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.”

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

year 4/5/6

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you looking for a full...

NQT Teachers

Negotiable: Randstad Education Crawley: Randstad Education can provide you wit...

Year 4 Teacher

£20000 - £31000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to wo...

Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week