Nepal is not only well known for the towering Mount Everest, it is also known for its friendly people, cultural and religious pride, and simple way of life (which will prove to be a nice distraction from the general neuroses and rush of the 21st century). A mix of Chinese and Indian influences, Nepal was a monarchy until very recently. Nepal is also the birthplace of Buddha, and the local cultural treasure of Lumbini is the pilgrimage site for Buddhists from all over the world. Covered with monasteries, mountains, and the occasional mountain goat, ESL teachers will have trouble resisting Nepal’s mystery, magic, and magnetism (and the teaching jobs in Nepal won’t hurt either!).
Nepal is located in between India and Asia, nestled into the Himalayan Mountain range. The nation is divided into three medieval kingdoms: Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur. Nepal’s population stands around 27 million, and the nation hosts ten of the world’s tallest mountains (mountaineers rejoice!). For anyone looking to teach abroad in Nepal, Kathmandu and Pokhara are the most obvious choices, as these are Nepal’s two largest cities.
Kathmandu is the country’s capital city and largest metropolitan area. The city is surrounded by four breathtaking mountains: Shivapuri, Phulchoki, Nagarjun, and Chandragiri. Acting as the effective gateway to Nepal and economic hub of the country, Kathmandu poses plenty of opportunity for veteran and newbie teachers alike. Considered the center for art in Nepal, teachers will experience historical, religious, and contemporary Nepalese art throughout Kathmandu, and teachers are most definitely encouraged to explore one of the city’s many museums on a free weekend.
Pokhara, located on the banks of Lake Phewa, is overshadowed by the stunning snowcapped peaks of the Himalayas. Since the city is a popular starting point for Himalayan treks and it is one of the least expensive cities in the world to live in, Pokhara is bursting at the seams with teaching job opportunities and serves as the perfect fit for any part-time adventurer because outdoor activities abound. From the infamous treks along the Himalayas to kayaking and paragliding, there will never be a dull moment for those who choose to teach in Pokhara.
Teaching Jobs in Nepal
Finding paid teaching jobs in Nepal is as easy as a “1-2-3”. Since Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world, especially after the recent earthquakes in mid-2015, education can go a long way in helping to lighten the burden of poverty for locals. Nepal also has a low literacy rate, among both adults and children, compared with the rest of the world, and the literacy rate is especially low for women and girls. Primary education is very highly valued in Nepal, but hard to find in more rural areas where there are larger populations of low-income families (who are usually the most needy).
International teachers are in high demand across the country to teach basic English lessons, including speaking, reading, and writing skills. Since English language skills are becoming a necessary survival skill in today’s growing, globalizing job market, most teaching placements in Nepal involve teaching English as a foreign language. You can even find opportunities to teach English to Buddhist monks in Nepal. In general, knowing how to speak English will open up a whole world of opportunities for all Nepalese students, so you will be leaving a long-term impact on your pupils, no matter what their future holds.
Most individuals who choose to teach in Nepal will have the luxury of a classroom assistant to help them communicate with their students. Although knowing Nepali isn’t a prerequisite for most teaching jobs in Nepal, having a few key phrases in your back pocket and making an effort to pick up as much Nepali as you can will show students your dedication to connecting with them. Building relationships with your students will surely be easier if you meet them halfway, and your efforts to learn their language should inspire them to work just as hard in the classroom to learn English. You will quickly find, while teaching in Nepal, that learning is very much a two-way street; your students will likely learn as much from you as you will from them.
Some teaching jobs in Nepal require teachers to be TEFL certified, while others positions are more lax with a handful of minimum requirements. If you do not want to teach English in Nepal, then it is also possible to teach other subjects, like math and science.
The school year in Nepal begins in September. In general, Nepalese schools have shorter summer breaks and many more religious holidays off than most Western school systems.
Salary & Costs
It is possible to find both paid and unpaid or volunteer teaching jobs in Nepal, depending on your teaching experience, the location, and the type of placement you’d like to fulfill. Regardless of whether or not you receive a salary for teaching in Nepal, the cost of living is extremely affordable for expats from most developed nations; this is good news for any teacher on a tight budget! Food and transportation will rarely cost more than a few of dollars at a time, so with some clever budgeting teachers will actually have the opportunity to save money, rather than just break even.
Accommodation & Visas
Those who choose to teach in Nepal will typically live in a pre-arranged homestay or in independently organized apartments. Housing is very affordable across the board, but most teachers choose to live with local roommates or with a host family to maximize cultural immersion opportunities. Don’t expect 5-star accommodations or a life of luxury while teaching in Nepal, since the Nepali way of life is much more simple and accommodations will reflect that. Even with a few missing creature comforts, teachers can expect to live quite comfortably during any teaching job in Nepal.
Nepal’s visa policy is very lax. Usually, teachers can obtain the appropriate visa upon arrival, then renew as needed in-country. Just make sure to consult with your teaching program provider, employer, or host school about the costs and requirements of visas so you are prepared.
For more information about visas required to teach in Nepal, check out GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
Life as a teacher in Nepal will come with the highest of highs (we’re talking Mt. Everest high) and the (hopefully only a few) lowest of lows. For those not accustomed to life in a developing country, adapting to life in Nepal will come with its fair share of culture shock. Certain luxuries, like WiFi, air-conditioning, and electricity, won’t always be available or reliable, no matter where you end of teaching in Nepal. However, this can be a blessing in disguise, providing teachers with the perfect opportunity to unplug and take a much needed break from the fast-paced hustle and bustle of traditional Western life.
Not only will you be battling culture shock, but the elements as well. Between the monsoon and earthquake season, those who decide to teach in Nepal should be prepared for anything. Summer is monsoon season in Nepal, and Nepali monsoons are not like other monsoons in Asia; it rains anywhere from seven to 15 inches during the summer in Kathmandu! The Himalayan Mountain range is still growing, slowly but surely, and that means lots of unexpected earthquakes. However, these natural occurrences shouldn’t completely deter you from finding a teaching job in Nepal. Just be sure to do your research and be prepared in case of an emergency.
Honestly, the Himalayas alone are reason enough to teach in Nepal, as sweeping hills and snowcapped mountains will greet you every morning. International teachers can enjoy a simplified, quiet life, following influences from Hinduism and Buddhism, and make time to meditate about each new experience (and challenge). You may, in fact, find yourself doing more learning than teaching in Nepal, making it an even more perfect opportunity.