Everything you need to know about teaching English in Japan

 

Japan has emerged from its years of recession with a now buoyant teaching English industry and teaching salaries here can be among the world’s best, with some teachers earning as much as US$5,000 per month. This article looks at the logistics of teaching English in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Where is Japan?

Japan is an ultra-modern, high-tech island country in the Pacific Ocean, located in East Asia. Salaries here are very high and as a new teacher, you should expect to be earning a monthly starting salary in the range of US$2,000 – US$3,000. Local costs are also very high though, making Japan a teaching location where you will be assured a relatively comfortable lifestyle but without the possibility to save all that much money if you are just starting out. Our tip is to teach at a university if wanting to earn enough to save too.

The legal requirements for teaching English in Japan are some of the strictest in the region, with only native English speakers being permitted to work here. A Bachelor’s degree (in any subject) is required, as well as holding an international TEFL certificate from a reputable school. A criminal background check is also a requirement of the work visa process and it is important to note here that schools do sometimes conduct random drug testings of their teachers.

There are two types of visas which English teachers apply for to legally teach English in Japan and these are the Instructor Visa and the Specialist in Humanities Visa. The Instructor Visa allows you to teach English in public institutions such as high schools and universities, and the Specialist in Humanities Visa grants you the ability to teach for companies or private language schools.

The first step in applying for either visa is applying for work and receiving a job offer, and your employer will then sponsor you during the process of obtaining your visa. 

It is also worth noting here that there is a third possibility of teaching English in Japan if you are thinking of teaching short-term and this is through applying for a Working Holiday Visa. Please be advised though that this visa only allows you to work legally in Japan for six months and this route isn’t recommended if wanting to teach English in Japan longer term.

It is possible to apply for your work visa whilst on the ground in Japan by heading to the Japanese Ministry of Justice’s Immigration Bureau and applying for the Certificate of Eligibility, but our graduates tell us that the process is much simpler completed from abroad and through a Japanese Embassy in your home country. If you do decide to apply for work and then get legal once you are in Japan then you should be aware that upon arrival you will be issued with a tourist visa, which is valid for 90 days, and that you will then learn about the success of your work visa application within 2-3 months of submitting your documents.

The last step in the process of applying for a work visa is receiving your visa and also your residence card: your official identification for your time in Japan which has all your information embedded on it in a chip.

Please remember that at tefl online pro we assist our graduates with ongoing job support, help and advice, so if you are wanting Japan teaching English advice then feel free to reach out and contact us.

Teaching in Tokyo

Tokyo is currently the world’s 7th largest city with an expanding population of 13.6 million, but holds the title of the largest city in the world when the entire Tokyo metro area is included – totaling more than 38 million residents! Because of its size and high cost of living, teachers do usually find themselves living quite a distance from their teaching locations and this transport factor should definitely be taken into consideration when choosing to teach in Tokyo. Nevertheless, Tokyo is a fascinating city to teach English in.

Compared with other countries in the region, accommodation in Japan is expensive and if you choose to live on your own then your accommodation costs will munch a substantial bite into your budget.

It is possible to live more cheaply though and one way of doing this is by sharing an apartment with another teacher or other teachers. Even in Tokyo – Japan’s most expensive city – if you are willing to share then you can find a semi-decent place to live for around 60,000 yen, which is approx. US$550.

Finding an apartment in Japan though is by no means a walk in the park. Many Japanese citizens themselves find it difficult to locate good accommodation and this is one of the reasons why a lot of Japanese stay living at home with their parents until they are often in their thirties. The shortage of accommodation has even created the phenomenon of net café refugees: people who live in cyber cafés and who are referred to as being ‘cyber-homeless’.

In Japan, apartments are normally rented through real estate agents (rather than landlords) and one of the biggest hurdles of landing an apartment is probably going to be your inability to speak Japanese, with landlords often being more than reticent to rent their properties to a (‘gaijin’) foreigner. This is why we recommend asking your employer for help with the process of hunting for an apartment and this appears to be the mode of choice for most newbie English teachers in Japan.

Teaching in Osaka

Osaka, a large commercial center and port city on the Japanese island of Honshu, is Japan’s third largest city (after Tokyo and Yokohama) and is known among expats for being the food capital of Japan. As with the other cities on this list there are a lot of teaching English options to be found in Osaka, but the factor which makes Osaka such an attractive city to live and work in is that living expenses are generally lower. And because Osaka is often overlooked by expats, there isn’t as much competition when job hunting.

In Japan, the average working week for a teacher of English means teaching from between 20 to 25 hours and this is enough to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. Please bear in mind though – as with all teaching English locations – that you will start out by spending a lot of time planning lessons and that this planning time can at first equate to one hour spent planning for every hour taught. Over time though you will find yourself needing to plan less and less and you will find yourself with more and more time at your disposal.

It must be noted here that there are significant differences depending on whether you are teaching for a Japanese company or a foreign one. If you find yourself working for a Japanese company, you may find that you will be expected to work more hours than is stated in your work contract and be expected to attend many more meetings than you would if you were working for a foreign-owned company.

Please bear in mind again that at tefl online pro we assist our graduates with ongoing job support, help and advice, so if you are wanting Japan teaching English jobs advice then feel free to reach out and contact us.

Teaching in Nagoya

Nagoya, the fourth most populous urban area in Japan, is a popular destination and this seems largely due to its relative close proximity to Tokyo, taking just one hour and 40 minutes on the Nozomi Shinkansen train. Nagoya is the capital of the Aichi Prefecture and is a gateway to the Kansai region, and it is also the center of the automotive industry in Japan. Another reason why Nagoya is a popular destination is because it is possible to cross the city in just over 30 minutes – cutting down on transport times between classes.

There are many different types of teaching English positions available in Japan and the main options open to you are teaching at an eikaiwa, kindergarten, international school, language school, public school, university or teaching English privately.

‘Eikaiwa’ are conversation schools, teaching either children or adults, which have sprung up all over Japan due to the general inability of the old-fashioned, Japanese education system being able to get students to effectively use the English language. At these schools it is common to be teaching students anywhere from the ages of 3-70+ years old and although schools do obviously separate children from adults, you may find that the ages of your adult groups vary considerably and this can present significant classroom challenges. Teaching hours at these schools typically run between 1 and 9 pm, with kindergarten and elementary students making up the first few hours of your teaching day and adults coming in later as the day progresses. The average salary when working at an eikaiwa is typically around ¥250,000 per month and it is also important to note here that you will enjoy less holiday time off than if you were working as an assistant language teacher at a public school.

Teaching at a kindergarten means teaching English to children between the ages of 2-6 and this type of teaching is frankly extremely demanding and not everyone’s cup of tea. On the other hand though, it can also be the most rewarding type of teaching position and one additional benefit of teaching at a kindergarten is the long holiday time which you can enjoy when school breaks. Kindergarten salaries are similar to those that an assistant language teacher at a public school earns with a starting salary of around ¥280,000 per month, which will increase the longer you decide to stay at the school. 

International schools are a sought-after teaching English position due to the standard holidays and the higher wages. You can find international schools throughout Japan, but most of them are located in Tokyo. At these schools you will either follow an American or British school system curriculum and most international schools require a minimum two years of teaching experience. Salaries typically come in at around 6 million yen per year and most international schools also assist with flights, insurance and relocation costs.

There are many language schools located across Japan. These are privately-run schools which will send you out to other schools and businesses to teach English and pretty much act as the middleman between yourself and their client. Salaries tend to remain firm at around the ¥250,000 per month mark and we recommend never accepting a teaching position for lower than this figure.

Teaching at a public school in Japan means teaching as an assistant language teacher, alongside the Japanese class teacher. Assistant language teacher jobs are available throughout Japan and can be found in public elementary and junior high schools. Teaching assistants at public schools typically make around ¥280,000 per month, with 60% of their school holidays paid too.

Teaching at a university is considered the ultimate teaching English position for teachers in Japan and as we have already noted, you can expect to be earning up to US$5,000 per month teaching in this type of position. Universities tend to hire in April or September and contracts are arranged on an annual basis. The only real drawback we can see with a teaching position at a university is that your class sizes might easily run to 40 students and this can present obvious classroom management issues. Still, teaching at a university is seen as a prestigious position and seems to be the dream ticket for most English teachers in Japan.

Teaching English privately is a good way to earn some extra money and get to know new Japanese people, and by teaching privately you won’t have to wear your work clothes to your classes. Perhaps the main advantage of teaching private students though is that you can charge as much as the student is willing to pay and this type of teaching can be extremely lucrative. The negative of teaching private students is that they can cancel at any time, meaning you won’t get paid for that class. We suggest taking on a few private students to add to your school schedule and then if a private student does cancel it won’t affect you so much financially.

Teaching in Kyoto

Kyoto, once the capital of Japan, sits attractively perched on the main train line between Nagoya and Osaka. Kyoto is a city of temples and shrines and is the most popular tourist destination in Japan. More importantly though, Kyoto is the academic capital of the country and it is here more than anywhere else in Japan where you stand a high chance of landing a lucrative teaching English position at a university. The only real downside to teaching in this popular city is competing with the other teachers wanting to live here too.

In this last section, we want to speak a little about the Japanese language and whether you should learn the language before heading over.

While it isn’t mandatory to know some Japanese in order to begin teaching English in Japan, it is definitely recommended to get to know at least some of the basics. Having some basic knowledge of Japanese will help you with your day-to-day interactions in Japan and will also help in the classroom when you find, for example, that it ‘s just easier to say the word in Japanese so that the student immediately understands the meaning of the target vocabulary. 

Despite being known as a difficult language to learn, Japanese is actually quite straightforward compared with other languages in the region and you will also find that there are many English loan words in Japanese. Japanese does not have masculine, feminine or neuter nouns, so the complexity of deciding which gender a particular noun belongs to doesn’t present a learning obstacle. In Japanese, there is also no need to conjugate verbs to match their respective subjects and this means that you don’t need to learn different verb forms for different pronouns. And Japanese is also easier to learn than you think due to each Japanese syllable being pronounced only one way and meaning that each of the 45 basic syllables have specific pronunciation rules (unlike in the case of English which despite having fewer letters actually contains far more sounds).

It is also important to note here that many schools do prefer the immersion method of learning a language, which means that you will be expected to only speak English in the classroom. If this is the case for you then follow the guidelines of the school and keep your Japanese language schools ready for outside of classroom teaching hours.

Teaching in Hiroshima

Hiroshima is located on Japan’s Honshu Island and is undeniably most well-known for being the site of the dropping of the first atomic bomb on August 6, 1945. The bombing decimated the city but Hiroshima has since recovered to develop into a vibrant, modern city, and has been dubbed ‘The City of Peace’ with its international conferences regarding nuclear power. It’s difficult not to fall in love with the city and with its laidback locals and the good news is that there is a well-developed teaching English industry here.

Read more Teaching English Abroad Country Specifics articles on the tefl online pro Blog

Where will you teach English?

Everything you need to know about teaching English in Germany

 

Germany is the economic powerhouse of Europe and is the world’s fourth largest economy – one place ahead of the United Kingdom and four places behind the United States. Germany also enjoys a high standard of living with its combination of generous salaries and relatively low cost of living for a Western European nation and is a sought after teaching English abroad location. This article looks at teaching English in Germany specifics and covers everything you need to know about teaching English in this land of fairytale castles.

Where is Germany?

Germany (Federal Republic of Germany) shares its borders with nine other European countries: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland and Switzerland. In additional to its centrally located position in Europe, the country offers up a tremendous amount of geographical diversity with its Alpine mountains in the south, sandy beaches in the north, Black Forest National Park in the east and its meandering Rhineland in its west.

Because Germany is such a popular teaching destination, it does take a bit more time and energy in order to set up shop here compared with for example wanting to teach English in the Czech Republic. It is worth the perseverance though and choosing Germany as a teaching English location will enable you to earn enough to live comfortably and be able to afford regular trips around the European continent.

Teaching salaries typically range anywhere from €1,000 to €3,000 per month, and if you snag a university teaching job then this figure can rise to the equivalent of approx. US$40,000 per year.

The main requirement for teaching English in Germany is that you hold an international TEFL certificate from a reputable school. A college degree will also give you an edge on the competition – although not a mandatory requirement, and applicants with German-speaking skills will enjoy having an additional advantage.

