Posted: April 30th, 2013 | Author: John Thomson | Filed under: How to find teaching jobs, Places in Asia | No Comments »
Vietnam is still a developing country, but it’s a world success story and developing more every year. Since 2000, the Vietnamese economy has grown by over 6% a year. That growth has thrown Vietnam onto the world stage again, and they need to join the international community on equal footing. This alone should be reason enough to take a good long look at teaching English in Vietnam.
The country is also stunningly beautiful, the people warm and friendly, and the food world-renowned as some of the most flavorful anywhere. An excellent quality of life can be had as a teacher in Vietnam, at least as a native-speaking teacher, and with just a few helpful tips an English teacher can survive, thrive, and save very easily. Before we start, it might be helpful to browse available teaching jobs in Vietnam, just to wrap your head around what’s out there.
How much does an English teacher make in Vietnam? There are a few variables that can affect one’s salary. The foremost among those are training and ethnicity.
Teachers with TEFL or TESOL certification command a much higher price in Vietnam. Usually 10% to 20% more. And that’s for a relatively brief, inexpensive extra certificate. There’s no excuse not to get certified, either in a classroom or online.
The factor that a teacher has less control over is skin color. Many schools pay not just for a teacher, but a teacher’s FACE. It gives the school prestige to have a bona fide native-speaker on hand. But since most parents will speak limited English themselves, they can only choose based on popular culture impressions. It’s sad, but true, that white teachers make far more than an equally qualified but darker-skinned counterpart. In some cases, a white teacher will make double the salary of another ethnicity.
So with all those calculations, the salary range typically falls between 200,000 and 400,000 dong an hour. That works out to about 10 to 20 USD or around 6 to 13 GBP per hour in the classroom. Most schedules offer 25 teaching hours a week.
Doesn’t sound like much, does it? Maybe not back home, but in Vietnam a little goes a long way.
Cost of Living in Vietnam
Compared to a major city like New York, the cost of living in Vietnam is almost infinitesimal. Maybe that’s an exaggeration. In fact, it costs about 32% as much to live in Vietnam as it does in a big city in the West. Food, accommodation, clothing, and entertainment all costs a fraction of the price. And with a few quick tricks, an English teaching living in Vietnam can live like royalty.
Tip #1 – Eat Like the Locals
Don’t be the expat that transplants their body but doesn’t budge their tastebuds. Burgers and fries are a treat now, not a staple. To get the most bang for each buck (or dong), eat the way locals eat. Unlike most Western countries, it’s as common to eat out as it is to cook at home. This means that eating local dishes like pho, bun, or spring rolls will cost a fraction of the cost of even a meal at a more familiar fast-food joint. And Vietnamese food is (not to put too fine a point on it) amazing.
And to save even more money, feel free to visit the local market for what good right now, then cook it for yourself. It’s an adventure-and-a-half to make food you don’t even recognize into something delicious.
Tip #2 – Live Outside City Centers
If you work in the city center, then the convenience may be worth the increase in price. Especially with transportation being what it is in much of Vietnam. If at all possible, however, live just outside of the city to save a bundle. Rents outside city centers are about half what you’d pay for something similar, and you have the advantage of a greener, quieter neighborhood.
Tip #3 – Get a Motorcycle (and a Helmet!)
Public transportation still isn’t very reliable in Vietnam. It most definitely isn’t comfortable. Taxis are expensive, at least compared with other options, and the allure of motorcycle-taxis wears off quick, as does the inevitable bargaining for price. Buying one’s own motorcycle, though, practically shrinks the country and is a very cost-effective means of transportation. Just drive safe, for heavens sake!
Tip #4 – Use Tailors
If you’ve a hankering for jeans or a T-shirt, you’re probably better off going for name-brand recognition. But for most other clothing needs, Vietnamese tailors are world-famous for a brilliant combination of value for quality. Some people fly into the country just for the tailors! And frankly, such are their talent, that many tailors will make copies of just about anything you can show them a picture of. So even those jeans and tees might be a possibility.
