Prospects Country by Country Guide - Asia

The Asian continent offers a remarkably diverse range of experiences and opportunities to a qualified EFL teacher. In many Asian countries there is a huge demand for English native speakers and some of the highest paying employment in the industry.

Anybody with a university degree and a TEFL certificate should find a wide range of opportunities. Industrialized nations such as Japan, Korea and Taiwan have western-style economies and a high standard of living, while developing nations like China, Vietnam and Thailand offer lower salaries but perhaps a greater variety of cultural experience. Asia certainly has something for everyone and your time there is likely to be unforgettable. Students in most Asian countries are very respectful to teachers, further enhancing your experience.

In some of the poorer countries of the region (particularly the Indian subcontinent) paid employment is very difficult to find and most teachers in those locations are there on voluntary placements (a local wage may be available).

Details of major EFL destinations are given below:

Capital City Beijing
Language Cantonese/Mandarin
Currency Renminbi
Typical TEFL teacher salary 8,000 RMB per month
major TEFL location Nationwide

China TEFL job prospects

The demand in China for TEFL teachers is huge. There seems to be far more jobs than teachers and teachers are needed in all parts of the country, from Beijing to Hong Kong to Mongolia. Any qualified EFL teacher should be able to pick and choose from a wide variety of opportunities throughout the country in both state and private sectors. Salaries (and costs) can vary tremendously between regions.

Capital City Jakarta
Language Indonesian
Currency Rupiah
Typical TEFL teacher salary 10 milion Rupiah per month
major TEFL location Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung, Yogyakarta +++

Indonesia TEFL job prospects

Indonesia is the fifth most populous nation on earth and at times is can seem as if all of them are learning English! As a result there is a great demand for English language teachers throughout the nation.

Opportunities can range from state to private sector. Most teachers are employed on the island of Java, though there are many possibilities on other islands too.

Capital City Tokyo
Language Japanese
Currency yen
Typical TEFL teacher salary 250,000 yen per month
major TEFL location Tokyo, Osaka +++

Japan TEFL job prospects

There are countless job opportunities in Japan for TEFL qualified teachers. In Tokyo and Osaka there can be more jobs than teachers, while in other parts of the country the prospects are still good. Teachers are usually highly respected by Japanese students, and they are generally highly motivated and willing to learn. Salaries don't seemed to have changed much in recent years and so it is not as attractive a location as it once was but most teachers are still able to save considerable amounts without having to live too frugal a lifestyle. A university degree is essential for obtaining a work permit.

South Korea  
Capital City Seoul
Language Korean
Currency Won
Typical TEFL teacher salary 2,2 milion won per month
major TEFL location Seoul, Pusan +++

South Korea TEFL job prospects

South Korea has a huge demand for EFL teachers and offers some of the highest paid EFL employment.

Opportunities exist in the state sector but most teachers find themselves working in one of the thousands of hogwons (private language institutes) throughout the country. A large percentage of teachers are employed in Seoul or Pusan but there are employment possibilities in smaller cities and towns also. Many teachers complain of the working conditions but others feel that the high salaries counterbalance this. Teachers willing to work overtime can be earning up to $US 6,000 per month. Any qualified teacher who has a university degree and a TEFL certificate should have no problem whatsoever in finding employment.

Capital City Taipei
Language Chinese
Currency NT Dollar
Typical TEFL teacher salary $2000 per month
major TEFL location Taipei

Taiwan TEFL job prospects

The EFL industry in Taiwan is booming and job opportunities for native speakers with a degree and TEFL qualification abound. Salaries are quite high and working conditions are reasonable. Teaching positions are normally found in the hundreds of bushibans (private schools) throughout the country. There does seem to be a preference for American English but other native speakers will encounter little difficulty in finding work.

Capital City Bangkok
Language Thai
Currency Baht
Typical TEFL teacher salary 35,000 bath per month
major TEFL location Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Hat Yai, +++

Thailand TEFL job prospects

The current job opportunities in Thailand for TEFL teachers are numerous. In Bangkok there are far more jobs than teachers, while in other parts of the country the prospects are still good. In virtually every city in Thailand, if a qualified TEFL teacher decides they want to live there, they will be able to find a teaching position. Teachers are highly respected by Thai students, and they are generally highly motivated and willing to learn. They are also great fun! As Thailand is such an attractive country in which to work, there many unqualified teachers looking for a job. A TEFL qualified teacher will find work very easily.

Capital City Singapore
Language Mandarin CHinese, Malay, Tamil, English
Currency Singapore Dollar
Typical TEFL teacher salary S$3000 per month
major TEFL location Throughout the state

Singapore TEFL job prospects

Singapore is a very wealthy and westernized city-state in which there is a considerable demand for qualified EFL teachers. While salaries are reasonably high, Singapore certainly isn't the cheapest place to live and work.

Work is not quite so easy to find as elsewhere in Asia but a qualified teacher with a university degree should be able to find a few openings.

Capital City Kuala Lumpur
Language Bahasa Malaysia
Currency Ringgit
Typical TEFL teacher salary $12000 per month
major TEFL location Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia TEFL job prospects

The current situation for English language teachers in Malaysia is similar to that in Singapore. There is a reasonable demand and qualified teachers should (with a little patience) be able to find a suitable position.

Salaries are about $1,000 per month and while this is lower than Singapore the cost of living is much lower.

Capital City Hanoi
Language Vietnamese
Currency Dong
Typical TEFL teacher salary $20 per hour
major TEFL location Ho chi minh City, Hanoi

Vietnam TEFL job prospects

Following a fairly turbulent recent past, Vietnam has now stabilized and as a result the demand for English has exploded. Well-paid employment is quite easy to find in the major cities and qualified teachers shouldn't have any problems. Compared to the cost of living salaries are high. Outside the two largest cities (Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi) work is mainly on a voluntary basis and there are numerous organizations who can help arrange this.

Capital City Vientiane
Language Laotian
Currency Kip
Typical TEFL teacher salary $1500 per month
major TEFL location Vientiane

Laos TEFL job prospects

The situation in Laos is very similar to that in Vietnam. Quite well-paid (in comparison to the low cost of living) work is available in the capital and mainly voluntary work elsewhere. The demand for native speaker teachers of English is very high.

Capital City Phnom Penh
Language Khmer
Currency Riel
Typical TEFL teacher salary $1800 per month
major TEFL location Phnom Penh

Cambodia TEFL job prospects

See Laos and Vietnam.

Indian Subcontinent  
Countries India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka
Language Various
Currency Various
Typical TEFL teacher salary Various
Major TEFL locations Mainly voluntary teaching positions in this region

Indian Subcontinent TEFL job prospects

Job opportunities in this region are almost always on a voluntary basis. There are various voluntary placement agencies who can arrange unpaid (or sometimes local salary) employment for qualified EFL teachers.