Not just the gateway to Angkor Wat anymore, Siem Reap is growing into an exciting city all its own. Here, a smile will earn you a big one in return (in addition to the information and/or help you’re looking for!). Teach abroad in Siem Reap and learn why more and more expats are falling in love with Cambodia.
What you need to know about teaching abroad in Siem Reap
To find a job teaching in Siem Reap you’ll have better luck if you’re a native English speaker. Additionally, while not always required, having a bachelor’s degree and a TEFL degree will make you a more attractive job applicant.
Popular ESL jobs in Siem Reap. To teach in Siem Reap, you’ll first need to be flexible and willing to adapt to classroom styles often very different from what you might be used to at home. The facilities and supplies will likely be different from what you would expect in a Western school, and attitudes and behaviors will be different too. Many have noted that there isn’t really a stigma surrounding cheating. There are a few international schools which will probably have more western influences and cater to expat kids and wealthier Cambodians. These schools will likely require more formal teaching experience. Many of the opportunities for those who want to teach English in Siem Reap will be volunteer based or in public schools.Volunteering for many of the NGOs and orphanages in Cambodia can be an excellent way to learn about Cambodia and help a bit too.
Short-term vs. long-term teaching jobs. Most schools prefer that teachers stay for at least a full term, if not a full academic year. There are also several NGOs looking for volunteers who are willing to stay longer than the typical traveler. Regardless of the length of your contract, teaching in Siem Reap will leave you with plenty of time to explore your new home and the surrounding countries. Compared to other places, teaching in Cambodia often comes with a shorter work schedule and plenty of time off for holidays.
Teaching English vs. teaching other subjects. English is the most popular subject for foreigners who want to teach in Siem Reap. If you do not speak Khmer (the local language), it may be difficult to find opportunities teaching other subjects. You may find opportunities in international schools where the language of instruction is often English. Formal teaching experience in subjects other than English may improve your chances of finding a teaching job in a subject other than English.
Life in Siem Reap for ESL teachers
Siem Reap is a tourist hot spot due to its proximity to Angkor Wat, and is a popular stop on the backpacker route through Southeast Asia. There is also a growing expat community, largely made up of artists. The city’s culinary scene is on the rise with several drool-worthy restaurants.
Many locals and expats prefer the cheaper (and often more authentic) street food. For breakfast try bai sach chrouki, a pork and rice dish whose ingredients will vary from vendor to vendor. Nom banh chok, or Khmer noodles, is also a popular breakfast choice. It’s usually sold by women carrying it in baskets hanging from a pole on their shoulders. Savory dishes like pork and rice for breakfast may be something that takes getting used to during your time in Southeast Asia.
GoAbroad’s Inside Scoop for foreign teachers in Siem Reap, Cambodia
Cambodia is hot and humid just about all year round. There is a dry season and a rainy season, bringing with it A LOT of rain and sometimes flooding, but it is ALWAYS hot. Luckily, you’ll be able to use US currency to buy a poncho (or maybe several). Cambodia uses US Dollars and Cambodian Riel interchangeably.
If you want to teach abroad in Siem Reap, keep in mind that teacher salaries here are not usually as high as in neighboring countries. However, the cost of living in Cambodia can be quite low, too. You will also find that many teaching jobs in Cambodia are not advertised online. Once you arrive, you may have to print some resumes and hit the pavement. Remember to dress the part, meaning respectful and conservative, as teachers are respected members of society.
While teaching in Siem Reap, take time to explore the wonders of Angkor. Read this as a requirement more than a suggestion—you won’t regret it. Sunrise and sunset are the best times to go marvel at the architectural achievements of antiquity. Hire a tuk tuk or ride your bike to the ancient city and indulge your inner Tomb Raider (maybe with less guns).
Come teach English in Siem Reap. While you’re here, party with the backpackers, explore the ancient wonder that is Angkor, give back while supporting one of the many organizations doing wonderful things (check out Sister Srey Cafe to eat good food while doing good!), and find out if your stomach can handle eating bugs. Deciding to teach abroad here will give you insight into a place that many travelers don’t get to see. Enjoy it!
If teaching in Siem Reap sounds as exciting to you as it does to us, read our comprehensive guide on teaching abroad in Cambodia.