What are the best countries to teach ESL in Asia?

Whether your overseas teaching adventure is part of a gap year abroad or you are planning to leave your old life behind and start a new career in the classroom, the huge continent of Asia is hard to ignore. A large percentage of people who decide to teach English outside of their home country choose this region due to the countless potential jobs on offer and the wide range of cultures there are to explore. The requirements needed to teach in Asia vary considerably, but all you definitely need is a strong understanding of the English language and a TESOL certification from a respected course provider such as ITTT. Although there are nearly 50 countries spread across Asia, these are the ones that we think offer the very best options for teaching English right now.

South Korea

South Korea has gradually become one of the most popular locations in the world for teaching English abroad as the demand for TESOL qualified teachers is extremely high all over the country. The average salaries are also high compared to most other destinations, meaning you can live very comfortably on your income and still manage to save a considerable amount of cash each month. You can also expect to receive a generous benefit package that often includes free accommodation and return flights. However, as the rewards are so attractive it can be a very competitive job market and the typical requirements are quite strict compared to many other countries. The requirement that excludes the most teachers is that you must be a native English speaker from one of only seven different countries.

One of the most popular ways to access the job market in South Korea is to sign up with one of two government-run recruitment schemes: the EPIK Program and the Talk Program.

Check out our post: How do I get a job teaching English in South Korea?


Despite some economic struggles in recent years, Japan is still a top destination for foreign ESL teachers thanks to a countrywide demand for English instruction and the draw of its unique and fascinating culture. Although salaries have not always kept pace with increases in the cost of living, the average income for teachers is still high enough to afford a good lifestyle and the potential to save some of your monthly salary. The biggest expense, particularly in Tokyo, is accommodation which can be famously costly. However, many jobs come with a benefit package that includes free or subsidized housing which removes any of those worries. Tokyo has a seemingly endless number of teaching jobs available, although smaller locations are also worth a closer look if you would prefer to be away from the hustle and bustle of the big city.

Many teachers who end up living and working in Japan do so via the JET Program (The Japan Exchange and Teaching Program) that has been in operation for well over 30 years and employs around 5,000 people every year.

Check out our post: How do I get a job teaching English in Japan?


Ever since the local authorities announced plans to create a bilingual Chinese-English population by the year 2030, Taiwan has been a hot ticket in the world of ESL teaching. Vacant positions can be found all over the country and at any time of the year. Potential salaries are generally very high and generous benefit packages, including housing and flights, are commonplace. Another positive is the fact that there are a range of potential employers to choose from that cater for different ages and types of students. If you prefer working with children there are plenty of language schools offering lessons to preschool and school aged students. In contrast, if you prefer to work with adults, you might be eligible to work in a university where the hours are relatively short and the pay relatively high.

Check out our post: How do I get a job teaching English in Taiwan?


Although the average salary on offer in Thailand is considerably less than in the previous countries mentioned, that doesn't stop thousands of TESOL qualified teachers heading there to work in government schools and private language centers every year. What the country lacks in remuneration it more than makes up for in lifestyle, with a laid back atmosphere, great climate, world-beating cuisine, and a friendly welcome, what is not to like about Thailand? Due to its popularity, the requirements for teachers have been tightened up in recent years, making the job market more competitive and also improving the overall quality of the teaching that local students receive. Bangkok is a popular destination as it has plenty of jobs and a great nightlife, although other locations such as Phuket, Pattaya, and Chiang Mai are all equally popular.

Check out our post: How do I get a job teaching English in Thailand?


Despite its troubled past, Vietnam now has one of the fastest growing economies in the world and a very healthy market for TESOL qualified teachers. Average salaries are rising steadily thanks to the demand for English which is growing year-on-year and working conditions are also much improved compared to only a few years ago. Private language schools provide the majority of positions, with big cities such as Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi having by far the most opportunities. If you prefer to avoid the big city, there are many smaller towns and tourist resorts where jobs can be found on a lesser scale. Unlike countries such as Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, the majority of teaching jobs in Vietnam are not necessarily advertised online and heading to the country first and looking for vacant positions on the ground is common practice.

Check out our post: How do I get a job teaching English in Vietnam?

Although the above five countries are among the most popular in the Asia region, there are several others that are also well worth considering, particularly if you are a non-native English speaker and/or you do not have a degree. The best approach is to do some independent research to find out which locations you like the look of and simply go for it. What do you have to lose?

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