Please also note that when applying for teaching English positions, we definitely recommend submitting your CV/Resume in both English and German. It isn’t mandatory to understand German fluently to land a teaching English position in Germany, but unlike other countries in the region, Germany is definitely a nation that expects at least a basic working knowledge of its language in order to get yourself started.

Teaching in Berlin

Berlin is the capital and Germany’s largest city, and is the most popular place in Germany to teach English. Because of this, competition is fierce, but there are just so many teaching positions available that if you put your mind to it then you won’t find any issues with landing a job here. Surprisingly, Berlin is one of the cheapest capital cities in Western Europe, and its high number of foreign residents makes for a culturally-rich city experience with a thriving and diverse arts scene.

There are many different types of English teaching positions available in Germany. As we have already mentioned, if you can snag a job at a university then that option will pay you the most, but most teachers find themselves either teaching at a language school, public school, an international school, international corporation, or teaching students privately.

Language schools can be found in all the main cities and in most large towns and recruit teachers throughout the year, depending on how many teachers they have available at hand and on when new contracts for new teaching clients come in. As with all of these types of teaching options, the absolute best time to look for work is in September, when the new school year starts, and with January being the second best time in the year to land a job. Please note that there are also summer camp teaching positions offered by language schools, so this is also an option and a great way to get your foot in the door before the new school year begins.

The main benefit of teaching at a public school is the long, paid holidays which come hand-in-hand with this type of teaching position and some public schools might also be able to throw in free accommodation too. However, for this teaching option you will need to demonstrate at least an Upper-intermediate level of German language knowledge, and a college degree (preferably in languages) will also be mandatory.

With so many international companies having chosen Germany as their main headquarters, there is a high demand for qualified teachers to teach at international schools. As with teaching at public schools, you will be expected to hold a degree and be fluent or semi-fluent in German. While it is rare for international schools to provide accommodation, they do often help out with the visa application and many also provide settlement allowances.

If you have a background in business, you might want to enquire at international corporations whether they are currently hiring. The main advantage of going this route is that all your classes will be held under one roof and corporations will assist with the visa process.

Most teachers at some stage in their time living in Germany find themselves teaching English privately and the main advantage of this type of teaching is that you can charge as much as the student is willing to pay. For 45 minutes (1 standard teaching hour in Germany) you can expect to earn anywhere up to €40 for private English tuition.

Teaching in Hamburg

Hamburg is Germany’s second-largest city and is connected to the North Sea by the Elbe River. Sometimes referred to as being the ‘Venice of the north’, the city is criss-crossed by hundreds of canals and these waterways also give the city an almost ‘Amsterdam’ feel to it. Hamburg is also a much more liberal city when compared with Munich for example, and this liberal-mindedness of its locals shows itself in the relaxedness in social gatherings and a general ‘anything-goes’ attitude towards life.

If you are an EU citizen, you won’t face any visa complications in coming over and getting your teaching English career started here. If you are from outside the EU then the process is a lot more complicated, but with a ‘can do’ attitude you can also make it happen for you too.

For non-EU citizens, we recommend coming over and arriving on your 3-month tourist visa. This will be sufficient time to acclimatize and get yourself acquainted with this new culture and also provide you with more than enough time to locate a teaching English position.

Please note here that the vast majority of teaching English positions in Germany are advertised locally and schools don’t usually recruit from abroad. This means that you will need to be on the ground when conducting your job search.

Once you have located work, you will need to apply for your permanent residence visa and work permit and the following are required for this purpose: a guaranteed contract from your place of employment, proof of residency and address, proof of opening a bank account, filing for a tax number, your passport and a passport photo. Please note that you will also need proof of eligible health insurance.

A college degree isn’t mandatory for receiving your employment contract, but an internationally recognized TEFL certificate is. Germany is also a much stricter country when it comes to having some knowledge of the local language and having at least a basic working knowledge of German will (as we mentioned above) place you higher up the ladder in the eyes of any potential employer.

The place where you process your documentation is at the immigration office (‘ausländerbehörde’) and it is here that you will probably first be introduced to the legend that is German bureaucracy. If you are registering in a major city, you shouldn’t have too many issues and your paperwork should be processed smoothly, but if you are registered in a small town then the process can be a bit of a nightmare at times. 

And lastly, it is also possible to apply instead for a freelance teaching visa and this is processed in the same way as the employment visa with the exception that you won’t be required to provide a copy of an employment contract. There are restrictions on who can successfully apply for a freelance visa, so you should check beforehand to see whether you are eligible for this type of visa. If you re successful in applying for this visa, you are pretty much in control of your own teaching and miss out the school middleman completely.

At tefl online pro we help all of our graduates with visa-related info, so if you are a graduate of our international TEFL certification program and need more information on getting your German permanent residence visa and work permit then you know that you are very welcome to reach out to us and we will help you through the process. 

Teaching in Munich

Munich, the capital of Bavaria, is known by many people because of its annual Oktoberfest, when the entire rest of the world seems to descend on this city of spires and orders overpriced beer in ridiculously large Maß from hospitable men and women dressed in traditional Lederhosen/dirndl. Salaries here are among the highest in Germany, but with higher salaries come higher costs and Munich definitely isn’t an affordable city to live in. There is also a dire shortage of accommodation too, which pushes prices even higher.

The typical teaching English working week in Germany consists of between 15-20 hours and for this amount of hours you can expect to live a reasonably comfortable existence.

15-20 hours per week may not seem like a lot, but you do need to factor into this amount the number of lesson planning hours which you won’t be paid for. As a newly-graduated teacher of English you should expect to begin starting off by spending around 1 hour planning for every lesson taught, but over time this amount of time spent on planning lessons will dramatically decrease as you gain more experience and find yourself needing to spend less time on preparing your class lessons.

You should also factor travel times into the equation too as you might have an early morning class in 1 part of the city you are teaching in and then your next class could be on the opposite side. Germany does have a bit of a reputation for being a highly punctual country and for the most part it is, but public transport isn’t completely free of delays or cancellations and this factor can sometimes frustrate teachers when crossing town in order to meet a limited time window to get to their next class.

In general, German students tend to be respectful of teachers and despite sometimes coming over as being a little too conservative they are largely a hospitable bunch and very much internationally-minded too. It does take a bit more time to make friends here than in other countries in the region, but once you do you’ll invariably have a friend for life.

Teaching in Frankfurt

Frankfurt (am Main) sits firm on the river Main and is a major financial hub of the continent – home to Europe’s fourth-largest airport. It was also the birthplace of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and we definitely recommend any literature buffs heading to Frankfurt to check out the (excellent) Goethe House Museum, located within the Innenstadt district of the city. Frankfurt is an excellent choice of city to teach English in as there isn’t as much competition as there is in cities such as Berlin or Munich.

In this section, we want to speak a little bit more about the work visa process with regards to proof of residency and address.

Most teachers find a place to live pretty quickly and whilst this is great and all, it might not necessarily be how it pans out for you at the beginning. If you are finding it difficult to locate longer term accommodation for the work visa process (finding available accommodation in Munich for example can be a real headache) then there is a second option of going down the ‘zwischenmiete’ route. 

This option provides the possibility of renting an apartment or room temporarily and is often utilized by locals who find themselves traveling for long periods of time and who choose to rent out their apartment or room while they are away. This is a perfectly acceptable option for acquiring an accommodation address for your visa paperwork and it is a commonly used accommodation system in Germany.

When you have moved into your flat or room, you’ll then need to officially register as a resident of your new address at the registration office (‘bürgeramt’) and it is here that they will issue your confirmation of residence (‘anmeldung’.)  

Teaching in Regensburg

Regensburg is located in south-east Germany – an approx. 2-hour car drive from Munich – and is often referred to as ‘Germany’s medieval miracle’. This smaller city sits quietly on the Danube River and exudes a perfectly charming atmosphere. There isn’t as much work available here as in the larger cities, but there are nonetheless varied options for teaching English here and the main advantage of choosing this delightful city is that because of its size, you won’t find yourself spending so much time traveling between classes.

Read more Teaching English Abroad Country Specifics articles on the tefl online pro Blog

Where will you teach English?

Everything you need to know about teaching English in Vietnam

 

Vietnam is the new financial tiger powerhouse of Southeast Asia and has seen a huge increase in demand for English teachers over the last few years. When comparing to other Southeast Asian countries, Vietnam offers the best bang for your buck in terms of how much you can earn and how much your daily costs will be. This article looks at what it’s like to teach English in 5 of the most popular expat destinations in Vietnam, and what to expect when choosing Vietnam as your next teaching English destination.

Flag of Vietnam

Where is Vietnam?

Located in Southeast Asia, Vietnam shares a border with Cambodia, China and Laos. It also shares maritime borders with Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand. New teachers arriving to Vietnam can expect to be earning up to US$1,700 per month and this means that you can realistically expect to be saving around US$500 per month, so it’s no wonder why this country with a huge coastline is fast becoming the number 1 choice for teachers wanting to experience ‘old school’ Asia with ‘new school’ Asian salaries.

The legal requirements for teaching English in Vietnam are often ambiguous, but the official word is that all teachers wanting to apply for the work permit must provide a criminal background check, be a native English speaker, hold a college degree (in any subject) and have an international TEFL certificate from a reputable school. 

The work permit must be applied for whilst inside the country. We recommend entering Vietnam on a 3-month tourist visa and then starting your teaching job while the work permit is being processed. Once you receive your work permit, you can then apply for a business visa, which will mean that you can then stay indefinitely within the country for as long as your work permit and business visa are valid – your work visa is valid for as long as your business visa is valid and you can extend your business visa on an annual basis. 

Because of this work visa system, schools rarely recruit from abroad and apply a 3-month probationary period on all new teachers, to cover their backs in case the work permit application is unsuccessful. However, if you have all your paperwork ducks lined up in a row then you won’t experience any issues in receiving the work permit and then being able to apply for the business visa. 

It is also worth noting here that not all schools will encourage you to apply for the work permit, and will instead recommend that you leave the country every 3 months to then return on a fresh 3-month tourist visa. While we never recommend teaching illegally, it is however common practice in Vietnam and this can be clearly seen by the many expats teaching in Vietnam who don’t possess a college degree and who might not necessarily be a native English speaker. 

Please remember that at tefl online pro we assist our graduates with ongoing job support, help and advice, so if you are wanting Vietnam teaching English advice then feel free to reach out and contact us

Teaching in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City (also referred to as ‘Saigon’ or simply ‘HCMC’) is the business and financial center of Vietnam and gives Bangkok a good run for its money in terms of being a city with high-octane levels of energy and a seemingly disregard for sleep. It’s in HCMC where you will find the greatest concentration of jobs and some of the highest paid salaries in the country. Plus, the good news is that a furnished apartment typically runs at just US$500 per month – making for a generous, expendable income to travel/discover. 

Ho Chi Minh street scene.

Teaching in Vietnam can mean either teaching children or adults, and teaching for private language schools, international schools, state schools or universities. After a while of course, once you have built up a solid contacts base, you can begin offering private lessons too. 

It is important to note here that Vietnam can generally be divided into 2 sections: the north, where it can get chilly in the cold months, and the south, where you will find yourself seeking out AC whenever you can. Also, teachers do often remark on the peculiarity that students in the south of the country come over as being warmer than their northern counterparts, but when we visited the country a few years ago we weren’t aware of any of these stereotypes. But what was apparent were the differences in temperatures, so if choosing to teach in HCMC for example, bring clothes which will make you feel more comfortable in the balmy temperatures. And if choosing to teach in the north, a winter jacket is a necessity. 

As is generally true throughout the Asian continent, you will be expected to look the part when teaching and many schools in Vietnam do have a dress code. If your school has a dress code, then for women: knee-length black shirt, white blouse with long sleeves and black shoes. The same applies for men – but shirt, not blouse obviously – and you might also be required to wear a tie. We do also recommend reading our Cambodia, China and Thailand country specifics articles, as these also cover appropriate classroom attire for the region.

Woman sitting on park bench in Hanoi.

Teaching in Hanoi

Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital and second largest city, is probably known for its somewhat chaotic Old Quarter and for its French-inspired architecture. It was here during the Vietnam War that POWs could find themselves locked up in the infamous ‘Hanoi Hilton’ – such as the recently-deceased John McCain was – but today, Hanoi remains a charming, yet frenetic city with the feel of a city much smaller than it really is. There is a thriving teaching English industry here, which blends well with its coffee culture scene. 

We have covered the process of acquiring a work permit in order to teach English legally in Vietnam, and we also want to speak a little bit more now about looking for work. 

