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Teaching English in Asia and How Japan Stacks Up Against its Other Asian Competitors

Teaching English in Asia is a big commitment for many recent graduates. Many are faced with problems of convincing parents about teaching in Japan or some other common Asian destination.

Others are faced with financial problems of scraping together enough money to survive that first few weeks until the paycheck rolls in. More here on  how much money you will need and a whole lot more.

Then many grapple with the steps of who to begin their English teaching career with. And they spend time comparing salary, accommodation and working conditions of large English schools throughout Japan. This alone takes quite a bit of time digging through ESL forums on horror stories etc. Some opt for a shot at teaching ESL in Japan via. The JET Program,  while others with more qualifications aim higher trying to line up work with universities or with private high schools.

Then there is the phase of determining teaching qualifications and TEFL certifications. Online vs. onsite TOEFL certifications. Long courses vs. short courses. How much is enough? Will a 60 hour course do? Or should you opt for 120 hours? And the search continues.

This aspect of comparison goes on for a while and why shouldn't it? When you  pack up all  your stuff and fly thousands of miles across the world you don't want to get scammed into some dead end job and be scrambling around like a chicken with your head cut off trying to line up some work.

Teaching English in Asia and the Conundrum
of Picking a Country 

Then after all of this comes an even bigger one. Why teach ESL in Japan? What about Korea? And China needs teachers too! Hong Kong looks nice as well. Now we have really stirred the pot. 

Just when you think you got it all figured out ...the picture gets a lot bigger and the whole problem that you think you got nailed down flies loose and hits you in the face. Back to square one.

Teaching English in Asia. How Does Japan Compare to Other Common Asian Destinations?

In other parts of this site, we compared just the top 4 Eikaiwas in Japan. You know that we just love charts. So here comes another one. Let's compare teaching English in Japan vs. teaching English in Asia and other top  destinations for ESL teachers.This is based on sheer applicant numbers.  This monster chart compares Asia, Latin America, Europe, The Middle East and North Africa. 

Note: This is just a bare bones, knock down and drag out comparison. We are not getting into cultural and more personal data. Why? Because it is highly subjective. After all what smells like roses to someone might smell like a toilet to someone else. There ain't no point in it. And as Drunken Billy a seasoned staff writer for us always says: "That dog won't hunt."

So let's chop down a pile of  guess work with some hard and fast info. about teaching English in Asia and  on how Japan compares to its Asian neighbors and hopefully help you find out where your time is best spent.






in $ USD

$2,000 to $2,500

$1,100 to $1,900

$1,600 to $1,900

$1,100 to $1,600

$750 to $1000


Generally No

Yes. Free or Subsidy

Yes. Free or Subsidy

Generally No

Generally No








Work Visa

Work Visa

Work Visa

Work Visa

Work Visa

Rent Comparison













Children/ Salaried Workers

Children/ Salaried Workers

Children/ Salaried Workers

Children/ Salaried Workers

Children/ Salaried Workers


2600 to 3200

1,000 to 1500

700   to 1000

1050 to 1350

800  to 1150


22 to 28

18 to 25

22 to 30

20 to 27

20 to 25






6 to 12

Things to Note About The Chart

Note: Rent Comparison index is relative to New York City (NYC). Which means that for New York City, the index is 100(%). If another city has, for example, a rent index of 120, it means that on average in that city, rents are 20% more expensive than in New York City. However if a city has a rent index of 70, that means on average in that city, rents are 30% less expensive than  New York City.

Note: Regarding income statistics, they are for starting out in Eikaiwas  or are all entry level statistics. (English conversation schools) or in South Korea a Hogwan or (private academy). So in other words the bench mark is even. All country information is at the starting level ie. University level in South Korea is not being compared to non-university level in Japan. This of does not include things that are unrelated to job level like safety, rent etc.

Contact Hours: Hours spent in direct contact with the student. In other words not preparation hours or office hours.

Safety: Global Peace Index Ranking. It is the product of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) and developed in consultation with an international panel of peace experts from peace institutes and  various think tanks with data collected and collated by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Source:  Safety: Global Peace Index Rankings - Wikipedia.

Teaching English in Asia and the  Index for Safety

SafeAround has compiled and analyzed data from several public sources to make a safety index that allows to rank the world’s countries by safety (100=perfectly safe; 0=very dangerous). 

These sources take in consideration all kind of threats such as mugging, crime, road death toll, occurrence of terrorist attacks and wars, to build their own ranking of world’s most dangerous cities.

Related Articles...

ESL Teacher - Are you sure you're cut out to teach ESL?
ESL Teacher Training - Is TEFL certification enough to get a job? Let's take a look at the Chinese market for ESL teachers. 

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