The Ultimate Guide to Teach English Abroad
Teach English Abroad in Hong Kong
Being known as one of the world’s most exciting cities and financial hub, Hong Kong is a popular destination for many ESL teachers. Hong Kong is famous not only for its impressive skyline but also for its colorful and “orderly chaotic” city scenes. You can find almost every kind of cuisine here, from noodles to seafood, to sizzling pork, dumplings, and many other mouthwatering dishes. It’s one of the safest cities in the world. Most foreigners have a lot less difficulty adjusting to life in Hong Kong than they would in mainland China. There are tons of job opportunities and a strong network of expats to welcome foreign ESL teachers in Hong Kong.
What Are the Job Requirements in HK?
The ESL teaching job market in Hong Kong is quite competitive. Therefore, the more qualifications you’ve got, the more likely you’ll nail a good job. Overall, you’re required to have:
- A Bachelor’s Degree or above
- TEFL/TESOL Certificate or 2 years of prior teaching experience at public schools or approved institutions
- No criminal record
- A completed medical examination
- A passport from one of these English-speaking countries: UK, USA, Canada, South Africa, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand
Types of ESL Teaching Jobs in HK
ESL teaching opportunities in Hong Kong include:
- Teaching ESL at Public Schools in Hong Kong: Your students would be K-12 kids, and you must satisfy the teaching requirements listed above, set by the government. You’ll be supplied a standard teaching curriculum and work part-time or full-time, during regular business hours.
- Teaching English at Private Institutions: These private language learning school often aid primary/secondary education. This is the most common type of ESL teaching job in Hong Kong. You must satisfy the requirements listed above, though you won’t have to be a native English speaker, but having a native or near-native accent is strongly desired.
- Teaching ESL at Universities: Teaching at higher education institutions and universities has much stricter requirements, such as having a Master’s degree in TESOL or linguistics, as well as at least 2 years of prior teaching English experience.
How to Get a Job in Hong Kong?
You can find job vacancy advertisements online or in Hong Kong’s English newspapers. Work is available year-round but the hiring season peaks in May and June, possibly extending to July and August.
There are numerous platforms and recruiting agencies out there you can look into. We can also help you find English teaching jobs in Hong Kong! There are numerous daily job postings for teaching English abroad on our “Teach English Abroad Jobs” Facebook group.
Private teaching opportunities tend to come through word-of-mouth contacts once you’re there in Hong Kong.
How Much Do I Get Paid as an ESL Teacher in Hong Kong?
The average salary for an ESL teacher in Hong Kong ranges from $2,300 to $4,000 per month, sometimes up to $7,000 a month. Part-time teaching ESL pays around $30 to $50 an hour. Your work visa, healthcare and relocation expenses are usually included. There’s usually a bonus provided at the end of the teaching contract as well. Room and board are often provided or you’ll get at least a stipend.
Most ESL teaching contracts are one-year long. After several years of teaching, you’ll usually get a raise or bonus for renewing your contract.
The Cost of Living in Hong Kong
However, Hong Kong is also among the world’s most expensive cities. Rent in Hong Kong tends to start at $1,200 per month for a small apartment. Thus, if you don’t have a good housing allowance provided by the employer, you may need to find a roommate to share this high cost. The normal cost of living per month could range from $2,000 to $5,000 per person.
Here are some sample prices so you could imagine the high cost of living in Hong Kong:
- Monthly bus pass: ~ $60
- Lunch: ~ $20
- Internet: ~ $25
- A domestic beer: $6
- Basic utilities (monthly): ~$180
Quick Facts About Hong Kong
- Hong Kong is an autonomous territory of China
- Language: Cantonese Chinese and English
- Population: 7+ million (2017), making Hong Kong one of the world’s most densely populated areas
- Currency: Hong Kong Dollar (HK$)
- Climate: Subtropical with four distinct seasons: warm and humid spring, hot and rainy summer, pleasant fall, cool and dry winter.
