Teaching English in Asia

If you’re considering teaching ESL in Asia, then congratulations!  You’re about to embark on an exciting new journey in your life – one that will reap major benefits in terms of your future career, finances and overall perspective on the world.

The hard part isn’t over yet though; in fact, deciding which Asian country you want to teach in can be one of the most challenging aspects of applying to the best ESL jobs.  Don’t just choose a country based on the number of ESL jobs available –instead, you should narrow your search down to countries where you’ll get the best experience possible from your teaching position.

But if you’re worried that selecting the right Asian country for you boils down to simply pointing your finger at a map of Asia, not to worry – we’ve got you covered!  In this article, we’ll explore the top five ESL destinations in Asia based on previous teacher experiences, availability of employment and benefits offered. 

So grab a cup of coffee, sit back and relax – you’re about to learn which ESL destination in Asia is perfect for you!

* Korea.  Korea is by far the most popular ESL destination in Asia for many reasons – one of them being the incredibly rich experience that teachers discover here!  Korea boasts some of the best ESL job opportunities, with teachers free to pick the size of school and number of students that they’ll have to teach to. 

Additionally, the availability of jobs in Korea means that you’ll be able to pick where you’d like to go.  For fans of the big city, Seoul is a metropolitan paradise: with a population of over 12 million, this bustling city offers a huge range of unique cultural experiences, including shopping, museums and a glowing nightlife.  Although an ESL salary doesn’t stretch as far in this city, many teachers find the diversity of Korea’s largest city to be an exciting and rewarding experience. 

Plenty of jobs are also available in the warmer climates of Daejeon, Gwangju and Busan. English is moderately spoken in Korea, and most public transport and food stores contain information in English, allowing teachers to acclimate without risking severe cultural shock.  

* China.  The most populous country in the world is also one of the biggest providers of great ESL jobs – in fact, many ESL teachers report feeling as though they had their pick of work thanks to the vast amount of schools in this massive country.

When considering an ESL placement in China, try looking beyond Beijing and Shanghai to cities that are just as fascinating but will give you a true taste of Chinese culture.  Warmer climates and gorgeous beaches make Southern and Eastern China a delightful treat, although Northwestern China should be limited to the adventurous as it isn’t as developed as other areas of the country.

 China does come with its own challenges when applying for ESL jobs, especially when it comes to work visas and permits.  Always check to see if the school or university where you’re working has the proper credentials to hire foreign teachers, as many ESL job placement agencies warn that phony school scams have been reported here.  

* Taiwan.  Taiwan is truly a teacher’s market, as there’s a huge demand for ESL teachers all year round – and with an extremely low cost of living, ESL teachers often report leaving their posts with as much as $8,000 in savings! 

Taiwan is a gorgeous island district with a fast-growing economy, which is why the demand for English teachers is so high.  Taiwan also boasts major school chains that can help initiate and train ESL teachers for life in Taiwan, which provides a great support system for those who might experience some culture shock.  The most plentiful ESL jobs here are for kindergarten teachers at chain English schools; if you have a MA, you’re qualified to teach at universities, where hours vary. 

One important note is that Taiwanese classrooms are much more regimented than that of their Chinese counterparts, so expect to have your daily lessons subject to approval.  Additionally, a large emphasis is placed on memorization and recall, and you’ll be required to cover certain subjects by the school.  

* Indonesia.  Although teaching positions aren’t as plentiful as in China or Korea, Indonesia is a great place to teach English as a second language, particularly as English is part of a national curriculum.  This means your students will already have experienced some form of English teaching.

Indonesia boasts some of the best weather in Asia, along with a delicious cuisine that’s extremely popular among ESL teachers.  Additionally, ESL teachers can expect a low cost of living (get ready to sharpen your bartering skills!) in a culture that’s genuinely fascinated by English speakers – in fact, you’ll make plenty of friends with the locals!  As a teacher, you’ll live in a middle-class neighborhood in a house with other English teachers.

The most job vacancies will be on the islands of Java and Sumatra.  According to previous ESL teachers, it’s difficult to get a job on Bali, as they prefer to hire people from within the country.

* Japan.  Japanese culture is rich, exciting and full of energy – and now has never been a better time to teach English in Japan! 

There are plenty of ESL chain schools in Japan, which means that it’s relatively easy to find work within the 3 months of your tourist visa.  However, it’s recommended that you find your teaching post before landing in Japan, as the cost of living in this economic powerhouse is quite high; in fact, Tokyo is one of the most expensive cities in the world.  With that said, picking where you want to teach in Japan is crucial, as there are huge difference between the big and small cities (and it isn’t just size!).  Jobs are more plentiful in Tokyo and Osaka, while smaller cities will help you to stretch your salary and give you a more authentic Japanese experience. 

With the wealth of ESL jobs available in all of these Asian countries, you’re bound to have the journey (and career training) of a lifetime!