Teach English Abroad in the Philippines

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A Guide to Teaching Abroad in the Philippines

A nation of islands settled in the South Pacific, the Philippines awaits teachers interested in working in a relaxed setting amidst a friendly, inquisitive culture. From sprawling rice terraces to crystal clear waters, and untouched remote villages to bustling cities, the Philippines can satisfy any teachers desire to experience a new way of life.


Placements are offered all over the Philippines, in big cities like Manila (the nation’s capital) and Cebu, and in extremely rural villages throughout the provinces, especially on the island of Leyte. Selecting a location is all about for the experience you are looking for. If you willing to make due with limited supplies and sometimes flexible school days, than rural areas will suit you well. However, if you would rather have access to Starbucks and more “western” amenities definitely apply for positions in the larger cities.

Placement Options

Where? Most teaching positions are available at various public elementary schools which lack funding and staff to adequately cover the student populations. Elementary school children range from four years old up to 12 years old. Additionally, some high school teaching positions may be available, in which case students graduate when they are 17 or 18 years of age.

Non-school based teaching positions are typically still centered around children, but occasionally some adult education classes may be open for instruction by international teachers.

What? Teachers should expect to teach a range of subjects, though rest assured students learn English from a young age so communication should be “smooth sailing”. Schools will try their best to assign you coursework that fits with your educational background whenever possible, but teachers should remain open-minded as most times there is a specific subject in need of an instructor.

Those in non-school based teaching positions can expect to teach a range of subjects, the most commonly Filipino placements center around practice and development of the English language. It is possible that teachers will have the chance to teach special activities related to their talents or areas of expertise, such as dance or music lessons, sewing classes, or even financial planning classes for adults.

When? The regular school year in the Philippines lasts from June until late March or early April, so you’d like to teach at a school attend between June and April, but keep in mind that almost the whole month of December is taken off for the holidays. For teachers interested in teaching extracurricular activities, opportunities are open virtually year round, just check with the individual organization or program information.

Benefits of Teaching

The Philippines offers teachers a uniquely beneficial experience in that the majority of the population has a basic understanding of the English language, so English speaking teachers will be able to better communicate and build relationships with their students and fellow teachers. For this same reason, teaching in the Philippines may be a great stepping stone for teachers in their international teaching careers, allowing them to “get their feet wet” before plunging into a nation where English is not as widely spoken.

International teachers are welcomed with open arms in the Philippines and very much appreciated by school administrators, families, and young students, which will surely leave a lasting impact on teachers openness to trying new things. Students and administrators will frequently put together moving “Farewell Performances” for teachers to show their appreciation.

Completing a teaching placement in the Philippines will illustrate to future employers a teacher’s desire to teach for the devotion to educating, by showing employers they are willing to be flexible with their skill set and reach out to those who truly need educational assistance.

Potential Challenges

Teachers may not consistently have access to modern amenities they have in their home country. Showers with running, hot water are rare even in larger cities, for example.

The climate in the Philippines is hot and humid year round, with rainy seasons off and on throughout the year. Foreigners sometimes have difficulty adjusting to the humidity and high temperatures for the first few weeks. The important thing is to stay hydrated.

Class schedules may change daily or at a moments notice. Holidays are prevalent in the Philippines and both national and local holidays are fervently observed, so school is often canceled with or without notice. Timeliness is also not a strength of Filipinos, so teachers will have to get used to students trickling in late.

There is a clear lack of resources, from basic school supplies like pencils to more expensive items like computers, among Filipino schools. Due to this limited access, teachers will often have very little information to develop lessons from or be encouraged to bring teaching materials with them.

Salary & Costs

Most positions in the Philippines are more about the professional and personal rewards than the monetary gains, therefore almost all teaching positions are carried out on a voluntary basis. Some positions may offer room and board in return for educational services.

Day-to-day costs, such as food and transportation, will be extremely minimal. Teachers can pop in to a basic canteen and get dinner for 40 pesos, stop by a market and collect vegetables and meat for under 70 pesos, or even splurge on a nice restaurant for around 300 pesos. Short distance transport, the typical commuter journey, usually costs no more than 30 pesos. Long distance transport, for teachers who want to getaway for a weekend or travel to the other end of the island for a day of exploring, is quite cheap by flight if you book in advance (sometimes as low as 200 pesos!) and also affordable by land, at a typical rate of around 50 pesos per hour of travel in a air conditioned van.

Rent costs can range from 1500 pesos a month all the way to 100,000 pesos a month, depending on where a teacher is located and what their budget can afford. Boarding houses are quite affordable away from large cities, often between 1500 and 3000 pesos a month. An apartment in a high rise in Manila will cost upwards of 14,000 pesos a month with modern amenities, but a modest apartment in a small city could cost as little as 4,000 a month.

Accommodation & Visas

Accommodation is often available in homestays where local families host teachers in their own homes, providing them with room and meals for a minor fee, especially if the teaching placement is offered by a volunteer organization.

Teachers may also choose to live in boarding houses, which are quite common in the Philippines, where tenant are given a furnished room within a house, with a shared bathroom, and sometimes access to a kitchen. Apartments and houses are widely available for rent for a large range of costs depending on location and amenities.

Visas. Almost all nationalities can enter the Philippines on a basic tourist visa for 30 days and easily extend their visa periodically at the local immigration office, as long as they are willing to pay the regular extension fees. If receiving payment for a teaching position a workers visa will be needed which will require a great deal of paperwork, however the school or organization hiring paid international teachers can always assist newcomers with visa requirements.

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