When a travel magazine or website puts up a photo of a beautiful Asian landscape, more often than you’d realise, you’re looking at Indonesia.
That’s not the only reason to teach English in Indonesia, but whether you’d prefer lush volcanic mountains in Sumatra or the tropical island-like beaches in Bali, the opportunity to explore Indonesia’s natural beauty will undoubtedly be one of the reasons you decide to teach English there. Another great reason to teach English in Indonesia is that teachers are recruited all year around, unlike some countries where there are only opportunities to find a TEFL job once or twice a year.
As a TEFL teacher teaching English in Indonesia you will be well paid. Compared to the cost of living in Indonesia, TEFL teacher salaries are very good and you will find your pay will not be dissimilar from that of an Executive Manager in the average Indonesian businesses. This is one of the few places in the world where you can teach English, live comfortably and save money at the same time.
To teach English in Indonesia you will need a degree, and a minimum of our 120 Hour Online TEFL Course; although i-to-i’s 140 Hour Combined TEFL Course is preferred if you have no experience of teaching. It’s worth checking with the Indonesian Embassy in your home country about visa criteria before you jump on a plane as well, as currently the authorities only issue working visas to TEFL teachers from a certain list of countries where English is the native language. At the time of writing, Ireland was not included!
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The average monthly cost of living in Indonesia is only around £400/$600, leaving you plenty of money from your teaching salary to explore all that Indonesia has to offer. Accommodation is well priced to rent, with a 1 bed apartment in Jakarta setting you back about £250/$400. If you’re planning on teaching in Indonesia for over 2 years, you may want to consider buying property; a 2 bedroomed villa will set you back around £25,000/$38,000.
There’s plenty of scope for you to enjoy a few meals out each month with your teaching colleagues, with a meal in a mid-range restaurant setting you back just £7 / $11.
While locally sourced products such as food and clothes are relatively inexpensive, imported products are at the other end of the scale. For example, a bottle of imported white wine could cost you £15, whereas a bottle of local spirits could be just £2/$3.
Indonesians tend to eat and prepare meals that are made of local and simple ingredients, combined with a subtle blend of spices.
Nasi Goreng is the national dish of Indonesia and while you’re out there teaching English in Indonesia, you’ll see it everywhere. It’s essentially a spicy fried rice with many variations -usually including an egg.
If you need a break from the aromatic flavours that Indonesian cuisine has to offer, you’ll be pleased to know that there is a great choice of international cuisine in the big cities, including some of the big chains (Subway, McDonald’s etc.) you’ll be familiar with from back home.
Indonesia lies across the equator and as a result there aren’t really four discernible seasons but rather two – a wet and dry season. The wet season is approximately October – April and the dry season May – September. Temperatures don’t vary much across the year, and sit normally between 28 degrees Celsius and 31 degrees Celsius.
Many of the privately owned schools will provide accommodation for teachers or assist you in finding somewhere to stay – English First has a presence in most Indonesian cities and tends to include accommodation in a teacher’s package. Once in the country and in to a routine, some teachers rent an apartment of their own, to get a bit more space – in the city centre you can expect to pay around £250/$400 for a one bedroomed apartment.
When they think about going out to teach English in Indonesia, many people will think of teaching possibly in Bali, or near a gorgeous tropical beach, or in a misty mountain community. The reality is that competition for teaching positions in Bali is very high and although there are some opportunities in more rural areas, there aren’t too many. The majority of teaching positions in Indonesia tend to be in the 20 or so cities, with most opportunities coming up in Jakarta – the other cities where a lot of positions come up are: Surabaya, Solo, Medan, Malang, Bandung and Bogor.
If you’re still set on teaching English on a tropical island, then the Sulawesi islands could be a good bet. The influx of tourists in recent years has caused a surge in the number of locals trying to learn fluent English.
Getting around by car can be a challenge in the big cities of Indonesia, especially in the capital Jakarta where congestion and traffic jams strangle the city for several hours a day. There are commuter trains that you can take across Jakarta, with a ticket costing just 10p/$0.16 for a journey of 5 stops. The Transjakarta Busway is also an option to get around the city – this is an air-conditioned and generally comfortable service with an extensive network across the city and a ticket costing a flat 20p/$0.32.
While you’re out teaching English in Indonesia, you are going to want to spread your wings and discover more of this amazing country. As Indonesia is a country of islands the quickest way to travel longer distances is by plane and there are a growing list of providers including Garuda (state owned), Lion Air and a whole host of low cost providers. Domestic airfares are generally less than £60/$100 and can come down in the week before the date of travel if the plane isn’t full. Trains run across Java and parts of Sumatra and run regularly between the main cities of Jakarta, Surabaya, Semarang and Bandung.
Schools should help you obtain the correct working visa. Be wary of teaching contracts that don’t include
Don’t miss out on the tropical island experience – Be sure to make it to the Gili Islands, where there are no cars, excellent diving facilities and some great parties to be had.
Be sure to spend some time monkeying around in Sumatra. Sumatra is one of the few places in the world where you can see Orangutans in the wild and most people will tell you it is usually a beautiful and moving experience seeing these cousins of ours in their natural habitat.
Find out more about teaching in Indonesia with the i-to-i TEFL free guide. It's got plenty of useful information on finding your first job, where you can teach and how to negotiate the best salary package.
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