Teaching in Cambodia – professional conduct matters…
English as a Second Language (ESL) teaching in Cambodia is a highly respected profession and with this esteem comes many responsibilities. As a role model, you should endeavour to display a professional demeanour, use appropriate language and portray a positive attitude in all your dealings and interactions with students, parents, the broader community, colleagues, staff and administrators. Demonstrating professionalism does not merely mean assisting students to learn or following school policies and procedures. Please remember that you are also a representative of your school, country of origin, and, more broadly, the ESL teaching profession.
Teaching in Cambodia is important work. It deserves your complete care and attention. It’s noteworthy that the Australian Government accredited TESOL programme at AVSE-TESOL in Phnom Penh includes ‘professional conduct’ as a stand-alone unit in their 4-week teacher training course. In stark contrast, other TESOL providers in Cambodia don’t touch the subject.
Serious problems can arise if you behave ‘inappropriately’ in a country like Cambodia; actions have consequences. At the very least, unprofessional behaviour could lead to a reprimand by your school, dismissal, and in extreme cases, deportation or time in jail. As a professional, you should always be aware of the standards required. Discharge these in a manner befitting the profession and ensure you do not breach the trust afforded to you.
In many ways, professional conduct while teaching in Cambodia is simple, common sense. You should aspire to retain the respect of your students and colleagues, provide your students with the best education possible and demonstrate professionalism in all aspects of your career. Folks who are professionally-minded operate within a schema of accountabilities and responsibilities; there are certain lines that should not be crossed. True, the lines might be blurry on occasions and subject to change without notice; such is life in a developing country like Cambodia.
Professional conduct tips and hints
From my own experience teaching in Cambodia, here are 14 professional conduct guidelines that I’d encourage you to reflect upon and, if you share my view of the world, act upon.
Honour the sanctity of the ‘teacher–student’ relationship. Firstly, the teacher should endeavour to forge a relationship with students built on a foundation of respect, empathy and the preservation of individual dignity. This can be achieved by setting a good example and deploying a genuineness that would never make students feel embarrassed, stupid or ashamed, especially if they are brave enough to speak up. The second facet of this standard hinges on respecting personal boundaries. As a teacher, you hold a position of trust. These trust levels are further heightened when you are working with younger students. Never behave in a manner that’s unbecoming of your position by making students feel emotionally or physically uncomfortable.
Create a safe and secure environment for learning. Teachers should use all of their skills and knowledge to ensure that classroom conflicts are kept to a minimum, that students feel safe coming to class and that bullying or student harassment issues are dealt with immediately. In the very rare situation where there is a real threat to individual or group safety, you should be mindful of your duty of care responsibilities that come with teaching in Cambodia and discharge these accordingly.
Promote and encourage student expression, even in circumstances where your beliefs or views may be in direct conflict with those of your students. If you disagree with a student, it’s not appropriate to belittle them or make them feel vulnerable. Lead by example. Require all in the classroom to show tolerance of other people’s rights and beliefs, no matter their source or origin. It’s also essential to make sure that your teaching doesn’t intentionally or accidentally encourage students to break the law or behave in a manner that might be confrontational or physically aggressive. Instead, create a space that offers a safe forum for discussion where everyone’s views are respected.
Be aware of school rules when teaching in Cambodia. Professionally-minded teachers understand that following the rules, policies, and protocols serves as a foundation for productive learning. Furthermore, by understanding the ‘rules’ of the school, the teacher is better equipped to ensure the integrity of the age-old, ‘teacher–student’ relationship is maintained. There are a few basic rules that ESL teachers should always follow: be punctual and well prepared, dress professionally, avoid using foul language, never lose your temper or become aggressive, be courteous and friendly and do not engage in gossip, arguments, and other inappropriate behaviour.
Never give or take money from your students while teaching in Cambodia – or anywhere else. What might seem like a harmless transaction can easily be misconstrued or, worse, place you in a situation of criminality.
Ensure every lesson you ever take is thoroughly planned. If you stop preparing for your classes or, at a minimum, adjust lessons plans that you have previously taught, it is probably time to look for a new career.
If you’re unsure how to respond to a question from a student, it’s best to say nothing and then find out the answer later. If you should give a wrong answer, you could potentially lose the respect of your students.
Don’t make friends with your students during your time teaching in Cambodia. Yes, it is important to create a cordial atmosphere in the classroom to encourage learning and build trust, but do not blur the lines of the teacher-student relationship by extending this to friendship.
Treat all your students equally. The worst thing you can do as a teacher is to play favourites. Be universally welcoming and ensure that all students are treated equally.
Maintain objectivity. It’s not acceptable to afford assessment and/or grading leniency to the students you may like, feel an affinity towards or who are simply better behaved in the classroom. You must remain objective and assess any work submitted on its merits.
Avoid taking gifts from students. It is never a good idea to accept a gift from a student. Don’t open the door to the perception that you are complicit in an inappropriate relationship. It’s not worth the risk. If you’re offered a gift, then just make it clear that all you expect in return from your students is good, old-fashioned hard work.
Don’t enforce your beliefs. Teacher neutrality is imperative in the classroom. ESL teaching in Cambodia requires you to teach English, nothing more, nothing less. It doesn’t require you to indoctrinate, inculcate or push your personal beliefs onto, or convert, your students.
Don’t bore students with tales about your life. While it can be fun to use personal anecdotes to illustrate certain facets of the course, sharing your personal life should be kept to a minimum. Using individual students (or the whole class) as a personal confidant or therapist is simply ‘not on’.
Teaching is a highly regarded occupation across Southeast Asia and other parts of the world. Westerners who teach abroad are sometimes taken aback by the reverence they receive from students and the wider school community. Foreign ESL teachers are often paid more than their local counterparts and almost always earn significantly more than the average wage in the country where they’re working.
It is not surprising that employers generally expect a high level of professionalism and commitment from foreigners teaching in Cambodia, both in and out of the classroom. There is a wide range of duties and responsibilities that fall to ESL teachers beyond the classroom. Depending on your employer, some non-teaching duties will likely be expected without additional pay. For example, it is very rare for teachers to be paid for lesson preparation time. Some or all of the following may be part of your normal days’ work:
Accurately recording results and attendance
Attending meetings, work functions and events
Participating in professional development
Planning and preparing all lessons
Writing student reports
Meeting with parents
Collaborating and seeking feedback from colleagues
Observing less experienced (or more experienced) teachers in the classroom
Conducting demonstration lessons
Cleaning and tidying classrooms and facilities
Participating in school open days
In addition, employers may have expectations about maintaining their school’s image. For example, you may be required to adhere to a dress code, remove piercings, cover tattoos and so on. Your employer may also want to take pictures of you to be used in marketing activities.
From my observations teaching in Cambodia, the local people are curious by nature. With this in mind, there’s a high chance that ‘all and sundry’ in the school community will actively seek out your presence on social media platforms. Have you posted anything that might conflict with your role teaching in Cambodia? If so, delete it before you go to your first job interview.
Who can view your posts? Who can interact with you on social media? I’d encourage you to use all available privacy measures to prevent people in the school community from finding you on social media in the first place. If, by some chance, a member of the school community does find you on social media, you should have a backup plan so they can’t engage with you. Under no circumstances should you add students (or their parents) as friends or contacts on your social media platforms. The reality is that we’ve all said and done things that we wish we hadn’t, and often misadventure finds its way to social media. Deal with it before it becomes an issue for you.
Ongoing professional development
Teaching in Cambodia is one of those professions where keeping up to date with best practices, standards, guidelines, research and suchlike – commonly known as professional development – is paramount. If you know what’s going on in your profession, it follows that there’s a better chance that the way you conduct yourself – professional conduct – will be more aligned to what’s expected than it might otherwise be.
