ESL Salaries: A Regional Comparison

Money, as the song goes, makes the world go round – and English language education is no different. Still, while teaching English abroad can be lucrative, it is not a path to riches. Even when it is unusually well-paying – like in Western Europe – such gains are often offset by the region’s high cost of living. At the same time, it is important to consider intangibles like quality of life as well.

In most countries with well-established ESL industries – i.e., South America and Europe – English teachers will typically receive salaries that allow them to live comfortably but save little. Indeed, although compensation packages in Europe vastly outstrip their South American equivalents, the relatively low cost of living that teachers in South America enjoy means that both have roughly comparable savings rates.

By contrast, new and emerging markets – i.e., Asia and the Middle East – are ideal for those looking to pay off college loans or save for retirement. In those markets even beginning teachers often receive accommodations as part of their compensation packages, meaning that they have the potential to save significant amounts of money monthly.

Of course, money is not everything – when you are considering where to teach English abroad, quality of life matters, too! To illustrate the difference here, compare Dubai, United Arab Emirates and Prague, Czech Republic. Dubai, with its high salaries and lengthy contracts, offers the best conditions if your main goal is to save money. At the same time, its restrictive policies and conservative customs are not for everyone. By contrast, Prague, with its relatively low cost of living and high quality of life, offers the best conditions if your goal is to enjoy your time abroad. Solidly ensconced in Western culture, it is widely seen as the most desirable English location in the world.

So, in the end, do your homework and decide for yourself – after all, only you can say which is more important to you!

* Salary photo from Shutterstock


Why Study in South Africa

South Africa is a country on the move. The developing nation, whose geography is the same as its name, has taken on an increasingly important role on the continent itself and is rising power on the world stage at large. A mining giant that is well known for its natural beauty, the country is also quickly emerging as Africa’s international education powerhouse. South Africa’s popularity has risen quickly: while it was US students 18th most popular destination in 2006, it rose fully five place – to 13th – in as many years. It’s little wonder why: South Africa’s attractions are as varied as its people and has much to offer would-be internationals students:

The Landscape – South Africa is a land of geographic extremes. A famously remote land that offers diverse riches, its territory encompasses a variety of compelling landscapes that includes scenic river valleys, lofty mountain tops, beautiful beaches, and even the stunning Karoo Desert.

The Cities – Urban life in South Africa has a lot to offer as well. On a continent renowned for conflict, its infrastructure well-developed, its citizens well-educated, and – if you get lost along the way – ordinary people in the street speak English.

The People – Indeed, it is those very people that are the stars of South Africa. It population is chiefly comprised of a diverse array of native peoples as well as European, Indian, and Asian immigrants and, in this post-apartheid era, the county’s constitution simultaneously recognizes 11 official languages and the value of multiculturalism. Don’t worry, though – South Africa may be a nation of about 50 million people (whose cultures are almost as varied as they are) but their friendliness is world famous.

The Schools – The country’s academic reputation is also world famous. Several of its 23 major universities rank among the world’s top 500 universities and applying for a student visa in South Africa is now easier than ever. Better yet, South Africa student visas are available for both study abroad and degree-seeking students.

In the end, then, South Africa’s reputation as a world class study abroad destination is well-deserved. But don’t take my word for it – now is the perfect time find out for yourself if learning English in South Africa is the place for you!


TEFL Certifications in South Korea

Although many opportunities to teach English abroad do not require an English teaching certificate, there are many reasons to get one. Not only are they increasingly seen as a way for would-be international educators to get a leg up on the increasingly stiff competition, but most international employers look favorably on such credentials. Indeed, not only such programs help prepare teachers for the classroom, they also show employers that you are committed to professional improvement. Indeed, TEFL Certifications in South Korea are so highly valued that a 100- or 120-hour course would be a prudent investment.

