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A Guide to Earning TEFL Certification in Malaysia

Malaysia is an exoctic and tropical location for individuals to earn a TEFL certification abroad. It is a predominantly Muslim country, with an endless stream of superlatives and surprises; from the largest flowers on Earth, to the tallest sky bridge, and the oldest rainforest Taman Negara. Malaysian culture is filled with extremes too, spanning from the bikini filled beaches of Borneo to the Baju clad woman of traditional Kuala Terengganu. The country itself is split in two by the Java Sea creating Peninsular Malaysia and Island of Borneo Malaysia, providing two distinct locations for individuals to take TEFL courses in Malaysia and earn their TEFL certification abroad.

Locations

Kuala Lumpur. The capital city, located on Peninsular Malaysia between Thailand and Singapore, offers the highest amount of TEFL courses in Malaysia. KL, as it is affectionately referred to throughout Asia, is an ultra modern city. The city’s most famous landmark is the sparkly Petronas Towers, yet it is just a few hours from the rainforest and the warm beaches of the China Sea. KL is as impressive as is it large, what started as a simple mining town is now home to over 1.5 million people. You will find everything and anything during your teaching certificate courses in KL, including plenty of examples of traditional Malay culture along the historic streets throughout the city.

Kuala Terengganu. This mid-sized city also offers many opportunities for individuals to take TEFL courses and earn a TEFL certification in Malaysia. It is located on the northeast coast of Peninsular Malaysia and is by far the most conservative area of Malaysia. Although there is no actual law in place, societal standards require women to wear a full baju, which is the traditional Muslim garb of Malaysia, as well as a headscarf. Bajus and headscarves are stunning in terms of colors and patterns, brightly filling Kuala Terengganu with various colors. The most traditional of the population believe women and men should not touch in public, even to shake hands. The city is clean, well organized and also has a large Chinese population. If you are looking for a very different and stunning cultural experience while earning your TEFL certificate, this is the city for you.

Borneo. The well known tropical paradise is a tourist hotspot, and an equally enjoyable place to complete TEFL courses in Malaysia. It is the largest island in Asia and is actually shared by three countries; about 30 percent of Borneo is considered territorial Malaysia. It is mountainous, lush, and many well seasoned travelers have called it their favorite place on Earth. It is home to many endangered species and several cities with populations over 500,000.

Courses & Programs

Most teaching certificate courses in Malaysia last four weeks and require participants to complete at least six hours of real classroom practice before becoming certified. Online TEFL courses offered in Malaysia are usually completed at your own pace, however.

You don’t need any previous teaching experience to enroll in TEFL courses in Malaysia, but it can be difficult to find a long term teaching job in Malaysia without any prior teaching experience. Many newly certified teachers choose to go through a volunteer or teach abroad program to gain teaching experience. Finding a teaching job in Malaysia can be somewhat competitive in Malaysia, so it is possible to make a good living and even save money while teaching English as a foreign language. 

Salary & Costs

Teachers in Malaysia with TEFL certification can expect to make anywhere from 3,000 to 9,650 MYR a month (or $1000 to over $3000). This is a wide range, since it will depend completely on the school you work for and its geographical location. Many teaching placements in Malaysia will also offer some assistance with airfare costs. Overall, Malaysia is an affordable location for completing a TEFL certification.

It is easy to find short term, low cost housing in most areas of the country. You will be be able to eat three Malay meals a day, including drinks, on about 20 MYR to 40 MYR or $6 to $12. The development and improvement of the country’s economy over the last several years means you can find extreme ranges in prices from one place to another. Buy a local dish in the market for as little as 10 MYR or experience fine dining and spend over 100 MYR. It is usually cheaper to eat out than to cook, and going to the market for a meal is a social activity among locals. 

Accommodation & Visas

Malaysian teaching training institutions will almost always have some sort of housing arranged for teachers, whether it is dormitories around the school or a private home nearby. If you must find an apartment independently, which can be relatively simple, you may find housing costs to be pricier if you choose to live in bigger cities.

International teachers in Malaysia should be able to find a fully furnished apartment for around 2,500 to 4,000 MYR ($800 to $1200) in Kuala Lumpur, but places for as little as 1,400 MYR can be found outside of the city center. Always be sure to ask about the level of furnishing offered in the accommodation, as this seems to vary greatly and also affects the price quite a bit.

Citizens of U.S., Canada, Britain, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand can enter Malaysia on a visitors visa, while completing TEFL courses, and stay for up to three months. The length of the visitors visa is usually long enough to complete TEFL certification in Malaysia and find a teaching job. But those who decide to stay and teach English as a foreign language in Malaysia long term will have to convert the visitors visa to a workers visa, which will require an employer to sponsor them and complete the majority of visa paperwork.

GoAbroad Insider Tips

Competitiveness. The job market for paid teaching jobs in Malaysia is a bit more competitive than in other Asian countries. Employers will almost always expect some legitimate teaching experience, so it is may not be the best place for a first time teacher or someone just looking to get their feet wet. However, there are many opportunities to work as a volunteer teacher in Malaysia to gain experience.

Secret Paradise. Malaysian beaches seem like a dream or like the front of a postcard, yet the country is yet to be known for its beaches. This secret fact makes enjoying the beaches of Malaysia even better.

Learn the Language. Malay is a surprisingly easy language to learn. Words and terms are short and straight forward, so simple communication can be picked up quickly.

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