Live TEFL Talk: How to teach English in Asia
Hi everyone, here's Linda again from ITTT. Today we're talking about something really interesting and exciting, teaching English in Asia. Also, all you need to know about how to get to Asia, the countries in Asia with the highest demand, and also the best sort of recruiters and teaching job platforms where you can find the best jobs for teaching English in Asia. I'm super excited about this topic today as I have been pretty much based in Asia since 2012. I spent some time in China and I am now in South Korea where I've been for the last six years.
Watch the live session here
I'm so excited to share my experience with you guys and hopefully maybe some of you can also share your experience, if you have experience in teaching English in Asia. If you want to know anything about the topic or about TEFL and TESOL in general, feel free to ask questions in the comments box at any time. We are live on Facebook and on YouTube at the same time which is always really exciting. We get a really cool pool of people every week, a lot come here week after week like Tiana. Hi Tiana, I love your new profile picture. It's really cute. We also get a lot of new people and it's a great mix, people from all over. So let me know where you are in the world right now, where are you watching from?
I am in South Korea like I said and I'm about an hour and a half south of Seoul. It is 10:00 a.m. on Friday and this is my usual time for being online with my live sessions for ITTT. Hey Giuliano, good to see you again. So please let me know where you're watching from and also maybe where you are in your TEFL journey. Are you TEFL certified, are you already abroad or do you want to go abroad, are you already somewhere in Asia, have you been to Asia before, what countries are you interested in? Let me know and then we can jump right in.
Juliana's back, hey from Illinois. Tiana's from Arizona where it’s six p.m. Oh yeah, because you changed the time to summer time, we don't change the time in Korea, it's always the same here. We have Dante from Peru, awesome. Giuliana's in Brazil, really cool. So I take it that most of you are interested in teaching English in Asia, that's why you're here, that's why you're watching I assume? Or are you just interested in checking out the options? Tiana says I've never been outside the US and I'm interested in South Korea. Awesome, you're in the right place Tiana. Pam is in the Philippines, hey Pam thanks for tuning in. I love the Philippines, very beautiful. I really want to go back. I know I say that every time, I want to go everywhere, but it's true. Especially now because I haven't really been outside of Korea for a year and a half.
Let me make this part bigger so we can see that better and let's jump right into teaching English in Asia. Before we do, just a little bit about myself. I know for all of you watching who come here week after week it's the same introduction, but we also get a lot of new people so I want them to know who I am and who I'm working for and stuff like that. So my name is Linda and I'm a travel writer and content creator under the name Linda Goes East. You can find my personal website at lindagoeseast.com and on social media you can find me at Linda Goes East. I am from Germany and the US and I am based in South Korea. Basically my personal website and social media is about my love for Asia, traveling in Asia, living in Asia, and teaching in Asia. I am also a TEFL and TESOL marketing professional for ITTT. That stands for International TEFL and TESOL Training. You can find us at teflcourse.net and on Instagram at International TEFL Training. We are a leading TEFL and TESOL course provider and we have a wide variety of different TEFL courses online, in-class, and also in combined options. We also have a very new Zoom course, so lots of different options there.
Rebecca says she is interested in Korea and someone new has joined from China who says, I'm teaching business English online. Great, where in China are you at? I used to live in Guangzhou and Changsha in Hunan Province. It was really great, I love China and I'm dying to go back. Walter is watching from Haiti, cool. Harish is in Vietnam, that’s great. Okay, so maybe during the live session people who are in Asian countries like Vietnam, the Philippines, and China can do an exchange of information. Maybe you can add some comments to what I'm saying if you have some other tips for people who want to come to the country you are in. I always love having an exchange of information, not just you listening to what I have to say, I also want to hear from you guys.