Tip #5 – Learn to Bargain
As a foreigner you’ll probably get “special price” on everything. This is significantly higher than the price given to the locals. It could be double, triple, or more. And event he price given to locals is high, the expectation being everyone haggles. It will benefit the English teacher in Vietnam (and their wallet) to learn a bit of basic Viet and how to strike a bargain. Basically, always smile and be willing to walk away from the deal. There’s no sense getting upset about a bad deal, and there’s always other vendors in the area.
More information on available teaching jobs in Vietnam
Posted: March 30th, 2013 | Author: John Thomson | Filed under: How to find teaching jobs, Places in Asia | No Comments »
Singapore is a small country with big ambition. The tiny nation-state at the bottom of the Malaysian peninsula is an economic powerhouse, and has been for some time now. Singapore manages to stay on top of their game by maintaining the highest possible quality of it’s education system. If you’re looking for teaching jobs in Singapore, it may be challenging, but it will likely also be worth it. Before you start, it might be worthwhile to quickly browse through a few teaching jobs in Singapore just to wrap your head around what’s out there.
Teaching Requirements in Singapore
The very minimum requirement for teaching in Singapore is a university degree. It’s simply not possible to work legally without one, and the laws are infamously strict in Singapore. A TESL/TEFL/TESOL certificate will also be helpful and give applicants an edge, but it’s not strictly necessary to work in Singapore.
Other specific jobs may have other requirements. For example, working with young children often requires some training or certification in early-childhood development. Likewise, teaching at a junior college level may also require additional certification.
Due to a close relationship with the UK, teachers with a UK accent will be slightly favored over North American teachers in all schools but those specifically marketed to learn American English.
Ministry of Education
The Singapore Ministry of Education (MOE) does hire non-citizens for work. They require a university degree at the very least. They need primary, secondary and junior college teachers. To qualify, the teacher should have at least one teachable subject, but the MOE prefers two teachables.
Primary teachers would be working with younger students, grade school or elementary school ages. Secondary teachers would be dealing with adolescents and young adults. A junior college teacher would be teaching young adults also.
Teachers with the MOE will be well compensated with additional training, but it’s a very competitive market. These jobs are best suited to career teachers looking to either build a career in Singapore or to build experience for a professional career elsewhere. It’s probably not a good option for the short-term teacher hoping to finance some travel.
There are job opportunities in pre-schools, but these will almost always require special training in Pre-School Training or Early Childhood Education. Again, these are great options for professional teachers looking to build a career here or elsewhere. Many of these will be private companies not directly associated with the state education systems, in some cases little more daycares with educational components.
Primary or Secondary Supplemental
Many schools are privately run institutes meant to improve students’ general English abilities. Though most people in Singapore learn English quite naturally, there is a distinct “Singlish” dialect that can be hard to understand. Some parents will prefer that their children speak “proper” English, and also develop stronger reading, writing and speaking skills. This may be to get into an English-speaking school, pass a test, or go abroad for an exchange. Or it could be to open up every possible opportunity.
Some institutions will focus on preparing students for specific tests. This may be IELTS, GMATs, or even MCATs. These schools will teach the students all the materials on the test, as well as the English to be found there. This means that the teachers writing the tests are also expected to be experts in those fields. They will often have to show their own test scores a part of their qualifications.
Adult Education or Professional Development
Many adults will seek to improve their English to open up new professional opportunities, or just for fun. These make a large number of the English teaching opportunities in Singapore. There is a lot of variety between these schools in the curricula they teach, the goals of the students, and the overall “vibe” of the company. Some may be quite stuffy, others informal and relaxed.
Finding a Job in Singapore
To find a job in Singapore, it’s best to know what one is looking for. Someone interested in working with kids will have that option. But children are challenging, and parents even more so. There’s also teaching adults, who never have behavior problems, but often have difficulty balance their own expectations with busy schedules. Every English program has its own challenges and rewards.
And since Singapore is a very competitive market, it’s probably not the best idea to just pound the pavement and see what happens. Instead, it will serve the English teacher well to check out a directory of teaching jobs in Singapore. Even if the teacher doesn’t get a job right away, he or she can definitely see what the job market is like and what the chances of a good job are. It would be a real shame to land and have to move on to find teaching work in other parts of Asia.
