Asia is undoubtedly one of the most popular regions for TEFL teachers, but not many people consider Hong Kong as a serious possibility as a TEFL destination. Instead, Hong Kong is often seen as a stopover on the way to the other TEFL heavyweight countries like South Korea and Japan. This is a shame, because Hong Kong is an interesting mix of history and modernity, East and West, and it offers a very attractive option for TEFL teachers.
Here is everything you need to know about teaching English as a Foreign language in Hong Kong.
Finding a TEFL job in Hong Kong
Finding a job in Hong Kong is possible online before you even set foot in the country, or on your own steam if you are already in the country. Many jobs are advertised on the usual job websites but many schools and companies advertise on their own websites, so it’s worth doing a Google search for whatever kind of a job you are looking for. It’s possible to find jobs in public schools, language schools or universities. Teaching Young Learners is very common in Hong Kong, as is teaching Business English to adults.
Can I teach English in Hong Kong?
The bare essentials that you need to teach English in Hong Kong is a four-year degree and a 120-hour TEFL course. Your degree does not have to be in Education or English; it can be in any field. If you have a PGCE or a Master’s you may be able to ask for higher rates of pay, and some schools will require you to have teaching experience. You also need to be a native speaker of English and be a citizen of South Africa, the UK, the USA, Canada, Ireland, Australia or New Zealand. You need a working visa but that will be organised by your school.
Teaching English in Hong Kong
Even though English is an official language of Hong Kong and is widely spoken in the country there is a huge demand for English teachers. This is because Hong Kong is an international centre for business, as well as a busy tourist destination. Teaching English in Hong Kong can mean teaching Young Learners, teens, adults or businessmen and women. If you find an EFL job in a language school, you will probably be required to teach in shifts and over weekends. There are a number of big chain language schools with TEFL positions available, such as the British Council and Berlitz. It is also common to teach with a local teacher in a public school through the Native English Speaker scheme (NET), or at a university if you have a higher qualification.
Teaching in Hong Kong you can expect to earn from US $2 500 to $4 500. As an added bonus, there are 17 public holidays every year in Hong Kong – and that’s on top of your paid holiday!
And of course, there is always the option of living in Hong Kong and teaching English online. This way you are free to structure your schedules so you can go up to Victoria Peak or visit the Big Buddha when you want to. You can also work as much as you want, meaning you are in control of your earnings. Plus you won’t have to spend money on commuting, and rather use that time to earn money instead of spending it.
Living in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a city of beautiful contradictions. Its culture and history are evident as you walk the streets yet it boasts modern skyscrapers, shopping malls and cutting-edge technology. It is a major city but there are parks around every corner and islands and mountains are just a boat ride away. When you get hungry, there’s enough dim sum to satisfy even the healthiest appetite, and there are numerous watering holes and ex-pat hangouts if you are looking for a night out like you’re used to at home (inside tip: head to Lan Kwai Fong for a fun night out!). Plus, Hong Kong is a great starting point for travelling to countries like Australia, Japan or Thailand
The only downside to living in Hong Kong is the hefty price tag attached to, well, most things! But in this case, the high cost of living is worth it and you should be able to live fairly decently on your salary. You should even be able to save but maybe not as much as in some other countries.
Your biggest expense is going to be your accommodation, but there is a range of different accommodation options to suit every budget. The majority of TEFL teachers live in apartments which, if they are big enough, they share with other teachers. Many teachers opt to live in Kowloon which is more affordable than Hong Kong Island. If you’re lucky, accommodation or a housing allowance will be included in your package, otherwise, it can be as much as 40% of your salary.
Besides rent, another major expense can be food. However, while it is certainly possible to live a very luxurious lifestyle in Hong Kong and easily spend all your hard-earned dollars on fancy restaurants, it’s also possible to eat out cheaply. If you shop at local supermarkets and eat at the markets, you’ll still be able to have mouth-watering food at a fraction of the price. As in many other countries, going out at night and entertainment can also be expensive, depending on what you do, but on the flip side, public transport is not.
Natural beauty, fascinating history, delicious food. All in all, though, if you’re considering Asia then you should definitely consider Hong Kong as one of your options.