I want to start off by looking at the map here. Asia is huge and those are basically the countries that I'm going to focus on today. The little flag pins here are where the demand is the highest in Asia. Of course there are many other interesting countries in Asia, but I don't have time to get into those today. We have a lot of information about other countries in Asia on our website, so you can check that out but these are the seven countries that I'm going to focus on in this live session today. Like I said the demand is the highest in those places for teaching English as a foreign language. The countries are South Korea, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Thailand. So that's what we're doing today, I hope there's something that you find interesting there.
We have somebody teaching in Vietnam, I've taught in China and in South Korea, is there anybody interested in the other countries that are listed here? I'm sure there are. Japan is a big one, I know a lot of people who are currently in Japan and also Taiwan is great. I know some people from Hong Kong or are teaching in Hong Kong, it's a really great place for teaching English as a foreign language. Also Thailand is very popular. I have sorted them alphabetically so we're starting off with China. So the demand in China is huge, China is actually the biggest market for teaching English as a foreign language. It's estimated that there are around 100,000 foreign teachers working in China every year. There are opportunities of all kinds in public schools, kindergartens, boarding schools, universities, international schools, all kinds of private language centers and also all over the country.
A lot of people who go to China want to be in Shanghai or Beijing but there's actually over 100 cities in China with a population of more than one million. A lot of people think everything outside of Beijing or Shanghai is countryside or tiny towns, but that is not the case. As you can see there are more than 100 cities in China with a population of over 1 million people, so they're huge cities and most of us have never even heard of them. There are a lot of places to choose from, it doesn't have to be Beijing or Shanghai. If your heart is set on Beijing or Shanghai you will find that the competition is very fierce so you would have to have a good portfolio and things like that.
Tiana says, is there a bigger demand in smaller towns because nobody wants to go to the small towns?
Yes, so even in all the cities or towns that are under 1 million people there is a huge demand, that's what makes China really great, especially for first-time teachers. China is a great place to start and get experience and then you can move on to a different destination, or after a couple of years working in smaller cities in China you can then move to Beijing or Shanghai. Looking at the salary and benefits now. So in China you can make between $1,000 and $2,500 US a month and most schools also provide free accommodation, paid airfares, and an end of contract bonus. Those are the typical benefits to expect.
As for the requirements, because there are some questions here about the requirements you need. In China you need to have a bachelor's degree, two years of work experience, it can be any kind of work, and a TEFL certificate of at least 120 hours. That's what you need in order to qualify for the work visa in China.
We have a question from Yuri. Is being a native speaker one of the requirements?
Actually for China it is not a requirement, although it is preferred especially in the big cities like Beijing and Shanghai. They hire a lot of native English speakers, but China is one of those places that also still hires a lot of non-native English speakers. For example, my colleague Liza is from Russia. She goes live every Tuesday, but this week she actually goes live on Saturday, check it out on our Facebook page or on our YouTube channel. This week she is going live with a guy who is currently teaching English in China as a non-native English speaker. So if you're a non-native English speaker and you're interested in teaching in China I highly recommend checking that out with Liza and her friend because they know how to get into China as a non-native English speaker.
As for job hunting. Typically for getting into China you find jobs through recruitment companies, online job boards, teaching related websites, or Facebook groups. For example, I have listed some of the main or biggest sites that you can search for down here. China by Teaching is a great website that you can look at for teaching jobs in China. EF is a huge English language chain school in China, it's very well known and it stands for English First. I think they also have schools in other countries. EF is a great place to start as a new teacher because they're very well structured and organized as they're such a huge company with so many campuses all over China. At the end of this presentation I will also share some of our partner recruiters that we work with at ITTT. Because a lot of them also specialize in China specifically.
I also want to mention the QR code that you can see in the upper right corner here. Scan it at any time and you will get a 30% discount off any TEFL or TESOL course from ITTT. As you can see, one of the requirements for teaching English in China is a TEFL certificate of at least 120 hours and if you want to be in Beijing or Shanghai you will probably need to get more than that because the competition is really fierce. So take advantage of the 30% discount. If you cannot scan the QR code, no problem, I'm going to share the link in the comment box as well. You can click on it and fill out your application and get a 30% discount which is a really great deal, you don't want to miss it.
