The Far East is comprised of China, which is by far the biggest country in terms of land mass, people and number of international schools, as well as Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and Mongolia.
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The Far East has a variety of schools, and teachers wishing to work in this vibrant region might be overwhelmed with the selection available. China has a relatively large number of Broadly International Schools owing to the large and diverse foreign workforce there, and the same is true for Hong Kong. Mongolia is somewhat up-and-coming and has all three types of schools but on a smaller scale, as does Macau. Japan and South Korea have large numbers of local international schools, especially those serving the younger ages, but also across the age ranges because of the large interest of the host national populations to master English and to study abroad.
In any school, however, you will find that a good-quality, highly academic education is culturally very important to both parents and children and is taken very seriously. This region suits teachers who wish to teach abroad in an academic setting.
If you want to find out more about types of international schools and their typical hiring criteria, visit our Types of Schools page, and for more specific information about the countries below, click on the links
Country Profiles (click on the names for more information)
International schools in the Far East region know that hiring good teachers is the key to their reputations, and schools in this region hire many thousands of teachers each year. They look for a strong academic focus which can sometimes, though not always, mean an emphasis on testing, rote learning and pure academic results.
Contracts are typically 2 years long, with flights offered at least at the beginning and end of the contract, but sometimes in higher-paying schools, yearly. Housing is usually provided by way of a stipend with help to secure housing upon arrival. In some of the more expensive countries and cities such as Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Japan, it is important for teachers to understand the cost of securing housing before they sign a contract, to understand what the stipend will cover realistically.
Salaries are rarely tax-free, but taxes in this part of the world are usually graduated – meaning you pay less the less you make, and more as your earnings go up – and quite low by western standards: somewhere between 10 and 15% of your income, for a typical teacher salary. Some contracts will include bonuses such as attendance bonuses or end of service bonuses, but not all will.
Some of the countries in this region have age-related visa restrictions making it difficult for teachers approaching the age of 60 to be seriously considered. Almost all countries have a medical exam requirement to get a visa, and the tests can be extensive so teachers with pre-existing conditions (especially HIV, hepatitis or tuberculosis) can be rejected and so we recommend you discuss this confidentially with your Edvectus consultant so we can best advise you. Most schools offer some form of medical coverage, but it is important to understand what it does and does not cover, because pre-existing medical conditions are often excluded.
Many countries in this region, including China, have a requirement for teachers to have 2 years of post-qualification teaching experience at the time they arrive for a new job teaching in an international school, meaning that opportunities for newly qualified and less experienced teachers are very limited.
In most international schools serving an expatriate community, the school year runs from September to June with a long break at Chinese New Year in China, Hong Kong and Macau. In some schools serving a local population, however, the school year may run from February to December, so it is important to ask for a school calendar.
Because of the multicultural aspects of the region, teachers with some experience and training of teaching children for whom English is not the first language are in high demand and teachers who have English as their first language are preferred. Because modelling the language and communicating with children who are acquiring English is so important regardless of the subject being taught, many schools can be sensitive to strong regional accents of any kind, whether English mother tongue or not, so it is important to communicate clearly at all times.
Teachers who register with Edvectus will find resources and tips for teaching children who are acquiring English in our Learning Portal.
Because of the huge expanse of the region, the climate you will experience depends on where you are located. Those located in China north of Shanghai , South Korea and Japan will find a largely temperate climate with distinct seasons, while those in the far north of the region in Northern China and Mongolia will find that the winters can be more severe and that winter sports abound. Those located in the southern region such as Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Macau will find the summers much hotter and longer.
In Your Free Time...
With so much variety in climate and location in this large and vibrant region it is very difficult to generalise but here are a few ideas
Few regions have such a wealth of sights, artefacts and beauty on their doorstep and in your free time you can travel cheaply and easily to see them. The Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an, the Great Wall of China, the Pandas in Chengdu, the shrines in Japan, the casinos of Macau, Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong and Seorak-san National Park in Korea should not be missed. Eco-tourism is taking off in Mongolia and nearby Kazakhstan, and you can travel on horseback and stay with a local family. At the other end of the spectrum the vibrant cities of Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Taiwan beckon for those who want to eat, drink, and shop. It is a good thing contracts are two years long in this region as you will need plenty of time to even scratch the surface of what's on offer.
Again this is dependent on where you are but hiking is big in Korea and Taiwan, biking and swimming in Hong Kong; in Northern China , Japan and Mongolia winter sports such as skiing and ice skating are popular. Horse riding abounds in Mongolia. Western sports such as football (soccer), baseball, basketball are popular throughout the region but especially in Taiwan, Japan, and Korea, and martial arts are popular in various forms throughout the region.
Clubs and societies
The culture of this fascinating region revolves around building relationships, and expatriates are no exception. There are many expatriate clubs throughout the region and you have only to ask your school or visit our learning portal to find links to them. From Gaelic football to drama to chess, you will find expatriates reaching out in each city.
Bars, pubs and clubbing
Alcohol is not restricted in any part of this region, and is freely available, though at varying degrees of expense. Buying a cocktail in a live music club is sure to cost you dearly no matter where you go, which is probably no different to your home country. In each region you will find local beers, alcohols and sometimes wines that are much more economically priced and most expats develop a taste for them quickly.
Obviously the larger the city, the larger the variety of clubs, pubs and bars, and those with larger expatriate communities will likely have preferred expatriate locals that you will find out about once you arrive.