If you have already made the decision to teach English in Asia, well done! It’s a great choice you won’t regret. Fun and adventure awaits you. Before the fun starts, however, you do have another important choice to make; whether you want to teach in a private language academy or a public school.
Both types of teaching jobs are similar in that they involve teaching English to school children, both also mean as a teacher you can expect excellent benefits. These benefits include free housing (or an allowance to cover this), reimbursed airfare, paid vacation and comfortable salaries. Which one you work in is completely up to the individual, but it is important to consider this at the application stage. Both certainly have benefits, so the most important thing is finding the right fit for you.
With that in mind our first piece of advice is to do your research to help you decide which is best for you. The team at TFA have been there and done that, so we are happy to provide you with some of the information you need to make an informed decision.
Private language schools tend to offer more variety in terms of work schedules, class size, curriculum and pay. The pay tends to be a bit higher than in public schools, but more than likely you will work more hours, so it’s all relative.
A big draw for a lot of new teachers to Asia is that class sizes are much smaller than in public school. The average is around 10-15 students, whereas public school can have as many as 30 students per class. This is a major consideration. If you think you are the type of teacher who thrives on personal attention and individual conferencing with students, this will naturally be a better fit for you.
Another consideration is how important your working environment is to you. As private academies are considerably smaller, you will probably get to know your colleagues a little better, they are more likely to speak English well, resulting in a stronger sense of belonging and more bonding opportunities. Working in a public school, you will potentially feel more like a cog in the proverbial machine and you are likely to provide less input into academic decisions or how curriculum is delivered.
Starting salaries in private schools are generally quite good and in fact higher than most starting salaries of teachers in the US.
If you enjoy a lie-in, a private academy might be for you as with classes often starting later in the day, sometimes around 2pm and finishing any time from 7pm to 10pm (depending on the school), you can take it easy in the mornings! We recommend that you check the schedules of the particular school in advance.
For details of one of our popular private academy options in China, check out our featured job link: http://www.teachersforasia.com/young-learners-shanghai/.
Those teaching in public schools will typically enjoy more paid vacation and slightly fewer working hours each week, which is naturally a big draw for many people.
Most teachers will tell you a major advantage is the amount of classes they teach. The limit for teaching hours in class for public school is approximately 22 hours. This means plenty of free time to do your planning and class prep. Another benefit for many is the assistance of a co-teacher. All foreign public school teachers have a co-teacher that support you in class. They will help with classroom management and explaining difficult concepts to lower level students.
Vacation and sick leave are also a little more generous. You get paid winter vacation (24-30 days approximately), as well as national holidays, which is more than a private academy, which typically offer only ten days (as well as public holidays) for the whole year. If you are sick, or have a family emergency etc. your contract states that you may be given a certain amount of days off. This is not always the case if you work in a private school.
We are also reliably informed that public schools supply a very tasty lunch (some public schools even provide 2 free meals per day) – for some of you this might be the real deciding factor! Not to mention the re-signing incentives – public schools often offer a bonus If you re-sign with your school for a second year.
For more information on our public school positions in Shenzhen, China, take a look at this link to our featured jobs page: http://www.teachersforasia.com/public-school-shenzhen/.
So ultimately the decision is up to the individual but either way, whichever one you chose, we do promise you this, you will have all kinds of fun.
For details of our current opportunities in both private academies and public schools in locations across Asia, check out our ESL jobs page at: http://www.teachersforasia.com/esl-teaching-jobs/.
We look forward to finding the right job for you!
The TFA Team