Although teaching jobs can be arranged in Asia once you arrive in your destination of choice, in many countries it is common for jobs to be arranged in advance from within your own country. One area where this is certainly true is if you join a government run placement program. The following are the most popular programs of their kind in Asia.
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EPIK stands for the English Program in Korea, a scheme run by the South Korean government that places foreign teachers into schools across the country to work as English language instructors. EPIK is one of the largest and most popular schemes of its kind as it offers a competitive salary, a good range of extra benefits, and the chance to experience living and working in a unique cultural environment. If you meet the specified criteria then you could be one of the thousand plus teachers heading to South Korea this year to join the program.
If you are interested in the EPIK program, we recommend reaching out to our TEFL recruitment partner Reach To Teach. Reach To Teach is an official partner of the EPIK program (English Program in Korea) and works with the Korean Ministry of Education to place English Language Instructors (ELIs) in Korean public schools throughout the country.
To be eligible to join the EPIK program you must be a native English speaker with a passport from one of the following countries: Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, the U.K, or the U.S. Applicants must also hold a university degree and be able to prove a clean criminal record. In addition, you also require at least one of the following:
- TEFL/TESOL certification of 100 hours or more (preference is given to those with a teaching practice component)
- BA or MA Degree in Education with a major in teaching, TESOL, second language studies, or education
- Teaching license gained in your home country
- One year of full time teaching experience
If successful you will be required to sign a one year contract that runs from one of two start dates, either the end of February or the end of August. A typical working schedule is Monday through Friday from 8:40 a.m. to 4:40 p.m., with weekends off. Actual teaching time equates to approximately 22 hours per week.
Placements on the program can be in almost any province in the country, with any individual preferences dealt with on a first-come, first-served basis. During your stay you might be expected to work in a variety of primary and secondary schools within your designated area. If you have a preference for one particular area then it is recommended that you submit your application as early as possible. For further information please visit the official EPIK website.
The overall package offered by the EPIK scheme includes a wide range of benefits, including:
- Salary based on qualifications and experience ranging from 1.8 to 2.7 million KRW (currently $1,500 to $2,300) per month
- Fully furnished accommodation (not including utilities)
- Paid airfare in an out of the country
- 300,000 KRW settlement allowance
- 18 days paid leave plus all national holidays
- One month's salary bonus on completion of contract
TaLK stands for Teach and Learn in Korea which is a government sponsored program that places foreign nationals into elementary schools across South Korea. TaLK is a similar program to the much larger EPIK; however, the TaLK Program differs by focusing on placements in underprivileged areas that might otherwise struggle to attract foreign teachers. Participants in the program will gain valuable teaching experience throughout their time in South Korea. There is also plenty of free time for exploring the local culture and for travel across the country and the wider region.
The TaLK Program is open to college graduates or current undergraduate students who have completed at least two years of a degree course. You must also hold a passport from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, or Ireland. There is a minimum age requirement of 19 but no official upper age limit, although those over 35 are typically encouraged to join the EPIK Program instead. A national criminal record check must be submitted during the application process.
Participants on the scheme sign a one-year contract that starts in either February or August. Prior to the start date there is a one-month orientation program that covers a wide range of teaching related subjects such as classroom management, curriculum design, and teaching methodologies, as well as cultural subjects designed to help you adjust to a new life in an unfamiliar environment. On average the program requires around 15 hours per week of actual classroom time from Monday to Friday, plus extra time for lesson planning.
Placements on the program are primarily in rural areas of the following provinces: Chungnam, Gangwon, Incheon, Jeju, Jeonbuk, and Jeonnam. Unlike the EPIK Program, applicants are not able to request a particular area for placement; therefore, all placements are effectively made at random. For further information, please visit the official TaLK Program website.