We definitely recommend researching schools before traveling to Vietnam and arranging interviews in advance, so that you utilize your time as much as possible. In many cases, you will find yourself working for a recruiter, which performs the same function as working for a language school: they will provide you with work and take a percentage of the fees paid by the client. 

Because the demand for teachers of English is so high, teaching English jobs are available at any time of the year – unless you are wanting to teach at a state/international school or university, as these have strict semester dates. And because there is such huge demand and because so many teachers are choosing Vietnam as their next destination, you won’t find it difficult at all to find teaching work. However, it is always good to have that extra element of advantage, so we recommend standing out from the crowd with a CV/Resume which will place your application at the top of the pile. 

Please remember that at tefl online pro we assist our graduates with ongoing job support, help and advice, so if you are wanting Vietnam teaching English advice – or CV/Resume tips – feel free to reach out and contact us

Teaching in Hue

Hue is located almost bang smack in the center of Vietnam and was the national capital from 1802 to 1945. Some people would actually prefer if it were re-established as the capital today, as in their opinion it would strike a comfortable counterbalance between north and south. While Hue doesn’t have as many teaching English opportunities as say Hanoi or HCMC, there are still plenty of jobs to go around and the wages reflect what you can realistically expect to earn in other cities as a new teacher: US$15-US$25 per hour.

Temple at Hue, Vietnam.

We would like to point out at this stage that although Vietnam is a safe country to live and travel in, there does exist the daily annoyance of being charged more for things than what a local would be charged. 

This definitely isn’t exclusive to Vietnam, neither to the region in general, but it is worth noting that the longer you stay in Vietnam, the more you get to know the local shop sellers and the more they begin to recognize you, the less likely it will be that you’ll be getting charged at a higher rate than if you just stepped off the plane. 

Try never to ask, “how much?”. Instead, observe a local buying something that you want to purchase and make a mental note of how much they paid, and then order yourself and hand over the same exact amount. The reasoning behind overcharging is often that locals think that anyone traveling from a Western country is loaded and so why not charge them a bit more? After all, they can afford it! This is the logic and we can see why people overcharge, but we of course disagree with the whole practice. On the reverse side, we have witnessed backpackers being so meagre by spending a lot of unnecessary time haggling over a few bucks for a service provided by a local who is obviously far from wealthy. If you see something for a couple of USD and can see it’s worth the price, why haggle the price down further? 

Bird's eye view of Da Nang, Vietnam.

Teaching in Da Nang

Da Nang is a beautiful coastal city, located in central Vietnam, and is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. Da Nang is a wonderful city to teach English in as, among other attributes, it boasts clean air and sandy beaches. The city is also the perfect location for visiting the inland Bà Nà hills, located west of the city. However, because of its attractive location, and despite having a large number of language schools, competition is fierce among teachers as this is a city that many teachers desire to teach in.

No article on Vietnam would be complete without a shout out to its food and coffee! 🙂 Vietnamese cuisine is among the world’s best, and the good news is that you don’t need to take out a second mortgage to be able to enjoy its delights on a daily basis. Phở of course is the 1 dish which springs to most people’s minds but others worth a mention are Bánh bột chiên, Bánh mì, Bánh xèo, Bún chả, Cha ca, Gỏi cuốn, and the list could go on and on… . Each Vietnamese dish has its own distinctive flavor, and we feel that while some Vietnamese and Thai dishes are similar, Vietnamese cuisine places less emphasis on heat so that you are able to differentiate between flavors easier. Oh, and the Vietnamese coffee? So strong and flavorful, and there are literally a zillion ways with which the Vietnamese like to serve it up. 

Teaching in Hai Phong

A major port city in northeastern Vietnam, Hai Phong lavishly reclines across from Cat Ba Island, caressed by its French colonial–era landmarks and leafy boulevards. It’s the third most populous city in the country, but has delightfully managed to retain its colonial image and has grown a name for itself for the many festivals which occur in the city, including one which involves buffalo flighting. Because of its size, teaching English work is plentiful here and it also makes for an excellent base for trips out to Halong Bay.

Hai Phong city center square.

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Where will you teach English?

Everything you need to know about teaching English in Slovakia

 

When Czechoslovakia split (1st January, 1993) the amicable divorce led many wondering how the fate of Slovakia would unfold as Czechia was often viewed as the more industrially stronger of the 2 nations. Fast-forward 26 years and while it’s true that the Czech Republic has made significant gains economically, it should be noted that Slovakia has too. Slovakia is currently ranked as the fastest-growing developed economy in the world and now is as good a time as ever to choose this Central European nation as your next teaching English destination.

Flag of Slovakia

Where is Slovakia?

Slovakia (officially the Slovak Republic) shares its borders with 5 other European nations: Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Ukraine. And with Zuzana Čaputová having recently won the presidential elections – becoming the first female Slovak president – there is optimistic hope in the air that the country’s populist and nationalist politics are now well behind them and that Slovakia’s political future is bright. Slovakia is a country with breathtaking mountains and hospitable locals. Come here now before the crowds do.

To begin to understand this relatively new nation, we need to take a look back in history to see how Slovakia got to where it is today.

 Present-day Slovakia was originally settled in the 6th century by the Slavic Slovaks, who populated mainly the lowland regions of the country where the farming was more conducive to better harvests and where the climate wasn’t so dramatic as it is in the Tatra mountains in the north of the country. After a brief period of time being politically connected with the Moravian Empire, the Magyars – today known as the Hungarians – took over and regained tight control all the way up to the time of the defeat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. 

It should also be noted here that under the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Slovaks were considered as being lowly farmers and were not able to enjoy the same full rights which Hungarian citizens enjoyed. So essentially, Hungary had aggressively annexed the Slovak lands. After the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918 – following the end of World War 1 – Slovakia formed a union with the Czech lands and the nation of Czechoslovakia was formed. After the end of World War 2, when Czechoslovakia was largely liberated by the Soviet army, Slovakia was once again joined at the hip to a centralized, Czech-dominated government. 

In 1989, after nearly 42 years of Russian Communist rule, the Velvet Revolution dissolved Czechoslovakia’s iron curtain and the country waltzed into an open market economy; embracing western politics and ideals. And on January 1st, 1993, Slovakia won independence after so many centuries and proceeded to join the EU and NATO. And (more recently) adopted the Euro as their official currency. 

Slovaks today are fiercely independent, and it is clear to understand why, and I must add kudos to them for voting to leave Czechoslovakia with their Slexit. It would have been much easier to stay connected to the Czech lands, but they placed independence above economic security and as history now shows, it has worked out in their favor.  

Teaching in Bratislava

The capital of Slovakia, Bratislava, has a perfect-love relationship with the Danube river and the city is a strong arm, stone’s throw from both the Austrian and Hungarian borders. It is a wonderful city; surrounded by vineyards, with the Bratislava Castle and its UFO Tower hogging the vista limelight. There is a lot of teaching English work in the capital and the hourly rate of around 20 Euros when teaching for a language school is pretty good, considering the low cost of living here. Bratislava is also just an hour’s drive from Vienna.

Bratislava street view

While teaching work is available year-round, the optimal times for securing teaching contracts are at the start of the new school year, in September. 

The second main hiring season is in January, when schools sign up students for Spring term studies. There is also the option of teaching at summer camps and with this option, you will often find yourself teaching children and teenagers – out in the fresh air of the countryside – and earning around 200 Euros per week, with accommodation and food provided free of charge. 

The vast majority of teachers choose the option of teaching at language schools that link you up with students, provide resources for your lessons and taking a share of your hourly rate as a kind of finder’s fee. The highest wages are definitely to be found in the capital, but the salaries don’t drop off that much when you leave Bratislava and make a smaller city your teaching base. 

Most classes available are teaching adults and a typical working day will have you teaching mornings and late afternoons/early evenings, with the opportunity of enjoying fabulous long lunches 🙂 

It is important to note here that once you have become established and have built up good contacts, you can then begin acquiring private students who are often willing to pay anywhere up to 35 Euros per teaching hour. 

One last important point not to be overlooked here is that we have received some reports of language schools in Bratislava asking teachers to sign teaching contracts which forbid teachers from taking on private students – we think the logic behind this is that the school sees any private student as being their potential client – and if you are asked to sign such a contract, we recommend you politely decline or negotiate. 

Kosice street view

Teaching in Kosice

Kosice is the second largest city and sits pretty, close to the Hungarian border. It’s also not that far from Ukraine and if you do find yourself in Kosice then we do recommend making the trip over to Lviv in Ukraine, and we will cover this city in another article when we look at Ukraine teaching tips. Kosice is a student town – similar in many ways to Brno, in the Czech Republic – and there is a healthy English teaching scene happening here. Expect to earn around 15 Euros per hour and spend approx two thirds of the costs of Bratislava. 

Similarly as you would expect in other European countries, it is always best to look for work while once on the ground in Slovakia as schools rarely recruit from abroad and you will always find the best salaries and conditions when personally visiting schools. 

One of the first things you should do when touching down in Slovakia is to buy a local SIM card, which will demonstrate to the schools you apply for work with that you are indeed here and indeed serious about committing time to teaching English in the area. You can purchase a SIM card for 10 Euros and this will give you a mobile telephone number and 10 Euros worth of sms/calling credit. 

We always recommend emailing your CV/Resume with covering letter to schools and then following up with a follow-up call or personal visit. Always dress smartly and always try to negotiate the terms of any contract which you are given to sign. Contracts are usually signed for 1 year, unless you are just teaching for a few weeks at a summer camp, but can be broken with a couple of month’s notice. 

Please be honest and straight-up when stating how long you plan to be in the country for. You might feel a grudge in knowing that your school creams the top of your salary off every month to build up their business, but you must bear in mind that the school has worked hard to get to the stage where they are able to provide lessons and many schools are actually family-run. If for example you only plan to stick around for the Autumn semester then let them know in advance so they are prepared for their teacher numbers beginning at the start of the Spring semester.

Teaching in Presov

To avoid confusion, both in this article and the article we wrote about teaching english in the Czech Republic, we have chosen to omit the diacritics which form the essential characters of the Slovak language. So while we write ‘Presov’ here, it is actually written ‘Prešov’. Presov is positioned north of Kosice, in the east of Slovakia, and basks in the shadows of the High Tatra Mountains. Presov doesn’t have a huge expat scene by any means, but there is work here and the hourly rate resembles that which you find in Kosice.

Winter view of the city of Presov in Slovakia

Becoming legal to teach English in Slovakia is pretty much the exact same procedure as becoming legal to teach English in the Czech Republic, and you may feel free to read our Czech Republic article if you require that information. 

EU citizens can teach English in Slovakia without the need to apply for a work visa but if you are coming from outside the EU, you will need to jump through a few (relatively easy) hoops in order to set up shop here as a teacher. 

When you arrive, you will be provided with a 90-day Schengen visa and this will provide you with ample time to locate work, arrange your work visa and then begin teaching. Please remember that at tefl online pro we assist all our graduates with ongoing job guidance, advice and help, so if you have decided to teach in Slovakia and need support, please reach out and contact us

It is also worth mentioning here that while it is possible to take an Onsite TEFL course in Europe before you start the hunt for work, we don’t recommend this path. You will need the full 3 months to arrange your work permit, and by taking an onsite course in the country you will be teaching in, you eat into the first month of your 90-day limit. Yes, we do run Online and Combined international TEFL certification courses and yes, we are biased in the online versus onsite TEFL debate, but it logically stands to reason that in the first few months of your arrival that you will need all the free time you can lay your future teaching English hands on to get all your ducks in a row. 

Zilina castle in Slovakia

Teaching in Zilina

Zilina – Slovakia’s fourth largest city – is located in the north-west of the country, close to both the Czech Republic and Poland. It is an industrial town with a surprising amount of Neoclassical architecture and although some sections of the city were desecrated by the usual examples of Brutalesque Soviet-planned building projects, the majority of the city remains sweet-candy pleasant to the eye. Many language schools have set up shop here and the salaries are only slightly lower than what you can expect to find in the capital.

All that is required to teach English in Slovakia is an internationally recognized TEFL certificate from a reputable school. A college degree is sometimes preferred, but not mandatory. 

We definitely recommend obtaining the Trade License, which will enable you to directly invoice local companies and so provide you with the ability of being able to increase your earning potential. 