I would like to move on if there are no more questions about China. If you do have any questions feel free to throw them at me at any time. Next we have Hong Kong and even though it is technically a part of China things are actually a little bit different for working in Hong Kong. The demand is very similar, but of course the size difference is a big factor as China is huge and Hong Kong is pretty much a city spread out on different islands, so it's a very different situation. There are great opportunities at private language centers and also public schools, kindergartens, boarding schools, universities, and international schools. The salary is also very different. You can make from $2,300 up to $10,000, but that's really the top end working at an international school with loads of teaching experience and a lot of different qualifications. Those kinds of jobs are quite rare or it would take you a couple of years to get there.
As for the benefits in Hong Kong. You usually get a housing allowance and paid round-trip airfare. That's the great thing if you work for the NET Scheme, I'm also going to mention that in a little bit more detail, the NET Scheme includes airfare for up to four family members, which is really great and you also get a relocation allowance to move all your stuff to Hong Kong and back home I suppose. The requirements for Hong Kong are similar to China. So it's a four-year bachelor's degree, two years of teaching experience and a TEFL certificate of at least 120 hours. Also for Hong Kong you do not have to be a native English speaker. We actually have an ITTT TEFL blog and we always invite our alumni to share their stories and there's a lot of non-native English speakers who are teaching or have taught English in Hong Kong. You can read about their experience on our blog, it's really interesting.
Elias is asking how many countries will I be covering?
I think it is seven countries and Hong Kong is the second one.
Linda, another Linda, says hi from Malaysia. She asks if summer camp type jobs are available?
I think definitely they do exist but they are probably a little rare so you need to hunt them down. Because Hong Kong is a little bit more open in terms of their visa situation and a lot of countries get visa free entry, I imagine that summer jobs won't be that difficult to find. I'm not 100% sure, but most jobs are likely to be more long-term, like a year contract or even two years in some cases. Job hunting in Hong Kong is similar to China. You can use recruitment companies and online job boards like the ones I mentioned earlier. There is also the NET Scheme that places foreign English teachers into schools in Hong Kong. Check that out by Googling Hong Kong NET Scheme and you'll find the official website from the Education Bureau.
Next we have Japan. Japan is another very popular one, very competitive, especially the JET Program. It’s another great option for people who are non-native English speakers because it's not a requirement to be a native English speaker or to hold a passport from an English-speaking country. The demand is very high in Japan. Typically if you teach in Japan you either work as an ALT teacher, that’s an Assistant Language Teacher in a public school, or as an English conversation teacher in a private language academy. Those are pretty much the two types of English teachers that you will encounter in Japan. The salaries are also very good, some of the highest to be found anywhere in Asia. You also typically get paid airfares, free housing or a housing allowance, health insurance, and a contract completion bonus.
The requirements for teaching in Japan are typically a four-year degree in any subject, so it doesn't have to be in English or TEFL or anything like that. You need to be fluent in the English language obviously, so fluent not native which is great for a lot of people who dream about living in Japan. Job hunting is similar again with recruiting companies and online job boards. GaijinPot is a particularly big one, I believe they don't only have jobs but it's also like a blog all about Japan for people who want to move there. So check that out if you're interested in Japan. The JET Program is a very big program that stands for the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program. It’s a government-funded program that places foreign English teachers into schools in Japan. I know quite a lot of people who have taught through the JET Program, it's a very popular option.
Julianna asks, is the cost of living higher in Japan than in other countries?
Yes, Japan's cost of living is high, especially in Tokyo which I think is one of the most expensive places to live in the world. That's why the salaries are higher. The same also goes for Hong Kong, it's a little bit more expensive but not as much as Japan. But you do also get your housing, paid airfare, and all those other bonuses, so it's not too bad. Another problem that I've heard, especially living in Tokyo or other big cities in Japan, is that apartments tend to be a little bit small. Just something to think about. I think how they do it in terms of rent is it depends on the distance from the apartment to the subway station and what kind of subway line it is. I thought that was very interesting.