Understandably, when people hear the expression ‘professional development’, boring conventions, further study and stuffy networking events come to mind. Who has time (and money) for those things? Well, the great news is that it can be fun and easy to keep up with teaching in Cambodia trends, to the extent that you won’t even know that you’re engaging in ‘professional development.’
Your everyday social life is a professional development ‘gold mine’. Just by chatting regularly with co-workers, setting up regular lunches or coffee meets with like-minded colleagues or staying in touch online, you will be able to share your experiences and knowledge on ‘what’s what’ in the ESL world. It doesn’t all have to be about work, of course, but doubtless, you will find these are great opportunities to share tips and ideas about teaching practices that have worked for you and to learn what has worked for others. Other fun and social techniques for keeping your knowledge on the cutting edge include joining groups on Facebook and, of course, staying in touch with classmates from your teacher training days.
Certainly, more formal opportunities for professional development exist and can add tremendous value to your teaching in Cambodia journey. If you are lucky, you might find these opportunities being offered by your employer. If not, you may opt to invest some of your time and money to take part. ESL ‘Associations’, Organisations and the like, whether in your home country or abroad, often run courses and events with a professional development dimension. It’s a matter of keeping an eye out for what’s available.
Conducting yourself professionally is central to succeeding as an ESL educator, whether it’s teaching in Cambodia or another location. In the main, going about your business in a professional manner requires nothing more than common sense. Choosing not to lend or accept money from students, treating all students equally and maintaining objectivity are three examples of professional conduct ‘101’ while teaching in Cambodia. Be mindful that your social media platforms will attract attention if you allow it to happen. Interacting with students and parents via social media is a ‘no go zone’ in my view based on a simple ‘risk versus benefit’ analysis. Lastly, don’t underestimate the connection between professional conduct and professional development. They’re intertwined.
About the blogger: Peter Goudge is the Managing Director (and founder) of AVSE-TESOL in Cambodia (Phnom Penh) and Vietnam (Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City). Peter and the team at AVSE-TESOL in Phnom Penh have been helping aspiring educators to land that all-important first job, teaching in Cambodia or Vietnam, for more than a decade. Check out the AVSE-TESOL website: www.avse.edu.vn
Teaching English in Cambodia without a degree | Yes you can…
Teaching English in Cambodia without a degree is not only possible, but also completely legal. Cambodia is one of only a few countries worldwide that welcomes non-degree holders into the local teaching fraternity. This is good news for people who think they’d make a decent English language teacher, even though they don’t have a degree. It’s equally good news for students across Cambodia because the ‘English teacher pool’ is much larger than it would otherwise be. For the purpose of this blog post, let’s assume that you don’t hold a degree, but you want to teach in Cambodia.
Despite a university or college degree not being a core requirement to take on a legal teaching job in Cambodia, there are other ‘hoops’ that you’ll need to jump through. The ‘hoops’ are all manageable, but they will require you to: 1. spend a bit of money; 2. do some self-promotion; and 3. possess the ‘patience of a saint’. Like everything else in life, if you want it enough, you’ll weave your way through what needs to be done to achieve the desired outcome. The ‘outcome’ in this instance is something to behold. Among other things, there’s a quintessential expat lifestyle on offer, a decent salary in a country where the cost of living is low, and job satisfaction that few people experience in their lifetime. Importantly, you’ll feel appreciated. Being appreciated does marvels for self-esteem.
Hoop 1: Spend a bit of money
While there’s no issue with teaching English in Cambodia without a degree, reputable schools in Phnom Penh and across the country expect foreign teachers to hold government-regulated, internationally recognised TESOL, TEFL or CELTA certification. In plain English, TESOL, TEFL or CELTA are teaching certificates. This is where you will need to part with a bit of money. Government-regulated TESOL, TEFL or CELTA is serious job training that leads to an English as a Second Language (ESL) teaching qualification that you can use anywhere in the world. The ‘government related’ requirement is the key to legitimacy.
The Australian Government accredited TESOL course at AVSE-TESOL in Phnom Penh is perfect. TESOL at AVSE-TESOL involves a time commitment of 150 hours over four weeks. The TESOL programme at AVSE-TESOL is all about ensuring that you have the skills, knowledge, practical experience, and quality certification you need to get a teaching job in Cambodia – and do the job well.
Hoop 2: Self-promotion
Self-promotion is one of those things in life that people either shy away from or embrace with enthusiasm. There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground. In the context of finding a teaching job in Cambodia, I think you’re better placed if self-promotion doesn’t come easy for you compared to someone who embodies self-promotion. Certainly, your demeanour will be in sync with the local population.
The ‘self-promotion’ hoop is more about putting yourself, and your quality TESOL certification, in front of prospective employers (schools) in Cambodia than ‘big-noting’ yourself. Yes, teaching English in Cambodia without a degree is perfectly legal, but you will be competing for teaching jobs with people who hold a degree. Putting your best foot forward is paramount.
Here are eight ‘self-promotion’ tips, not in any particular order, that will be well-received by schools in Cambodia – the folks at AVSE-TESOL in Phnom Penh can help you with all of these without charge:
Produce and distribute a professional-looking, one-page curriculum vitae (resume). Your curriculum vitae needs to include a carefully worded paragraph about you, a decent head and shoulders photo and information about your government regulated TESOL certification.
Produce and distribute a short introduction video that shows what you have to offer – professionally-minded, culturally sensitive, hold quality TESOL certification and suchlike.
Have hard and soft copies of your key documents readily available – curriculum vitae, notarised teaching certification, sample lesson plan, notarised background check, passport with a current visa, written teaching-related testimonials.
Invest in professional-looking clothes and footwear (two sets). Here’s some insight – imagine that you’re going to work in a bank, that’s the standard you need to meet.
Be mindful of your personal appearance and hygiene. Nobody expects you to look (or smell) like Tom Cruise or Beyonce, but you need to make the best of what you’ve got.
Show that you know a thing or two about cultural sensitivity. If you have tattoos, make sure they’re covered, don’t touch people you don’t know, keep your voice down, speak slowly, be humble, be grateful for the opportunity that has presented itself.
Join local teaching-related Facebook Groups – there are many in Phnom Penh – let people know that you’re in town and looking for an opportunity to start teaching English in Cambodia without a degree.
Be ready to produce a ‘half-decent’ lesson plan with minimal notice; a coherent structure is the key.
Hoop 3: Patience of a saint
In the third or fourth century (the exact time is unknown), Cato the Elderwrote: “Of human virtues, patience is most great.” Cato was clearly a ‘man before his time’. He’d do well teaching English in Cambodia without a degree or under any other circumstances. Why? Cato clearly understood the significance of ‘patience’.
Frequently, you’ll see and hear things as you go about your daily life in Cambodia as an English teacher and expat that will leave you ‘shaking your head’. From this day onwards, I’d suggest that you make a point of not shaking your head. It won’t change anything. It won’t make you feel better. Shaking your head, grumbling and the like feed alienation. Possessing the inner strength, the ‘patience of a saint’, not to buy into occurrences that peeve you, is pivotal to your longevity as an English teacher and expat in Cambodia. Heaven knows Cambodia is full of things that will leave you frustrated and even ‘red-hot’ angry. Frustrations experienced by expats in Cambodia are magnified by the harsh climate, abject poverty, poor infrastructure, and cultural nuances.
What’s the key to exhibiting the ‘patience of a saint’ in Cambodia? Simple! Always remember that you’re a visitor. Acknowledge that Cambodia is Cambodia; it’s not Sydney, New York, or London. Whatever Cambodian folks do in their own country makes perfect sense to them. They don’t want or need a random foreigner telling them how to run their school, business, or life.
This blog post has focused on issues about teaching English in Cambodia without a degree. It’s crystal clear – a university or college degree is not a core requirement to work as an English teacher in Cambodia. You will need quality, government-regulated TESOL certification and the folks at AVSE-TESOL in Phnom can help you with this requirement. Moreover, you will need to engage in some self-promotion – without going over the top – and find the patience you probably didn’t know existed. It’s all manageable. It’s all central to carving out a new career path as an English teacher in Cambodia. What’s my advice? Grab the opportunity with both hands.
