Introduction to Teaching English in Asia

North Americans of all ages are searching for employment that offers both valuable experience and reasonable income. As fewer and fewer “Help Wanted” ads are posted, many job hunters give up completely or accept mediocre jobs to make ends meet.

Asia ESL Students Pose for Photo

Even college graduates are continuing on in school rather than taking a chance in the slow-growing job market. Whether you’re a discouraged job hunter, soon-to-be graduate, mid-career professional looking for a change of pace, or student who’s ready to take some time off, we have some advice: look to the East – the Far East. You may find the opportunity you’ve been seeking.

In East Asia, English speakers have access to many jobs that not only pay well, but also offer fantastic opportunities to travel, learn, and gain excellent work experience. In the past decade an increasing number of college students and recent graduates have traveled to Asia to teach conversational English. Why? Because of the enormous demand for native speakers of the English language. “Help Wanted” signs and classified ads seeking English teachers are widespread throughout Asia.

Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea have long been popular destinations for North Americans hoping to teach English in Asia. The lure of high pay and plentiful jobs draws hundreds of Westerners there each year. Business is booming, and for anyone willing to pound the pavement, jobs are there for the taking. Especially for experienced educators or those with ESL training, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan are the most lucrative Asian destinations for English teachers.

The English teaching scene is also burgeoning in China, Thailand, and Indonesia. Competition is less stiff than in Japan, South Korea, or Taiwan, and while the pay is not as good, the requirements are less stringent.

In Thailand, China, and Indonesia, the adventuresome teacher-to-be will find eager students, lots of flexibility, and ground-breaking opportunities. You may face bureaucratic obstacles to establishing yourself as a teacher, and you may not get rich, but you’ll go home having gained firsthand knowledge of a lesser-known culture. You can feel proud of yourself, knowing you were an early pioneer in a growing industry. Especially in China, where travel as a short-term tourist can be difficult, teaching English provides an excellent opportunity to experience the country up close.

So if you don’t have ESL or teaching experience, don’t have a bundle of money to get set up, or simply want to tread where fewer have gone before, you may want to consider Thailand, China, or Indonesia.

Packing up and moving to a place like Asia to teach English involves a serious commitment, and the decision to do so should not be taken lightly. Leaving the comforts of home invariably creates feelings of frustration and loneliness. Nevertheless, veterans of Asia’s teaching scene look back on these experiences as some of the best times of their lives. English teachers in Asia meet dozens of fellow adventurers, earn great money, and experience a different culture from the inside.

These pages will help you to decide whether or not to teach in Asia. You will find valuable information here to help ensure that your adventure is pleasant and profitable. We take you step-by-step through the process of getting a job in each country. Sections explaining the differences between various types of language schools and programs, instructions on obtaining visas and paying taxes, and tips on transportation, health care, and securing accommodations are also included. You’ll learn all you need to know about gaining successful employment teaching English in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, China, and Indonesia.

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