So just to recap. Schemes such as the JET Program and the NET Scheme are great ways to get your foot into a country when you're new to teaching. I actually did a live session about those kinds of teaching programs in the past, you can check that out in our playlist. It's called the best government funded teaching programs or something like that. You'll find it on our Facebook page in the video library and also on YouTube, so that's something really great to check out.
Richard says, I had three years in South Korea. In Seoul, Daegu and Busan, an excellent country, you should go.
Yeah I agree, I've been in Korea for almost six years. I'm going to talk about that in a minute. Actually, South Korea is the next country on the list. Typically in Korea you would work for either a public school or a private school. If you work for a public school you would need to go through the EPIK or TaLk Program. With private schools, also called hagwons, you would basically either find those jobs through recruiters or through Facebook groups or online searches, things like that.
Korea has some of the highest salaries in Asia at between $1,600 and $2,400 a month. There are also a lot of opportunities to top that up as well and make even more. You also get really great benefits when teaching English in Korea, such as paid airfare and paid housing. There's also a pension scheme and an end of contract bonus. The pension scheme is basically the national pension scheme that everybody pays into. What's great about that is when you leave Korea you get all that money back. You can either collect it at the airport or you can go to the tax office or pension office or whatever and give them your bank information from back home and you receive the money a few weeks later. If you spend a couple of years in Korea and then go back home or go somewhere else, you get a huge chunk of money back.
The requirements are a four-year degree in any subject, a TEFL certificate and a passport from an English-speaking country. That’s one of the downsides of teaching in Korea, you need a passport from one of these countries to be eligible for the official work visa, Canada, the US, Ireland, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa. If you have a passport from one of those countries you can go and teach English in Korea. If you don't there is one exception for Indian nationals. There is a loophole for the EPIK Program where indian citizens also qualify under certain conditions.
So typically it is a four-year degree required for teaching in Korea, but with the TaLk Program, another teaching placement program, you can qualify if you have completed a two-year degree, so an associate's degree. For job hunting you can go through recruiters, you can also go through online job boards and you can go through the EPIK or TaLk Program. These are some really great online job boards, we have Dave's ESL Cafe, Korea Bridge, Work and Play Korea, and Gone to Korea. Those are some really great websites to look into. I will also share some of our recruitment partners at the end. I really like working with recruiters because they come at no cost to the teacher, the school always pays the recruiter for their services.
Tiana asks, did you go through a recruiter, if so which one?
I don't remember exactly which one because actually my experience was not very good with my recruiter. It wasn't like a scam or anything. I just thought they were not really that professional. I think there was a lot of miscommunication, so I don't recommend the one that I used. But I do recommend the ones that I'm going to be mentioning at the end, so stay tuned for that. With recruiters you don't have to stick with just one, you're free to contact as many as you like.
Next we have Thailand. In Thailand most teachers work at government schools or in private language academies. Most positions can be found in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and in Phuket. The demand is really high. Thailand is also one of those places where you can find jobs as a non-native English speaker. It's not a requirement to be a native English speaker to teach in Thailand, which is really great. The salaries in Thailand are typically between $800 and $1000 per month and there aren't likely to be many benefits. However, the cost of living is very low compared to other places in Asia. You always have to think about how East Asian countries like Japan, Korea, and Hong Kong have a much higher cost of living than countries in Southeast Asia like Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia. Maybe $800 doesn't sound like much, but in Thailand it's going to get you quite far.
The requirements are typically to have a degree in any subject, a four-year degree, and a TEFL certificate. Job hunting is the same as with the others. You could go either through a recruiter or online job boards and here are some that I recommend. We have Ajarn. That's a big one in Thailand, also Teaching Thailand which says it's a free job board for expert teachers in Thailand. So those are two really great resources to check out.