About the writer: Peter Goudge is the founder and Managing Director of Australian Vocational Skills and Education (AVSE-TESOL) in Cambodia (Phnom Penh), Vietnam (Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City) and online. If looking to start a new chapter in your life teaching English in Cambodia, reach out to AVSE-TESOL today: www.avse.edu.vn
Teaching English in Cambodia – ESL ‘pioneers’ needed…
There’s a substantial realignment happening at the present time in terms of preferred destinations for aspiring English as a second language (ESL) teachers. While interest in Japan, Korea and even Thailand seems to be waning, teaching English in Cambodia is becoming more than a faint blimp on the radar of both newbie ESL teachers and seasoned campaigners alike.
Last frontier for ESL teaching
Cambodia is arguably the ‘last frontier’ in Asia for ESL jobs and like every other ‘frontier’ the world has known, ‘pioneers’ are in high demand. If you fancy yourself as an ESL pioneer, if you’re up for an adventure or perhaps you just want to make a positive difference in the lives of local people who have been doing it tough for generations, teaching English in Cambodia may well be your calling.
While students of all ages – young learners through to corporate high flyers – have been marching off to English language classes in Vietnam, Japan, Korea, China and in other Asian countries for the past couple of decades, it’s a relatively new trend in Cambodia, becoming more popular by the day. Why, you may ask, especially given that studying English as a second language isn’t ‘sexy’ like training to be a sports star or swiping pages on an IPad? From what I’ve witnessed first-hand over the past few years, the current generation of Cambodians see English language skills as a pathway to a better future. Moreover, the parents and grandparents of the current generation know how dangerous a lack of education can be. By any measure, Cambodians are resilient and they won’t allow a tragic past to repeat itself, or dictate what the future holds.
Privately owned ‘International’ schools and English Language Centres are sprouting all over Phnom Penh and there are even a few up north in Siem Reap and down south in Sihanoukville. The Westline International School is one of the largest ‘K1 through to K12’ institutions in Cambodia with 16 campuses and well over 20,000 students. There are a number of other International Schools of similar size.
Huge demand for English teachers
With the demand for English language classes in Cambodia going through the roof, there’s a corresponding demand for people with the qualifications and skills to take on jobs teaching English in Cambodia. Internationally recognised TESOL, TEFL or CELTA certification, such as the Australian Government accredited Certificate IV in TESOL, is the minimum academic qualification for teaching English in Cambodia. Those people who hold quality ESL certification and a university degree (in any discipline) are in strong demand. Rightly or wrongly, being a native English speaker is also looked upon favourably, but non-native English speakers shouldn’t be deterred; there are plenty of jobs available.
It’s fair to say the hourly rate of pay for teaching English in Cambodia is quite a bit less than what’s on offer in neighbouring countries. Moreover, the hours that ESL teachers in Cambodia are required to work, tend to be more. Having said this, the salary at the end of the month and even more important, the savings capacity through teaching English in Cambodia (around 50%) is not dissimilar to what’s on offer in neighbouring countries. By way of example, a native English speaker with a degree and TESOL will typically work 30+ hours a week teaching English in Cambodia and receive a net monthly salary of around US $1,300.00. In comparison, if the same person was teaching in Vietnam, he (or she) would typically work 20+ hours a week for a similar net salary.
One of the more obvious differences between teaching English in Cambodia and teaching in a neighbouring country like Vietnam is when most of the work hours occur. In Cambodia, English language classes mainly occur during the daytime, Monday to Friday and rarely in the evening or over the weekend. In contrast, English classes in Vietnam mostly take place in the evening, Monday to Friday and anytime over weekend.
Sure, the net monthly salary, hourly rates, savings capacity and suchlike that teaching English in Cambodia affords, are important considerations before diving in head first. I’d like to place another important consideration on the table – lifestyle! If I had to choose between: 1. living in an exotic country, working a handful of hours each week, saving money and getting ahead; or 2. the 9 to 5 grind in my home country while trying to make ends meet, the decision is very much a ‘no brainer’.
Cambodia can be confronting
Those folks who turn their mind to teaching English in Cambodia need to be realistic about what’s on offer, or perhaps more important, what’s not on offer in a developing country. Basic infrastructure in Cambodia is either non-existent, ‘patchy’ or in both a literal and metaphorical sense, ‘in the pipeline’. Vermin are commonplace, garbage is dumped in the street (later taken away – mostly), the climate tends to be hot, very hot, or very, very hot with an occasional downpour that leaves whole neighborhoods submerged and local people tend to be unorganised and work at a pretty slow pace. Food choices can also be confronting; barbequed cockroaches are not my idea of snack food. Neither are the ‘arachnid-looking’ things, a Cambodian delicacy, that bear a striking resemblance to the ‘Daddy Long Legs’ that lived in my old pop’s outside loo when I was a kid.
The ‘negatives’ you’ll surely see first-hand if it happens you embark on an odyssey teaching English in Cambodia are part of the reason I love the place. It is stunningly different to any country I’ve visited – and I’ve been to a few – and the ‘unexpected’ prevails. You will smile more often than you’ve ever smiled before. You might even break out in an audible chuckle when you see something like a local person transporting two full size fridges in a ‘T formation’ on the back of a motorbike. I saw it on my last trip and I certainly broke out in an audible chuckle. Most of all, you will be taken back by the overt hospitality and friendliness of the local people. Cambodian people have every reason to be a cranky lot, but they’re right up there with the loveliest folks you will ever meet.
When it’s all said and done
So, would I recommend teaching English in Cambodia? Yes I would, without hesitation. If I had my time over again, I’d start with teaching English in Cambodia. Just now there are plenty of terrific teaching jobs available in Cambodia for people with the right qualifications, but things are changing – see my earlier ‘faint blimp’ comment. There’s an expat lifestyle on offer that will allow you to get ahead and save money. The 9 to 5 grind that’s commonplace in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, South Africa and in most other developed countries will be a thing of the past. Give it a go!
About the writer: Peter Goudge is the Managing Director (and owner) of Australian Vocational Skills and Education (AVSE-TESOL) in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh and Online. TESOL certification through Peter’s company, AVSE-TESOL, is all about providing aspiring ESL educators with the skills, knowledge and quality certification they need for jobs teaching English in Cambodia, Vietnam and elsewhere. Check out the AVSE-website: www.avse.edu.vn
Teaching in Cambodia – reduce your carbon footprint…
Despite the science, it seems to me that many world leaders don’t care about climate change, don’t understand it, or both. While we wait for genuine leadership on climate change, those of us who are teaching English in Cambodia, like so many others, can choose to sit on our hands or proactively seek out opportunities to reduce our carbon footprint. I’ve made a conscious decision not to sit on my hands and I’m calling on the entire teaching fraternity in Cambodia to take tangible action – starting immediately – to reduce carbon emissions.
The reality is that teaching English in Cambodia affords an array of opportunities to reduce carbon emissions. At this point, I am focused on reducing my usage of plastic, paper and fossil fuel (chiefly petroleum). When I’ve managed to ‘put a dent’ in my bad plastic, paper and fossil fuel habits, I’ll identify other areas where I can reduce my carbon footprint through my work as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher.
Let’s look at environmental issues relating to plastic, paper and fossil fuels from the perspective of teaching English in Cambodia.
It only takes a day or two in Phnom Penh to realise that local people have a love affair with plastic. Visit any Khmer shop and there’s a distinct possibility that you’ll exit with more plastic bags than the number of items you’ve purchased. Newspaper reports suggest that Phnom Penh generates 600 tons of plastic waste daily including the infamous plastic bag and PET bottles (and containers). “What is a PET bottle”, I hear you ask? It’s a bottle made of polyethylene terephthalate, which is a form of plastic. If you buy water or a sports drink at a local store or a supermarket, almost certainly the bottle will be made of polyethylene terephthalate.