South Korea has long been considered one of the most lucrative countries for ESL teachers thanks to its relatively high base salaries and ample benefits (which include, among other things, accommodations, airfare, and insurance). Such desirable positions have led to significant competition among applicants and, more to the point, led the Korean government – which is responsible for the employment of Native English Teachers in Seoul through SMOE, Gyeonggi-do through GEPIK, and elsewhere through EPIK – to entice TEFL certified teachers with immediate pay raises.

For example, according to the official SMOE Eligibility and Renumeration policy base compensation is 1.8 million won per month for teachers with a bachelor’s degree in any discipline. An immediate pay raise, however, is offered to applicants who have any of the following:

  • A Bachelor’s degree in any discipline in addition to one year of experience teaching English
  • A Bachelor’s degree in Education or English
  • A Master’s degree in any discipline
  • A TESOL/TEFL or English Teaching Certificate comprised of a minimum of 100 course hours

The same is true (at different rates) throughout the country: 100- and 120- TEFL Certifications in South Korea are as highly valued – and a lucrative – a specialization in English, Education or any Master’s degree. In the end, then, the conclusion should be clear – when it comes to teaching English in South Korea, a TEFL course is a wise investment.


Year of English Speaking

The Thai government is stepping up its efforts to improve its citizens’ English proficiency. According to a recent report from the Pattaya Today, beginning in 2012 the government plans to begin teaching at least one English class weekly to every school in the nation. It is all part of Thailand’s official English Speaking Year and represents no easy feat for a country that has 14 million students spread among more than 34,000 state schools.

This comes as particularly good news for those interested in teaching English in Thailand because, while the government plans to rely initially on teaching English remotely through TV, radio, and the internet, it also plans to start recruiting more native English teachers. The country, whose high demand for native instructors has long outstripped the supply, will turn to traditional English-speaking countries (such as the US, UK, and Canada) as well as countries with a high level of English proficiency (such as India, Singapore, and the Philippines) to fill the need.

The need is acute because, while Thailand itself prepares to join the ASEAN Community – a regional trade group which uses English heavily as a common language – in 2015, a recent university entrance assessment revealed that Thai students scored below average on English proficiency (28.43 out of 100). Part of the reason, researchers believe, is because, much of the focus on English programs in Thailand in the past has been on so-called “rote learning” (memorization) and grammar at the expense of conversation. Thus, part and parcel with the government’s new initiative is an emphasis, as the program’s name suggests, on speaking. Specially designed lessons will allow students to have the opportunity to speak English regularly and therefore build their confidence over time. With an emphasis on fluency, not accuracy, the hope is that the focus will be less about grammatical errors and more about future success.


ESL Job in Japan

Finding an ESL job in Japan requires the same combination of factors as any other country: experience, connections, personal appeal, and luck. There are, of course, some differences, however. For example, as aspiring school teachers, many native English speakers think back to their school schedule they grew up with and begin the application process in June or July. Unfortunately for them, the Japanese school year starts in April and hiring season generally peaks between January and March. If you miss this critical window, getting a job will be that much harder!

In addition to timing, the actual application process is different. While it is definitely best to have a job arranged through an established program or recruiter before you arrive, you can also get your ESL Job in Japan by applying in person. Many of the larger programs and private schools recruit teachers from abroad or allow you to apply online. That having been said, however, by and large the people in Japan taking the face-to-face interviews will have an edge. If you can afford to live in Japan while looking for work – which may take several weeks – it is a big boost. Not only is the personal touch very important in Japan, but taking the initiative shows potential employers that you are committed and ready to start immediately.

Of course, when teaching English in Japan, interviews go both ways and it is important to pick a school that is right for you. There is no ironclad rule about school size and successful positions. In Japanese ESL it is management, not size, that matters. Good schools run the gamut of big to small and everything in between but good managers make all of the difference. So how can you tell which is which? Simple – look at teacher turnover. By definition, better schools keep their teachers longer. If you are at on on-site interview at a place where very nearly all of the teachers stay on for more than a year, it’s almost certainly a school you will like as well.