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ESL Teaching in Asia or Middle East


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I thought some people on here might have experience teaching ESL overseas and I wanted to ask this simple question: Which country would you recommend I go to?


-have a bachelor's and a master's degree (humanities)

-I don't have a TESL diploma and can't afford one right now

-have 2 yrs ESL teaching experience (from more than 10 yrs ago) that will be difficult to prove but not impossible, if needed

-need to pay back student loans, therefore must make and save as much money as I can!!

-Asia and Middle East pay the best. I'd prefer a Chinese or Arabic speaking country (because I like learning popular, widespread languages that I might be able to use for work) but everything is pointing to Korea right now in terms of free housing, free airfare, low cost of living, good pay, no TESL certificate needed, and no teaching experience needed. Not to mention, my friend is there right now teaching ESL and keeps encouraging me to go there. Having a friend from back home while overseas would be great while I make the transition of living in another country.

-As a woman, I'm not sure about the middle east because I'd likely have to wear a headscarf all of the time to cover my neck and hair (depending on the country) and these countries get hot, would have difficulty renting an apartment on my own as a female, and might not get paid as much as the men. Although, as a social worker, it would be more useful for my career to learn Arabic these days due to the influx of refugees. Lots of settlement jobs in Canada and speaking even basic Arabic would make it easier to get those jobs after I return back home. Or if I live in BC one day, knowing a little Mandarin or Cantonese could come in handy in terms of my career. But Korean... not so much. 

Please suggest any suitable countries and why you think I should go there. If you can recommend any good cities or employers too, please let me know!! thanks  

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The only Middle Eastern countries that require a head scarf by law are Iran and Saudi Arabia, if I'm not mistaken. I had a friend who traveled in Amman, Jordan alone, and she said she felt very safe. She dressed in loose clothes, shoulders and knees covered, and men never cat-called her or harassed her in any way. I also know someone who taught in the UAE for a few years. Those countries could be worth looking into.

I lived in Taiwan and taught ESL there for four years. I was studying Chinese at the same time. It's relatively easy to get a visa to live and work there (compared to Japan or Korea.) The money isn't as good, but the cost of living is way, way cheaper. Learning Mandarin is not easy, though. You'd need a couple of years there to get a handle on it. I don't know how that compares to Arabic, though.

Feel free to PM me with questions about Taiwan, if you like. ;)

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I lived in Japan and taught ESL there for two years. I did it via the JET Programme. No TESL needed or even how to speak Japanese. As long as you are a native English speaker, they want you, especially now with the Olympics fast approaching. They paid very well (enough for me to save up and travel), the salary went up every subsequent year you stayed there, they paid for airfare there and back, and set me all up with my living and schools. Cost of living was super cheap because I lived out in the boonies so it is doable.

I can talk on and on about teaching in Japan but I don't know what specific questions you have. Just PM me with anything you want to know and I'll talk your ear off about it.

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I second the Taiwan recommendation.  If you are looking to teach in after school programs (which most people do) all you need is a bachelor's to get a job and a visa.  I have no idea what the current job market is like here since I am on the end of a decade at the same school and moving back to the US, but Taiwan rates highly from all accounts as a good place to be an ex-pat.

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I lived in mainland China and taught sporadically part time. Happy to answer any questions. Cost of living is probably the cheapest out of the East Asian countries, but it's generally harder to get by without speaking the native language.

On 04/04/2017 at 10:10 PM, rheya19 said:

Learning Mandarin is not easy, though. You'd need a couple of years there to get a handle on it. 

I think that depends on the person. I know people who went from nothing to HSK 4 in less than a year.

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I have taught ESL in central China for the past academic year. The pay is not excellent, but housing/utilities and roundtrip airfare are covered and the cost of living is extremely cheap. One thing might be to consider what age/school level you prefer, because China is one of the few countries where you can teach at the university level with a BA, although you have a MA. It may be easier to get a uni job here than in other countries, however. Personally, I like teaching uni students. I have the freedom to teach what I want and to create my own lesson plans. Universities may be places where this kind of work is appropriate, as primary and secondary schools might have a set curriculum. 

Also, I am not certified to teach and I had only tutoring experience in college before I applied. China is much more lax.

I also have student loans, and I have made enough money to eat out very frequently and also make monthly payments comfortably. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions! 

Edited by Peanut
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