These days, I take my own ‘fabric’ bag when I go shopping in Phnom Penh. It’s true that I get strange looks when I knock back plastic bags to cart away things that I bought, but that’s ok. I live in the hope that one day I will see another person in a store knocking back plastic bags and handing the shop assistant a fabric bag. Perhaps I’m naive, but I do believe it will happen.
Foreigners who are teaching English in Cambodia love PET bottles almost as much as Cambodians love plastic bags. If you’re a foreign teacher in Phnom Penh, I’ve got it pegged that there was a PET water bottle in your ‘Teacher’s Bag’ when you last took a class. Those of us who are teaching English in Cambodia know about the importance of drinking plenty of water when working in a stifling Khmer classroom. As educated people, we should also know that PET bottles are harmful to the environment and potentially harmful to our immediate health. How many people handled your plastic water bottle before you? Did every person in the supply chain wash their hands before handling the bottle that you’re now drinking from?
I’m living proof that removing PET bottles from everyday life is achievable and painless. Buy a reusable water bottle, take it with you wherever you go and top it up when the opportunity presents itself. Investing in a reusable water bottle will: 1. reduce your carbon footprint; 2. save money because you’re not buying drinks and 3. reduce the likelihood that you’ll pick up a lurgy of some kind due to poor hygiene practices by other people.
Everyone loves trees, but we keep chopping them down to produce paper and other products. Chopping down trees is detrimental to the environment on a several fronts. Trees store toxic carbon. This is good news. When a tree is chopped down, the toxic carbon stored is released back into the atmosphere. This is terrible news. On top of this environmental merry-go-round where carbon is stored and then released again, deforestation typically includes a burning process and extra toxic gas finds its way into the atmosphere. This is also bad news. Adding insult to injury, land that was previously a forest is often used for agricultural pursuits, which account for 20% (+/-) of carbon emissions worldwide. This is horrible news. No matter how you look at it, chopping down trees for paper and other commodities beckons an environmental catastrophe.
Through my work teaching English in Cambodia, I’m making a concerted effort to minimise my use of paper – and you should too! I can honestly say that I don’t know any teachers in Cambodia or elsewhere who have a ‘moonlight’ gig chopping down trees. Having said this, most teachers may as well have a side-job as a tree-lopper because they’re ‘big-time’ consumers of an end product – paper. Whether you physically chop down trees or use copious amounts of paper, the poor environmental outcome is the same.
From my observations, here’s a random selection of ways that teachers squander paper day-in and day-out: single-use flashcards; back up tasks printed in huge quantities; a box of tissues on the teacher’s desk; newspapers, magazines and circulars that are read and discarded or just discarded; paper planes in the staffroom (it does happen); paper cups in the staffroom; sticky notes; memorandum after memorandum; paper hats at staff birthday parties; and the list goes on and on.
Changing the mindset when it comes to excessive paper usage by teachers won’t happen overnight, but every journey starts with that all-important first step. I’ve taken that first step and I’d like to see others in the teaching profession doing their bit. Here are some strategies that I’m following right now, directed at minimising paper usage and reducing my carbon footprint.
Only buy recycled paper
Use both sides of the page
Say no to paper (and plastic) straws
Unsubscribe from junk mail
Communicate by email
Avoid printing emails
All notes and reminders are electronic
Use my own ‘clay’ beer coaster
Be creative when wrapping gifts
Use a ‘bum gun’ rather than toilet paper
Use a handkerchief rather than tissues
The reliance on fossil fuel, petroleum and alike, is not unique to Cambodia. It’s a worldwide issue. Moreover, plenty of countries rely on fossil fuel (per capita) to a greater extent than Cambodia. I’m focused on the ‘here and now’. While I’m teaching English in Cambodia, reducing my use of fossil fuel as I go about everyday life in Phnom Penh – and encouraging others to do the same – is where I can make a positive contribution. Heaven knows there’s a lot of work to be done!
In 2016, only 16% of the population of Cambodia had access to clean fuels (and technologies) for cooking. Statistics suggest that in 2020, more than 50% of electricity on the grid in Cambodia was generated by coal and oil. While neighbouring countries have set targets for moving from majority fossil fuel to majority clean energy, Cambodia hasn’t. Putting aside for a moment the harmful impact that fossil fuel use has on the environment in Cambodia, the way petrol, coal and gas are manually handled by many local people (note the image above) often leads to injury and death. It’s a topic for another day!
Even the most avid global warming deniers accept there’s a connection between fossil fuel and carbon emissions. The deniers don’t see the connection as being a problem for humanity. On this point, I have two questions for you. Firstly, do you believe there’s a connection between fossil fuels and carbon emissions? Secondly, do you believe that carbon emissions are the root cause of global warming? If your answer was ‘no’ to one or both questions, it’s fair to say that we’re on different sides of the barricade. If your answer to both questions is ‘yes’, then surely, as an educator and role model, you must take tangible action to minimise your use of fossil fuels. How?
Teaching English in Cambodia comes with a range of benefits including – in many instances – the opportunity to walk or ride a bicycle to school. This is possible in Phnom Penh because it’s a relatively small city. In regional and rural areas of Cambodia, teaching jobs often come with accommodation within walking distance of the school. By choosing to walk rather than automatically jumping in a TUK TUK or on a motorbike, you’re reducing your personal use of fossil fuel – it’s that simple. Walking or riding a bicycle to get from Point A to Point B comes with a range of additional benefits including physical fitness, mental health and assimilation, to name only three.
Next, if you put your mind to it, your accommodation in Phnom Penh or elsewhere in Cambodia offers plenty of opportunities to reduce your fossil fuel footprint. Eat fresh fruit and vegetables. Choose not to burn coal when cooking. Thoroughly read the label before you buy a household product. Why? Cleaning agents, soap, insecticide and many other everyday household products contain petroleum derivatives – opt for a natural or ‘green’ alternative. Say no to chewing gum – the elastic properties in chewing gum come from petroleum derivatives. Move away from non-stick pots and pans – the non-stick part is made from petrochemicals. There’s a lot that you can do in your household with minimum effort.
Science tells us that climate change is real and that we need to take action now to have any hope of turning things around. Those of us who are teaching English in Cambodia – and elsewhere – are well-placed to take immediate action in a range of areas directed at reducing our carbon footprint. Right now, I’m focused on plastic, paper and fossil fuel. I’m making subtle changes in my consumption habits including saying no to plastic bags, taking a reusable water bottle with me when I’m out and about, using a handkerchief rather than tissues, printing on both sides of a page and walking at every opportunity rather than jumping in a petrol-powered TUK TUK. I’ve even stopped chewing gum. What are you doing to reduce your carbon footprint?
About the writer:Peter Goudge is the Managing Director and founder of AVSE-TESOL in Vietnam and Cambodia. AVSE’s core business is delivering Australian Government accredited TESOL training for aspiring English language teachers. AVSE-TESOL has training centres in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh. Vist the AVSE-TESOL website: www.avse.edu.vn
Cambodia – Country Profile…
What terrific news! After working double shifts for the past 6-months to save money, you’re about to head-off and pursue that long-held goal of teaching English in Cambodia. Your interest in Cambodia was sparked by email and SKYPE communication with the good people at AVSE-TESOL in Phnom Penh. Personally, I think you’ve made a great choice. Cambodia is the ‘last frontier’ for English as a Second Language (ESL) teaching.
In this blog post I’ll highlight key information about Cambodia that will help with making the transition to ‘living like a local’ a bit quicker than it might otherwise be.
