Teaching English in Japan

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.

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Teaching English in Taiwan

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.

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Teaching English in Korea

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.

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Teaching English in China

There are an abundant number of opportunities to teach English in China, including preschool, university, private schools and institutes, companies, and tutoring. Public schools are tightly governed by the provinces and the Department of Education in Beijing, while the private schools have much more freedom to set work schedules, pay, and requirements. The public schools tend to have lower number of hours per week (12 to 18) with low pay while the private schools usually require more than 22 teaching hours a week and may have higher pay. An exception might be the preschool and elementary schools asking the English teacher to do more hours like the Chinese teacher would do.

Most English schools will pay for some of the travel expenses to and from Asia and typically will pay round trip for a one year contract (typically 10 months) and one way for a six month contract. Public schools will usually also pay during the vacations, but not for summer while many private schools have shortened vacation schedules and may pay for whatever short number of days is allowed for vacation. Private schools may also require English teaching on weekends and evenings while public schools seldom do. Both may have classes that are not on campus which require extra time transportation to and from classes. Public schools will provide an apartment with some extras. Some private schools also do this but others do not provide housing. Companies vary a lot depending on the number of employees they want to train and could employ a teacher for one or two classes or a complete set of 14 to 16 hours a week. Tutoring also varies as in some cases a whole family is being trained or just one member.

Some teachers are successful working independently with several contracts for tutoring, individual college classes, and some company work. The majority of teachers accept contracts with the schools. Public school contracts are fairly standard while the private schools set their own requirements. For the most part schools try to hire teachers who are citizens of Anglophone countries, but because of the large numbers of English teachers needed in China, others with good English language skills are able to find positions.

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