Posted: March 9th, 2013 | Author: John Thomson | Filed under: How to find teaching jobs, Places in Asia | No Comments »
Moving to China can be daunting. Everything is new and exciting. Or foreign and scary. The sights, smells and tastes are different from everything you’ve taken for granted. But one of the greatest challenges to face is the language barrier. Suddenly, it’s an effort to order breakfast or take a taxi. The entire world is just a buzz.
Take heart in the fact that your students likely feel the same way in class. There are so many fundamental differences between English and Chinese that it’s a marvel they’re both generated by the same species. Knowing these differences, though, makes it much easier to teach English to Chinese-speaking students. By comparing the two languages, students can build off something they already understand and learn much more quickly. If you don’t yet have a job, why don’t you click here to see a list of available English teaching jobs in China?
Everyone has an accent. It’s just which accent you have. Like many speakers of foreign languages, however, Chinese speakers consistently have problems with several sounds in English. These are sounds that don’t exist in Chinese, much like English doesn’t have the tongue clicks found in some African languages.
Short i – This is the only short vowel sound that doesn’t occur in Chinese. Students can’t even hear the difference between the short i and the long e sounds. That means that ship and sheep are pronounced the same. Comparison activities and drilling are good ways to overcome this pronunciation quirk.
th – This sound also doesn’t occur in Chinese. It doesn’t occur in many languages, in fact. Chinese-speaking students literally can’t get their tongues around it. It often comes out as an s sound or an f sound. Again, drilling can overcome this so long as the teacher shows the students how to make the sound by putting the tongue between the teeth.
v – Another sound that doesn’t show up anywhere in Chinese, it often turns into a b sound. The f sound is a Chinese phoneme, though, so showing the students it’s the same, just with the voice added, is usually enough.
For the most part, Chinese sentences are constructed like English sentences. They have subjects, verbs, and objects. They usually go in that order. A basic Chinese sentence has the same fundamental pattern, but with a few differences.
In English, we often put the adverb at the end of the sentence.
I have English class today.
Or we can move it to the beginning to make this sentence:
Today, I have English class.
In Chinese, the adverb of time (“today”) always goes right before the verb. Students just starting out will transcribe the Chinese directly into English. They will often come up with a sentence like this:
I today have English class.
Questions are also a frequent problem. The Mandarin sentence structure actually stays the same for questions. It’s exactly the same as a statement, only with a question particle at the end indicating it’s a yes/no question. Or a question word is added to the added to the end instead of the beginning. So the question:
Do you like cookies?
Is just a simple:
You like cookies?
It’s not that strange, but when made into an open question:
What do you like?
It’s much more obvious, and sometimes difficult to understand.
You like what?
These are just a few of the word order issues a Mandarin Chinese speaker is likely to run into when transcribing English into Chinese. The challenges can be overcome, however, in breaking down the components of the sentences and having students practice forming their own. A combination of speaking and writing is especially effective.
Chinese is a language without tense, so mastering the different conjugations of English verbs is one of the greatest challenges. Mandarin replaces conjugating verbs with adding other words into the sentence. It will add either specific times (again just before the verbs) or special time particles that indicate that something will happen or has happened already.
There is no easy way to teach tenses to Chinese speakers. In Mandarin, each word is unchangeable. It’s essentially a small picture that can’t be modified, thus the adding of more words instead of changing the words being used. So explaining that verbs change based on the time is very difficult. It’s usually best to include the study of tense in reading, writing, speaking, and listening exercises. And they need to be repeated over and over again.
Where Chinese Speakers Excel
The traditional method of teaching Mandarin is through rote learning. This works very well as students are required to memorize the vast numbers of characters hey will need for a life of reading and writing. This translates very well into English skills that require memorization: spelling and phonics.
Chinese speakers are often very good at spelling, and they can memorize a huge number of vocabulary words, as these are both familiar tasks. It’s the teacher’s job to help the students apply this rote-learned information in the very fluid, dynamic language that is English. It’s a task that’s as challenging as it is rewarding for both teacher and student. For an up to date list of English teaching jobs in China, click here.