Brett says he is sorry for being late. Hi, thanks for joining. Today we're talking about how to teach English in Asia, but you probably know that from the title up here. We're looking at Thailand at the moment and I think we're almost done with that one. There are two more countries I'm going to talk about, but you can always watch the replay. After the session you can go back and watch it from the beginning, they always stay on our Facebook page and on our YouTube channel.
Next we have Taiwan and what's interesting about Taiwan is that the government has recently announced an ambitious plan to make the country bilingual Chinese and English by 2030. So they're really pushing English education at the moment. Demand in Taiwan is really good and you would typically work for a private language school. They do not have an English teaching program like the EPIK or JET Program. Maybe they will soon since they have this ambitious plan, who knows.
Salaries and benefits are also good. You can make between $1,500 and $3,000 a month and you would also get certain benefits like paid airfare, paid housing, and an end of contract bonus. Something to keep in mind is that Taiwan is quite a small island so most jobs will be in the big cities like Taipei, Taichung, and Kaohsiung, hope I am saying those right. Those places have the biggest demand. As it is quite small you can get around very easily. They also have excellent public transportation, they have high-speed trains connecting one end of the island with the other, so it's really convenient.
The requirements for teaching English in Taiwan are you have to be over 20 years old and be a native English speaker with a passport from the US, the UK, Ireland, South Africa, Canada, New Zealand, or Australia. So that's similar to Korea. Also a university degree in any subject, so a four year university degree. The job hunting process is the same, you would go either with a recruiter or via online job boards. Some recommended online job boards are again Dave's ESL Cafe and Careerjet.
We have a question from Brett. How are travel restrictions, are things looking good for the summer? Not just Taiwan, but worldwide including Korea and China.
I know for a fact that Korea still doesn't issue tourist visas, however if you're starting a teaching contract it's a bit of a different story. Basically you will have a long-term visa and a place to live. In that case you can enter and you have to go through two weeks of quarantine but it can be done in your own home. I think I mentioned that I have some friends who started teaching English in Korea during the pandemic and they flew over and spent two weeks in quarantine and then started teaching. So the demand for teachers is still very high in Taiwan, Korea, and China. People are still getting hired, but you still have to go through the quarantine process. If you're vaccinated I'm not sure if you would have to quarantine then, I think you still would have to because the vaccination process in Korea is very slow. I'm not sure how they handle people who are vaccinated already. Even so it's not too bad in Korea as you actually get a care package, it's really cute. You get 15 ramen cup noodles and all this other food and hand sanitizers and masks and I don't know what else.
Finally we have Vietnam. The demand is also really good in Vietnam at the moment. Most teachers are employed by private language schools and most positions can be found in Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi, the two biggest cities. Salaries are good as you can make between $1,200 and $2,000 a month, which sounds quite high for a Southeast Asian country. You can make a good life there because the cost of living is very low. What's great is you also get free health care and a signing-on and completion bonus with your teaching contract.
The requirements for Vietnam are you have to be a native English speaker with a four-year bachelor's degree. Many employers will also insist on a TEFL or TESOL certificate of at least 120 hours duration. Job hunting is similar to everywhere else on the list really. Either recruiters or your own online job board search. Really good job boards for Vietnam are again Dave's ESL Cafe, that's a good one for all of Asia really. Then we have Vietnam Teaching Jobs which is also specifically for Vietnam teaching positions.
Payton asks, is there a session about Europe, Spain or Czech Republic?
I did a session about the best countries to teach in in 2021 and I think I mentioned the Czech Republic and I also mentioned Spain and other European countries. I also did a session about teaching programs and there is a teaching program in Spain and one in France, so yes I mentioned some of those countries in other live sessions. So check out the live sessions about the best countries to teach in in 2021 and the one about teaching programs. We do not have a live session yet specifically about Europe, there might be one in the future, that's a great idea.
