There are so many TEFL teaching opportunities all over the world these days, sometimes it can be difficult to know where to start! With an overwhelming number of jobs available, you just have to sign up to any online TEFL job finder to get inundated with offers. Despite there being positions available in just about every country on the globe, Asia is still a top location with many first-time teachers.
Back in the day, newbie teachers would head out to Asia because you didn’t necessarily need a qualification to work there. While times have changed a bit, Asia is still an attractive choice for teachers fresh off their TEFL course. Take a look at our top reasons why you should be seriously considering Asia for your first contract.
Of course, if you’re having difficulty picking a spot, you can also see our Featured Jobs.
Jobs for Any Qualification
While many teaching jobs in Europe require a CELTA certificate as a minimum, out in Asia you can usually get hired with little more than an online TEFL. There are still some places which will hire teachers who have no qualification at all, but unless they have their own in-house training program, it’s probably a ‘Mickey Mouse’ operation and not worth your time.
Generally speaking, a well-respected school will require teachers to have some sort of teaching qualification. This is good news for serious teachers who, for one reason or another (usually cost or shortage of time) weren’t able to do a CELTA and had to settle for a TEFL instead. Even if your qualification isn’t the best, you can still find a good teaching job in Asia, particularly if you show off your knowledge and come across well in your Skype interview.
Better Jobs for CELTA Trained Teachers
So while it’s true that you can get by on a TEFL in Asia, having a CELTA certainly doesn’t hurt! It pretty much guarantees you a job, particularly if you want to work with adults in a well-known school. If you are CELTA trained, keep your eyes peeled for jobs at local Universities as well as Foreign Language Schools, both of which tend to be highly paid and include much better holidays than you get at a run-of-the-mill language school.
The Cost of Living
Whatever you earn in Asia, as a foreigner you can pretty much guarantee that your pay packet is going to be pretty sweet compared to a local wage. Some places in Asia are cheaper than others, but wherever you end up you’ll likely be able to save a hefty wodge of cash each month by making the most of the low cost of living. If you want to live cheaply, live like the locals do, and you’ll soon be stacking up the cash.
Some places will maximise your savings: Small(er) Cities to Teach EFL in China: The Benefits
If you have aspirations to be a TEFL teacher living abroad, chances are you’ve been bitten by the travel bug and have a love for seeing new places. Living abroad in a place as fascinating as Asia, you’re in a prime location for site-seeing and travelling to some really awesome locations.
Your holiday will vary depending on where you are, and some Asian countries are more generous than others. Teachers in Japan are granted very few annual holidays, whereas in China a foreign teacher can expect to take time off several times a year – which is naturally quite different to what a local worker can expect.
Even if your teaching contract doesn’t offer much time off, you can still make the most of it with careful planning. For example, if you save your money carefully over a one-year contract, then when you finish work you can apply for a tourist visa to do a month of in-country travelling before you go home (or somewhere else). Some schools will even offer their teachers breaks between contracts, so you can travel and then go back.
While teaching in Europe may offer a higher salary than what you can earn in Asian countries, it’s undeniable that Asia is the more exotic location. If you’ve grown up in Britain where you can easily hop on the boat to France or take a cheap flight to Spain for the weekend, then moving there to teach English isn’t all that exciting. However, packing up your bags and flying out to the other side of the world – now that’s an adventure!
There are so many new things to experience when you move somewhere so far away, such as the climate, weather, currency, architecture, and a language which seems so completely alien to you. Not to mention the food, which could have you stepping way out of your comfort zone and heading in the direction of birds nest soup and insects on sticks.
For some of the teaching industry’s best-kept secrets: 3 Off-the-Beaten-Track ESL Destinations
A Great First Step on the TEFL Career Ladder
If you want to make a real career out of teaching English, heading to Asia is a great place to start. First, as it’s so much easier to find a job in Asia, you can start getting some experience much quicker than if you were scrabbling around in Europe trying to find something suitable. Secondly, if you stick out a year or two in somewhere like China (with its reputation for being a challenging environment) then you’re sure to gain respect from future employers, many of whom will have started their own TEFL adventure in a similar way.
Teaching in Asia is also a great way to make connections – if you end up working for a large school with dozens of teachers, it’s true that many of those contacts will be more like gap-year teachers who give it up after a year, but you may also make friends with someone who is really serious about education, who goes on to open their own school, and who can help you find future jobs. ‘Word of mouth’ is really important in Asian cultures, and so making some solid contacts can set you up for life.
So what are you waiting for? Apply now for a teaching job abroad.
About the Author
Celia Jenkins is an experienced ESL teacher and freelance writer. Her job experiences have brought her to a number of countries in Asia, including China and Japan.