hong Kong

Hong Kong has a great vibe and the majority of the population speaks English. However, I've placed it sixth on my list due to the cosmopolitan lifestyle of spending a lot of money and crowded living arrangements.

• Expected monthly salary: $1,700-3,500 USD for working 20 to 40 hours at an English academy. Not many perks given but holidays are paid for.

• Requirements: Bachelor degree and TEFL certification are required. It's a very competitive job market, so teaching credentials from your home country are required in some instances.

• Living expenses: One-bedroom apartment: $1500-2,000 USD per month; typical meal: $5-12 USD.

7. Japan

It’s a very competitive country to work in and it’s also more expensive to live here. Japan has a lot to offer though, like delectable cuisine, towering skyscrapers and snowboarding opportunities at their ski resorts.

• Expected monthly salary: $1,500-2,700 USD for working 20 to 30 teaching hours at an after school academy. Good opportunity if you prefer to teach adults. Sometimes a housing allowance will also be given.

• Requirements: Bachelor degree, TEFL certification, and some experience is required.

• Living expenses: One-bedroom apartment: $700-1,100 USD per month; typical meal: $8-12 USD.

My Tips for Landing a Job 

 • Looking for jobs

You don't need to pay a fee to find these jobs. Use the free job postings out there. I’ve seen the ones where they want you to pay to have a look and then saw the exact same postings on the free websites that I usually use. My personal favourites include the ever-so-famous eslcafe.com, TEFL.com, and Verge Magazine also has some really cool opportunities.

• The interview process

Since you’re going to be looking for work in Asia, your interviews will be over Skype and late at night depending on your location. The recruiters and schools just want to hear you speaking English and the reasons why you want to teach in their country. Sometimes they’ll also ask to prepare a short demo lesson. It’s an easy process but remember that once you’re at the interview stage, things are going to move quickly.

• Requirements and certifications

Speak English! In the age of globalization more and more people are wanting or finding it a requirement to speak English in order to succeed. Lucky for you, that means there a ton of teaching opportunities out there. The vast majority of these jobs will require you to hold a passport from an English-speaking country.

A undergraduate degree is obviously an advantage, but not always a requirement. The same goes for a TEFL certificate. Personally, I know I would have been too scared to walk into a classroom to teach with no experience or any idea on how to manage the students, so I was glad that I had the TEFL training beforehand. Finding somewhere to become TEFL/ESL qualified is easy; however, be aware that online certificates are not always accepted. If you’ve never taught before, think of times when you have tutored or coached kids and make sure to add that to your resume.

I hope my tips helped and that you’ll start thinking about making the big move. It’s a scary decision to make at first but you will be hugely rewarded with the entire experience. 

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Published in Work Abroad Blogs
Nicole Segura

Nicole Segura is a travelling teacher who has taught in China, Thailand, and currently Taiwan. She is up for any spontaneous adventure life throws her way. She enjoys sharing her stories with insightful tips and the comedic side of travelling.

Website: thegypsyescapades.wordpress.com

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