As a recent college grad, there are abundant opportunities out there to explore the world before settling into a long-term career. While many may opt for long backpacking trips or volunteer programs, there are options out there that allow adventures while also helping others and gaining stellar work experience and money – one of which is teaching English in Asia. Teaching English abroad is an awesome opportunity for young native English speakers, and there are dozens of reliable programs, such as Point to Point Education, that make it easier and safer than ever.
One of the primary destinations for international English teachers is Asia. That is largely because numerous countries, including Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea, have government-sponsored programs designed to foster English as a strong skill in their young citizens. Plus, Vietnam, Thailand and other countries of Southeast Asia are thriving economically and wish to grow their population of English speakers. All of this is done by educating the youth of these populations, and who is there better to teach a language than enthusiastic, intelligent people who speak that language naturally?
If this sounds like an exciting opportunity for you, then read on to learn everything you need to keep in mind before teaching English in Asia.
Be Intentional about Financial Research and Planning
Many young people jump at the prospect of teaching English in Asia because, compared to other locations internationally, many countries in Asia pay more. This is largely based on economic ability, need, and government programs.
Additionally, the cost of living in many of the high volume teaching locations is relatively low. In combination, these two qualities sound like a home run for making and saving money in your time teaching overseas. But it is still important that you do research about your specific city and program before you depart so you can budget accordingly and be financially prepared for unexpected situations if they arise.
While many programs pay English teachers incredibly well, this largely depends on the type of school where you will be teaching and your personal qualifications. For example, those teaching at International Schools while holding teaching degrees will generally earn a higher salary than grads teaching through other programs. It is possible to save money and enjoy your time abroad in both situations, but knowing what to expect going into your contract will make your travels less stressful and more fulfilling.
Live Like the Locals
If you really want to delve into the culture of your host country and experience your surroundings to the fullest, do as the locals do. Observe local lifestyles and habits, and try to make friends with local folks. It can be easy to get caught up in the comfort of company with other expats, but by putting yourself out there you have so many new perspectives to gain.
A challenging yet rewarding step to take in this direction is to try and learn the local language. No one will expect perfection, but your colleagues and neighbors will greatly appreciate the effort. Plus, the more of the local tongue you understand, the more you can safely and knowledgeably explore.
It Won’t Always Be a Walk in the Park
Obviously, there will be major ups and downs when it comes to any teaching job, but many people don’t consider the additional challenges of daily life outside of the job.
Moving abroad is always an adjustment, but few realize just how drastically different many Asian countries are from western culture. Culture shock is a very real, and totally normal, part of teaching English in an Asian country. Find ways to ease this transition for yourself. It’s helpful to set goals or begin a new hobby that keeps you grounded where you are as opposed to comparing everything to your home country. Schedule set times to communicate with family and friends back home, so you don’t waste time worrying about when you will talk to them next.