Teaching in Hong is a great way to live in the bustling city. Although Hong Kong is a financial hub and there are international banks everywhere, there is also a huge demand for 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, helps students boost their language skills and allow you to work and stay in Hong Kong.
In this post, I will list out the different options and organizations to teach English in Hong Kong.
Teaching Jobs in Public Schools
The Government NET Scheme
Primary and Secondary Students
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.
College and Adult Students
If you prefer working with older students, there are also opportunities with the Vocational Training Council (VTC). The VTC is the largest vocational and professional education and training provider in Hong Kong. Once a year, they will post online on their career site for NET positions which includes a very generous accommodation package. For this position, it is less competitive than the primary and secondary levels, and less known to the general public. The main qualification you will need is a CELTA or level 5 TEFL certificate, and it is possible to take this after you are selected.
In addition, there are also English teaching positions you can apply directly to the school posted on the careers website. These are more catered towards local teachers so it would not have a compensation package that is usually included for NETs.
Word of Caution
A disadvantage of these programs is that you would most likely be the only English teacher at the school, and this experience can be quite isolating. 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.
Teaching English Agencies
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.
Don’t forget that having a TEFL certificate also increases your chance to get hired. I chose to do the CELTA as it is recognized worldwide and gave me an opportunity to work in Canada in the long run.
There are three organizations I recommend as I have used them myself.
Chatteris Educational Foundation
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 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
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.
Teaching your Expertise
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, counselling, 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 middle-class parents, teachers get paid fairly well. The peak hours for language centres are mornings (for kindergarten classes) and after-school (4-7 pm 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 minimum requirement from immigration. A TEFL is also preferred.
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 coloured 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.
Expat Support Groups
My Other Articles on Hong Kong
- How to Move to Hong Kong on a Budget
- Struggles of Ethnic Chinese Expats in Hong Kong
- My Love-Hate Relationship with Hong Kong
If you have any other ideas and organizations that you wish to suggest, I would love to hear it!