Tip: They say we should be mindful of bad things that have occurred in history, so it’s less likely they’ll be repeated. With this idea in mind, no stint teaching English in Cambodia would be complete without visiting the ‘Killing’ Fields and the Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh, illustrating the Khmer Rouge years.
The Kingdom of Cambodia has a checkered history, not just over the past four or five decades, but for time immemorial. What we know as Cambodia today was part of at least two ancient realms before declaring independence for the first time in the year 802. At its peak in the 12th century, the Khmer Empire was the largest nation in Southeast Asia (as we know it today). The Angkor Wat religious temple, modern day Cambodia’s premier tourist attraction, dates from this period. Skipping forward six centuries, Cambodia became a French protectorate in 1867. Other than a period of Japanese occupation (1941 to 1945), the French ruled Cambodia until 1953.
Between 1975 and 1979, the Khmer Rouge controlled Cambodia under the leadership of the infamous Pol Pot. It’s estimated that the Khmer Rouge were responsible for the deaths of more than two million Cambodians, a quarter of the population at that time. In addition to massacre on an industrial scale, the Khmer Rouge destroyed much of Cambodia’s historic architecture and sites that carried religious importance. What wasn’t destroyed by those who ruled Cambodia during this period, was left in ruins by years of war and neglect. In the space of a couple of decades, Cambodia went from being a place that Kings, Queens, Presidents, Prime Ministers and Dictators went out of their way to visit, to a place of unimaginable suffering. It wasn’t until the early 1990s that Cambodia began to emerge from the darkness of war and famine. The monarchy was restored in 1993 and today Cambodia operates a ‘multiparty’ ‘democracy’ with a King as the head of State.
While Cambodia’s reintegration to the world community is one of the success stories of the late 20th century, there’s a lot of ‘nation-building’ work that still needs to be done. Cambodians see a direct connection between English language skills and the development of their country. This directly translates into decent jobs teaching English in Cambodia for people like you – folks with the skills, knowledge, qualifications and willingness to step outside their comfort zone.
Tip: Don’t swim or wade in a river or stream in Cambodia. It might look inviting, but there’s a high chance of something lurking in the water that will make you very ill.
The total land area of Cambodia is 181,035 square kilometres. Cambodia shares land borders with Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. River systems, especially the Tonle Sap and the Mekong, flat farming land and mountain ranges are Cambodia’s most prominent geographical features. Rivers that flow through the country are essentially the lifeblood of Cambodian society. Among other things, Cambodia’s rivers provide an important food source, transportation and water for agriculture, the country’s main industry.
While Sihanoukville in the south of Cambodia is best known as holiday destination for beachgoers and folks who like casinos, it is the country’s only deep-water, maritime port. Sihanoukville has undergone massive transformation over the past decade on the back of casino-related development, funded almost exclusively by Chinese companies.
From a geographical perspective, most of the English teaching jobs in Cambodia are in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. Finding a teaching job in a rural area in Cambodia is possible, but it requires patience and lots of networking because they’re relatively few in number.
Tip: If you’re invited to eat with a Khmer family at their house, make sure you remove your shoes and hat before going inside. Also, a small gift, perhaps fruit or flowers, will be well-received.
Cambodia’s population is estimated to be 16.6 million people. Khmer is the largest ethnic group in Cambodia – 90%+ of the total population. Other ethnic groups in Cambodia with sizable numbers include Khmer Muslims, Vietnamese, Chinese and tribal groups such as the Pnong, Tampoun, Jarai and Kreung peoples. Over the past five years in particular, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of foreigners from Europe, North America and Australia who are living in Cambodia. Anecdotally, the key ‘pull’ factors include the low cost of living, the relative ease to open a business and an expat lifestyle that’s afforded by teaching English in Cambodia and other lines of work where English language skills are vital.
I’ve had the good fortune to spend years travelling around the world. I have lived and worked in 8 different countries. I can put my hand on my heart and say without a shadow of doubt that Khmer people are right up there with the best of the best. Abject poverty prevails in Cambodia, but your average Khmer person will literally give you the shirt off his (or her) back. You’ll be invited in for meals, even though it’s not uncommon for a family to forgo a meal because they don’t have any money. There is every reason for Khmer people to be hostile towards foreigners given the pillaging that has occurred throughout history, but they’re not hostile at all. They’re a forgiving lot and they’re focused on today – perhaps tomorrow – but, certainly not yesterday.
Tip: Monks are revered in Cambodia. It’s important to always show respect to monks. Make sure you are dressed conservatively (fully covered) before entering a temple. Under no circumstances should you touch a monk.
Official statistics on religious affiliation in Cambodia don’t exist, but observers estimate that around 97% of the population is Theravada Buddhist, with the remaining 10% consisting of Christians, Muslims and other denominations.
During your time teaching English in Cambodia, you’ll no doubt have the opportunity to visit any number of pagodas and other places of religious significance. It’s wise to do a bit of research beforehand on the places you plan to visit. Apart from providing information that will make your visit more meaningful, you’ll be informed about behaviour, dress code and suchlike, that’s considered appropriate at that location.
Tip: If you’re teaching English in Cambodia in the wet season, make sure you carry your work shoes in your bag and wear sandals to and from school. Why? There’s a good chance you’ll have to wade through knee-deep water every now and again.
Cambodia has a tropical climate with warm to hot weather 12 months of the year. There are two distinct seasons in Cambodia, the dry season and the wet season.
The dry season typically starts in November and goes to the following April. The weather in Cambodia during this period is characterised by zero (or next to zero) rain. With temperatures reaching upwards of 38 degrees Celsius, April and May are the hottest months in Cambodia, with clear blue skies being the norm.
From late May through to October, heavy rain and high humidity dominate the weather pattern in Cambodia. Like that famous song for young children, ‘when it rains, it pours’, probably like nothing you have witnessed before. As quickly as it rains in Cambodia during the wet season, the rain stops and life resumes from where it left off. It’s a sight to behold.
Tip: If taking formal Khmer language lessons while you’re busy teaching English in Cambodia doesn’t appeal to you, learning how to count in the local language in your own time would be a wise move. You will find it handy when buying things.
With 90% of the population being ‘ethnic Khmer’, it’s no surprise that Cambodia’s official language is ‘Khmer’. Interestingly, during the colonial period, French was the official language of Indochina, which included Cambodia.
English has replaced French as the dominant foreign language in Cambodia. Street signs are usually in Khmer and English. Postage stamps and currency include snippets of English. With a high number of Vietnamese, Chinese and Laotian people living and working in Cambodia, there’s a good chance you will come across folks speaking a language that is less familiar, as you go about your everyday business.
Tip: Doing business at any level in Cambodia can be frustrating due to the bureaucratic processes and language barriers. Put ‘one foot in front of the other’ and nearly always you’ll achieve the desired outcome.
Ostensibly the economy in Cambodia is based on the free market system, but government intervention is commonplace. Cambodia has recorded economic growth over the past decade that most western countries can only dream about, largely on the back of substantial foreign investment. Most economic activity in Cambodia is agricultural in nature. Key products include rice (a staple food across the region), rubber, cassava and pepper. Cambodia also has a thriving export market for teak, mahogany, precious gems, textiles and footwear.
Vocational Education and Training, including English language studies, is a relatively new industry in Cambodia. Like other segments of the Cambodian economy, it’s experiencing exponential growth and job opportunities for foreign teachers and trainers outstrip the number of suitably qualified people many times over. This is good news for people who are up for the challenge of teaching English in Cambodia – or some other discipline.
Tip: Make sure you have a pen of your own that works when you arrive at your port of entry for Cambodia.
You will need a valid passport with a minimum of six months remaining and a valid visa to enter Cambodia. You will also need a lot of patience when you arrive at your port of entry. Entering Cambodia can be really quick or really slow, there doesn’t seem to be a middle ground.
