In Japan, the JET Programme employs assistant English language teachers to work in Japanese high schools and elementary schools. Other teachers work in private language schools (eikaiwa). The largest of these chains are Aeon, GEOS, and ECC. The industry is not well regulated; Nova, one of the largest chains with over 900 branches, collapsed in October 2007, an incident that left thousands of foreign teachers without money or a place to live. Other teachers work in universities. Agencies are increasingly used to send English speakers into kindergartens, primary schools, and private companies whose employees need to improve their English. Agencies known in Japan as “hakken” or dispatch companies have recently been competing among themselves to get contracts from various Boards of Education for Elementary, Junior and Senior High Schools, so wages have decreased steadily in the last few years.
In the Republic of China (Taiwan) most English teachers work in cram schools known locally as bushibans or buxibans. Some are part of chains like Hess and Kojen; others are independently operated. Other areas of employment include Universities, Public Schools, private tutoring and teaching Business English in-house. Although illegal, a large number of english teachers are employed in kindergartens or preschools. Monthly pay is around the USD $2,000 mark. End of contract bonuses equivalent to an extra month’s pay are not mandated by law as they are in Korea, and are uncommon in Taiwan. English teachers in Taiwan find life to be quite easy. Also, Taiwan seems to be somewhat underrated in terms of tourism and living conditions. With large cities with bright lights and lively street markets down the west coast, authentic Chinese festivals, holidays, buildings and temples, white sand beaches in the south and breathtaking mountain scenery on the east coast, Taiwan as much to offer the English teacher in terms of living conditions and traveling opportunities.
South Korea has a great demand for native English speakers willing to teach English. It is common for institutions to provide round-trip airfare for a one-year contract and a rent-free apartment. It should be noted that since March 15th 2008 rules for E2 visas have changed. Prospective English teachers are now required to undergo a medical, provide a criminal background check, provide an original degree certificate and sealed transcripts. On arriving in Korea teachers will have to undergo a further medical check before they receive their ARC card.
The current currency fluctuations are making the potential savings less, but realistically an English teacher should be able to save a minimum of $10,000 per year. Return flights are included in the contract and some schools will offer cash instead. A severance pay equivalent to one month’s salary is paid at the end of a contract as well. Citizens of the USA and Canada (and, as of mid-2008, Australia) will also receive back their pension contributions and their employers’ part of the pension contributions on leaving the country.
There are four main places to work in Korea: Universities, Public Schools, Private Language Academies (known in Korea as a “Hagwon”), and teaching Business English in-house.