When it comes to choosing one of six potential continents to teach on (sorry, Antarctica), it is very hard to beat Asia – with its unrivalled demand for workers combined with incredibly diverse cultures, climates, and the largest cities in the world it is easy to see why. Luckily for Singaporeans, many of the best countries to teach overseas are just outside your global doorstep. Read on to find out more.
Famously home to the ancient Angkor Wat, a revered and religiously significant Hindu temple complex, which is frequently cited as one of the world’s must-see attractions. But beyond that, Cambodia is a country recovering – very well, too – from a tragic recent history that saw a large portion of its population murdered by dictator Pol Pot’s government. That’s now all in the past – Cambodia has moved on, the country now a popular place for teachers and tourists alike. Positions can be found in both its largest cities, such as Phnom Penh, but also in smaller townships and rural areas.
- Pay: S$13 – S$20 per hour, depending on school.
- Qualifications: No degree needed for a visa. One of the reasons Cambodia is so popular is that it offers the chance for non-graduates to teach. Individual employers might have their own requirements; will be generally lax.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, with its humongous population and all, China has the largest TEFL job market in the world. Thousands of foreign English teachers currently work here and thousands more will likely continue to flock here in the coming years. With some of the largest metropolises in the world – Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen just name a few – supply can barely keep up with demand. Every major English teaching organization has schools here and online job boards are full to the brim with China-based employers seeking applicants. It’s important to do your research before coming here as every employer, city, and region may have its own policies regarding who can teach. As the industry evolves so do its standards; more and more schools are raising requirements so it would be beneficial to go with qualifications and maybe some experience.
- Pay: From around S$1000 a month up to S$3,000. It can exceed that, depending on employer, qualifications, experience, and ability to negotiate.
- Qualifications: degree required for visa. 120 hours of TEFL training is recommended for employment – check out The TEFL Org’s accredited courses.
Another very popular destination is the island nation of Japan. Something you may not know about Japan is that the archipelago consists of a whopping 6,852 islands! Fewer than 500 of these are actually lived on by people, though. More big Japanese numbers: the Tokyo metro area, the largest in the world by some counts, is home to an almost unfathomable 38 million people – that dwarfs the majority of Earth’s countries’ populations. Such a large population has helped create a very strong market for English teachers. Employers offer fairly lucrative benefits packages and the more experience a teacher has, the better the opportunities open to them. The cost of living is pretty high here so expect to do some saving.
- Pay: Around $3,000 a month. It can increase with time and experience.
- Qualifications: a degree is needed to work full-time. However, a working holiday visa to work part-time without a degree. Although not necessary, a 120-hour training certificate is recommended.
This small country on the tip of a peninsula also happens to be a major draw for English teachers. From large public schools to hagwons (independent language centers), there are plenty of opportunities to teach in South Korea. Globalisation plus the rule that Korean students must pass English exams to attend university has led to a large, and increasing, demand for English teachers. If you have the necessary qualifications then you could work in one of South Korea’s bustling cities such as Seoul or Busan. In doing so, there’s a good chance you will enjoy a great benefits package, above-average wages, and job stability.
The government also runs the EPIK program which sees up to 3,000 teachers accepted into the country to teach. Along with pay, there is also accommodation and a starting bonus. Make sure to check it out if you’re considering Korea.
- Pay: varies among employers. EPIK pays up to S$3,000. Other employers may pay similar but can go up with experience.
- Qualifications: a bachelor’s is necessary for a working visa. Schools and hagwons are also strict.
Now, Singapore shouldn’t really be classed as one of the ‘best’ teaching destinations, due to relatively small demand and high competitiveness, but that does not mean it should go totally ignored. It is possible to find work as an EFL teacher for pretty decent pay. Expect to be offered fairly long-term contracts if you do manage to find work here. On top of that, the pay is good, which is sort of expected if you look at the cost of living. If you do decide to teach in Singapore then make sure you meet the requirements because they can end up being quite stringent.