If accepted onto the program you will receive a range of benefits during your stay in South Korea, including:
- A monthly stipend of KRW 1.5 million (currently $1,300) per month
- Furnished accommodation, typically a studio apartment (not including utilities)
- Flight allowance of KRW 2.6 Million to cover transport in and out of the country
- Settlement allowance of KRW 300,000
- Seven vacation days per semester
- Medical insurance coverage
The Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET) is a government backed scheme that has been operating for over 30 years. Every year around 5,000 foreign nationals are placed into schools right across Japan with the intention of raising the language skills of young people. Unlike many similar programs in other countries, the JET Program also has a strong focus on cultural exchange between participants and the local population. Competition for places on the program is generally very tough as successful applicants receive a competitive salary and a range of extra benefits.
The program is open to college graduates up to the age of 40, although its status as primarily a youth culture exchange means that recent graduates have a greater chance of success. The main criteria required is a minimum of a bachelor's degree or alternatively a three year teaching qualification at either primary or secondary level. In addition to this basic requirement, there is a strong emphasis on youthful energy and a desire to fully embrace the Japanese culture, language, and overall way of life.
There are three types of position available through the program. The most common, at over 90% of applicants, is working as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT). Duties of an ALT include assisting a Japanese teacher in the classroom, preparing teaching materials, and participating in extracurricular activities such as sports or language clubs. If you have a good standard of Japanese language skills then you can also apply as a Coordinator of International Relations (CIR), while sports professionals can apply for the role of Sports Exchange Advisor (SEA). For more detailed information please visit the official JET Program website.
The specific benefits available to successful applicants vary from one position to the next but you can expect to earn a pre-tax salary of 280,000 JPY (currently $25,000) in your first year. Working hours are approximately 35 per week from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday. Airfares for travel to Japan, plus homeward flight on completion of the contract are paid for by the program. Paid holiday time varies between 10 and 20 days, plus all national holidays. Please note that all participants are liable for a mandatory monthly salary deduction of around 40,000 JPY to cover health insurance and pension contributions.
The NET (Native-speaking English Teachers) Scheme is a recruitment program initiated by the Hong Kong Education Bureau that places qualified teachers from overseas countries into state run schools. The scheme recruits hundreds of teachers every year to work in either primary or secondary level schools across the territory. The stated goal of the scheme is to share and promote innovation in teaching practice, and to provide an authentic classroom environment for local students. Participants on the scheme will receive a generous salary and extra benefits, as well as a unique opportunity to live and work in one of the most vibrant and cosmopolitan parts of Asia.
To be eligible, you must be a native-English speaker or possess an exceptionally high standard of English language competence. Successful applicants are required to sign a two year contract with one specific school that begins at the start of the school year in August. Although the scheme is open to teachers of all ages, Hong Kong has a mandatory retirement age of 60 so applicants must be less than 58 years of age at the contract start date.
The scheme is split into two separate areas for primary level teachers and secondary level teachers known as PNET and SNET. Applicants for the PNET Scheme work with primary students aged from six to twelve, with a typical class size of 30 to 37. The qualifications required for these positions are a degree in English, a teacher training qualification in primary education, and a TEFL/TESOL certification. In the event that not enough teachers meet these requirements, those with a lower level of qualifications are considered. If accepted on the SNET Scheme you will work with secondary students in an average class size of 40 to 45. The stated criteria for these positions are a degree in English or education, a post-graduate diploma in education, a TESOL diploma, and at least one year of teaching experience at secondary level. Once again, if recruitment numbers are not met then applicants with fewer qualifications are considered. For further information, please visit the official NET Scheme website.
Teachers who are recruited through the NET Scheme will receive a monthly salary of between HKD 25,000 and 60,000 (currently $3,200 to $7,700), dependent upon their relevant experience. In addition to the monthly salary, the scheme also includes several other benefits such as:
- Assistance finding suitable accommodation plus a housing allowance of around HKD 20,000 per month
- Paid round-trip airfare from your home country, including up to four family members
- A relocation allowance to assist with the transport costs of personal belongings
- A stipend for medical insurance coverage