We would like to conclude this article with a note about Slovak students. Slovak students are very similar to Czech students, and if you have read our Czech Republic article, you will know that this means they are obsessed with learning grammar. This means that to keep your students happy, you should designate a portion of each lesson to grammar coverage. 

We find Slovaks to be a very warm and hospitable bunch and perhaps one of the attributes which distinguishes them most from their Czech counterparts is that this is a staunchly Catholic country and takes its religion as seriously as either Austria or Poland does. Plus of course with huge parts of the country taken up by high mountains, this has inevitably woven itself into the fabric of the Slovak psyche and if we were to compare Slovaks with another peoples, it would actually be with the Austrians.

Teaching in Nitra

Slovakia’s fifth largest city rests serenely at the foot of Zobor Mountain and nestled in the valley of the Nitra river. As with the other cities on this list, there is a healthy amount of teaching work available here and salaries resemble those you can expect to earn in Zilina. Its location in western Slovakia also makes for a great location for trips to either the mountains, or across the borders into Austria or the Czech Republic and when we visited Nitra we found the city to be full of extremely warm and welcoming locals.

View of the city of Nitra in Slovakia

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Where will you teach English?

Everything you need to know about teaching English in Bolivia

 

Bolivia has been described as being akin to a beggar sitting on top of a pile of gold and teachers of English who choose to teach in Bolivia will experience a nation on the verge of getting up off that pile and possibly reaping its rewards. Bolivia often feels otherworldly and this article looks at what it is like teaching English in this often overlooked South American country.

Bolivia flag

Where is Bolivia?

Bolivia is a landlocked country in central South America with 5 countries tightly pressed up against its borders: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Peru. It was recently discovered that approx half the planet’s lithium deposits are locked away under Bolivia’s Uyuni salt flats and should the country decide to mine then it would catapult it to beyond its wildest, richest dreams. For now though, it remains poor but does have many options for teaching English in its cities and the experience of working here is priceless.

We found Bolivia to be the most affordable country when we backpacked South America last year in the summer holidays – Ecuador coming a close second – but it wasn’t only the low cost of living which had us raising our thumbs to Bolivia. 

The country is incredibly diverse in terms of its flora and fauna, as too are its microclimates and the uniquely different characteristics of its cities. As an example, the average August temperature in Santa Cruz (de la Sierra) is a balmy 28°C, whereas in La Paz it hovers at around 17°C only. 

Teacher’s salaries do reflect this low cost of living and the absolute maximum that we have heard any teacher earning here is just touching US$2,000 per month, working for a private international school. In reality though, as a teacher starting out, you should expect a more realistic ballpark figure of between US$500 – US$600 per month. 

At the time of writing this article, US$1 will give you 7 Bolivian Bolivianos and for the grand total of 12 Bolivianos, you can enjoy a fried trout meal on the shores of Lake Titicaca: the highest navigable lake in the world. Incidentally, if you do make it up to the lake – bordering Peru – then we do recommend the 15km (or so) walk to where you can pay a guide to row you across the crystal clear lake to Isla de la Luna, where you can spend the night on the island the Incas believed was the birthplace of the sun. Be mindful though of the altitude and expect to feel lightheaded throughout your visit there.

Teaching in La Paz

La Paz is a good 6 or 7 hour’s rickety bus ride from Lake Titicaca and is very often the first city backpackers arrive to – coming from either Chile or Peru. It rests chaotically in a mountainous bowl and at an altitude of 3,640m above sea level takes some getting used to. As with all the cities on this list, work is there to be found and your students will more than likely be business professionals, so teaching hours will be adjusted around their work schedules. Be extra vigilant walking home late at night as robberies are not unheard of.

View of La Paz

A college degree isn’t mandatory for teaching English in Bolivia, but you must hold an internationally recognized TEFL certificate, issued by a reputable TEFL school. 

Your TEFL certificate will be required by the language schools you apply to as part of the application process as being unqualified just isn’t an option, and besides, it’s also required for the work visa process. We do understand that we are biased regarding the Online versus Onsite TEFL certification debate, but we have never heard of any school quizzing an applicant whether their TEFL certificate was earned online or onsite so we will leave it up to you to decide whether you prefer the affordability and flexibility of online study or whether you want to pay US$4,000+ for the full package onsite course experience. 

tefl online pro also run a combined international TEFL certification course btw if you feel that you would like to have the experience of having teaching practice hours as part of your TEFL training. 

Incidentally, what we felt we would love if we taught in Bolivia would be the location as being a crossroads between north and south South America, and also the unique experience of teaching in this country, which at times feels like it’s on another planet.

Santa Cruz de la Sierra main square church

Teaching in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz has been in the international media recently as a result of its ambitious plans to be the financial center of central South America, although when we visited again since the last time we were there 10 years ago, the city was almost exactly the same and had retained its small town feel, despite being the largest city in the country. The only thing missing was the sloth lingering in the trees of the central square, which is there no longer. If you love a tropical climate and a super laidback vibe, this is the city for you to teach in.

Whilst finding teaching work isn’t a big hassle, getting legal to work can be – just as it can be in Brazil, as described in our Brazil article – and this hassle involves the procedure for when first entering the country, and then the bureaucratic hoops which both you and the school need to jump through once the wheels have been set in motion. 

Anyone wanting to teach English legally in Bolivia must enter the country on a Specific Purpose Visa. Easy right? Well, yes and no. It’s a little like a catch 22 situation. Most schools in Bolivia like to recruit from within the country; meaning they prefer to see you in person before offering you work. 

The issue with this is that to obtain the Specific Purpose Visa, you need a letter of invitation from the language school. Some of the larger schools will recruit from abroad, but before agreeing to sign up with one particular school, we recommend that you heavily research the school and working conditions. 

The Specific Purpose Visa is valid for 30 days upon entry into Bolivia and then you have within these 30 days to file all the necessary work permit papers. The way we found out some teachers get around this red tape is by entering Bolivia on a standard 30-day Tourist Visa, securing work within their allotted 30 days and then leaving across the border to Chile, where they apply for the Specific Purpose Visa at the Bolivian Consulate in Arica. US citizens though must apply for any type of Bolivian visa from their home state, so if you are coming from the USA then you will unfortunately need to arrange work in advance and apply directly for the Specific Purpose Visa before arrival. If you are from the UK however, you can just dandy yourself over to South America and everything’s chill. The third option for teaching English in Bolivia is working illegally, but we never recommend this option. 

Please remember that at tefl online pro we assist our graduates with ongoing job support, help and advice, so if you are thinking of making the move to Bolivia and need guidance then feel free to reach out and contact us.

Teaching in El Alto

El Alto, stretched out like a burgeoning waistline after a hearty lunch on the Altiplano highlands is Bolivia’s second largest city and developing fast. Home to South America’s highest airport, it used to be known as a brief stopping off point for the essential journey to La Paz, but has since begun raising its 4,000m above sea level nose up at its former older brother and is fast making a name for itself as a city to rival La Paz. There is as much work here as there is in the former and the wages and working conditions are identical.

Cable car over city of El Alto

Bolivia has had a long run of back luck in its history and is understandably jaded from these numerous experiences. 

The Spanish were among the first to invade and loot its precious metals mines, then Bolivia lost its access to the sea, and then more recently it has been international companies who have seen an easy target in this small South American country with a poor infrastructure and huge reserves of mineral deposits. 

The recent discovery of the world’s single largest concentration of lithium, under the surface of the Uyuni salt flats, has again thrown Bolivia into the spotlight, but this time the country is being coy: playing its cards close to its chest. International companies are falling over themselves to get a piece of the lithium mining action, but the current President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, is having none of it. 

The discovery of this treasure under the moon-like landscape of the salt flats has presented a political quagmire for the Bolivian government and they see three possible options: 1. Allow the international companies in to mine the lithium and risk being taken advantage of again. 2. Mine this vast recourse themselves with the limited technology they can muster up themselves. 3. Leave the lithium alone and preserve the natural beauty of the salt lake. 

Perhaps the biggest concern though should be given over to how Bolivia would deal with becoming one of the world’s wealthiest nations overnight and perhaps this is also one of the major reservations for the president. Should the lithium mining proceed, then Bolivia might just be the new China for teaching English abroad as a foreign language. 

Cochabamba city view

Teaching in Cochabamba

Cochabamba is a rough and ready city, bang smack in the middle of Bolivia and has the reputation of being the party city of Bolivia. Grouped together with La Paz and Santa Cruz, Cochabamba is a city in Bolivia where finding teaching work is somewhat of a doddle and its central location makes for a good base in the country. This is a beautiful city, with amazing views and the best viewpoint has to be from El Cristo de La Concordia, which looks out over the city in much the same way as Rio’s Christ statue does.

Besides teaching for language schools, we also recommend picking up private students when living and teaching in Bolivia as these pay on average US$10 – US$15 per hour. 

Teachers first arriving will inevitably need to begin teaching for a language school, but once you have developed contacts, you should definitely look to widening the net by teaching private students in addition to your own classes. 

We also recommend learning some Spanish before making the trip over because even though your students will speak some English, hardly anyone else does. Bolivian Spanish has its roots in Andalusian Spanish, but it also uses a lot of vocabulary and phrases which are not spoken anywhere else so prepare yourself for this upon arrival. On the other hand, Bolivians are regarded as having one of the clearest and most neutral of Spanish accents in Latin America, so this is a great country to start out in if you are concerned about understanding the locals. 

Teaching in Sucre

Sucre – termed ‘The White City’ because of its white buildings – is the constitutional capital of Bolivia and a beautiful city boasting charming, colonial architecture and immaculately manicured parks. We found Sucre to be the most expat-friendly of all the cities we visited in Bolivia and perhaps its relatively low altitude at 2,800m above sea level contributes to the general vibe of the city in that it doesn’t get too ridiculously hot or cold and this makes for a very pleasant living experience in a city with a healthy teaching industry. 

Church in Sucre, Bolivia

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Where will you teach English?

Everything you need to know about teaching English in Spain

 

Spain is a vibrant country to teach English and is famous for its legendary cuisine and nightlife. It is one of Europe’s most popular countries for studying and teaching in and this article looks at what to expect when you choose to make this destination your next hub abroad. 

Spanish flag

Where is Spain?

Spain is an EU member state, positioned in the south-west of Europe and sharing its coastline with the Mediterranean Sea on its right and the Atlantic Ocean to its west. To the north, it shares a land border with France and patiently positioned to its west is the other country which makes up the Iberian Peninsula: Portugal. Spain is a country that loves to celebrate life and La Tomatina festival is an excellent example of this joie de vivre. Hemingway was here, as was Orwell. And so too can you be.

Throughout Spain, with the only real exception being Madrid, the average hourly rate for teachers of English tends to hover around the 15 – 25 Euros mark. You probably shouldn’t expect to go to Spain to save money, but while you are teaching there, you will enjoy a relatively comfortable lifestyle if you are prepared to put the hours in. 

An international TEFL certificate from a reputable school is the main prerequisite for landing a job here as a college degree isn’t mandatory, but having a college degree (in any subject) can sometimes introduce you to the better paying jobs. 

The main bulk of teaching work is centered in Madrid and other major cities, and many teachers do choose to teach English in Spain because of the opportunity to learn or further their Spanish language. 

An important point to note is that unlike some other European destinations, such as the Czech Republic, language schools will generally insist that you follow a preassigned course curriculum and you won’t have as much freedom to tweak the curriculum as in some other countries. 

Spain is a wonderful country, with so many opportunities for teaching English and is a relatively easy country to get yourself established in. It might seem daunting to you, but schools rarely employ from abroad so to get started teaching English in Spain, you will need to look for work once on the ground. 

Please remember that at tefl online pro we assist our graduates with ongoing job support, help and advice, so if you are thinking of making Spain your next teaching location, feel free to contact our International Job Guidance Team and we will ensure that the transition is a smooth one.

Teaching in Madrid

Madrid is Spain’s capital city, with roughly 3 million inhabitants, and the wide, elegant boulevards that crisscross the city like cosmopolitan veins of imperial sovereignty mnemonically juxtapose the country’s days of empire past with artistic and financial center present. This is where you will find the most English teaching jobs in the country, and where you can expect to be earning anywhere up to 50 Euros per hour. With the higher rates of pay though the higher local costs do match, but it still offers good value. 

Madrid city center

Teaching English positions in Spain are open to native and non-native English speakers, and also to EU and non-EU citizens. 

