How to Teach English in Asia FAQ

Will I Be Able to Find a Job?

Once you get there, it will seem as though nearly everyone in the Far East is learning English. Asian parents send their children to English-language schools almost before they can walk. Thousands of students dreaming of college or graduate school in the United States or Canada, Asian yuppies, retirees, and teens line up for classes. Westerners are buttonholed on the streets of Taiwan daily with “You can teach me English?” While it is true that more and more Westerners are teaching in Asia these days, the demand for lessons is such that it is still possible to find a job fairly easily.

Aston English ESL Class in Xi'an

What If I’ve Never Taught Before?

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Can I speak English correctly?
  2. Am I genuinely interested in teaching in Asia?

If you answered yes to both questions, you’re qualified to teach English in Asia. For many jobs you don’t need a teaching certificate or a degree in education; the only requirements are a solid knowledge of spoken English, plenty of energy, and the desire and enthusiasm to learn about a very different culture. A bachelor’s degree also is helpful – and usually required in Japan and China – but if you’re willing to work for a small teaching enterprise, have related experience, or possess excellent qualifications, you should be able to work around this requirement even in these countries.

How Do I Get Hired?

Application procedures differ for each country and for each job.

In general, it’s easiest to get a job if you’re already in the country pounding the pavement. A school is much more likely to hire someone knocking on the door than someone halfway around the world. Another way to land a job (assuming you meet its minimum qualifications) is through a North America-based sending organization. These recruiters arrange teaching jobs for Westerners for set periods of time – usually a year – and do all the necessary legwork. Benefits can include round-trip airfare, free or subsidized housing, health insurance, and training, but usually the pay is less and the competition for jobs much greater than with companies that do their hiring in Asia. Finally, it is possible to arrange a job directly with an overseas school before leaving home.

Using the contact lists we’ve included, you can apply to these schools by mail or fax, and possibly find a position before you pack your bags. Sometimes in-person interview requirements make it difficult to get hired before leaving home, but again each situation is different, so read the job outlook section for the country you’re interested in. In any case, it certainly doesn’t hurt to get your name out there, even if you aren’t able to secure a position before taking off.

How Can I Possibly Teach in an Asian Country If I Don’t Even Speak the Language?

As a teacher in Asia, you primarily will teach conversational English. You will either teach students with a strong grasp of English grammar and vocabulary or you will work with another instructor who will maintain discipline, teach grammatical points, and translate whenever necessary. Occasionally, you will find yourself in a situation in which your students don’t understand and no one around can help. Under these circumstances you’ll have to be creative and try a new instructional approach.

Believe in yourself and you’ll catch on quickly.

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