Teaching English in Indonesia

Spread across the Indian Ocean, made up of over 17,000 islands, Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago and a gem of a country for those who love to explore both nature and culture. Despite the huge population, only two thirds of the islands are inhabited and of them only a few, such as Bali and Java, actually contain significantly large populations. Indonesia is also a country made up of many diverse cultures, with explorers, immigrants and settlers arriving from much of South East Asia and beyond, and both European and Japanese colonists having had spells ruling over this wonderful land, whilst Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam have all took their turn as the national religion. All of these wonderful mixes of race, nationality and religion have created an incredibly colourful and exotic blend of cultures and beliefs, with over 500 languages and dialects spread across the breadth and width of this nation.

The cities of Indonesia are densely populated, and epitomise what true inner city hustle and bustle is all about, seemingly always in a constant state of evolution, with technological advancements and modern construction in an ongoing battle to keep Indonesia in touch with the first world. Away from the big cities the landscape (much of which remains unexplored, at least by the tourist market), is made up of alabaster beaches and desert islands, dense jungles and intimidating volcanoes, and lots of native wildlife such as monkeys, bears, leopards and plenty of fascinating marsupials.

Teaching English in Indonesia

With such a diverse landscape, interesting culture and warm population, it’s no surprise Indonesia has become one of the leading TEFL teaching destinations in Asia, and being the fourth most populous country on the planet, the potential for students is massive. Demand for teachers around the ports of Jakarta and Bandung are heavily driven by the oil industry, whilst popular tourist locations such as Bali and Sumatra tend to also have a constant stream of TEFL teaching positions becoming available.

Most teaching positions in Indonesia will require a TEFL certificate is a bare minimum requirement, whilst it will also may be difficult to get a work visa unless you are a native English speaker and have a degree. Schools will help you obtain a visa and get you through the application process, so securing a job before you worry about visa requirements is the best way to go.

Wages and Cost of Living

TEFL teaching wages in Indonesia tend to vary from city to city, and can also vastly depend on the type of institution you work for. Experienced or highly qualified TEFL teachers should expect to earn as much as 10 million rupiah per month (around £675, €830, US$1100) and the cost of living is low, even in the bigger cities, meaning you’ll be able to not only live comfortably, but you can afford an active social life, with the opportunity to also save.

Where to head

Living in Indonesia has plenty of charm; this is a country inhabited by some of the most friendly and hospitable people you could possibly meet, and choosing where to base yourself can be a bit of a dilemma, finding yourself spoilt for choice. Here are a few of the most popular options available:

Jakarta is Indonesia’s huge and hectic capital city, and typically the first port of call for many new TEFL teachers arriving in Indonesia. Jakarta is the country’s commercial and political centre, and it is currently recorded as the world’s second largest urban city, behind Tokyo, with just over 26 million residents, making for almost endless flow of potential students and English teaching possibilities.

Bali may not be as vast and heavily populated as Jakarta, but it is one of the world’s top tourist destinations, often appearing at the top end of ‘Asia’s top beach resorts’ polls. The large tourist industry puts English language learning and TEFL teachers in high demand. Teaching English in Bali will give you the opportunity to live in one of the most stunningly beautiful beach resorts on earth, home to some of the world’s best diving and surfing, and leave the opportunity to work and save at the same time.

Yogyakarta lies at the heart of Java, and is the finest example of what Javanese culture and art is all about. Java is the world’s most populous island, and one of the most densely populated  locations on the planet, home to almost 60 percent of the national population. Java, and Yogyakarta in particular, is also where a much of Indonesian history took place, and at the centre of the country’s fight for independence through the 1930’s and 1940’s. Yogyakarta is also the centre for higher education in Java, with a wealth of TEFL teaching opportunities available, especially for those with experience and a degree certificate to their name.


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  1. Lauren

    How many hours of a TEFL certificate is required to obtain a KITAS for working?

  2. Philip Benz

    My wife is from Indonesia and as a native english speaker I would like to do a TEFL course to have the opportunity to teach english possibly in the city of Manado. I have a degree in engineering but not in teaching. Please send me more details and let me know my what my chances are. I will do what it takes. I am also fluent in german and am currently living in Switzerland. I am looking forward to hear from you. Kind regards Philip Benz

  3. Conran Selzer

    My wife is a native Indonesian living in Jakarta.

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