It must be noted here that wherever you apply for work within the EU, an EU citizen will always receive first priority for any position. And this is because it is a much simpler option for the schools with regards to the work visa process. EU citizens don’t require a work visa to teach English as a foreign language in Spain and all is required of them is to hold an internationally recognized TEFL certificate from a reputable school. 

However, there is just so much teaching work available in Spain that there is more than enough to go round and non-EU citizens also find little difficulty in securing well-paid, local teaching positions. 

We definitely recommend looking for work once you are on the ground and the affordable cost of living in Spain makes this a viable option. When you first arrive, you will be granted a 90-day Schengen visa and this will provide you with enough time to secure a teaching position and process your work visa. 

There also does seem to be a roughly 50/50 split between students wanting to learn British English and students wanting to learn other forms of the English language (such as American or Australian English for example) so you won’t face any difficulties through not holding an EU passport here. 

Gaudi architecture in Barcelona

Teaching in Barcelona

Barcelona has featured in the international news fairly recently for its insistent push to break away from the Spanish government and gain its independence. You might even have witnessed examples of violent clashes online between leavers and remainers, but the cosmopolitan capital of Spain’s Catalonia region is now stable again and is the most popular destination to teach English in Spain. Business is booming and although it is an expensive city, if you avoid the tourist areas you can expect to live comfortably.

While it isn’t necessary to have knowledge of the Spanish language to teach English in Spain, we do definitely recommend learning some basic phrases if you have no prior learning Spanish skills. 

Having a basic knowledge of the language will make things that more easier for you when it comes to day-to-day tasks and helping with classroom management. 

The good news is that Spanish is undoubtably one of the more easier languages to learn to speak and you will soon find out that by learning for just half an hour daily that you will begin to pick it up very quickly. There are regional dialects, but the differences are not so extreme (with the exception of the Basque dialect that is) and knowing at least some of the local language will definitely help open more doors for you. 

Another important tip to note regards obtaining your NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjero) number. This is your personal and unique tax identification number and is required of you to have if wanting to legally work in Spain. With your NIE, you can also use it to rent an apartment, open a bank account, join a gym or a library, sign a mobile phone contract and basically integrate into local Spanish life.

Teaching in Valencia

Valencia, a port town on Spain’s southeastern coast, is an architect-lovers wet dream and also boasts some phenomenal beaches. It comes over as being a friendly city, with a chilled vibe about it and the possibilities for teaching English here are many. Local costs are lower than the larger cities of Barcelona and Madrid, and as an example, one of our graduates who is teaching there now pays just 430 Euros per month for his apartment and utilities and secured a teaching job within 1 week of arrival in the city.

Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias Valencia

Over the past 10 years or so, Spain has been experiencing economic hardships and one of the results of this is the high rate of unemployment which has driven many young Spaniards abroad in search for work. 

However, the English language industry is buoyant – teachers are still in high demand – and it seems that while people do have less money to play around with, they are nonetheless still making learning English a high priority, with a clear understanding of the benefits that come with learning English as a foreign language. 

Therefore, Spain is still an excellent location to teach English in and shows no sign of slowing up any time soon.

Street scene in Seville

Teaching in Seville

Seville, famous for its citrus industry and flamenco dancing, is the capital of Spain’s southern Andalusia region. One of the advantages of living in Seville is that everything seems to be within easy reach of distance and the public transport complements the city scape. Come here to experience the festivals of Feria and Semana Santa and to experience teaching English in a smaller city which punches well above its weight. There are over 50 language schools located in Seville, so the possibilities for you here are many.

We feel that no write-up on Spain should be without a mention of El Camino de Santiago de Compostela (The Way of Saint James.) 

The Camino is a popular pilgrimage walk – typically starting in the quaint, French town of Saint Jean Pied de Port and finishing in the northwestern, rain-drenched, Galician city of Santiago de Compostela – and leads pilgrims on a spiritual journey across the diversely-rich north of Spain. 

Thousands of pilgrims make the (approx.) 500-mile walk each year, and it is a fantastic experience where you will get to tone up your body, tune in your mind and get to meet some absolutely wonderful human beings. People walk El Camino for many reasons, so don’t think that you necessarily need to be religious to take part in this majestic, extended walk. Both young and old make their merry way along its trail – following yellow-painted arrow direction signs and forming strong bonds with fellow pilgrims, be they walking for religious reasons or otherwise. And upon completion, they then hop on a modern form of transport to comfortably teleport themselves back home again. 

But in the early times of the Camino – often navigated by the aid of the Campus Stellae – it was considered an act of penance to attempt the walk for the divine purpose of the cleansing of one’s sins, which many pilgrims never returned from, due to robbery or sickness, and the traditional starting point used to be from one’s own front door. If they were lucky to survive the long, arduous walk there – obligated to earn their food and keep through monastery chores along the way – they’d then have had the mandatory necessity of turning their backs to the setting sun and attempting that very same perilous, long-stretch back home again. At one time there were so many incidents of robbery along this and other pilgrim routes that the Knights Templar were established to protect pilgrims. But that’s another story entirely. 

There are actually many camino routes throughout Spain but the Camino Francés, being the most popular of modern camino routes, is the fashionable path of today’s smartphone app, spiritual generation on the move and there are in fact many other ancient routes crisscrossing Europe’s continent, like well-trodden, earthen Ley Lines under the map of star formations in the heavens above. Most today stop at Santiago de Compostela, while some continue the 80km route further to the end of the ancient world: Finisterre. We totally recommend the experience and also recommend that you should budget 4 weeks to complete the full section of the walk.

Teaching in Bilbao

Bilbao is located on Spain’s north coast – a relative short hop from Santander’s seafood capital – and is at the heart of Spain’s Basque country. It’s here that you will find yourself eating pinchos (pintxo) as opposed to the tapas found in other parts of the country. And being also relatively close to the Rioja region, the quality of wine here is legendary. There is also a healthy share of teaching work available and the lower living costs make this city – known for its Guggenheim Museum – a significant teaching English location.

Guggenheim museum in Bilbao

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Where will you teach English?

Everything you need to know about teaching English in Brazil

 

Brazil is an energetic country boasting outstanding natural beauty, delicious cuisine, sublime music and a dynamic teaching English industry. This article looks at what it’s like to teach English in 5 of the major urban hubs of Brazil.

Flag of Brazil

Where is Brazil?

Brazil is the largest country in South America with most of its population living in built-up urban areas. It’s the only country on the continent where the main language spoken is Portuguese and it shares its border with 10 other countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela. Brazilians are football fanatics and Brazil is the only country to have played in every single world cup tournament and has won the world cup more than any other country: 5 times to date.   

Brazil (Brasil in Brazilian Portuguese) is one of the most expensive countries to live in South America, but also pays some of the best teaching English salaries on the continent; meaning that English teachers here can earn enough to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. 

Teachers starting out fresh can realistically expect to be earning between R$20-40 an hour, and the vast majority of work in Brazil is teaching at privately-run language schools. For teachers who are settled and have developed solid contacts, this hourly rate can rise to between R$40-60 per teaching hour. 

At the time this article was published (14th April, 2019) you could exchange 4 Brazilian Real for 1 United States Dollar. It might not sound like a lot but despite being one of South America’s most expensive countries, costs are generally quite low when compared to most European countries and it represents very good value for money in comparison.

Teaching in Rio de Janeiro

The coastal city of Rio de Janeiro is perhaps most famous for its beaches, and in particular the ones of Copacabana and Ipanema. Rio literally mirrors the contour of the coastline with mountains elevated up behind it, and the city vistas are dominated by the views of Sugarloaf Mountain and by the Christ the Redeemer statue on top of Mount Corcovado. Rio does have its fair share of violence but as long as you don’t go flaunting valuables about, you shouldn’t have any issues and Rio is an amazing city to teach English in.

Sugar Loaf Mountain and Rio de Janeiro bay

It’s a pretty painless experience getting yourself set up to teach English abroad in Brazil. 

Many schools do recruit from abroad, but our tip is to contact as many schools as you can before making the trip over – to set up interviews – and then to take the trip either down or over to then interview on the ground and where you will receive the best job offers. You can accept a job from abroad but you do run the risk of ending up in a so-so school with a so-so salary. 

Please remember that at tefl online pro we assist our graduates with ongoing job support, help and advice, so if you are a tefl online pro graduate and requiring this job assistance then feel free to reach out and contact us.

Main road in Sao Paulo

Teaching in Sao Paulo

There are approximately 15 million people living in the financial hub of Brazil, in the city of Sao Paulo, and it is the city where you will find the most teaching English opportunities. It’s also the most expensive city to live in Brazil but salaries here are among the best in the country. This is the city to teach English in if you want to save money, but the downside of settling down here is the sheer size of the city; meaning the need to travel long distances between classes if your students are not taught only in 1 location.

The good news is that while it is preferred, a college degree isn’t mandatory for employment as a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language in Brazil. An internationally recognized TEFL certificate is mandatory though and must have been awarded from a reputable TEFL school. 

The whole work visa process though is not so clear and we have received numerous reports from tefl online pro graduates who have made the move to the Land of Samba that the majority of schools try to dissuade teachers from going through the lengthy, bureaucratic process of applying for one. It seems that when a teacher does decide to apply for a work visa that the language school is required to jump through so many bureaucratic, expensive hoops that it just isn’t worth their time and energy doing so. The result of this is that many teachers choose, or are convinced, to teach on a tourist visa. 

We never recommend teaching illegally, but if you do choose to then it is worth noting that citizens of Argentina, the EU, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia and Turkey can receive a tourist visa on arrival to Brazil which is valid for up to 90 days. Citizens of the US and other countries will need to apply for a visa before arrival and for this process we recommend applying for the evisa. The application for the evisa can be completed online and will grant you the same 90-day limit. 

However, please note that whereas EU nationals and other nationals who can travel to Brazil and receive a visa on arrival can theoretically travel in and out of the country indefinitely, US nationals and other nationals who need to apply for the evisa can only enter Brazil once in any given year. This means that if you do need to apply for the evisa before traveling out to Brazil then we strongly recommend you research schools beforehand that will guarantee they will help you through the process of applying for a work permit.   

Teaching in Brasilia

Brasilia is a planned city and was inaugurated as Brazil’s capital back in 1960. It was primarily designed and planned by Oscar Niemeyer and Lucio Costa, and the philosophy behind the design was to make Brasilia a high-functioning utopian solution to urban disorder and chaos. Despite the feeling that it was built for the government to function more smoothly and not for the benefit of its population, Brasilia remains a popular teaching destination and salaries here are comparable to teaching English in Rio. 

Church in Brasilia

Brazilian students tend to be confident, enthusiastic, gregarious and generally full of beans, and you won’t find any issue here in trying to get your students to speak. 

Classes are typically taught either before students go to work or after they have finished up work, with late mornings and early afternoons free to spend your time how you like. This scheduling presents the benefit of being able to lounge around on the beach or spending time in a café in between classes, but also comes with the drawback of having to teach very early morning and very late evening classes. Many language schools can also provide lessons during the slow times of the day though and how your schedule ends up looking will largely depend on how you choose to organize your day. 

Another point to note here is that Brazilians do tend to live up to the stereotype of being creative with their timekeeping and students routinely turn up late for classes, or cancel a class at the last moment. The upside though is that most schools will still pay you if a student cancels less than 24 hours before a class, so even if you find yourself sitting alone for your early morning class you will still be paid for your time.

Main street in Salvador Brazil

Teaching in Salvador

Salvador is a charming, colonial city and is the capital of Brazil’s northeastern state of Bahia. It’s sometimes referred to as being the ‘Rainbow City’ or the ‘Capital of Joy’ due to its colorful buildings and its carnival obsession. Bahia is also on the coast and definitely likes to celebrate its African roots, and this can be clearly seen in the heavy African influence on its cuisine, dance and music. Salaries here are again comparable with Rio and there are many options for teaching English; meaning you won’t find it difficult to find work here.

We definitely recommend learning some Portuguese before making the journey to Brazil as not so many people speak English and you will need some language skills to negotiate day-to-day tasks. Plus, by learning some of the language it will mean that you won’t feel so chained to local expat communities and you will be able to socialize with locals who will show you the authentic side to living in Brazil.

 Brazilian Portuguese is very similar, but not identical to European Portuguese, and some spoken differences are that Brazilian Portuguese is considered more phonetically pleasing to the ear with its open vowels, has the habit of turning some nouns into verbs, doesn’t tend to follow the same rules regarding formal and informal speech, and of course quite naturally there are some words which are completely different in both languages. 