If your plans include completing the TESOL programme at AVSE-TESOL in Phnom Penh and then travelling outside of Cambodia after the course finishes, a conventional Tourist Visa (coverage for 30 days) may well be sufficient. You can purchase a Cambodian Tourist Visa online or you can buy one at your point of entry. The price is US $30.00. Note, your payment needs to be accompanied by two passport size photos.
Conversely, if your plans include completing the TESOL programme at AVSE-TESOL in Phnom Penh and then teaching English in Cambodia immediately after, you’d be well-advised to opt for the one-month Ordinary Visa (E class) on arrival. Why? It can be extended indefinitely without having to leave the country on what is commonly called a ‘border (visa) run’. The Ordinary Visa (E class) costs US $35.00. Again, you will need two passport size photos to keep the visa people happy.
Tip: Cambodians really dislike bank notes that are old, dirty or torn, even if it ‘s only a nick. ‘Tainted’ bank notes are often given in change when a person buys something as a way of passing the ‘headache’ onto someone else. Carefully check your change for bank notes that are problematic.
Cambodia’s official currency is the ‘Riel’, but local people prefer to conduct transactions in US dollars. Prices are typically quoted and advertised in US dollars. ATM machines all over Cambodia dispense US dollars. Almost certainly your monthly salary from teaching English in Cambodia will be paid in US dollars.
It’s fair to say that Cambodia is one of those places in the world where there’s a need to be extra vigilant with money and items of value. Such is life in a country where abject poverty prevails. Among other things, being extra vigilant includes carrying your wallet in a front pocket, not storing all your money in one place, only carrying the money that you need at a given time, not counting your money in the street and being super careful when you use an ATM. Here’s a challenge for you. Put your ‘thinking cap’ on and come up with another five ‘being vigilant with money’ strategies.
I have touched on several key issues in this blog post, history, people and religion to name only three, with the intent of sparking interest and offering a helping-hand with your transition to everyday life in Cambodia. You’ll encounter plenty of frustrations in Cambodia, but they’re just part of the journey. Almost certainly when you look back on your time teaching English in Cambodia, it will be the people you met, locals and other expats, that will first come to mind. You’re very lucky! Grab the opportunity with both hands.
About the writer: Peter Goudge is the Managing Director (and owner) of Australian Vocational Skills and Education (AVSE-TESOL) in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City,Phnom Penh and Online. TESOL certification through Peter’s company, AVSE-TESOL, is all about providing aspiring ESL educators with the skills, knowledge and quality certification they need for jobs teaching English in Cambodia, Vietnam and elsewhere. Here is a link to the AVSE-website: www.avse.edu.vn
Teaching jobs in Cambodia – grab this opportunity…
If you’re looking for an adventure, have advanced English language skills and either already hold, or are willing to invest in quality TESOL training, you’ll be pleased to know there is a multitude of paid teaching jobs in Cambodia for people just like you. From an Asian backwater, with a war-torn past, Cambodia is now booming.
With an economy that is growing at a rate most developed countries can only dream about, coupled with 60% of the population being under 30 years of age, there is an insatiable thirst among Cambodian people to acquire English language skills. This directly translates into well-paid teaching jobs in Cambodia for people who hold the right qualifications (see below), are adaptable and up for the challenge.
Sure, you’ll be taking a risk loading-up your backpack and jumping on a plane because somebody wrote in a blog there’s an abundance of teaching jobs in Cambodia. It might be comforting to know that many people have gone down this path before you and have lived to talk about their adventure. These days Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, is full of foreigners pursuing teaching jobs and having walked in your shoes they’re more than happy to point you in the right direction.
Starting your search for teaching jobs in Cambodia while still in your home country can’t hurt, but the reality is that schools rarely engage foreign teachers ‘sight unseen’. Typically, employers (schools) want to see you ‘in the flesh’ and will ask you to do a ‘demo’ class before offering you a contract. This isn’t a reason to balk! With so many opportunities available, if one school doesn’t work out, there are plenty of others that will roll out the ‘Red Carpet’.
Most teaching jobs in Cambodia are filled via someone’s network. Talk to as many people as you can – TESOL classmates, friends, neighbours – and knock on a few doors. With this kind of strategy, you’ll have more employment offers than you’ll know what to do with. Once you have an employment offer that includes conditions that will meet your needs, it would be wise to have someone who knows about Cambodian contracts to read over the ‘small print’.
When flicking through the employment contract in front of you, no doubt you’ll hone in on the provisions that cover the pay rate and work hours – I get it. Money and hours, however, are only part of the deal. There will be other components in the contract that are equally important. Does the contract include an Exit Clause? Will the employer sponsor a Work Permit and related visa? What are the taxation arrangements? Is there anything in the contract related to disciplinary action, in the event that you upset the boss? Is there provision for overtime payments. Is ‘health cover’ included in the deal. Will you be required to participate in school related activities that are unpaid, for example, supervising weekend sport and parent-teacher interviews?
Typically, teaching jobs in Cambodia allow foreign English language teachers to earn around US $1300.00 (net) for working 80 to 100 hours per month. Obviously the salary depends on where the teacher works – rural, regional, metropolitan – the number of hours, the availability of free housing, free utilities and suchlike. Regardless, with the relatively low cost of living in Cambodia, foreign teachers can realistically save (after meeting all expenses) more than half of their salary each month, working sensible hours and without scrimping. You’d surely agree that there are few people in western countries who can save this kind of money, working double the hours.
No degree – no problem
You may be interested to know that a college or university degree is not a prerequisite for: 1. teaching jobs in Cambodia; and 2. a teaching related work permit and visa. If it happens that you don’t hold a university degree, but are keen to teach English abroad, it would certainly be worth your time to check out what Cambodia has to offer. Holding a university degree will open more doors, corporate teaching jobs for example, but the pay difference between those without a degree and those with a degree is negligible.
While employers (schools) are not particularly fussed about whether a prospective teacher holds a degree, they are fussed about quality TESOL, TEFL or CELTA certification. The TESOL course in Phnom Penh offered by AVSE is perfect. How is it perfect? It’s Australian Government accredited and therefore, genuinely internationally recognised.
So, what’s the upshot here? There are plenty of teaching jobs in Cambodia for folks who possess decent English language skills, quality TESOL certification and an adventurous spirit. When you find your ideal teaching job, make sure you conduct a thorough due diligence process so there are no surprises. Cambodia is a brilliant place to live and work as an English language teacher. Certainly, teaching English in Cambodia will allow you to earn a decent salary while leading an expat lifestyle. You’ll be living the dream.
About the writer: Peter Goudge has been living and working in Southeast Asia, specifically in Cambodia and Vietnam, since 2006. He is the Managing Director (and owner) of Australian Vocational Skills and Education (AVSE-TESOL). AVSE-TESOL offers an Australian Government accredited TESOL training programme in Cambodia (Phnom Penh) and Vietnam (Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City). Check out the AVSE-TESOL website: www.avse.edu.vn
Decent money, adventure & lifestyle…
One of the key benefits of teaching jobs in Cambodia is the free time you’ll have to pursue social or recreational interests and to take in what this truly magnificent country has to offer. You might feel inclined to join a Khmer cooking class, practise yoga, sign-up at a gym or pursue a hobby that you’ve often thought about but have never had the time (or money) to do.
The majority of teaching work is in the central business district of Phnom Penh and neighbouring suburbs, during office hours, Monday to Friday. Typically, foreigners in teaching jobs in Cambodia work around 25 hours a week (100 hours a month) and earn a net monthly salary of approximately US $1,300.00. With the cost of living being low, most foreign teachers save around 50% of their net monthly income.
Adventure & lifestyle
There are many reasons why people put all their worldly possessions in a bag and leave their home to pursue teaching jobs in Cambodia. From my observations, there are a couple of common denominators; adventure and lifestyle. With free time and cash to spend, you can expect plenty of adventure and a great lifestyle in Cambodia.
