Teaching English in Asia
November 13, 2004 7:33 AM   Subscribe

I'm considering teaching English in Asia.

I've decided I want to teach English abroad. I'm currently in Germany finishing up B.A.s in German and English Lit, and I'll be here until next July. I'd really love to experience Asia after I'm done here, though, and I think teaching would be a great way to do that. Can anyone with experience tell me the best way to get started? South Korea was specifically recommended to me as a great place to teach, but I'm open to any suggestions you may have.
posted by ruddhist to Work & Money (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
stavros is your man, then - he has been teaching in Korea for a long time.
posted by crunchburger at 8:47 AM on November 13, 2004

Talk to squirrel, too - he's done Thailand and is currently in Vietnam.
posted by scarabic at 11:03 AM on November 13, 2004

What passports do you hold? The China Scholarship Council is a branch of the Chinese Ministry of Education, and they will sometimes pay your living expenses and a generous stipend if you want to spend a year or two studying Chinese in China. Depending on your citizenship, I may know some people you can talk to about this, if you're interested.

My email address is temporarily in my profile, if you want to contact me.
posted by gd779 at 1:09 PM on November 13, 2004

My dad taught all across the Middle East. He'd advise you not to.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 4:13 PM on November 13, 2004

My dad taught all across the Middle East. He'd advise you not to.

posted by gd779 at 4:34 PM on November 13, 2004

I have been in China for just under two months and it has been a great experience. The people are kind and welcoming, the students are bright and attentive.
I am 35 and just decided I wanted to do something different and so far it has a great experience overall.

Self-link: you can read my blog to hear all about my adventures in China at www.drunkenass.com/china
posted by geekyguy at 6:17 PM on November 13, 2004

I'm currently teaching kindergarten in Taiwan. I've met a couple of teachers who have also taught in South Korea, and they have nothing but horror stories.
posted by alidarbac at 8:01 PM on November 13, 2004

Have you looked into the JET program?

It's popular in the United States and I've heard about lots of great experiences (I might do it myself in the future).
posted by azazello at 8:16 PM on November 13, 2004

You might want to look into a CELTA or other TEFL certificate. It can widen you range of opportunities. You might even be able to grasp the Holy Grail (well, that's what my friends here in Korea call it) of university work (how does almost 4 months off every year sound).
Research thoroughly. There are hordes of language institutes in Korea, ranging fron national chains to fly-by-night operations practically run out of a living room. Visa regulations generally restrict your ability to change schools (these can be circumvented but it's better to avoid that headache).
Do read what the Chicken has to say. I've only worked here a few years while he's been here since the around the time of the Japanese occupation.
posted by Octaviuz at 8:53 PM on November 13, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks, everybody. I'm actually leaning towards Japan now (been looking into JET already, azazello). Of course, I still have a lot of time to decide, so no worries.
posted by ruddhist at 9:50 AM on November 14, 2004

Be careful with the Japan teaching jobs. Even if you get one that isn't of poor repute, I've heard some horror stories about managers getting their rocks off of torturing the Gaijin. A friend-of-my-GF taught in Japan for a couple of years, and, though she did learn very good Japanese, and was able to cover her living expenses, she also developed a strange facial twitch because she was forced to smile all the time. Always smiling. Always happy for the children. Crazy shit.

Then again, my friend Jay went to Japan through a JET school, then got a job teaching for Matsushitu (that's Panasonic to you and me, kids). He told me he did private tutoring for a while as well (which most programs actively discourage), but made a bunch-o-cash pretty quickly. And the really nice part was that the Yen is so strong over the other SE Asian countries -- you can travel around Thailand on your vacation time and barely touch your wallet. If you're a guy, watch out for getting involved with the middle-aged, bored wife-of-a-businessman who's just taking classes because her husband makes her feel lonely. My friend recommends against it, anyway.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:27 AM on November 14, 2004

TEFL in Thailand.
posted by the cuban at 11:40 AM on November 14, 2004

I'm on the JET programme now, and it's very nice. It's not a school; it's a government program that puts you in the public schools of Japan. The pay is high, the people are nice, although you do have to be unnaturally happy. The only real downside to it is the beaurocracy of the whole Japanese government and the fact that you can't exactly choose where in Japan you will end up. But it's a good deal better than working for one of the many language schools around here. We always hear horror stories from those people about the long grueling hours and low pay. Feel free to ask me any more questions about it.

BTW, If anyone has any information or especially first hand experience, I would like to know about how this program stacks up against teaching in other Asian countries, as I am getting ready to move on.
posted by donkeymon at 2:56 PM on November 14, 2004

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