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Taiwan, Vietnam or Thailand?

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Joined: 26 Feb 2003
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2003 6:28 pm    Post subject: Taiwan, Vietnam or Thailand? Reply with quote

I am US lawyer-turned teacher. I am not certified to teach but I have taken some education classes including one 'theory of teaching ESL'. I am willing to do a CELTA program (probably in Vietnam or Thailand because of cheaper cost of living.) However, i don't want to come to SE Asia with no job (even if it means taking a crummier job than I could get in-person/in-country.)

I have some experience teaching English, and several years of high level corporate and legal experience. I have a BA in English, and a Doctor of Jurisprudence. I am also well versed in the social sciences.

Ideally I would like to teach specialized courses to lawyers and businessmen who do business in the US, but I am willing to take an entry level job just to get "in country."

I don't need to make a mint of money, but I need to make enough to live and send home about $400 in child support. I don't expect to save; especially in my first position.

I am investigating schools in Taiwan, Vietnam and Thailand, and would appreciate any opinions -- good bad or pedantic.

By the way, am I overlooking an obvious country-of-choice?


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Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 135

PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2003 3:25 am    Post subject: Taiwan Reply with quote

Forget Thailand and Vietnam if you want to be hired from overseas. Also be aware that the few-and-far-between "business" English classes you would teach would be to sales people at electronics stores, bank tellers and travel agents. You will not meet many highly skilled business people in general, let alone taking English classes. These are third world countries, remember? Some colleges actually hand out degrees in computer science if you can use Microsoft Office software and network a few computers together. Most of the people learning English are kids and teens. Finally, your salary as an ESL teacher would be little more than $400USD (20,000 baht a month is the norm, maybe 30,000 if you're lucky AND in Bangkok), so forget about sending that amount home.

In Taiwan too, most of the people learning English are kids. But there are more adults willing to brush up on their English, as well as corporate classes at biz-2-biz companies that actually do communicate with markets overseas--not just tourists in-country. The pay is better too, even the lowest paying jobs will let you save at least 200-300 a month, then more once you pick-up more work. Some people claim to save 1500-2000 a month. It all depends on how much you want to work. There are more "chain schools" in Taiwan that hire people from overseas, too.

I hope this helps...
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Joined: 26 Feb 2003
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2003 3:48 pm    Post subject: Re: Taiwan Reply with quote

WorkingVaca wrote:

I hope this helps...

Every little bit helps. Thanks very much. For what its worth, I have located a company that [supposedly] specializes in placing legal-english teachers. I've seen a couple of questions in the forums about this topic, so anyone reading this who is curious is free to pm or email me for updates.
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Joined: 19 Jan 2003
Posts: 27

PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2003 6:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah... ditto workingvaca...

I have to ask what your motivation for coming to asia is? You simply will never live above subsistance in Thailand with your kind of overheads.

Actually you are over qualified, and I suspect many schools, here at least, will feel intimidated by your certificates and won't hire you as a result.

Never (almost never) allow yourself to be recruited from abroad. Most people have a nasty shock when they are hired from a distance and then show up to their free rat-hole accomodation, and get an even bigger bounce when they realise what is expected of them.

I think you are taking an enourmous gamble coming to Asia, but if you do check out Japan and Hong Kong, maybe South Korea and Taiwan.

Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vientnam are for really dedicated philanthropic types!

(Generalizing, so don't flame me!)
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Joined: 28 Jan 2003
Posts: 28
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2003 4:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Go to Taiwan. It's the best bet out of your three. You could also consider South Korea if you're a sucker for punishment.
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Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 127
Location: Back in Asia!

PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2003 3:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think you are overqualified to teach ESL but if you really want to do it, (considering what you've told us about yourself) you should consider the Middle East. I assume you're a male because you're paying child support, so sexism against you wouldn't be an issue. Of course it really isn't safe to go right now and you may want to wait until the war ends. However, most jobs in the Middle East require a Master's, so you wouldn't be AS overqualified as in other areas, and you can also earn decent money ($30,00 US a year I heard is average for starting.)
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Joined: 03 Mar 2003
Posts: 84
Location: Nishi-Shinjuku JAPAN

PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2003 7:00 am    Post subject: Look into Japan Reply with quote

From what you have stated, you should look into Japan as being your teaching location. It is not a third world country, the pay is adequate, and the culture is great.

Your qualifications would put you in a very good position in Japan. I would expect your salary to be around 400,000 to 500,000 yen a month. A better position will also pay for your housing. These amounts translate into roughly about 3,800 to 4,800 USD a month.

It would take you 4 or 5 months to make that in Thailand. Of course you have to adjust for cost of living.

Do not come to Japan without first securing your employment. There are a million reasons why. But that is on a different board. (SEE JAPAN)

Just an idea for you!
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senor boogie woogie

Joined: 25 Feb 2003
Posts: 676
Location: Beautiful Hangzhou China

PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2003 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


It is interesting that a man with your background would want to come to Asia to teach English. Especially having child support back home.

I would scratch out Thailand entirely unless you have $4800 USD for your yearly support. Jobs there pay 600-800 dollars per month.

Vietnam pays about 1000-1500 a month. Taiwan pays about 1400-1700 USD a month, but you have to pay rent for a place, which is not cheap in Taiwan (I lived there, I know). I live in China now, one can make a living here, but the decent money takes a while to roll in. Japan pays 250,000 yen, or about 2100 USD a month, but about 500 USD is deducted for rent, and Japan is way expensive. Korea is not worth mentioning for someone of your qualifications.

The Middle East pays the best money if you can stand living in a desert with no alcohol with people who bathe once a month. Arabs are friendly and cool people, if you stay away from politics and the Koran. Personally, I stay away.

I would try Taiwan. Live in Taipei. Get set up, make relationships with Chinese people, and then you may be able to branch out of teaching and do other things that is more your line of work, maybe work for a private company looking for an attorney who is familiar in Asian laws and practices.

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The Gipkick

Joined: 02 May 2003
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Mon May 05, 2003 9:35 am    Post subject: Thailand, Vietnam or Taiwan Reply with quote

I've worked in both Thailand and Vietnam and they have very little in common apart from the tropical climate. I thought the money I was making in Vietnam was far superior to what I was making in Thailand in terms of savings. I did live very well in both countries on what I was making. There are quite a few decent English schools in Saigon, but if I were you, I'd try to find a job with a multinational. I worked at an American software development company and pulled in $1800 nett per month. As the communications specialist there, I had a very comfortable job with few teaching hours and lots of help from my lovely colleagues. I was the only foreigner there and, may I add, the Vietnamese I worked with were a truly beautiful people. Living in Saigon can be wearing and stressful, but very exciting and you'll learn so much about people and life there.

The Thais were a different kettle of fish. I found the ones I worked with to be perplexing and a little fruity--weird I mean. They come from such a different cultural point of view that having meaningful discussions is always difficult and misunderstandings are always just one sentence away. They are also a lovely people--if you are not a particularly deep person. Skate on the surface and you'll be as popular as mom's apple pie. It always seemed as if I was playing a strange and subtle cat and mouse game with them: Do you mean this or that and are you telling me everything or only what I want to hear?

The Vietnamese, on the other hand loved to hear about the world and what ideas and issues were shaping the 21st century. They are starving for real news. They know their government is censoring so much--and they love debate and intelligent conversation. Very lovely students. The one difficulty with students is that they are a particularly gregarious people and keeping your privacy is quite a challenge. The cost of living in both countries is very low although it may seem higher, at first, in Vietnam because of the almost institutionalized double pricing system. However, once you begin to learn the language and meet and understand the people you will be able to avoid the majority of this nastiness. Good luck.
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