How do I find a list of legitimate overseas English teaching opportunities?
July 15, 2012 3:10 PM   Subscribe

After decided not to go to law school this fall, I find myself somewhat at loose ends, and have decided to look into teaching overseas. Google searches have led me to a confusing plethora of programs, as well as to endless warnings of scams of all types. Is there some sort of centralized database of 'clean' programs, and if so, where might I find it?

I spent a year teaching English in Austria just out of college (about four years ago now), and tremendously enjoyed the experience, which is why my thoughts have turned in that direction.

I'm specifically looking now at East Asian opportunities (Korea, Japan, China), both because I'm presently interested in those cultures and trying to learn Mandarin, and because they appear to be the largest and most ravenous market for English teachers at present.

Of course, if there's a particularly good resource for opportunities in Latin America, or Africa, or Europe, I'd be equally interested in that.
posted by AdamCSnider to Work & Money (5 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Dave's ESL Cafe is the clearinghouse most often recommended here (I haven't used it personally).
posted by Snarl Furillo at 4:09 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you are interested in Korea I would recommend going the public school route. EPIK, GEPIK, SMOE, and various other regions hire independently. Korea and Japan are good if you want to make decent money. China you can live well but may not save as much comparably. If you network with the ESL teaching community you can find legitimate teaching opportunities. Seconding Dave's as a starting point but there are other forums and resources out there as well dedicated to subregions.
posted by andendau at 4:53 PM on July 15, 2012

Dave's is terrible.

If you're interested in teaching in South Korea, use and go to the "Seoul" site. It has jobs throughout the country. Public schools will advertise there as well during hiring season. (Totally free to boot.)

The golden rule before you accept a position is to speak to someone on the phone who is doing what you will be doing. Never, ever trust what a potential employer tells you about the program, the students, the hours, the materials, or the living arrangements. Never.

That said, I'd also recommend going the public school route if you come to SK. There are some good hagwon (private academies) but with the public schools you get far more institutional accountability (although a laughably small amount compared to what you're used to) and more days off.

The word is that getting a job in Japan is tougher than normal these days because there is little interest in learning English. Then again, with Fukushima, there are probably openings.

I've heard mixed, usually bad things about China for teachers. Also, no full internet access which would be a deal-breaker for me.

Good luck!
posted by bardic at 1:41 AM on July 16, 2012

I am currently teaching for a large chain English academy in China (nearing the end of my second year-long contract with the school).

The best way IMO (the way I took) to get into a teaching position in Asia is to have a friend who is already here. I sent emails to everyone I knew who was working abroad at the time. A few responded who had openings at their school and I was soon signing a contract and booking my flight. This method allows you to skip the recruiter/agency middleman (which your potential future boss will like because he/she doesn't have to pay the recruitment fees).

If you do choose to go through a recruiter, do your research. I second the above advice to ALWAYS ask to speak with another foreigner who does the same thing you'll be doing. Recruiters (from agencies and in-school staff) may sometimes lie to new teachers about their duties, the location, and other expectations to ensure they sign the contract and show up. Many of my co-workers have been very disappointed when their foreign recruiter showed them pictures of sandy white beaches only to show up and see muddy, smelly shipyards.

As far as pay in China, I started at 6500 RMB per month working around 30-40 hours a week. Be sure to shop around. Find out what other schools are in your desired city and find out what their contracts are like. My sense of loyalty to my contract has kept me from leaving for a similar job for almost twice the salary and half the working hours. My cost of living for most months have been under 2500 RMB. Traveling, western dining and drinking/clubbing will eat your cash flow if you're not careful.
posted by goalie_dave at 6:12 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

The problem with teaching English in Japan is that wages are quite low, it's very competitive, and working conditions are not that great anymore.

The JET Programme is a different story, though...
posted by KokuRyu at 7:02 PM on July 18, 2012

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