Teaching English in Hong Kong can very rewarding. Hong Kong is a bustling city that many expats from all over the world choose to be their home. With a bustling nightlife and an incredible skyline, it is no wonder so many people fall in love with Hong Kong and do not want to leave. Although Hong Kong is a financial hub and there are international banks everywhere, a big demand is also in teaching English. As an ex-British colony, Hong Kong values the importance of English as a language for business.
If you are a native English speaker with a degree, loves working with people (and children) and want to have a meaningful career, you should definitely give teaching a chance! Teaching English exposes you to the local culture, help students boost their language skills and allow you to work and stay in Hong Kong.
In this post, I will list the different options and organizations to teach English in Hong Kong.
Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in this post which goes to support my website at no extra charge to you.
The Government NET Scheme
If you have a teaching qualification or majored in English in university, I highly recommend looking into the Native English Teacher (NET) scheme sponsored by the Hong Kong government. Depending on your qualifications, you can choose to either work in a local primary or secondary school. It is a two-year contract with the possibility to renew. This is one of the most attractive packages out there, with salaries starting at HK$26,700 (an equivalent of USD $3419.00 a month). On top of this appealing salary, it also includes housing and medical allowances.
If you are interested in working with an older crowd, there are also opportunities within the Vocational Training Council (VTC), which serves the vocational colleges in Hong Kong. Once a year, they have NET placements (which includes accommodation) but there are also numerous English teaching positions you can apply (but without the package).
A disadvantage of these programs is that you would most likely be the only English teacher at the school, and possibly can be quite isolated. Since these are local schools, most teachers are Chinese-speaking and come from Hong Kong and you would need to follow their school practices and traditions.
If you are not a qualified teacher, do not fret! There is still hope to work in a public school system! There are many teaching agencies in Hong Kong that partners with local schools in supplying them with a Native English teacher. They can either employ you for a full-year contract with a school or for after-school programs. These experiences are very valuable especially if you want to apply to the NET scheme in the future, want to work with local students or have a higher chance of being employed by schools themselves.
There are three organizations I recommend as I have used them myself:
Chatteris Educational Foundation: I came to Hong Kong by teaching for this non-profit organization called Chatteris. If you are able to commit one year in Hong Kong, Chatteris is perfect as they recruit candidates to work in a local school for a nine-month contract. Chatteris partners with primary and secondary schools but also vocational colleges, which is really appealing for those who wish to work with an older crowd. In addition, they provide a lot of accommodation support, resources, and workshops to develop. As a non-profit, they also partner with other local organizations including universities where you will be able to do additional workshops and to meet more people after work.
* Please include my name ‘Charmaine’ as your referral for your application.
Eureka Language Services: Eureka is another teaching agency that places native English speakers into schools but they employ both part-time and full-time teachers. If you are looking for a supplementary income or just missed the full-time cycle, Eureka has options for weekend or after-school programs. They send out several job opportunities if you are on their mailing list and it can be anywhere across Hong Kong.
English for Asia: Although English for Asia is known for their Trinity TESOL course and training workshops for ESL teachers, they also provide language service support to different schools across Hong Kong. Similar to Eureka, they have opportunities all-year round so even if you miss the school timeline, you have opportunities doing weekend or after-school programs.
If you are a licensed teacher in your home country, international schools pay their teachers extremely well in Hong Kong. Instead of teaching English as a second language (ESL), you will be teaching the subjects you are trained for, whether that may be Math, Science or English Literature to students from all over the world. Your students will most likely be a combination of locals and children of expat families.
However, international schools also need support staff and if you have strong English proficiency and an area of expertise, you might fit into one of the roles. Most of these jobs are not willing to sponsor your visa so you would need to either be a Hong Kong resident or possess a valid visa to work (i.e. dependent visa, right to land, working holiday visa, etc.) in Hong Kong. Some of these roles include communications, counseling, and educational assistant.
Private Language Centres
If you are looking to teach young children (generally 3-12 years old) in a small classroom, there are so many language centres to choose from! Generally, classes only have up to 8 students so it is small and intimate. Since language centres are a private business and targets at middle-class parents, teachers get paid fairly well. The peak hours for language centres are mornings (for kindergarten classes) and after-school (4-7pm for primary school students). Therefore, your working hours can be quite long, lasting from the morning to past 7 pm.
Many of the language centres recruit on JobsDB, a job searching website in Hong Kong, or on expat websites such as Geoexpat and Asiaxpat. If you need the company to sponsor your visa, make sure that you have a Bachelor’s degree as this is the mininum requirement from immigration. A TEFL is also preferred.
Warning to Minorities or Ethnically Asian: Although language centres are serving education, it is a business enterprise and they tend to hire based on demand. Most parents associate authentic and native English to a Caucasian blonde with blue eyes. therefore, if you are Asian or colored descent, stay persistent and keep looking. There are many organizations out there and it is important to find one that will not discriminate against your skin color. I have and continue to face this barrier in my teaching career but I am hopeful and keep applying.
Extra Support and Resources
If you need extra support, there is a strong community for expats on Facebook.