The need for ESL teachers is growing throughout the world, particularly in Asia, as English is quickly becoming the international language of choice; if you’re interested in pursuing this profession and moving abroad, check out these three great places for ESL teachers:
1. Hong Kong
Although Hong Kong can be one of the most difficult ESL teaching markets to break into, the rewards are great—particularly financially. Hong Kong offers some of the best ESL teaching wages in Asia; monthly stipends can reach upwards to $5,000.
Not surprisingly, many of the highest paying positions require previous teaching experience, but there are also spots open for beginning ESL teachers as well.
Hong Kong also offers a unique cultural experience, seamlessly blending East and West from exotic foods in street markets to excellent public transportation.
And if you’re worried about not speaking the local language, you shouldn’t be. As an official language of Hong Kong, English is widely spoken and understood, so you’ll have plenty of time to adjust to Cantonese if you so desire (and as someone who has moved to a foreign country, I highly suggest you do so!).
Teaching English in Hong Kong
- Benzhi (covers all of Asia)
2. South Korea
South Korea is another Asian country that offers great ESL teaching opportunities, but note you will be required to provide proof of a four-year degree from an accredited university; English must also be your first language.
Many new ESL teachers in South Korea find work in “Hagwons,” private schools that cater to kindergarten and elementary students, but there are also opportunities for teaching at the university level and for private lessons.
South Korea offers competitive pay within great compensation packages, which often include airfare and lodging. Moreover, since the cost of living and tax rates are relatively low in South Korea, you can feasibly even pay off student loans and save money while teaching there.
When choosing a location in South Korea, remember that the country is more than just Seoul—there are several major cities that can offer the teaching and cultural experiences you seek.
English isn’t widely spoken throughout the country, but grocery stores and public transportation usually have signs in English.
Teaching English in South Korea:
Just as in South Korea, ESL teachers in Taiwan are required to be native English speakers and to have university degrees—be sure to bring your actual diploma (not a copy) with you in order to get your work visa.
ESL teaching positions are available in all levels of education in kindergartens, chain schools, international schools, and universities; many teachers also take on private lessons and easily manage to save money while teaching in Taiwan.
Again, the cost of living is relatively low for the potential monthly earnings of an ESL teacher, so if you work hard, you’ll also be able to afford to enjoy all the cultural offerings of Taiwan and still live comfortably.
Main stops for ESL teachers in Taiwan include Taipei (the capital city), Kaohsiung (southern port city), or Taichung (third largest city); English is spoken in some parts of the country, but, again, you should definitely take the opportunity to learn Cantonese while you’re there. Not only will you learn an increasingly useful language, you’ll also feel more connected with your surroundings.
Teaching English in Taiwan
A Final Note on Choosing a Location
In choosing where to go to pursue a career as an ESL teacher, remember there are ESL success stories and tales of horror just about everywhere. You should always be honest with yourself about your own qualifications and personal and professional needs when choosing where to work before picking up and moving abroad; moreover, some schools require year-long contracts, so be completely sure about your decision before signing anything.