Teaching in Asia
Diary submitted by Oliver H, Valencia.
Is Asia the ultimate destination for English teachers?
Teaching English in Asia would invariably be a wealthy experience. And no, I don’t just mean financially – although the money available is regularly high on the charts for English teachers – but it would also provide a wealth of experience, culture and change that teaching in Europe perhaps doesn’t to the same extent. However, due to the ingrained cultural and teaching differences, it would also provide a great challenge to all those who sought to embark on such a journey.
The market for English teachers in Asia is ever-increasing, and in many instances, the financial remuneration echoes this growing demand. Especially in the wealthier nations such as Japan and South Korea, English teachers can expect to receive a salary unmatched in most nations other than the Arab states. In South Korea for example, a monthly salary of c.2 million KRW ensures that teachers are able to save up a considerable amount of money over the course of a year. One TEFL academy predicted that a teacher could save between $10,000 to $15,000 over a year in South Korea.
Money, however, is seldom the reason that individuals seek to teach, and it is certainly not the be-all and end-all when it comes to teaching in Asia. The cultural differences between many Asian countries and the UK are stark, and for the more intrepid few, this difference can be a sheer delight. The hospitality, cuisine and history of nations such as Japan and China ensure that if you are willing to take a risk, a teaching experience in Asia could prove to be simply joyous.
However, with the various benefits of such a teaching job come a number of challenges. All of which I dare say, though, are manageable. Firstly, the style of teaching and learning in Asian countries differs considerably from that of the Western world. Many Asian nations have a mono-chronic culture with a distinct focus on the past. Tradition is indispensable, and accordingly teaching methods focus largely on learning by memory. This means that other more creative and intuitive teaching methods that work in Europe for instance may not have the same effect in Asia. Being able to accurately gauge the real progress of a student may be challenging with a learning-by-rote style. However, with experience and ability, this hurdle is not a barrier to effective teaching.
Getting onto a teaching programme in the more advanced Asian nations could also provide difficult. Some countries require a full university degree, whilst the sheer volume of people who seek to teach there makes the application process incredibly competitive. However, as with most things, when there is a will there is a way.
Teaching in Asia is something I’d love to do one day. The culture would be immense, and the experiences rife. With a strong foundation given to me by TEFL Trainer, I feel I would have the skills to succeed in such an environment. The money wouldn’t hurt either.