Work Abroad

Teaching in Asia

Japan, Korea and Taiwan are where the money is at but think twice before jumping on the plane. By and large you’ll be entering rat race societies built upon severe class systems and chauvinism. Wasn’t that the kind of crap you wanted to leave behind when you got on the road?

We knew of one traveler teaching kids in Seoul and getting them to play games. Suddenly her boss burst in and wanted to know what on earth was going on? What was all this laughter and chaos? These children were here to learn!

Asia is big on staff bonding and the chairman of the school will frequently hold karoke parties in restaurants or bars. If you’re a woman, this is when those normally reserved male teachers will get legless and start jumping on you.

In much of Asia one is expected to be fanatically loyal to one’s company – a tattoo of the company logo across the forehead would do much in securing a pay rise. Exceptions are made for foreigners who are known to be so anarchistic as to change jobs if their boss treats them like shit. Still. you’ll do well not to ever disagree with your superiors. If they give you a crazy order just nod submissively, promise to do it right away and then promptly forget about it once you’re outside the office.

Much of the teaching in Asia centres around teaching kids. Ambitious parents, terrified that their children might be falling behind at the age of 4 and a half, will send their children to ‘cram schools’ be instructed by foreign devils.

If you find yourself in front of a bunch of frightened, bored or rebellious kids, remind yourself that they’ve already been at school for 7 hours that day. After reciting conjugations with you, they’ll still probably have 3 hours of homework to do before they can sleep.

Forgive them if they’re a little pissed off with the arrangement. Let them have as much fun as possible because the rest of their childhood is being eaten by the social obsession with getting ahead.

Japan

Most English teachers in Japan get their jobs before they arrive through programs like JET or NOVA. There are plenty of schools who post jobs independently though but all will want a bachelor’s degree.

Salaries tend to be around $2000+ a month and your school might help you find an apartment, truly a nightmare in Japan.

Click here for additional teaching resources in Japan.

South Korea

Schools in South Korea are so desperate for teachers (most people hate it in Korea) that they pay incoming flights, give a free apartment and still pay $2000 a month.

They expect a bachelor’s degree in anything at all and a popular way to get jobs is to go through an agent – run a google search or check out the Korea forums on daveseslcafe.com

Tai Wan

Tai Wan is more fun than Korea and warmer than Japan. You can turn up here and get a job but almost all of the jobs are crowd control in kindergartens.

You just turn up at a hostel, scan the jobs on the whiteboard and buy a couple of newspapers to look for vacancies. There’s better money if you’re prepared to leave Tai Pei and the foreign community of fellow teachers there.

Thailand

Teaching in Thailand isn’t so well rewarded but the people are lovely. It’s also chauvinist and loaded with hierarchy but the atmosphere will be much more relaxed and fun.

You can get by teaching without a diploma in Thailand but it’s not a bad idea to buy yourself one on the Khao San Road if you want to get a work visa.

Salaries average around $500+ a month but privates can boost that considerably. Thailand is also one of the cheapest places to live in South East Asia.

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Teaching English in Asia can be frustrating at times given the cultural differences. One teacher in Japan had this to say:

“Getting along with your Japanese co-workers can be a challenge especially if you don’t speak Japanese. There is commonly a huge disconnection between the foreign English teachers and the Japanese teachers. ‘They’ don’t tell you what’s going on so you assume nothing is going on. It’s easy to feel left out and alone in the work place.

There will be en-kai parties where all co-workers are invited to eat a deliciously expensive meal and watch your fellow Japanese teachers toss back cup after cup of nihonshu. If you’re a female watch out! This is when the normally reserved Japanese men come out of their shell. They don’t just peak their head out; they burst out running at you.

Of course the alcohol is one of the reasons they become perverts, wanting to talk about intimate sexual details, reveal over-the-edge information about their mistresses and comments about your body. It’s not common for your female Japanese co-workers to hear these comments but all they do is giggle quietly next to you when you’d really like them to help you. It’s a culture of extremes I’d have to say!”

In much of Asia one is expected to be fanatically loyal to one’s company – a tattoo of the company logo across the forehead would do much in securing a pay rise. Exceptions are made for foreigners who are known to be so anarchistic as to change jobs if their boss treats them like shit. Still you’ll do well not to ever disagree with your superiors. If they give you a crazy order just nod submissively, promise to do it right away and then promptly forget about it once you’re outside the office.

If you’re teaching kids in Asia remember that they have already been at school for 7 hours that day. Then they’re sent to your English ‘cram-school’ by their ambitious parents and when they finally get home they have to do 3 hours of homework. Forgive them if they’re a little pissed off with the arrangement. Let them have as much fun as possible because the rest of their childhood is being eaten by the social obsession with getting ahead.