Teaching English in a foreign country – Life after College



This article is the first in a series of posts about Life After College options, continued from Can\’t Find A Job? 6 Alternatives For Life and Work After College.

Getting a job teaching English in a foreign country is not exactly a walk in the park, but through the use of the internet and the ever-growing need for English teachers abroad, it has become much easier in recent years.

Right off the bat, almost all positions you will find will want you to have a Bachelor\’s Degree. Most of the time any major will do, but some programs and countries prefer degrees specific to teaching English, like Education or English. Other variants include medical insurance, round-trip fare, paid-by-school or paid-by-you housing, housing help, contract completion bonus, number of vacation days, and overtime pay.

Thus, I have created a spreadsheet that is an easy-to-use view of the different perks to specific to each country. It is open to contribution, so if you\’re sitting away from home reading right now, feel free to throw some more information in the spreadsheet or comments. The more experienced teachers can really tell us what the lowdown in.

While I won\’t go into the details of every country listed in the chart, I will talk about the two most popular (via active participation online).

1. South Korea

Oh, South Korea. How quickly you will become a hotbed for the bitter 25-year old college graduates with serious ennui and a penchant for soju.

Why? Because out of all the countries that are seeking English teachers, South Korea offers the best deal. All-round.

Paid air-fare, 10-20 days vacay, required medical insurance (half of which is paid by employer, and monthly your contribution is close to $15. So cheap.), overtime pay, severance/contract completion bonus equal to one month\’s pay, and free digs. That\’s right. They find you a studio apartment and pay your rent, all you have to do is pay utilities and stroll to and from work.

Granted, not every person who has gone to SK has had an ideal experience. There are some crappy schools and crappy bosses over there. You take that chance when you start work anywhere. The important thing to remember here is that it\’s more on you to decide if a position sounds right. When you sign a contract (you can break it, you just lose your return ticket and bonus), you\’re signing up for that job for a year. Sure, you can seek other work if you hate the place you\’re working at, but doing so while in SK could prove to be a pain in the butt. Make sure you investigate, it will be better for you later if you do. It\’s also quite common for prospective teachers to talk to a current foreign teacher at the school, and they\’ll hopefully give you a good scoop on the school you\’re thinking about working for.

Basic Requirements: Almost all schools, public and private, want you to have

  • a 4 year degree
  • Native English
  • No criminal record
  • Citizenship of one of the following:
  • United States
  • United Kingdom
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • South Africa
  • Republic of Ireland

Not too much to ask. Here are some handy links for further reading:

Teach English in Korea Tips

Articles on Teaching English in Korea (from people who have done it)

SayKimchi Recruiting (a recruiting agency run by two Americans who have been in Korea for a few years and have lots of information and answers to questions about the culture, nightlife, travel in Asia, money-spending and making, shopping, and more)

Try to stay away from recruiting websites that seem too good to be true. Also, if you go through an agency, especially one that helps you with getting Visa documents and helps you through every step of the process, you\’ve found a good way to find a job in South Korea.

Another option available is the government-run GEPIK program (stands for Gyeonggi English Program in Korea), which recruits applicants through recruiting agencies. There is little difference between this program in particular in reference to teaching gigs, but you will be put in a public school, assuredly. This program is a government initiative to teach English in all public schools in the Gyeonggi province. As such, this program appears to have the most information available for you to peruse through (see this and this).

2. Japan

Prefer a different country for your Asian experience? Japan is also hiring.

You may have heard of the J.E.T. programme. The Japan Exchange and Teaching program is a government-funded and run program designed to provide a cultural exchange internationally between citizens and participants. This isn\’t just teaching English, it is to immerse yourself in the Japanese culture and uphold a representative image of your country. If it\’s your first rodeo, the J.E.T. program would be good for you to apply as an ALT, or Assistant Language teacher, a position in which you teach English with a co-teacher, participate in extra-curricular activities and lesson-planning.

Keep in mind that the J.E.T. program, along with any government-run agency for that matter, in any country, can place you some place you may not like. You can demonstrate preference, but it is essentially a placement agency, and you may not always get the best place to live or pay.

Because the J.E.T. program has become extremely popular, it has become increasingly more difficult to get into the program for job placement, so you may be left to routes involving recruiting agencies. This page has an informative chart on the differences between the major agencies like Geos, Aeon, and ECC.

You can get a job as an ALT or as a teacher in an English conversation school. The hours tend to be different from one another, and the requirements are slightly different. An eikawa is an English conversation schools, and there are new ones sprouting up all the time in Japan.

Overall: ALT, teach at an eikawa, participate in the J.E.T. program, or funnel through recruiting agencies yourself.

Basic Requirements:

  • Bachelor\’s Degree
  • Native English speaker

Some handy links:

J.E.T. Program

All About Teaching English in Japan (informative, although littered with ads)

Articles by Ben Davies (this fellow has quite informative, yet simple articles on teaching in Japan)

Other common countries that hire English teachers (in no particular order, and by no means an exhaustive list):

  •  China
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Chile
  • Belize
  • Spain
  • Italy
  • UAE
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Czech Republic

The most important thing to remember is to DO YOUR RESEARCH. Information is your most valuable tool when searching for jobs in foreign countries. It\’s a foreign place, it\’s not like picking up the phone and calling Uncle Jerry for the hook-up on a job where he lives 6 states away. Get on the Google and ask all your questions, read the fine print, and weigh your options. It also comes back to this: where do you want to go? Yeah, Taiwan may have better pay and Korea might have the best benefits, but if Asia isn\’t your thing then maybe you should head to the Czech Republic. You\’re doing it for a year. Know what you think might make you happy and focus on that when deciding what route to take. Happy job-hunting.

Next up: An Overview of Volunteer Programs >>