Teaching English abroad is an increasingly popular choice for struggling graduates

 

Despite the UK economy recently coming out of a double-dip recession, the graduate job market is still lagging behind its heyday of the mid-noughties. With 52 applications on average for every graduate vacancy, teaching English abroad is fast becoming a serious option for many university leavers. In fact, a recent poll by Populus for the British Council found that over half of under-25s believed they would have a better job if they lived or studied abroad.

Just a degree and a British passport can be a recent graduate’s gateway to a comfortable living in an exotic country. Being a native English speaker is a skill that has an enormous and growing demand, especially in Asia where no teaching experience and even no TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) qualifications are not a barrier to a job due to such high demand. In many TEFL hotspots, especially Korea and China, demand for teachers far outstrips supply, meaning finding a job is more of a question of when rather than if.

For Economics graduate Raeesah Haque, a perceived poor job market made the decision to get on a plane and leave the UK that much easier: “I decided to teach abroad straight after graduation as teaching English as a second language gives you the freedom to travel and properly immerse yourself into another culture, which is something I really wanted to do. As the job market isn't great in England I didn't feel like I was missing any opportunities, and felt starting a career at home could wait.

“Southeast Asia has a high demand for native English speakers to teach and it took me less than two weeks in country to land a great job. There are also the advantages of living somewhere completely new and beautiful and making a new place home. The disadvantages are that employee rights are not what they are in England, often you have to just do something and accept that's the way it is as Thai culture doesn't question authority. For example when I read over my contract I had a lot of questions and the manager said that she hadn't employed a foreigner at the school so far in her time and nobody ever asks any questions!”

Three important factors graduates cite as considerations before deciding which country to live and work in are salary and benefits, the cost of living and general quality of life. For some there is scope to fulfil all three but often ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers may find themselves having to prioritise. Southeast Asia and particularly Thailand is a very large market.

At around £10,000 per year, pay is considerably lower than the average graduate salary. However taxes for foreign teachers are virtually nil and you’ll still be earning several times more than the average local in a country with one of the lowest costs of living in the entire world. For a foreigner, eating out is cheaper than going to the supermarket and you can rent a comfortable flat in Bangkok for as little as £50 per month.

It is estimated that there are currently 100,000 native English-speaking teachers in China. One of them is Oliver Wessely, who recently graduated from the University of York and has been teaching in Shanghai for six weeks: “You are hugely in demand being English and educated and each day you wake up with a bit of a buzz being in a different city. There are a million new things you can try on your way to work, so no day is the same. There can be communication barrier in the classrooms. It can also be easy to be distracted from what you are actually here for and you spend your wage packet a lot quicker than I would back home.”

Does he see teaching as a long term career? “No chance. But there are enough transferable skills for me to be happy that I am doing something worthwhile.”

Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
footballLive! Chelsea vs West Ham kicked off 10 Boxing Day matches, with Arsenal vs QPR closing the action
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: 1st Line IT Support - Surrey - £24,000

£20000 - £24000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Graduate IT Support Helpd...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Audit Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Audit Graduate Opportunities ar...

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing Exec (SEO / PPC)

£18 - 24k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing...

FDM Group: Business and Technical IT Consultants – London, Manchester, Glasgow

21,000-24,000: FDM Group: Kick-start your career and join FDM’s award-winning ...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all