If you choose to start off learning the basics of European Portuguese first then it will provide you with a solid foundation and then you can always continue with Brazilian Portuguese once you’re on the ground. 

Teaching in Belo Horizonte

Famous for its Mineirão Stadium and surrounded by mountains, Belo Horizonte is the capital city of southeastern Brazil’s Minas Gerais state. It isn’t an overly popular city to teach in because it doesn’t have the big name reputation that other cities on this list do, but what we like about Belo Horizonte is that it is one of the most affordable cities in Brazil to live in and while it’s true that salaries are slightly lower than in cities such as Rio, the difference is negligible and the city feels more green and leafy than other destinations.

Church in Belo Horizonte

Read more Teaching English Abroad Country Specifics articles on the tefl online pro Blog

Where will you teach English?

Everything you need to know about teaching English in Austria

 

English teachers often overlook the option of teaching English in Austria and tend to favor the Czech Republic to the north. For a small country, Austria has a lot to offer and this article looks at what to expect if choosing to teach English in 4 of the largest cities in Austria.

Flag of Austria

Where is Austria?

Austria sits bang centre in the heart of Central Europe with perhaps the most attractive location of any European country. It has of course its Sound of Music mountain peaks and the sea isn’t too far away with its southern neighbor, Italy. The other countries which it borders are the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Switzerland. Austrians are perhaps most well-known for Arnold Schwarzenegger, their Habsburg castles and for their famous Sacher Torte.

To understand Austrians better, you need to have some general knowledge of their recent history. 

From 1867–1918 Vienna was the de facto capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and – just as is the case with London’s size – Vienna was developed in view of an expanding empire. This is the reason why it sits uncomfortably in the east of the country today and is overly bloated for such a small country in the middle of Europe. However, despite this, it still retains a local feel – albeit a little like an open-air museum in places. 

With the rise of the Nazi party and their eventual control of power, Austria was annexed by Germany and spent the duration of the Second World War essentially occupied by their “older brother”. At the end of the war, when other nations like the Czech Republic were drawn more towards socialist ideals, Austria opted to turn the other way and became a staunch ally of the USA and accepted the conditions of the Marshall Plan – also known as the European Recovery Program. This astute, political move protected the Austrian lands from Russian invasion and set the wheels in motion to develop Austria into the wealthy country which it is today. 

Austrians are connected to Germany through their joint history and elements of their language, but the similarities stop there and Austrians are very much so a fiercely independent nation. Austrians are also in general a very open-minded people and despite their current conservative government’s views are a welcoming people.

Teaching in Vienna

 
Vienna, the capital, has year-on-year been voted the world’s most livable city and when you visit you soon understand why. It’s clean, safe and although day-to-day costs are higher than in Prague, it isn’t a prohibitively expensive city by any means. Teachers starting out in Vienna can expect to earn between 15-30 Euros per hour – working for local language schools – and once you have settled in and formed good contacts, you can expect that rate to rise to 40-60 Euros per hour for teaching private students.
Vienna skyline

The procedure for finding work in Austria is very similar to that of finding work in the Czech Republic, and if you are interested in what it is like teaching English in the Czech Republic then you can find the relevant tefl online pro article here

A degree isn’t mandatory for teaching English in Austria, unless you want to teach in the state school system, and all that is required is an international TEFL certificate from a reputable school. 

Austria also follows the same school year semester times, with summer holidays taking place during the summer months of July and August, and the optimum time to come here to find work is at the start of the school year in September. The secondary time to look for work is in January – when some teachers fail to return after their Christmas break. 

Please remember that at tefl online pro we assist our graduates with ongoing job support, help and advice, so feel free to reach out and contact us if you would like assistance in finding English teaching work in Austria. 

Teaching contracts in Austria are usually arranged for 1 year and these can of course be shortened with a few month’s notice should your plans change. It is always best to look for work whilst being on the ground as schools generally don’t employ from abroad. 

Graz town centre

Teaching in Graz

 

Graz boasts a medieval old town main square, and is the capital of the southern Austrian province of Styria. It is also close to the vineyards which are famous for producing Austria’s excellent, not so well known wine and is only a 2-hour drive from Slovenia’s fairytale capital, Ljubljana. As Austria’s second largest city, there is a fair amount of work around with slightly lower hourly rates of pay than in the capital. Graz definitely has a much more laid-back vibe than Vienna and has an excellent expat support network too.

Because Austria is a member of the European Union, nationals of the EU can move here and teach without needing a visa. Non-EU nationals will arrive and receive their 90-day Schengen visa, which is the perfect amount of time provided to find teaching work and get yourself legally entitled to work in Austria. 

A very good point to note here is that although we are obviously biased when it comes to the Online versus Onsite TEFL certificate course debate, choosing to travel to Austria to take an Onsite TEFL course before you look for work will eat into the first month of your 90-day tourist visa limit and means that you will then only have a further 60 days or less to secure your teaching job and work permit papers/accommodation. 

On another note, the system here is set up similarly as it is in the Czech Republic and in both countries we do recommend obtaining a trade license as this will provide you with greater financial freedom and allow you to miss out the language schools completely and directly invoice clients.  

Again, please feel free to reach out and contact us if you are a tefl online pro graduate and need assistance with work permit or trade license application information help or advice.

Teaching in Linz

 

Linz, the 3rd largest city in Austria, is a Baroque-lovers dream and sits thoughtfully next to the resplendent Danube river. It also has a vibrant arts and music scene, and is home to the world’s largest outdoor graffiti gallery. Given its size and population, it has slightly fewer teaching English options that Graz but the salaries are around the same figure and one perk of teaching in this Upper Austrian city is the feeling you get from being one of the few expats around enjoying its local, unspoiled, café culture, cobblestone atmosphere. 

Linz city centre

In Austria, most teaching work involves teaching adults and this means teaching either General English or Business English, and either groups or individuals. 

You will be expected to dress smartly and you will definitely be expected to be on time. Austrians are notorious for their time-keeping (in a good way) and frown heavily on anyone who arrives late. 

When describing Austrian students, it’s good to compare them with Czech students. After all, they did belong to the same empire for a good many years and they do share many customs and quirks. Both countries place emphasis on titles – postboxes in the cities state the name of the person preceded by their academic title – but Austrians take this custom more seriously and while it isn’t necessary to hold a college degree, unless you are wanting to teach in the Austrian state school system, Austrians will hold you in greater stead if you do have one. 

Austrians are also grammar fanatics, though not as much as the Czechs, and might leave you wondering why you are having to focus so much time on conjunctive verbs when what you feel your students need is to master the art of English conversation. 

Perhaps the one big difference though is that while Czechs couldn’t give 2 hoots if you learn their language or not, Austrians will expect you to learn Österreichisches Deutsch if staying for an extended period of time. With this in mind, the good news is that Czech is a more difficult language and learning Austrian German is comparatively easy.

Salzburg castle

Teaching in Salzburg

 

Birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Salzburg has got to be one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. It borders Germany and on a clear day enjoys impressive views of the Alps. Salzburg though is no Vienna and it pales in comparison to the capitals sheer size and opportunities. Still though, despite Salzburg being a very popular destination for tourists to visit and expats to live in, there are opportunities to earn a good living teaching English and surprisingly, salaries are on par with what you can expect to be earning in Vienna.

Read more Teaching English Abroad Country Specifics articles on the tefl online pro Blog

Where will you teach English?

Everything you need to know about teaching English in Thailand

 

Thailand has built up a solid name for itself in the world of TEFL as being one of the heavyweight places to teach English abroad, and we can’t see that reputation waning anytime soon. This article looks at what to expect if choosing to teach English in the Land of Smiles.

Flag of Thailand

Where is Thailand?

 
Located in Southeast Asia, Thailand shares a border with Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia and Myanmar. The country is incredibly diverse in regard to its landscapes, traditions, cuisines and even in the types of weather systems which descend in monsoonal formations during the year. Quite simply put, Thailand has everything; from lush mountainous rainforests to exotic tropical beaches. The scenery is breathtaking, the tropical weather harsh yet reassuring and those famous smiles are definitely genuine.

To legally teach in Thailand, you must have taken an international TEFL certification course from a reputable course provider. A college degree (in any subject) is also required for the work visa if you choose to teach legally in Thailand. 

We do receive reports of some people heading out to Thailand to teach under the table (illegally) and while it is possible to do this by leaving the country every month to renew your 30-day Tourist Visa, it isn’t really recommended as one time you might be returning from a visa run and be denied entry if the immigration officer notices too many entry and exit stamps in a row in your passport. 

If you don’t have a degree and do want to teach in the region, we definitely recommend taking a look at our Cambodia article

Teaching in Bangkok

As the capital, Bangkok is the major teaching English hub in Thailand. Salaries here are higher than any other part of the country, and teachers starting out can expect to be earning between 30,000 – 40,000 Baht per month. Expect this figure to increase to between 50,000 – 60,000 Baht per month once you get established. Bangkok is more expensive compared with say Chiang Mai, but for a capital city it represents amazing value for money. Our tip: take a weekend trip to Hua Hin, a 4.5-hour bus ride south of Bangkok.

Bangkok busy street view

The types of teaching English jobs in Thailand are as varied as there are ways of preparing Pad Thai, but teachers tend to start out teaching either at language schools or at state schools. Language schools definitely pay better, but at state schools you often receive additional perks such as paid holidays and free accommodation. 

We think that there isn’t really that much difference financially between the two options and that your choice of where to teach should ultimately be dependent upon the choice of where and who you want to be teaching. 

We do tend to mention this a lot, but it cannot be expressed enough that you should not expect to be teaching English on a beach. Yes, there are options to teach English in towns and cities close to the coastline, but the way some TEFL schools imply through their homepage photos that you will be full-time living it up on the beach is very misleading. Some of our graduates have found work along the coast, but this is the exception rather than the rule and most job offers are advertised for positions in the major cities, which are usually at least an hour from the sound of waves lapping the shoreline. 

There is also the option of teaching English at universities and private language teaching, and both these options usually become available once you are in the country and once you have built up a decent amount of contacts.

Elephant in Chiang Mai

Teaching in Chiang Mai

Ah, Chiang Mai! Whenever you speak with a local Thai about Chiang Mai, you often see them looking off far into the distance with a mystical longing for another trip to the city that seems to sit center in the heart of all Thais. Chiang Mai is an extremely popular expat hangout and while there are many options to teach English – expect to earn around 30,000 Baht per month – there are also so many teachers saturating the market. It is a city with a 60’s vibe and we definitely recommend taking a trip up to Pai when you are here.

While it’s true that it was much easier to set up shop here as an English teacher in the past, it is still a relatively easy place to get established and with the Thais being outrageously friendly, you won’t find it difficult to find a lot of support and advice when getting started. 

Please remember that at tefl online pro we assist our graduates with ongoing job support, help and advice, so if you are wanting Thailand teaching English advice then feel free to reach out and contact us

You can look for work before arrival to Thailand, but we don’t think there is any need to do this and you will easily find yourself being able to hook a much better teaching position once on the ground. Thailand is an affordable destination, assuming you avoid the main tourist hubs, and this will provide you with a lot of breathing space to settle in and find your perfect teaching English job. 

How we recommend finding a job in Thailand is to contact a bunch of schools beforehand, travel out to Thailand, receive your (free) 30-day Tourist Visa upon arrival and visit the schools and see which one you would feel most comfortable teaching in. Once you have gone through the interview process and secured the position you will need to leave the country and apply for your Non-Immigrant Visa Type B, which can be applied for and picked up at any Thai embassy abroad (in Malaysia for example.) 

Thailand has its fair share of discount airlines and AirAsia are just one of them, which we have flown and can recommend. If you have a larger budget, then either Thai or Bangkok Airways would be our recommendation. 

Once you are issued with your visa, you can then return to Thailand to arrange for your work visa to be processed, which only takes around 7 days to complete. 

Teaching in Krabi

Located on southern Thailand’s west coast, Krabi Town is a busting market town set straddled close to the semi-attractive beach at Ao Nang, the picture-postcard Railay Beach and a short hop on one of the many dodgy ferries which run to some of the most beautiful islands you can find in Thailand. There isn’t a whole lot of work around in this relatively small town, but it should be noted that Krabi Town is becoming somewhat of a magnet for people teaching English online and has an excellent support base for teachers. 