- Hong Kong means “fragrant harbor” in Chinese
- Hong Kong has more than 1,200 skyscrapers (that’s 4 times the number of skyscrapers in New York City!)
Where Should I Live and Teach in Hong Kong?
The three main parts of Hong Kong include: Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and the New Territories. Kowloon and New Territories have lower rent yet further commute distance to the business districts on Hong Kong island. Yet it’s more quiet, peaceful, and less populated. However, the Island is the heart of Hong Kong and is more “westernized”. It has higher cost of living, yet more things to do, with most businesses based there, and a more exciting nightlife.
Kowloon is popular for being the major shopping area of Hong Kong. Meanwhile, the New Territories offer much more affordable accommodation and greener scenery. You may need to own a car to commute to work if you live in this area, whereas if you live in the Island, public transportation would be sufficient.
Overall, it depends on where you teach ESL at and whether you’re using public transportation or have your own personal vehicle.
The Working Environment for ESL Teachers in Hong Kong
The working environment for ESL teachers in Hong Kong should be quite diverse. You’ll easily find a network of fellow expats and locals who will help you adjust to life in Hong Kong. It’s quite easy to meet people of interest and network with other professionals in Hong Kong.
The students you’ll be teaching ESL to are usually hardworking and friendly. Like Chinese students, in Hong Kong, students tend to be very respectful of their teachers as attitude is a key indicator for their success. It’s worth noting that Hong Kong parents do have high expectations for their children as well. Thus, lessons don’t stop after classes. Hong Kong students are encouraged to constantly learn and attend after-school lessons.
Transportation in Hong Kong: Get Around and Explore
The public transportation system in Hong Kong is very modern and reliable. It doesn’t cost much and is pretty easy to explore almost every corner of the island using buses and trains. You can also get a monthly pass to travel around. People in Hong Kong enjoy lots of outdoor activities, such as hiking, camping, water sports, and more. There are many stunning and green parks and forests surrounding the city. Hong Kong is home to beautiful white sand beaches as well.
Traveling to China is also super easy. A train ride to mainland China through Shenzhen is less than an hour! Taxis are actually cheaper in Hong Kong than in many developed countries. There are taxis everywhere and it’s quite fast to find one. Therefore, you won’t need to own a car living in Hong Kong!
Where to Find Teaching Jobs in Hong Kong?
You’ll able to search and filter through this comprehensive list of ESL teaching jobs in Hong Kong.
Lifestyle in HK
You won’t need to speak Chinese to live in Hong Kong either. This helps many foreigners easily adjust to life in Hong Kong. Though English and Cantonese are both the official languages here, English is dominant in business. Thus, many adults need to learn more English for business purposes and want their children to be fluent in English.
Hong Kong is also an exciting city with plenty of things to do, from outdoor activities to shopping, dining out and nightlife. Hong Kong is extremely easy to navigate with the convenient and well-developed public transportation system. Facebook, YouTube, Google, etc. aren’t blocked in Hong Kong like they are in China. And the expat community here is incredibly friendly. Overall, as a foreign ESL teacher, you should fit in pretty easily in Hong Kong.
What Do I Need to Get My English Teaching Visa for Hong Kong?
You’ll need to get the “Z Visa” to legally teach English in Hong Kong. Here are what you need to provide when applying for this work visa:
- A scan of your passport
- A scan of your diploma and teaching certificate or anything that proves your relevant teaching experience, such as a letter of recommendation
- A basic background check with a clean criminal record
- You should be under 60 years old (for men) and under 55 years old (for women) since those are the retirement ages in China
Your hiring company should sponsor your work visa and handle most of your paperwork. Once you’ve received an invitation letter and Foreign Expert Certificate from your employer, you can bring that to a Chinese consulate or embassy to apply for your visa. The Z Visa allows you to enter Hong Kong legally, but after arriving, you must convert it to a residency permit within 30 days.
While the process could seem complicated, don’t worry because your employer or recruiting agency should help guide you through this.