From South Africa to Asia: Top Places for Intrepid ESL Teaching Adventure: Image: Supplied

From South Africa to Asia: Top Places for an ESL Teaching Adventure

The demand for English education in Asia has opened up opportunities for South African teachers, who are recognized for their clear accents.


From South Africa to Asia: Top Places for Intrepid ESL Teaching Adventure: Image: Supplied

The demand for English education in Asia has opened up numerous opportunities for South African teachers, who are recognized for their clear and easily understood accents. In this article, we will explore six of the best destinations for South Africans to teach English in Asia, focusing on the unique experiences offered by China, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, and Thailand.

From China’s bustling cities and rich cultural heritage to Thailand’s relaxed atmosphere and stunning landscapes, each country presents its own blend of attractions and challenges. As we delve deeper into the benefits, requirements, and living conditions in these diverse locations, this article aims to provide South African teachers with the information they need to make an informed decision about where to embark on their exciting teaching adventure abroad.

Why Are South African ESL Teachers In Such High Demand In Asia?

Clear and neutral accent

South African English speakers, particularly those who speak with a neutral accent, are often easily understood by non-native speakers. This makes them ideal candidates for teaching English to students who are just starting to learn the language or need to develop listening comprehension skills. As a language learner, picking up new words and grammar is challenging enough, so a clear and neural accent makes life so much easier.

Native English speakers

As one of the official languages of South Africa, English is spoken fluently by a significant portion of the population. Native English speakers are typically preferred for ESL teaching positions, as they can provide an authentic language learning experience for students. In South Africa, languages such as IsiZulu, IsiXhosa, and Afrikaans are also spoken, but English remains the main language for conducting business in the country so South Africans are native English speakers.

Quality education system

South Africa has a well-established education system, with many universities and teacher training programs that produce qualified educators. The University of Cape Town, University of Witwatersrand, and Stellenbosch University, to name a few. This ensures that South African ESL teachers are equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to effectively teach English to non-native speakers.

Cultural diversity

South Africa is a diverse and multicultural country, which can be an advantage for teachers working abroad. South African teachers are often familiar with working in culturally diverse environments and can bring this experience to their classrooms, helping to create a more inclusive and dynamic learning atmosphere. 

Work ethic and adaptability

South African teachers are generally known for their strong work ethic and adaptability. These qualities are highly valued by employers in the ESL industry, as they ensure that teachers can adjust to different teaching environments, deal with challenges, and maintain a professional demeanour.

Which Country In Asia Is Best For South African ESL Teachers? 

China – Best For Salary

South Africans who are interested in English teaching jobs in China will find an array of opportunities across the country’s diverse landscapes and bustling cities. Competitive salaries, often ranging from $2,000 to $3,000 per month (R38,000 – R58,000), are higher than those in South Africa, and the generally low cost of living enables teachers to save a considerable amount. Although Chinese culture might differ significantly from South Africa, the rapid economic growth and widespread demand for English education create a strong job market for ESL teachers. 

Additionally, the opportunity to immerse oneself in the rich history and experience the famous landmarks, such as the Great Wall of China, make it a rewarding experience. China is a massive country with so many places to explore. The county is also rapidly growing and it’s an exciting time to be there to witness it first hand. There have been a few setbacks regarding teaching in ESL in China, in relation to strict covid measures and the ban on online English teaching companies. But the country has ended the restrictions, and is now open again, and there is a huge demand for English teachers, so salaries are inflated and the sooner you get in, the higher your earning potential. 

South Korea – Best For Good Packages

For South Africans looking to apply to English teaching jobs in South Korea will be happy to know the country presents as an attractive option with its emphasis on education and advanced technology. The country offers competitive salaries, usually between $1,800 and $2,500 per month (R35,000 – 49,000), and comprehensive benefits packages, including housing and airfare subsidies. Although the cost of living is higher than in China or Southeast Asia, teachers can still save a significant portion of their earnings. 

South Korea boasts modern infrastructure, a vibrant expat community, and a unique blend of ancient traditions and contemporary culture, making it an appealing destination for South African teachers. If neon lights, modern infrastructure, and a high tech environment excites you, you’ll find yourself loving South Korea. And South Koreans take their nightlife very seriously. Korean BBQ restaurants – where people sit around a table and cook meats of their choice and drink beer is a huge part of the Korean lifestyle.