Thai wooden boats on the beach in Krabi

A major advantage of making Thailand your home is the balance between “old” Thailand and “new” Thailand. 

Examples of the old are the Buddhist traditions, the rickety government busses, the wooden stool street food stalls and the crazy annual festivals which include the whole of the country taking part in the world’s largest water fight (Songkran) on the Thai New Year’s national holiday. Examples of the new exert themselves in the form of luxurious shopping malls, a clean and punctual Bangkok metro system and Sky Train and high-speed internet in built-up public places. 

Tourists tend to visit Thailand having never really come into contact with the authentic Thai way of life, but as an English teacher, you will experience Thai life on a daily basis. Many people (incorrectly) assume that Thailand is a very liberal country, but it is in fact quite a conservative one and particular rules apply for different scenarios. As an example, you should never show the soles of your feet to anyone – especially not in the direction of a Buddha statue or Buddhist temple – and it is unaccepted to touch a Thai on the head. Thais don’t generally shake hands and instead clasp their hands together at their heart’s center. There are Lèse-majesté rules, so make sure never to insult the royal family if you want to avoid a long stint in a Thai prison. 

Saying this though, Thai’s are extremely tolerant of non-Thais and they do understand that their laws are not always understood by foreigners. This is an amazing destination to look through the glass onion and experience a lifestyle completely different to the one you left back home. 

Lush paddy field vista in Isaan, Thailand

Teaching in Isaan

Isaan is located in the northeastern region of Thailand and has the rather dubious reputation of being the kingdom’s poorest region. It’s a little like what Moldova is to the rest of Europe in terms of the trend for its local population looking outwards to seek employment in other parts of the country. This is definitely a less-trodden region of Thailand and the rewards are definitely there for anyone seeking employment. Its larger towns provide solid employment options, with local wages reflecting local costs.

As with the majority of Asian countries, you will be expected to dress smartly for classes. 

When first arriving in Bangkok, we definitely recommend having a tailored suit/skirt/shirt/blouse made up by a reputable tailors, and for a fraction of the price back home you will have bespoke clothes which fit you like a glove and which will last you for a very long time. 

This is a particularly good tip for anyone conscious of airline baggage weight charges: you can purchase your clothes and footwear when you arrive to Bangkok without issue.

Teaching in Trat

Trat: the small city known for being a stopping-off point for reaching the Cambodian border or ferrying it over to Koh Chang island. Trat: the large town which is so very often ignored. It’s a shame really because this artsy town is one of the best kept secrets in Thailand. There isn’t that much work available but what is, is paid at around the same rates as you would expect in Chiang Mai and it’s super-cheap with excellent seafood and an awesome location: not only being close to Koh Chang but also to its lesser-known beaches.

Taking a selfie on the beach on Koh Chang

Read more Teaching English Abroad Country Specifics articles on the tefl online pro Blog

Where will you teach English?

Everything you need to know about teaching English in China

 

The Chinese economy is booming and there is huge demand for qualified teachers of English. This article covers 5 of the more popular cities that teachers tend to choose to work in and what to expect if you do decide to teach English abroad in China.

Flag of China

Where is China?

The People’s Republic of China is the most populous country in the world, with a population of almost 1.5 billion. It is a huge country located in East Asia and has grown over the last 10 years to become one of the top destinations for people teaching English abroad. Come to China to taste the legendary cuisine, visit the imperial sites, hike the Great Wall of China, see the Terracotta Warriors at Xi’an and to get your ultimate shopping fix. It is a country with so much to offer and see, and it is a fantastic location to teach English.

China is one of the countries where a Bachelor’s Degree (in any subject) is mandatory for the work visa process. It is also necessary to have a TEFL certificate from a reputable online or onsite TEFL company or 2 years of teaching experience, and to be a passport holder from Australia, Canada, Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand, UK or USA. In addition, you also need to obtain a clear background check. 

Non-native speakers can find teaching English positions but because of the strict work visa rules here, you won’t qualify for the work visa. Some schools get round this by hosting non-native speakers on a business visa. It is sometimes recommended online to teach in China on a tourist visa, but this is illegal and you could wind up in serious hot water if discovered doing so. 

An average teacher’s starting salary comes in at US$2,500 and it is possible to begin earning much more than this figure once you become established – as much as $4,000 per month, with accommodation and medical insurance as part of the package. China is also an attractive location because of its low cost of living, meaning this is a great location to save. 

The 5 most common types of teaching location in China are teaching at a public school, language school, university, international school and teaching as a private tutor. While it is typical for teachers starting out in China to find themselves teaching children, there are also lots of opportunities for teaching adults in the larger cities – of which there are no shortage of in China.

 

Teaching in Beijing

The capital, Beijing, officially ranks (as Shanghai does) as one of the most expensive cities in the world, but much of the data is based on property prices and day-to-day costs are very reasonable and allow for a comfortable lifestyle. Beijing is the most popular city for teachers to teach in and is a fast-paced, incredibly modern metropolis. It also has a superb public transport system and many possibilities of escaping the frenetic city buzz, and definitely reminds us of the similar energy found in New York or Tokyo.  

Buddhist temple in Beijing

An important point to note is that some schools say that they will guarantee you at least 20 teaching hours a week, which is generally accepted as making up a standard teacher’s working week, but in reality you might find yourself starting off on between 10-15 hours per week. While this is still absolutely fine to allow you to live comfortably, many teachers who find themselves in this situation do often opt to find additional teaching hours to beef up their schedule.

Shanghai skyline

Teaching in Shanghai

Salaries and costs in Shanghai – on China’s central coast – are on par with Beijing, but where Shanghai differs is the overwhelming sense that it is here where traditions from the east and west fuse. Some describe Shanghai as being the skyscraper capital of the world, and taking the elevator to the 100 Floor Observation Deck of the Shanghai World Financial Centre will definitely convince you that it’s a tall city. It’s super clean too and as with all cities in China, the cuisine is to die for.

Anyone teaching English in China who has ever taught in the UK or US, will know and love that English teachers in China are often treated with as much respect as doctors. Students are also extremely well-behaved and this is one reason why China is considered to be one of the best places in the world to teach English

It’s also becoming more frequent for schools to cover your accommodation costs and even to fund your airfare over and some schools are now offering a bonus for new teachers, to help them get settled into their new city. 

We would like to take this opportunity to expound a little on the topic of airfares and provide a tip for you regarding choosing which airline to take if you have not been lucky enough to land a free flight over, compliments of your school. If you can, try and choose Hainan Airlines. Hainan Airlines is China’s only 5-star airline and lightyears ahead of their other national carriers. Their airfares aren’t usually that much more than China Eastern Airlines (to mention an example) and given the long flight time, your future self will definitely thank you for it.

Teaching in Chengdu

Chengdu is the temperate climate capital of Sichuan Province and it offers a unique perspective on life in China, with perhaps the first notable difference being the strong, local Chengdu/Sichuan dialect which seems to loudly permeate all walks of life here. It is located within the plains of the country, surrounded by various stunning mountain ranges. What we particularly like about Chengdu is that despite being a major city, costs seem lower here and if there was one destination in China we had to pick, it would be here.

Pandas in Chengdu zoo

Unlike the other countries featured so far on our newly updated blog pages, applying for teaching work in China is usually carried out from abroad and this is mainly due to the work (Z) visa requirements. 

The Z Visa can be issued to an applicant between the ages of 18 to 60 and can be applied for at a Chinese embassy or consulate. It isn’t possible to mail your application in – you must apply in person – but embassy and consulate guidelines do permit a friend, travel agency or visa agency, acting on your behalf, to submit your application instead of you needing to. 

It is important to note that the Z Visa just permits a 30-day duration of stay in China, from the date of arrival in the country. During this 30-day period, you and your employer must obtain a Temporary Residence Permit which will cover the entire length of your teaching contract. Your Temporary Residence Permit will be valid for a minimum of 90 days and a maximum of 5 years, depending on how long your teaching contract has been arranged for. 

As previously mentioned, a college degree (in any subject) and an international TEFL certificate or 2 years of teaching experience are mandatory for this work (Z) visa.

Hangzhou lakeside

Teaching in Hangzhou

As one of China’s most frequented holiday spots, subtropical Hangzhou – sat majestically on the Qiantang River – is just a 100km stone’s throw from Shanghai and a spectacular town with wonderful scenery. Its position on the coast with a number of natural beaches is one of its many draws, just as the West Lake is – apparently celebrated by artists and poets since the 9th century. We found Hangzhou to be more expensive than Chengdu and while you can still save money here, the higher costs are definitely a negative of the region. 

Unlike the other teaching locations featured so far on our updated blog pages, we do – in certain cases – recommend going through a recruiter when searching for work in China. These certain cases are when you are wanting to teach specifically at a public school, where benefits, salaries and working conditions can vary considerably. Just by going online, you can find examples of teachers who hadn’t done their homework and who travelled out to China to begin their teaching abroad adventure at a public school; only to discover when they had landed that the school was poorly equipped and literally out in the middle of nowhere. 

At tefl online pro we assist all of our graduates with finding the right teaching position after they have graduated and if you are one of our graduates and are requiring help with your choice of public school in China, then please feel free to reach out to us and we will be there to guide you through the whole process if you like. This assistance is complimentary for all tefl online pro graduates. 

It is also useful to note here that when applying for other types of teaching work in China, we don’t recommend going through a recruiter as positions are advertised online and there is absolutely no need to go through a recruiter if wanting to teach for an international school, language school or university. 

Again, please feel free to contact us if you are a tefl online pro graduate and needing assistance with this process.

Teaching in Guilin

Guilin is another well-developed tourist city and the landscape – salt and peppered with bamboo forested hills and karsts reflecting onto crystal clear waters – is one of the natural wonders of China. Guilin is above all a historic city and has served as the cultural, economic and political hub of the Guangxi region since the 960-117 Northern Song Dynasty. One of the major benefits of living in Guilin, which became apparent when we visited schools in the region earlier this year, is its relative close proximity to Hong Kong and Vietnam. 

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Where will you teach English?

Everything you need to know about teaching English in the Czech Republic

 

There is a wide variety of work available to qualified teachers of English in the Czech Republic, teaching in either the cities or smaller towns, and this article deals primarily with what to expect if you choose to teach English in the major urban centers.

Czech Republic flag

Where is the Czech Republic?

The Czech Republic is nestled bang centre in the heart of Europe and has – since its Velvet Revolution in 1989 – been a magnet for teachers of English from around the world. Known worldwide for its cultural masterpiece of a capital city, Prague, this small country is also famous for its writers and musicians, athletes and politicians, and of course for the wonderful beer which flows abundantly in this Land of Castles. Travel outside of the capital, and you’ll soon discover a countryside often feeling somewhat lost in time. 

The Czech Republic is a very teacher-friendly location and the only requirement for teaching English here is that you hold an international TEFL certificate

Having a college degree will of course raise your teacher profile, but for a country still obsessed with the Austro-Hungarian custom of overly giving credence to titles, the Czechs ironically don’t really seem that bothered if you are university educated or not. 

The teaching salary in the Czech Republic is pretty much the same wherever you want to teach in the country, so this article doesn’t specify the salaries or hourly rates for each of the cities listed below. The vast majority of English teachers in the Czech Republic choose either to teach for private language schools, or find private students, or a combination of the two, and you can expect to be earning between US$15 – US$20 per hour. Should you decide to take a teaching position at a state school, then expect the workload to treble and the salary to be unattractive to say the least. Things have gradually improved over the years, but an experienced state school teacher still only earns roughly US$1,200 per month. 

It is possible to earn much more than the average private language school teacher’s salary by fully going it alone and we have received reports of some astute, hard-working teachers earning up to US$50 per hour by charging each student around US$3 and accepting a maximum of 16 students onto each course. 

Work is available year-round but try to avoid coming in August, when the whole of the country seems to have fled en masse to the Croatian coastline. Czechs are very casual dressers so no dress code per se. 

Teaching in Prague

There must be as many language schools in Prague as there are church spires and it is incredibly easy to find work in the capital. On the other hand, there are just as many English teachers, so this is the main reason for the plateau in teacher’s salaries. Salaries here haven’t really budged that much in the past 10 years, but given the low cost of living – as long as you don’t frequent the overpriced tourist areas – you will do just fine. You might not get rich quick, but you’ll earn enough to live well and travel well if you put the hours in.