Posted: March 15th, 2012 | Author: John Thomson | Filed under: Places in Asia | 2 Comments »
It is apparent that at any one time, the TEFL expatriate has plenty of employment opportunities outside his or her native country. One’s qualification may be the passport to a profitable teaching job in an expansive language market which includes South Korea, Japan, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, and other Asian countries. New openings are being created as a vast majority of local speakers are eager to learn and use English. If you have a university degree or formal training and the enthusiasm to teach, then you can explore the top 10 cities highlighted below.
# 1 Tokyo
If you are visiting Asia, then Tokyo has to be your first stop over ESL teaching destination. Most schools here offer the best working and living opportunities to English expatriates. Interestingly, recruitment goes on all year round and successful recruits get sponsorships, low cost housing, partial insurance cover, and other forms of assistance to facilitate comfortable lifestyles. Beginners also have access to on the job training, feedback, and a ready curriculum which gives them a upper hand when teaching. Therefore, you shouldn’t worry much if you don’t have ESL certification. Above all, you must have the eagerness to teach professionally and to live in Japan. On average, teachers receive about ¥250- ¥300,000 or $2,000-$2,400/ month, but this varies with the locations and schools. You can check out recruiting agencies such as aeonet.com, GABA, and Interac. These are good for beginners and experienced teachers.
# 2 Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi is a commercial hub which doubles up as a tourist destiation, and certainly one of the most expensive cities to live. Surprisingly, it also has a considerable number of citizens including students who are dying to learn English. The pay scale for ESL teachers is very high and the best thing about it is that teachers get tax free salary and free housing. The flourishing economy makes it among the favorite destinations for ESL teachers looking for a good pay and comfortable lifestyle.
In Abu Dhabi, the Ministry of Education regulates the curriculum and English is a core component of education. This explains why there are several international schools which offer professional language training. Besides that, there is also a good number of public and private schools which absorb most of the ESL teachers. Unlike in other parts of Asia, qualifications and expectations of a TEFL expatriate is high and so most teachers have TEFL certification besides their bachelor or masters degrees. Although majority of openings specify natives, sometimes, there are openings for non-native speakers.
# 3 Seoul Korea
One of the best destinations for ESL teachers in Asia is Seoul, South Korea. This fascinating city has a huge demand for native English teachers which outstrips supply. This location has abundant opportunities, the remuneration for teachers are better than other cities. Teachers also get perks such as air tickets, paid holidays, medical insurance, and free housing which are a big plus. On average, the monthly salary can be between $1.7 million to 2.1 million won ($1,450-$1,600.
There are also a considerable number of private schools in most suburbs of Seoul. The basic requirement for ESL teaching is a Bachelor’s degree though most private institutions prefer native English speakers. Generally, the cultural rules and social etiquette can be challenging for foreigners, but with the help of other teachers, you can quickly adapt to the lifestyle and culture of a warm people.
# 4 Hong Kong
Besides being a manufacturing hub, Hong Kong is a great destination for native ESL teachers. Sometime back, the outbreak of SARs caused a flight of teachers and consequently, this created a considerable demand for both experienced and untrained teachers. Beginners who venture into this territory may have the impression that it is impossible to find work. However, if you are a native speaker then you can land TEFL jobs easily.
What makes Hong Kong a favorite for ESL teachers is the high wages that are paid to teachers. Part time teachers can earn $30-$50/hour. Those who are employed in language centers earn $2,000/month while those brought in by the government about $4,000. Besides the good pay, Hong Kong is an exciting city with a fascinating atmosphere and way of life. Its atmosphere is a sort of East-West blend which means the local and exotic have been juxtaposed.
# 5 Shanghai
China has one of the largest populations of people in Asia who are hungry to learn the English language. Interestingly, native English teachers from the west have been plying their trade in academic institutions in the last two decades. Cities like Shanghai and Beijing have a prosperous middle class which explains why there is an explosion of private learning institutions in all the major cities. There are new opportunities being created online and so it is easy to spot new ESL openings.
