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Teaching English in Hong Kong

Hong Kong, recognized as a separate country of China, is actually divided into four parts - Hong Kong Island, Kowloon Peninsula, the New Territories, and the Outlying Islands. It had a long and colorful history from the time of British colonization. According to the 1997 agreement between Britain and China and for the next 50 years, it will retain its own independent laws, currency, and government administration by parliament. Hong Kong city thrives on international trade and is well known as a center for financial and banking businesses.

Credentials/ Qualifications/ Documentation / Hiring process

Open to ESL teachers from Canada, USA, Australia, England, New Zealand or South Africa. A Bachelor's degree, TEFL, TESOL, or other certification, as well as some relevant experience and references are preferred. (A few positions for Native English speakers are open to candidates without a degree.) There is no age restriction, but the majority of those hired are between 23-40 years.

Visas required to enter both China and Hong Kong can be obtained either through a Chinese embassy or Hong Kong consulate. Many employers do the paperwork and processing of the visas. A detailed, comprehensive contract should include this.

Many companies and schools will accept a CV and proof of qualifications by mail before scheduling a personal interview.

Work Schedules & Salaries

Most schedules are for a 5-day workweek, occasional weekend day, and participation in both in-house training and workshops. Salaries range from $2,600 to over $3,000/month and can be as much as $6,000/month.

Advantages

Excellent salaries, with enough for off-duty travel and/or savings. Housing and health care allowances for the public health care system are usually included in the contract.

The crime rate is very low for a city the size of Hong Kong and in comparison with other major cities. You should be relatively safe both on the streets and in your home. Considering the heavy traffic congestion throughout the city, the pollution rate is low, as well.

You'll find a variety of restaurants to choose from and inexpensive, excellent food sold on the street.

English, Hong Kong's second language, is widely spoken and understood.

The subtropical climate is fairly mild through its four seasons, except for the typhoon season from May-November. However, warnings and weather alerts are always current, so you're not unprepared.

Possible disadvantages (or things to remember)

The cost of living, especially in the city, is high. For example, a one-bedroom apartment is $2,200/month and around $1,400/month outside the city. In comparison, food prices are 20% - 40% lower than those in New York City. A monthly bus pass costs around $58, double that in New York, while utilities average $189/month in Hong Kong and only $132 in New York.

Hong Kong is certainly different, which is not necessarily a disadvantage, but you may experience an initial culture shock. It does take getting used to a radical change in the way of life. Customer service is not the best, and it can be tedious and time consuming, as the Chinese are quite meticulous and very procedure oriented.

Job Outlook

There is an ongoing demand for ESL teachers at schools, language centers, and businesses in Hong Kong, perhaps more so than in any country in the Far East.

Job postings appear frequently on Dave's ESL cafe, and on other websites such as internationaltefl, esjobs, transitionsabroad, and gooverseas. We have included a few recent job openings to give you an idea of Hong Kong job opportunities. (More information on these jobs and others on the eslcafe website.)

For the ESL teacher just beginning his/her career, there is an opportunity to teach young children, ages 2-12, within a large community of English-speaking teachers and Chinese co-workers. No experience needed, after school training of 4-7 students, and salary over $3,000/month for approximately 30 hours teaching (no Sundays). Shared accommodations and weekly house cleaning provided, $645 end of one-year contract bonus, health insurance, and 28 paid holidays.

Another interesting job opening posted on the ESL cafe website is for native English speaking teachers with a Bachelor's degree for two-year contracts. Details of the contract include a 5-day workweek with a possible weekend day and two days off, airfare reimbursement, and end of contract bonus. Company will provide temporary housing and assist in locating permanent accommodations, as well as obtaining the required work visa. Submit CV, current photo, and copy of degree to apply.

According to teachabroad, teachers are needed for kindergarten classes, schools, and language centers. Accommodation is usually provided, and return airfare is reimbursed. Specific salary not mentioned, but no doubt negotiable.

Conclusion

You'll experience a diverse cultural mix of East and West, with both ancient traditions and modern conveniences in Hong Kong and its outlying districts. In addition to the opportunity to earn an impressive salary and maintain a very comfortable lifestyle, there are numerous things to do year round in this cosmopolitan city including a variety of entertainment venues, dining, cultural attractions, exhibitions, and food and wine festivals. Shopping and tailor-made clothing are world renowned in Hong Kong. There are spectacular views of the entire city, the harbor, and the mountains from the Sky100. You'll want to visit the 10,0007 Buddhas Monastery in Pai Tau Village. You'll see hundreds of golden Buddhas along the pathway to the temples, pavilions, and the 9-story pagoda at the top. Want to get away from the hectic pace of the city, take a day trip to Sai Kung for hiking and boating. While there, dine on the excelent seafood at one of the many waterfront restaurants. Consider spending a relaxing weekend or holiday on the outlying islands. Hong Kong offers an exciting, invigorating way of life, ideal for the ESL teacher seeking adventure in a truly unique environment.

Sharon L Slayton

January 2017

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