Prague city centre

If you are coming from another EU country, you are not required to obtain a work permit to teach English in the Czech Republic. However, we do recommend obtaining a business license – known locally as a Zivnostensky List. This license will enable you to legally set up shop here as a freelancer and means that you can freely begin teaching English to companies and individuals who will more than often want to be issued with a receipt for money paid to you for your lessons. You can teach privately without getting the license, but this means that you will be limiting your market and will essentially be working illegally. 

When teaching for a private language school, you can expect to be taxed around 15-20% on what you earn and if teaching on a business license, you only begin paying tax after a certain amount and you can also deduct costs from your earnings. 

For non-EU citizens coming to teach, the Czech Republic is a part of the Schengen group of countries and you will receive an initial 90-day tourist visa which becomes active from your first day of arrival. This is more than enough time to then find teaching work and get your work visa processed. Again, we also recommend applying for a Zivnostensky List. 

At tefl online pro we help all of our graduates with visa-related info, so if you are a graduate of our international TEFL certification program and need more information on this then you know that you are very welcome to reach out to us and we will help you through the process. 

It is also worth mentioning here that while it is possible to take an Onsite TEFL course in Prague before you start the hunt for work, we don’t recommend this path. You will need the full 3 months to arrange your work permit, and by taking an onsite course in the city, you eat into the first month of your 90-day limit. Yes, we do run Online and Combined international TEFL courses and yes, we are biased in the online versus onsite TEFL debate, but it logically stands to reason that in the first few months of your arrival that you will need all the free time you can lay your future teaching English hands on to get all your ducks in a row.

Brno city centre

Teaching in Brno

Brno is sometimes described as being the Manchester of the Czech Republic and very often plays second fiddle to Prague. Nonetheless, as the Czech Republic’s second largest city, it has a lot to offer and is a true student city. The capital of the Moravian region, it is located in the sunniest region of the Czech Republic and a relative stone’s throw from the ripened vineyards of the south and undulating mountains to its east. Brno has its fair share of teaching work and the bonus is the seemingly lack of English teachers around.

In the Czech Republic most teaching work involves teaching adults and this generally falls into teaching either General English or Business English, and either teaching groups or individuals. 

Czechs are quite a laidback bunch but they do have a persistent tendency to want to focus heavily on grammar. We recommend that you divide your classes up into teaching grammar and teaching conversation so that you have the opportunity of introducing games and other resources into the classroom while your students will feel confidently satisfied having had their grammar fix. 

The Czech language is notoriously difficult to master and it is a grammar minefield for anyone attempting to do so, so it’s understood why Czechs often project this difficulty onto their English language learning.

Teaching in Plzen

Plzen: home to the world famous Pilsner beer, original home of the Skoda automobile industry and a city rich in Renaissance and Romanesque architecture. Despite not having as many schools as Prague or Brno, this beautiful city in the west of the country still offers lots of opportunities for English teachers, and because of the dearth of English teachers hanging around it is a simple process of finding teaching work. This is the city on this list where you will be considered a rarity among the locals and given an extra warm welcome.

Row of beers in Plzen, Czech Republic

Compared to other countries in the region, teaching English in the Czech Republic provides you with a lot of personal freedom. Many schools may have a certain text book which they follow, but you will usually enjoy the flexibility of being able to set your own syllabus if you so choose. 

The laws of the land are quite liberal too and one good example of this is the freedom of being able to grab a sleeping bag and tent and go out into the countryside and wild camp (not in the national parks though please.) 

On another note, Czechs are sometimes dissed because people assume they are grouchy simply because they tend not to smile a lot, and while it’s true that many people don’t smile a lot, when you really get to know Czechs they are mostly fun-loving and very hospitable. 

Ostrava city centre

Teaching in Ostrava

The teaching scene in Ostrava is almost a mirror reflection of teaching in Brno: enough work for the teachers who are around, and a city where there aren’t so many teachers that it feels overrun and at the same time not making you feel like you’re the only teacher in town. Ostrava used to be the industrial heartland of the country when it was joined at the hip to Slovakia. And after years of recession, it has emerged as a city bent on reinventing itself as a cultural hotspot. The Colours of Ostrava music festival is a fine example of this.

While it is possible to apply for teaching English jobs from abroad, there is absolutely little reason to do so. There are just so many teaching opportunities in the Czech Republic that all you need to do is turn up and start your search when here. Besides, schools are often skeptical of teachers applying from abroad because they like to meet you in person and receive the assurance that you are in the country before spending their time starting the application process. 

A typical scenario in finding a teaching position is contacting the school, being invited for an interview, teaching a demo lesson and then being offered work. As with a lot of locations, you can expect to start off with just a few hours per week for the first month and then if the school and students are satisfied, you will be provided with full-time teaching hours. In fact many teachers find it difficult to say no to work and end up with crazy schedules because there is just so much work available. 

Teaching in Ceske Budejovice

In the south of the Czech region of Bohemia, there can be found the enchanting town of Cesky Krumlov and its picturesque surrounding countryside, and Ceske Budejovice is the commercial capital of this region. Similarly like Plzen, there is a healthy equation here of teacher to school ratio but unlike Plzen, Ceske Budejovice receives far more tourist numbers and this is reflected in its much more culturally diverse visitors. Plus, it’s only a 45-minute drive to the Austrian border when you have that Sacher Torte craving.

Cesky Krumlov

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Where will you teach English?

Everything you need to know about teaching English in Cambodia

 

This article is the first in a series of write-ups about teaching English abroad country specifics, and covers an overview of teaching English in Cambodia. There is a plethora of work available to qualified teachers of English in Cambodia, teaching in either the cities or the countryside, and this article deals primarily with what to expect if you choose to teach English in the major urban districts.

Cambodian flag

Where is Cambodia?

Cambodia, officially the Kingdom of Cambodia, is located in Southeast Asia and it shares a border with Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. It boasts jungle forests, bustling cities, the temple complex of Angkor Wat, charming locals and enjoys a relatively long coastline on the Gulf of Thailand. The country was completely ravaged during the 4 years of Khmer Rouge political control but has recently been making up for lost time and is now considered to be an emerging economy, reinventing itself whilst rediscovering its rich cultural heritage.

To legally teach English in Cambodia, you will be expected to show an international TEFL certificate, but a college degree isn’t mandatory for either gaining employment or for the work visa process. 

Cambodia is by far the easiest and less stressful locations to set up shop as an English teacher in Southeast Asia, although the work visa requirements (see below) are becoming stricter year-on-year as more and more people decide to make this kingdom of the Khmer their home base. 

Work is very easy to come by and is available throughout the year. The absolute best times to arrive though are in the months of March, April and May, when many teachers leave for the summer and when lots of new employment opportunities arise. 

Most schools pay monthly, some bimonthly, and for the first month, you should expect to just have a handful of classes. This is widely considered here as the norm and likened to a probation period. After this short period, you can expect to be in a position where you are having to turn down work because your schedule is becoming too full, or because you decide for example that you don’t want to teach on Mondays or Fridays because of your desire to enjoy long weekends. 

Lastly, always dress smart: an ironed shirt, clean shoes, pressed trousers or a skirt if you’re a woman and a tie if you’re a man.

Teaching in Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh definitely represents the best salary over costs in the kingdom and is a frenetic city with a soft underbelly. Teachers can typically expect to earn between US$1,000 – US$1,500 per month, with some international schools even paying as high as US$2,500 monthly. The capital has the highest number of language schools – ranging from top end international schools to side street mom-and-pop school outfits. Some prefer the ambience of smaller towns, but there is a reason Phnom Penh is such a popular choice.

Phnom Penh royal palace

While it was once possible simply to turn up on a tourist visa and extend it indefinitely once the initial 1 month had expired, the Cambodian authorities have recently begun to make it slightly more difficult to get started here. However, compared with neighboring Thailand, it still represents a far easier option of starting out. 

We recommend flying into Phnom Penh International Airport and getting a 1-month Business (E) Visa. For this you will need 2 passport-sized photos and US$35. You can then extend your Business Visa for a further 3 months before then needing to leave the country to then return and repeat the process. If this is your first time to Cambodia then instead of the 3-month extension, you can apply for a 6-month visa extension. Once you have your work all lined up with a work permit from your school, you are free to apply for the longer 1-year visa and this can then be renewed annually. Please note that if you arrive and only ask for a 1-month Tourist Visa then you can only extend this by an additional 1 month before you will need to leave the country and repeat the process.

Angkor Wat temple

Teaching in Siem Reap

Siem Reap is the capital city of Siem Reap Province in northwestern Cambodia – located approx 300km from Phnom Penh and famous for being the home of the Angkor Wat temple complex. Teaching English work is plentiful here, but you will be competing with the many expats who have chosen to make this major tourist hub their home. Hourly rates for teaching come in at around US$10 per hour, but you might consider a slightly lower starting salary to begin with until you demonstrate that you are here to stay for a while.

Many people also travel to Cambodia to teach English on a volunteer basis and this can be a wonderfully insightful experience into rural Cambodian life. There is also a special sense of life purpose and job satisfaction which can be attained by volunteering and this is usually the emotion which drives people to choose to work for little or no salary. 

Generally, volunteer teaching English positions require you to make a donation for accommodation and food costs, typically averaging US$10 per day, and you should be prepared to chip in with other types of work besides teaching English while you are there. 

Please feel free to contact us for impartial advise if you are considering this option as some members of our Team have direct experience with volunteering in Cambodia and we can help you avoid the common pitfalls and errors which volunteers unfortunately very often make. 

Teaching in Battambang

Battambang is the second largest city in Cambodia and located in the north-west of Cambodia. The average hourly rate for teaching English here hovers at around US$10 per hour and finding work here isn’t difficult. Battambang is a charming, riverside town which seems to primarily be famous for the bamboo train which we hear is no longer in operation anymore. It also boasts an excellent culinary scene and a reassuring lack of the droves of tourists and expats alike who descend on Siem Reap in their droves.  

Bamboo train Battambang

One of the major benefits of teaching English in Cambodia are the startup costs. 

The average monthly rent of an apartment in Phnom Penh comes in at only US$500 and this price decreases when you leave the capital. A meal in a local restaurant should cost you no more than a few USD and a cool glass of Angkor beer will set you back a dollar. 

How much do we recommend you take with you? It can be done on only US$2,000 and this will enable you to stay in a hostel or guesthouse when you first arrive – while you are securing your accommodation and employment – and cover your new apartment costs and your daily expenses. We do recommend though ideally taking with you between US$4,000 – US$5,000, if you can afford it, as this will provide you with even more breathing space and comfort.

Sihanoukville beach

Teaching in Sihanoukville

Sihanoukville was for many years the backpackers go-to chillax place, but recently the Chinese developers have moved in and incredibly, in just the space of a few years, the skyline has transformed from sleepy coastal town to high octane casino central. While this is great news for the local economy, as long as it does benefit the locals, it has meant the last nail in the coffin for teaching English here and unless you can get lucky teaching wealthy Chinese businesspeople, it’s now best just as a stopping off point to the islands. 

You can apply for teaching English jobs from abroad, but Cambodia is one of the countries where it is recommended to find work once on the ground here. 

The reason for this is that you will be in a much better bargaining position once you are here as you will have a clearer idea about teaching rates of pay and as there are so many schools taking on teachers, you will be able to see the schools for yourself and then form a more objective decision. 

You can choose to teach adults or children in Cambodia and you will find Cambodians to be respectful of teachers and will bring to classes a wicked sense of humor. 

Despite officially holding the title of being a third world country, Cambodians always dress immaculately for classes and there is no better demonstration of this than the sight of schoolchildren leaving their rural villages in the mornings, dressed similarly as any child in the UK would on their daily to and fro from school. 

The only negative regarding the classroom setting, which we would like to make note of, is the quiet insistence of the education system not to teach Cambodian history as it was truly represented – particularly regarding the 4 terrible years of the Khmer Rouge. 

However, apart from the tendency to whitewash the history books, Cambodia is an exhilarating country to teach in and a location we definitely recommend. 

Teaching in Koh Kong

Koh Kong (Krong Koh Kong) is a frontier town with a Wild West feel, nestled close to the Thailand border in the south-west of the country. In the past, the only reason to travel here was if you were catching an onward bus, but this might well be Cambodia’s best kept secret. Costs are extremely affordable here and although teaching wages do reflect this, if you do choose to teach here, you will find a refreshing sense of being one of the only English teachers in town and with a friendly and supportive, non-clique expat scene.

Koh Kong city centre

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Where will you teach English?