Taiwan – Best For Work/Life Balance

South African teachers searching for English teaching jobs in Taiwan can expect a welcoming atmosphere and a lower cost of living, contributing to a comfortable lifestyle. Although salaries might be lower than in China or South Korea, and range between $1,500 and $2,500 per month (R29,000 –  49,000), they remain competitive compared to local opportunities. 

Taiwan’s cultural diversity, natural beauty, and its combination of bustling cities and serene countryside make it an attractive destination for those seeking a more relaxed pace. Additionally, the island’s friendly locals and thriving expat community provide a strong support network for foreign teachers. Taiwan is probably one of the most polite countries in the world, and this makes it a pleasure to teach in. There is nothing better than having respectful students that are excited to see their favourite English teacher.

Japan – Best For Cultural Experiences

For South African teachers pursuing English teaching jobs in Japan, the country offers a unique blend of rich history, exquisite cuisine, and stunning natural beauty. The demand for English education in Japan remains strong, providing ample opportunities for teachers to find positions in various settings, including language schools, public schools, and private tutoring. While the cost of living can be high, particularly in cities like Tokyo, competitive salaries, ranging from $2,000 – $3,000 per month (R38,000 – R58,000), allow teachers to save a significant portion of their earnings. 

Japan’s fascinating combination of ancient traditions and cutting-edge technology makes it an exciting and dynamic place to live and work for South African teachers. We all know that South Africans love sports such as Football and Rugby, and as of now Japan’s Football and Rugby has been climbing the global rankings so there will be many opportunities to watch sports games or even play casually with the locals.

Vietnam – Best For Savings Potential

As Vietnam continues to rapidly develop its economy and education system, the demand for English teachers in both urban and rural areas is increasing. Salaries may be lower than in East Asia, ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 per month (R19,000 – 38,000), but remain competitive compared to local opportunities. The low cost of living, fascinating culture, and warm, welcoming people make Vietnam an appealing choice for adventurous South African teachers. 

From the bustling streets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to the serene beauty of Ha Long Bay, Vietnam provides an enriching experience for those seeking to immerse themselves in a new culture. To get a better picture of where to teach English in Vietnam you can imagine Ho Chi Minh City as the Johannesburg of Vietnam, while Hanoi compares to Pretoria, and Da Nang compares to Cape Town. Vietnam seems to be one of the countries most loved by South African ESL teachers as the South African accent can be overheard in just about any popular hangout spot.

Thailand – Best For Lifestyle

Thailand, with its laid-back lifestyle, low cost of living, and beautiful landscapes, attracts South African teachers looking to take on a new adventure. Finding an English teaching job in Thailand is going to be even easier than the above mentioned countries, due to slightly more lax requirements. Though salaries are generally lower than in East Asia, ranging from $1,000 to $1,500 per month (R19,000 – 29,000), they can still provide a comfortable lifestyle. 

The friendly atmosphere, cultural similarities to South Africa such as a shared love for outdoor activities and sports, and the stunning beaches and tropical islands make Thailand an ideal destination. South Africans will be pleased to know that eating BBQ in Thailand is just as popular as having a “Braai” in South Africa.  Moreover, the country’s well-established tourism industry ensures that teachers will have plenty of opportunities to explore its diverse attractions during their time off. 

Finding the Ideal Destination for Your ESL Teaching Journey

Throughout this article, we’ve explored the unique experiences and opportunities for South African teachers in six Asian countries. Each destination presents its own mix of cultural attractions, living conditions, and earning potential, emphasising the importance of considering personal preferences and goals when deciding where to teach.

Researching visa requirements, job prospects, and qualifications for each country is crucial, as these factors can impact your ability to secure a teaching position. Connecting with other South African teachers who have worked in these countries can offer valuable insights.

Ultimately, the best country for teaching English in Asia as a South African depends on your individual priorities and aspirations. By carefully evaluating the benefits and challenges of each destination, you can embark on a fulfilling ESL teaching experience that enriches your career and creates lasting memories.