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Teaching 'Engrish' Around The World

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Rebekah Joy
Rebekah Joy

I wanted to travel. I had no money. What to do? Teach English of course. While New Zealand ESOL teachers may not be the most sought after (because of our 'strange' accent) if you can get a foot in the door then teaching can prove to be lucrative, interesting and a great way to see the world. It’s not something you can do for the rest of your life unless you have the patience of a saint, but it is a diversion for a few years. Please note, during this time, your own language skills will suffer, you will begin to speak in extremely small syllables and when you ring back home nobody will understand you.

There are a couple of ways to approach it. If you’re looking for safety and guarantees, check the local newspaper classified ads before you go. Overseas recruiters and agents often advertise in New Zealand newspapers. The catch is, the jobs maybe lower paid, or in remote locations but they often reimburse airfares and you start earning straight away (I lasted two weeks in remote Japan before doing a midnight runner back to Tokyo). If you’re after the money more than the experience then this is the way to do it. 

A different approach is to head to your destination country and suss out your own job. You’ll need to have enough money to last at least two months and know the visa entry requirements (most countries allow you to enter for three months for sightseeing purposes – do not say you are intending to look for work or carry a printed C.V with you!!!!). Working holiday visas give candidates a whole world of choice.

Something interesting to note is that often part time jobs pay higher than full times. One of the major advantages is that you are not beholden to one company (ie one company doesn’t own you). Catch is you have to be under 31. If you’re heading to South Korea then even though you hold your own visa you still need to register as an English teacher. Immigration officials in the republic often do raids and deport people for working without clearing it first (strange since they are so short of teachers)  If Japan is the place your wanting to teach in then a working holiday gives you tons of freedom, choice and access to private students and different kinds of jobs. 

People often ask me what is better Korea or Japan. The answer depends on what you are actually looking for. If you’re looking to save money then South Korea could be the better option. Contracts usually reimburse airfares, provide accommodation, utilities and South Korea is quite a lot cheaper to live in. 'Hogwans' or preschools in Korea often provide a delicious (or not so delicious) meal as well. However Japan is or was a lot more 'Westernized', meaning it can be easier to live in. An influx of foreigners, an interest in anything foreign and a fascinating history (many of South Korea's historical monuments were destroyed by the Japanese during WW2) gives Japan a slightly more relaxed atmosphere for people intending to stay a long time. Japanese contracts don’t usually provide accommodation (unless the school is located in the countryside) or reimburse airfares, so your own your own. If heading to Japan find a 'gaijin house' to stay until you’re sorted. I stayed for six years on and off at the notorious Teachers Lodge and had a ball It used to be a lot of fun and a great way to meet people. Since the large fire in 2000 it has become quite strict about some of the rules, but it is a great place to get started. Located in Ota-ku, near Gotanda Station on the Ikegami line. Many schools forbid social contact with students (Nova had a big scandal with several students becoming pregnant quite a few years back) and a lot of other English teachers can be really geeky, so staying in a hostel/gaijin house for a few months on arrival may lessen any isolation.

Helpful websites for Japan

Helpful websites for South Korea and the biggie



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