Requirements for those aspiring to teach ESL in Shanghai are not stringent and so anyone with a university degree is considered capable. Anyway, if you have received formal training and teaching experience, then you stand a good chance of finding good employment. The perks and remuneration in cities like Beijing and Shanghai are great and they include free air tickets.
Indonesia is a populous country and it is slowly recovering from political turmoil and economic hardships that had beset it in the 90s. Even so, language schools pulled through the challenges and there is an invigorated interest in English language in cities like Jakarta. There is a considerable number of individuals and companies that hire foreign teachers (British& Americans) to teach in large schools at a pay 10 times that of local wage.
Beginners may have a difficult time which may confine them to locally managed backstreet institutions. Individuals who have received TESL training have the greatest prospects of teaching English in Jakarta. Contracts may last anywhere between 12-18 months and one can find job postings in dailies such as the Jakarta Post or the Indonesian Observer. Visas are a major requirement and fortunately, most schools apply for visa permits on behalf of teachers. Generally, schools pay between $700-$900/month and teachers receive free housing which allows them to lead relatively comfortable lifestyles.
It is evident that Bangkok is a top ESL destination for both trained and untrained teachers. Besides the capital, there are also plenty of opportunities in the provinces. One fascinating thing about Bangkok is that jobs for native English teachers are almost guaranteed. There is also less teacher recruitment outside Thailand. One thing to note is that most private institutions and colleges with EFL departments rely greatly on native English speakers.
Most TEFL teachers have no work visa and most teachers only use tourist visas. The good thing is that colleges and universities may be willing to apply for work permits on behalf of teachers with vast experience and who can agree to sign 1 year contracts. The minimum qualification for applicants is a BA and sometimes a relevant TEFL certification is required. The only downside to a city with more teaching opportunities is the low wages. The hourly rate is 250-300 baht which is less than $6. Even so, living expenses are low which makes life affordable.
If you are looking for a destination that has ready jobs for native English speakers with college degrees, then you should venture into Taipei. Despite changes in legislation to curb immigrant flow, the demand for native English teachers who can teach for up to 1 year remains considerably high. Most private schools, cram schools, and state funded secondary schools assist foreign teachers acquire work permits.
One fascinating thing is that most people in the capital still prefer American accents. The basic requirements for aspiring ESL teachers include University diploma, work contract, and health certificate issued while in Taiwan. The rates are not bad for beginners and may average NT$700 or $17/ hour. But, private schools offer better pay than public ones. The only problem with this capital is the stratospheric levels of pollution which only rivals that of Mexico City.
If you are looking for ESL teaching openings, then you can check in the South China Post, notice boards, and some agencies like Taiwan-Teachers which can organize interviews for teachers.
#9 Ho Chi Minh City
The most striking thing about Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh city is the characteristic youthfulness of its population. More than 50% of the population are in the youth bracket. Not only that, this vast population also has an overwhelming number of people who desire to learn English as a prerequisite for employment and, this creates a vibrant market for ESL teachers.
Although there are several opportunities for ESL teachers, most expatriates work in private institutions. There are several hundreds of teachers in Ho Chi Minh City. Most classes focus on general English, though there are classes for special needs such as TOEFL preparation or Business English. The minimum qualification for working in a private institution is a BA. A TEFL certification will certainly be an added advantage, though it is still possible to get employed without any certification, but the opportunities will be fewer and the pay less. Remember, majority of employers want to see certificates and valid documents.
#10 Kuala Lumpur
The last city that squeezes its way into the top ten cities (destinations) for ESL teachers is Kuala Lumpur. This city has the longest skyscrapers and a great number of shopping malls, and lots of entertainment galore. It has a mixed population of English speakers who range from good to poor speakers. This city like the rest of Malaysia has a diverse culture comprising, Malay, Chinese, and Indians.
If you are British native then you stand a good chance of finding a good job because Malaysians prefer British to American accents. Unlike other parts of Asia, Malaysia has several foreign students from the Middle East who come to study English first before pursuing university degrees. Given the widespread use of English in Kuala Lumpur, it might help if you are formally trained or if you have CELTA/TESOL plus experience at the time you submit an application to a job vacancy. The rates are competitive and the good thing is that teachers have greater flexibility when working.