Okay, let's see, these are the EFL recruiters that I mentioned that partner with ITTT. I don't want to forget those as they are very important. We work with a lot of them as you can see, some are very much focused on China but also other countries in Asia and also worldwide. Do check them out. I'm going to share the link with you guys to that page and you can find their contact information there. Here we go, you can find our EFL recruitment partners at teflcourse.net, so check them out.
What's really interesting maybe for some people is this one, Wanderlust China. Basically this is sort of like an au pair program, you can go to China and contracts range from three months all the way up to 12 months, so it's great for people who want something short-term. You live with a local host family and I believe the aim is to teach the kids in the family English and you also get Chinese Mandarin classes as well. So that's a great option for people who want to go to China or they're not sure if China is a good fit or they're looking for something for just a few months. That might be a really good program, so check it out.
Before I sign off I just want to mention the 30% off again. Scan the QR code or use the link, I'm going to share it one more time in the comment box. You get 30% off any TEFL or TESOL course from ITTT, so a great deal there. I hope you found it informative today, those are really the seven countries with the highest demand for English teachers in Asia. But it is a huge continent and there are so many other amazing countries that I did not mention today where you can also find positions. I hear that Cambodia is great at the moment, lots of high demand as well.
Mikey has a question. What about if I completed my course, is there any chance to apply with the help of ITTT?
So you mean you completed a TEFL course with a different company, is that what you're talking about? All of our ITTT course grads have lifetime job assistance, so we would help them with finding a job at any time, it never expires. Even if you don't teach for a couple of years and then you decide to start again, you can still contact us and we will be able to help you.
Crystal says, is it too early to contact recruiters now for positions early next year?
I think it's never too early to start looking into things. What they will do is get your resume and then keep it on file. I would say one year in advance it's not too early, I think it's actually a great time to start reaching out to different recruiters. Tell them when and where you want to go, no problem.
I hope it was informative today and you learned something new. I had fun, now let's see if there's a last question coming in and then I'm signing off for today. Juliana says, thank you so much. Also Brad, you're welcome. Thanks so much to you guys for tuning in week after week, it's really great to see familiar faces and some new faces. It's awesome. Also, do let me know if you have any topic requests for other live sessions. Sometimes I do random or just general Q&A sessions where you can ask me questions about anything and sometimes like today I have a topic and I prepare some slides for you guys with information. It really depends on how I feel and what I want to talk about, but I always love talking about Asia.
If you have any other questions about teaching or living or traveling in Asia, hit me up on my personal account Linda Goes East on social media or at lindagoeseast.com. I love talking about Asia, different countries, different cultures, traveling tips, what it's like living here, all those things that I love. Feel free to do that.
Juliana says, maybe the types of ITTT courses.
I did one about that but it was probably October last year, so maybe we should do an update session because we always update our courses and change things a little bit to keep up to date. Maybe there's some changes now that are different from October. That's something I definitely should do, good idea.
My last question. What about the Master Package?
At ITTT we have a Master Package, let me pull that up for you and share the link so you can check it out. Basically you'll find a lot of information here when you look at this link. The Master Package that we offer is for people who really see themselves teaching English long-term. They're looking for the best possible foundation in training to start their career, so I highly recommend it.
Harish says he completed his ITTT course in 2011. Congrats, I think I completed mine a bit later, I think it was 2014. Okay guys, thank you so much for joining today I had fun as always. Loved chatting with you on a Friday morning, I think I'm going to go ahead and sign off soon, but feel free to reach out to me. I'd love to chat with you guys more about Asia and Korea and all things TEFL.
I hope to see you again next week. I'll be here at the same time, same place and also please don't forget to check out my colleague Liza's live session tomorrow. She's going to talk with an ITTT graduate who is currently teaching English in China as a non-native English speaker. So if you're a non-native English speaker wanting to teach in China, definitely don't miss that it's going to be great. I have a great feeling about it. Thank you so much, have a great weekend and I hope to see you next week. Bye.
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