During my free time in Cambodia, more specifically in Phnom Penh, I’ve tried my hand at a few pursuits, but it was old French buildings that captured my attention and interest. I know most people would find checking out old buildings incredibly dull, but it gets my blood pumping. If folks can go ‘bird watching’, I can go ‘building watching’. When was it built? Who lived there? Who worked there? What became of the occupants? What’s it being used for nowadays?
‘Truth be told’, throughout the years that I’ve pursuing teaching jobs in Cambodia and neighbouring countries, I haven’t met one other person who shares my passion for old buildings. That’s fine with me. Less crowded!
Here are some of my favourite old buildings in Phnom Penh.
The Phnom Penh Post Office was designed and built by Daniel Fabre (1830-1902), a renowned French architect and town planner. The building was completed in 1895. It’s a stunning example of French colonial architecture – painted bright yellow, high arched doorways and windows, balustrades, pillars, columns – and most striking for me, an extraordinary red-tiled roof. In addition, the Phnom Penh Post Office has arguably the most impressive nineteenth-century clock tower you will see anywhere in the world.
In the late 1880s, Hyun de Verneville was appointed by the French Government to be the Senior Administrator of Cambodia, a French protectorate at the time. By all accounts, Hyun de Verneville went about his job running the colony with considerable enthusiasm. The Post Office building was part of his grand plan to turn Phnom Penh into a modern city, the hub of French administration in the region.
Here’s a ‘Phnom Penh Post Office’ side story. When I last visited the Post Office in early 2020, I struck up a conversation with a young, French couple named Laurent and Isabel; they were both pursing Science-related teaching jobs in Cambodia. We ended up going for coffee in the Riverside area. I was astonished to learn that neither Lauarent or Isabel, depite being French citizens, were aware that the Post Office (and the Central Market) in Phnom Penh were designed and built by French people. Note my earlier comment about not having met one other person who shares my passion for old buildings.
Central Market, Corner of Streets 67 and 136, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
As the name suggests, Central Market is located in the centre of Phnom Penh, within easy walking distance of the Riverside precinct and other key attractions. It’s a must-visit destination if you’re into shopping, people watching or, like me, drooling over remarkable, old infrastructure. The superb ‘art deco’ shape and form of this building are what make it a sight – and a site – to behold. There’s a huge dome (26 metres high) in the middle of the structure. Sizable, rectangular halls, four in total, protrude from the dome – north, south, east, and west. Each hall is home to a particular category of merchandise, making it relatively easy for shoppers to navigate the building and find what they’re looking to buy. You could be excused for thinking that you’re somewhere in North Africa or the Middle East rather than in Asia.
Following a three-year building project, Central Market was officially opened in 1937. At the time, it was apparently the largest market in Southeast Asia. The original idea and design were put forward by Mr Jean Desbois (1891-1971). He was the Chief Architect in Phnom Penh, working in the French Protectorate. The building works were supervised by another French architect named Mr Louis Chauchon (1875-1945).
Despite occupation by the French (twice), the Japanese, abdications, bombings, terrorist attacks, the scourge of the Khmer Rouge and a fragile economic and political landscape, Central Market is indicative of the resilience of the Khmer people. As a side point, it’s also a great place to buy cheap, professional clothes, footwear and stationery supplies for teachig jobs in Cambodia.
The Old Chinese House, 45 Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
The Old Chinese House is located in the Riverside area of Phnom Penh, immediately north of the night market, near Street 84. It was built in 1904 by Mr Tan Bunpa (1871-1952), a businessman of Chinese origin who was involved in importing and exporting food and timber. Apparently, members of Mr Tan’s family continued living in the Chinese House until 1975, when they were forced to leave Phnom Penh under the Khmer Rouge and sadly were never heard from again.
What I like most about the Chinese House is that it’s one of only a handful of buildings in modern-day Phnom Penh – that’s more than a century old – but is still pretty much in its original condition. Three smaller buildings have been added to the site over the years without diminishing the integrity of the original dwelling. During the past decade, the interior of the Chinese House has been carefully and expertly restored, with parts of the natural decay that you’d expect in a building that’s more than 100 years old being incorporated into the refurbishment. The exposed beams, brickwork and plaster from the era are striking. If you have an hour or two to spare in Phnom Penh, you really should visit this absolute gem.
Hotel Le Royal, 92 Rukhak Vithei Street, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
This place is special! Jacqueline Kennedy (wife of President John F Kennedy), Charlie Chaplin and other famous people have stayed in the Hotel Le Royal. It dates back to 1929. With a grand façade and refined interior, the Hotel Le Royal oozes influence and wealth, which typified the life of the average French colonist during the ‘protectorate’ years.
The Hotel Le Royal was purchased by the Raffles Hotels and Resorts Group in 1995. After two years of painstaking refurbishment, the hotel recommenced trading in 1997 under the name Raffles Le Royal Hotel. While the building is simply stunning and well worth a quick look, unless you’re a king, queen or someone of that stature, you may well struggle to pay the nightly tariff.
Based on my personal experience, teaching jobs in Cambodia come with the opportunity to live life to the full while earning a decent salary. Regardless of whether you live in Phnom Penh or elsewhere in Cambodia, there’s a good chance that you’ll find yourself stumbling across examples of classic, colonial architecture. If it happens that you don’t share my passion for old buildings, no problem, there are plenty of other things to see and do in this truly magnificent country. Enjoy! Live the dream that teaching English in Cambodia affords.
About the writer: Peter Goudge is the owner of Australian Vocational Skills and Education (AVSE-TESOL). Peter’s company delivers an Australian Government accredited TESOL training programme in Phnom Penh, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Online. Quality TESOL certification is the minimum requirement for teaching jobs in Cambodia, Vietnam and elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Check out the AVSE website: www.avse.edu.vn
TESOL course in Phnom Penh – how to check if it’s ‘legit’
If you’re looking to do a TESOL course in Phnom Penh with the idea of teaching English in Cambodia, no doubt the internet will be your first port of call. By doing a Google search for ‘TESOL in Phnom Penh’, ‘TEFL in Phnom Penh‘, ‘teaching jobs in Cambodia‘ or similar, you’ll find page after page of TESOL providers who want you to sign on the dotted line – and quickly!
The reality is that not all TESOL courses are the same. There are brilliant TESOL courses, mediocre TESOL courses, dubious TESOL courses and a bunch of downright ‘shockers’. In this blog post, I’ll illuminate three key elements that should be part of your due diligence before you part with your hard-earned money on a TESOL course.
Is the course ‘nationally’ recognised?
Does the course include a sizable, practical teaching component that: a) offers a mix of teaching experiences; and b) is critically assessed?
Does the course come with meaningful, ‘hands-on’ job support?
If a TESOL course in Phnom Penh fails on any of the three elements that I have identified, I’d suggest that you draw a black line through it and resume your search. Let’s look at ‘nationally recognised’, ‘practical teaching component’ and meaningful ‘job support’ in more detail.
The TESOL course in Phnom Penh offered by AVSE-TESOL is an excellent example of a study programme that’s nationally recognised (in Australia) and therefore meets a key criterion to be internationally recognised, in Cambodia, for example. On the homepage of the AVSE website ( www.avse.edu.vn ), you’ll see:
information about AVSE’s Registered Training Organisation (RTO) status in Australia (RTO: 45373). Only RTOs in Australia have the authority to deliver nationally recognised study programmes within the Australian Qualifications Framework, onshore or offshore.
Your TESOL course in Phnom Penh must be nationally recognised in the home country of the TESOL provider. To folks who know about these matters, it makes perfect sense that a course – and related certification – that’s not nationally recognised cannot be internationally recognised. Understandably, most people can’t be bothered with this level of detail. I get it, but I’d remind you that teaching is a profession and paying customers – English language students and their families – have a right to believe that their teacher holds a legitimate, nationally recognised teaching qualification. In a nutshell, if you invest in a TESOL course that’s ‘accredited’ by a self-appointed accrediting entity that supposedly lives in a mailbox in the Bahamas, or similar, there’s a good chance that the certificate you hold will carry the value of the paper and ink that was used in the printing process.
