Ever since its foundation as a British colony in the nineteenth century, Hong Kong has developed under independent thought and vision. Although today it is a part of China, you will see things that make you stop and scratch your head, towering skyscrapers, massive megamalls, and a highly developed financial district which helps make it the fifth most globally connected city in the world. This is only the briefest glimpse into the immeasurable treasure of culture and history that Hong Kong offers. Is there any reason not to live and learn in Hong Kong?
Courses & Programs
The best route to take in order to teach English as a foreign language in Hong Kong is to first obtain your TEFL or TESOL certificate. While you can sometimes find work as an independent tutor or at a private language academy as an uncertified teacher, going through the training and earning your TEFL certificate in Hong Kong will bolster your employment prospects with essentially every chartered school in Hong Kong.
TEFL certification programs in Hong Kong require 120 hours of instruction time, which typically corresponds to a one month training period. Topics covered during TEFL courses in Hong Kong include grammar, pronunciation, teaching methods, and classroom management skills. TEFL organizations that have schools all over the world where you can undergo training will often extend support to students to include lifetime job placement assistance upon completion of TEFL certification programs.
Certified TEFL teachers can find teaching jobs in Hong Kong in both public schools and international schools, which generally have a more diverse student body and use a British teaching curriculum. Due to the fact that Hong Kong is a wealthy global city, many of Hong Kong’s international schools are highly regarded, so teachers will be expected to have at least some practical educational experience under the belt and of course a TEFL certificate to be considered for these English teaching jobs in Hong Kong.
However, those interested in teaching in public schools typically only need TEFL certification and a college degree, and can apply through Hong Kong’s government-sponsored Native English Teacher Scheme (NET) for employment consideration. These placements typically last for two year contractual periods, and it is best to apply in the winter or spring before the school year begins in August
Life in Hong King
Hong Kong is a city of paradox. Due to its geographical location and history, it is a uniquely infused blend of both Eastern and Western cultures, reverberating somewhere in the middle. The mighty skyline and highly modern infrastructure of downtown Hong Kong does not quite overshadow the bustling marketplaces and backstreets of Kowloon. Neither does Hong Kong’s immense wealth from global trade mask the extreme degree of inequality between rich and poor.
Living in Hong Kong, you will notice these things, take them in, acclimate, and find yourself amidst possibly the most fascinating and dynamic city in our modern era. World class museums and theaters, bars and nightclubs, restaurants and cafes, and just about everything else makes Hong Kong an infinitely deep well of cultural stimulation to explore. Whenever the hustle and bustle gets overwhelming, just take a walk along the South China Sea or climb to the top of Victoria Peak and soak it all in.
You can get along well enough in Hong Kong speaking only English, although picking up some basic Cantonese will certainly help you in your daily interactions. Hong Kong is very well interconnected with busses, ferries, and a metro, and the city even has the highest rate of public transportation usage in the world. The summers can be very hot and humid, but it is easy enough to find air conditioning when the weather becomes oppressive (just duck into one of the mega malls!).
Costs & Affordability
As you may have assumed, Hong Kong is much more expensive than mainland China. It is one of the most important financial hubs in the world and general costs of living will reflect this. The local currency is the Hong Kong Dollar which typically trades at just under $8 HKD to $1 USD. Much of the local economy is informal, meaning you can barter at marketplaces for better prices (this will end up being the cheapest way to get most of your goods).
Some good news is that once you are certified, you will find that teachers actually are paid quite well in Hong Kong. Salaries can range between $3,000 and $6,000 per month, depending on the teaching job you attain and your qualifications at entry level. Typically you can expect private schools and international schools to pay better than public schools. Many teaching jobs in Hong Kong will also provide teachers with benefits, such as paid vacation and airfare reimbursement.
Accommodation & Visas
Hong Kong is one of the most densely urbanized cities in the world with over 7 million inhabitants living in the relatively small metropolitan area. As such, real estate can be quite expensive, especially on Hong Kong island. You will probably have the best luck looking to rent out a one bedroom apartment or studio in Kowloon, where accommodations are significantly cheaper. Remember that you are living in the world’s most vertical city, so do not expect housing to be particularly spacious!
The visa policy for Hong Kong is less rigorous than mainland China, and it is likely that you will just need the endorsement of your employer to attain the proper documentation. However specifics of what visa you need will vary depending on how long you stay and what country you are coming from. You can check out GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory for more information.
Benefits & Challenges
Gain Teaching Experience. Whether you are already a teacher, beginning to pursue a career in education, or just teaching English for fun before you move on to the next step, earning TEFL certification in Hong Kong will be a tremendous growth experience and it will also look great on your resume. It is likely your students will teach you as much as you teach them!
Live in a Global City. If this has not been emphasized enough, Hong Kong is at the center of the world stage in many different ways. Many large international corporations and organizations have a significant presence here, and the sense of global importance is palpable.
Go Where East Meets West. Hong Kong is very much an Eastern city, though its independent spirit undeniably stems from its historical connections to the West. Where else in the world can you go from an authentic dim sum meal near a beautiful temple to catching a Hollywood movie at an air-conditioned theater complex just a short walk away?