ESL Teaching Tales from Spain, Hong Kong and Around the World

ESL teaching classroom

Those of you who have been following me know that I have spent some time teaching ESL in Spain as well as in Hong Kong. Both experiences were very different and each had their set of pros and cons.

Some notable things about ESL teaching in Spain:

  • Most English academies focus on Trinity and Cambridge exam preparation. These are not easy to teach. Most of the time, you’ll have a bit of training, but you’ll have to do a lot of research and train yourself. 
  • The pay isn’t great. Most teachers earn 10-15 per hour.
  • A lot of Spanish students hate English – this is more true to the south of Spain. The education system isn’t the best there, and many just don’t understand how learning English will help them in the future. 
  • Students in Spain are some of the worse-behaved students I’ve ever seen. In North America and in Asia (where I also taught,) students learn classroom etiquette at home and at school. This is more rare in Spain. 

Some things you need to know about ESL teaching in Hong Kong:

  • Don’t worry about not knowing Cantonese – most people in Hong Kong understand English, at least basic English.
  • Hong Kong is a very busy city. People work long hours. 
  • Education is very important and competitive. If kids want to get into an international primary school, they have to pass the Trinity English speaking exam to get accepted – at 5 years old!
  • Kids in Hong Kong have long days – a lot of them study hard at school, then go to English learning centres, then do extracurricular activities as it helps them in their educational path.
  • Hong Kongers are very dedicated and strict at work. 
  • Everything is Hong Kong is expensive – you will live in a very small space. 

I collaborated with and shared how I found teaching jobs in Spain and Hong Kong – or rather, how they found me- in this post. You’ll also find tips and insights on teaching in Mexico, Thailand, the Maldives, Colombia, South Korea and Bulgaria.

Keep an eye out for more of my tips and stories about teaching English abroad.

Have you taught English abroad? What’s one thing people need to know about teaching there?

Related blog post:

I Was Unexpedtedly Jobless in Spain. Here’s How Social Media Saved Me

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