Asia is one of the best regions to teach English abroad, thanks to the high demand for English teachers and emphasis on education. And because academic and professional competition in Asia can be fierce, many parents seek to enroll their children in English courses to better their chances of success.
This demand and view of English mean that jobs are plentiful, and salaries are relatively high for native English teachers. Additionally, those who relocate to Asia to teach abroad typically enjoy extra benefits and a relatively low cost of living, especially in East Asian destinations like South Korea, China, and Japan. And, of course, teaching in Asia is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience a new part of the world.
Here's a breakdown of what teaching English in Asia entails.
Benefits of Teaching in Asia
Teaching English in Asia typically offers:
- Highest TEFL salaries in the world, especially in East Asia
- Best additional benefits that usually include reimbursed airfare, subsidized housing, contract completion bonuses, etc.
- Low cost of living and ability to save money each month.
- An opportunity to learn about a new part of the world while earning valuable life and work experience.
- Variety in job opportunities.
How much can you earn teaching English in Asia?
How much money English teachers earn teaching in Asia depends entirely on the school, country, and region.
In general, those who decide to teach English in Southeast Asia in places like Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia typically earn between $750-$2,000 per month. However, Southeast Asia tends to have a lower cost of living compared to other parts of Asia, making the salary comfortable to live on.
On average, those teaching in East Asian destinations like China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, or Taiwan, can expect to earn between $1,500-$2,900+ per month. However, the cost of living in East Asia tends to be a little higher, especially in big cities like Seoul and Tokyo.
Typical Requirements to Teach English in Asia
- Have a Bachelor’s degree or higher
- Be a native-English speaker
- Have a reputable TEFL certificate with at least 120 hours
- Show proof of a clean criminal background
- Be younger than the national retirement age, which is typically around 60-65 years old.
The exact job requirements vary by country and are essential not only for getting hired but sometimes to secure a legal work permit.
Some places like South Korea and China only hire ESL teachers from native English-speaking countries like the U.S., U.K., Ireland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa. Many countries also tend to hire ESL teachers under 50 years old.
6 Best Places to Teach English in Asia
Asia is a vast and diverse region of the world that boasts an array of cultural experiences, teaching positions, and more. Here’s a summary of some of the top destinations for teaching English in Asia.
1. South Korea
Average monthly salary: $1,500-$2,500+/month
Teaching English in South Korea is often touted as one of, if not the best, ESL opportunities abroad. Korea is a modern nation with mountains, beaches, and exciting big cities to explore. Most aspiring ESL teachers find work either in public schools through the EPIK program or at private language schools known as Hagwons.
Learn more: CIEE Teach Abroad in South Korea
Average monthly salary: $1,500-$2,800+/month
Teaching English in Japan is a unique opportunity to gain valuable professional experience and earn a steady income while immersed in Japanese culture. While Japan is noted for its strict work culture, teachers are rewarded with the attention of highly motivated students. One of the most popular ways to teach in Japan is with the JET program.
Average monthly salary: $1,300-$2,900+/month
China has long been the leader in demand for ESL teachers, and teaching English in China comes with the best-earning potential. Additionally, English teachers enjoy extra benefits, including reimbursed airfare, subsidized housing, contract completion bonuses, and more. China is also an immense nation that offers the most job type and placement choices.
Learn more: CIEE Teach Abroad in China
Average monthly salary: $1,200-$2,000+/month
Teaching English in Vietnam is an excellent way to earn a decent income while relishing life in Southeast Asia. Most English teachers find themselves in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh, but traveling throughout this long and narrow country is a popular pastime. Plus, life in Vietnam means constant access to a vibrant street food scene and expat community.
Average monthly salary: $900-$1,500+/month
For those who place experience over salary, teaching English in Thailand is often a top choice. Nestled in the heart of Southeast Asia, Thailand places ESL teachers in a prime location for exploring the region and is world-famous for beautiful beaches, mountains, and rainforests. Although ESL salaries are quite low in Thailand, the food and friendly locals are enough to make it a popular teach abroad destination.
Learn more: CIEE Teach Abroad in Thailand
Average monthly salary: $1,400-$2,400+/month
Teaching English in Taiwan provides the unique opportunity to live and experience all that this island nation has to offer. Home to an incredible tropical climate, Taiwan boasts both beaches and mountains and is known for its unique blend of traditional and modern cultural influences. Like many other Asian countries, most ESL teachers in Taiwan find work at public schools via the FET program or at private academies.
Types of Teaching Jobs in Asia
Most ESL teachers work in public schools, private language academies, or international schools in Asia. A few countries even have government-sponsored teach abroad programs.
Government-sponsored teach abroad programs are typically managed by the host nation's department of education. These programs hire native English teachers for placement in public schools nationwide. They can be highly competitive because they're the most reliable job positions in Asia and typically have higher salaries and better benefits.
Asia's most popular government-sponsored programs include the JET Program in Japan, the EPIK Program in South Korea, and the Foreign English Teachers (FET) program in Taiwan.
Private Language Academies
Education is of such high importance in many parts of Asia that private language academies are a unique phenomenon. These academies are held after regular school hours and tutor students in various subjects, including English. That means private academy teachers are expected to work nights and weekends.
Private language academies or schools are typically privately owned and operated. Therefore, it's essential to vet each job opportunity, as it's not uncommon for academies to take advantage of foreign English teachers.
International schools are another common way to teach English in Asia. Teaching at an international school abroad is not unlike teaching at home. To be considered for the job, you must have a teaching license and a degree in education.
Many international schools in Asia teach an American or British curriculum, with all subjects taught in English. International schools in Asia typically are the most challenging jobs to secure but pay the highest salaries.
How to Get a Job Teaching English in Asia
The most common ways to find teaching positions in Asia are through online job boards, applying with teach abroad programs, or applying directly to the school.
- Job boards like Dave’s ESL, ESL Job Feed, and Total ESL are fantastic resources that share ESL job postings in various parts of the world.
- Teach Abroad Programs in Asia like EPIK, JET, and FET have official websites where you can learn more about applying.
- Applying directly to schools is another option. Some language academies and international schools list their current job openings on their websites.
What’s it like teaching English in Asia?
To learn more, check out these insightful blogs sharing personal experiences on what it’s like teaching English in different parts of Asia.
- So the Adventure Begins: travel blogger and ESL teacher in Vietnam
- Life of Brit: travel blogger and former ESL teacher in South Korea
- Rachel Meets China: travel blogger and ESL teacher in China
- Kristen Abroad: travel blogger based in Japan
The CIEE Teach Abroad Blog and CIEE TEFL Blog are other great resources filled with personal experiences from those who have taught English in Asia.
What TEFL Certification is best to teach English in Asia?
As a region with high regard for education, it's not surprising that many Asian countries have high expectations for ESL teachers. Therefore, a reputable TEFL certificate with at least 120 hours is vital if you wish to teach English in Asia.
Choosing a certification that includes a TEFL practicum or in-class component is also essential. A practicum provides teachers with valuable first-hand teaching experience, so you feel confident on your first day. This classroom experience can also give your resume a competitive edge.
CIEE 150-Hour TEFL
CIEE TEFL is an internationally trusted brand recognized for being one of the best TEFL providers in the industry. CIEE has a proven track record of helping graduates secure teaching jobs abroad and equips teachers with the confidence needed to succeed.
CIEE TEFL's 150-hour certification makes it easy to complete your TEFL training online in just three months. This comprehensive course includes:
- 130 hours of ACCET accredited coursework
- 20-hour TEFL practicum
- Instruction by highly qualified TEFL tutors
- Job search assistance