Teaching Opportunities In Southeast Asia
Aug. 13, 2014, Hanoi, Vietnam: English teachers are in high demand around Southeast Asia. Practices differ by region and by school—and pay depends largely on your qualification level.
Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,
People who want to live abroad but lack the funds to support themselves have a wide variety of choice in Southeast Asia. The growth of the middle class, the progressive development of virtually every ASEAN member country, and a region-wide push for English fluency make Southeast Asia a destination ripe with opportunity.
Teaching English is probably the most common way for an expat to earn a living wage throughout this region, and there is a high demand for English teachers. The requirements vary from one country to another, but most people can qualify for a reasonably high-paying job with a little preparation.
Officially, a bachelor's degree or higher is required for teaching anywhere in Southeast Asia. Unofficially, the requirement may be waived by schools in rural areas where demand is high and teacher recruitment is difficult. Teaching in a remote village can be extremely rewarding but will probably not pay well—many places will offer a room or house, utilities, and food, but they can't afford to pay a salary.
Teaching in the cities is different. The most important consideration is the type of degree or certification you have under your belt.
Most English teachers have a TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA certification in addition to a college degree. The TEFL certification is the easiest and least expensive to obtain. Courses ranging from 40 to 120 hours are offered online and may or may not require actual student interaction before graduation.
Teachers with a TEFL certification can find work, but the pay offered and employment opportunities will be less than for those who have earned a more prestigious certification.
A TESOL certification requires 120 hours of training and in-class teaching is part of the curriculum. A CELTA degree requires a similar amount of training, but the coursework is more intensive and the cost of the course is higher.
Classes in TEFL, TESOL, and CELTA are offered in major cities in the United States and abroad. Schools offer courses that range in price, from practically free up to around US$2,800, depending on the number of hours and intensity of the program. Dave's ESL Café is a good resource for learning about the certification process and the experience of teaching English abroad.