Sadly, around 80% of TESOL courses and related ‘certificates’ on offer worldwide, including face-to-face and online courses, offer bogus qualifications. Bogus in the sense that the certificate isn’t nationally recognised and therefore cannot be internationally recognised, despite what the provider tells you – and how aesthetically pleasing the videos, promotional material and the certificate might be. Watch out for ‘weasal words’ such as ‘our certificate is accepted’. ‘Accepted’ is not synonym for legitimate.
Apart from reviewing a TESOL provider’s website, how can you tell if the study programme is ‘nationally recognised’? It’s easy – if you know where to look. Every developed country in the world – and the lion’s share of developing countries – has a national qualifications framework and related accreditation authorities mandated by law. In Australia, the principal entity is the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). In South Africa, it’s the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). In the United States, you’ll find nationally recognised training and related qualifications on the US Department of Education website ( https://www.ed.gov/accreditation ) and on the Council for Higher Education Accreditation website ( https://www.chea.org/ ). In the United Kingdom, it’s a tad more complicated, but when you drill down, it’s four entities – Ofqual, Qualifications Wales, The Council for the Curriculum & Assessment in Northern Ireland and the Scottish Qualifications Authority. Click here and you will see pertinent information about which entities can accredit ‘non-degree’ qualifications in the United Kingdom – including TESOL Certification.
Here’s some homework for you. If you already hold a TESOL certificate, take 5 minutes and check if it’s nationally recognised. If you’re not sure after checking yourself, reach out to AVSE-TESOL and we’ll give you a straight answer supported by documented facts.
Practical teaching component
Quality TESOL courses include a minimum of 6 hours of critically assessed teaching practice, with exposure to various ages and skill levels. The TESOL course in Phnom Penh at AVSE-TESOL includes a minimum of 14 hours of practical experience with two distinct components, observation classes and physically teaching ‘real’ classes. The ‘observation’ component requires the TESOL trainee to ‘shadow’ an experienced ESL teacher plying their trade for a minimum of six hours. Once the observation classes have been checked off, the TESOL trainee moves to the ‘real deal’, critically assessed teaching practice classes. TESOL trainees at AVSE-TESOL teach a minimum of two 60-minute classes and three 120-minute classes (8 hours in total), with classes one, two and three being critically assessed. If a TESOL student feels that they’d benefit from additional teaching practice classes to build confidence – or for any other reason – this can easily be arranged with an AVSE partner school in Phnom Penh or in a Province.
As the words suggest, ‘Practical teaching’ involves experience with ‘real’ students in a ‘real’ classroom environment. The idea is that you put into practice what you’ve learnt during your TESOL course and receive feedback. In a nutshell, under supervision from a qualified teacher, you give this ESL teaching caper your best shot. You hope to ‘swim like an Olympian’ during teaching practice classes, but the reality is that many newbies ‘dog-paddle’ at best and others meet the same fate as the Titanic. It doesn’t matter if you’re an Olympian or have things in common with ‘Fido next door’ or Leonardo DiCaprio; teaching practice is where you make a genuine effort, accept that mistakes will happen and show commitment to doing better next time.
While the direct experience and feedback that teaching practice affords are pivotal to skill development, this phase of a quality TESOL course is also an opportunity to show a potential employer that you can ‘cut the mustard’. Anecdotally, 70% of TESOL trainees enrolled in the TESOL course in Phnom Penh at AVSE-TESOL are employed by the school where they did their teaching practice classes.
There’s ‘job support’ that’s fluff on a website page and there’s meaningful, hands-on job support. Most TESOL providers advertise that their programme comes with job support, but you’d be well-advised to ‘drill down’ on the meaning of the words. What does the TESOL provider actually do to help you land that all-important first teaching job? Where does the job support process start and finish?
If the job support consists of emailing en masse a CV that you prepared – without local input – you could be excused for feeling that you’ve been short-changed. With this scenario, the provider is doing nothing more than you can do yourself – and you could probably do it quicker. The ‘scatter-gun’ approach is, at best, tokenism.
Meaningful job support is a strategic and multi-faceted process that requires input from folks who know the local market. Job support from your TESOL provider, at a minimum, must include assistance with:
Preparing a CV that reflects local requirements;
Producing a short video that will allow prospective employers to see and hear from you;
Critically assessed mock interviews with typical questions;
Background information on the local job market – hours, salary, holidays, professional development opportunities; and
Direct referrals to a specific person at a school within the TESOL provider’s network.
Here’s one other point for consideration under the ‘Job support’ subheading. If the course that you’ve enrolled in is not ‘nationally accredited’ – and therefore not internationally recognised – all the job support ‘under the sun’ won’t make up for the fact that you hold a qualification that doesn’t stack up and have dud certification, akin to what you’d buy from one of those infamous ‘diploma mills.
Holding a ‘TESOL certificate’ that literally carries the value of the paper that it was printed on, doesn’t mean that you won’t get a job. As they say, “you can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time”. There are enough folks out there issuing Work Permits (Public Servants) and shonky employers (schools) that don’t care about legitimate certification, don’t know what’s legitimate and what’s not – and in some cases – don’t care and don’t know.
Doing a legitimate TESOL course in the first place will substantially reduce the likelihood that you’ll be knocking on the door of less reputable schools when the time comes to nail that all-important, first teaching job.
Forming a view on whether your preferred TESOL course in Phnom Penh is legitimate or just another ‘Diploma Mill’ charging a premium for a certificate that carries zero value, involves a bit of research. Before you sign up for a TESOL course in Phnom Penh, make sure: 1. It’s nationally accredited – and therefore likely to come with international recognition; 2. the course includes a sizable teaching practice component that provides exposure to different ages and skill levels and 3. you’ll receive meaningful job support once you’ve completed the programme. If you make a point of doing thorough due diligence on these three elements, you’ll be well-placed to hit the ground running as an ESL teacher in Cambodia or elsewhere in the world. Good luck!
TEFL Course in Phnom Penh – it’s your time to shine
AVSE-TESOL offers a brilliant TEFL course in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, for aspiring English language teachers. The course involves a time commitment of 150 hours over four weeks and leans heavily towards practical teaching experience. At the end of the four-week study programme at AVSE in Phnom Penh, participants graduate with TEFL certification that’s Australian Government accredited and internationally recognised, the perfect springboard for teaching jobs in Cambodia.
Over the past decade, more than 5000 trainees have completed AVSE’s Australian Government accredited TEFL course and embarked on a rewarding career path teaching English in Cambodia, Vietnam and elsewhere in the world. Top shelf accreditation, international recognition and more than a decade of training aspiring English language teachers in Southeast Asia help to distinguish the TEFL programme at AVSE in a highly competitive market. Offering everything a TEFL trainee needs in one place to get started on their teaching journey is another distinguishing factor – visa guidance, airport collection, complimentary accommodation during the study programme, a Welcome Party, a free City Tour, hands-on job support, the friendliest staff you will ever meet and the lists goes on and on.
Once you have completed the TEFL course in Phnom Penh at AVSE, you will be equipped with the skills, knowledge and certification you need to land that all-important first job as a paid English language teacher. English teaching jobs in Cambodia are available 12 months of the year. Most foreign English teachers in Cambodia work 25 hours a week and manage to save (after meeting all expenses – rent, food and such like) between US $500.00 and US $750.00 a month, without scrimping. The ability to save serious money and get ahead will be all yours – and you’ll do this while leading an expat lifestyle in an exotic country. It doesn’t get any better! Your expat lifestyle will include, among other things, plenty of leisure time, outings with other ESL teachers, friends and locals – and the opportunity to take in the best of what Cambodia and neighbouring countries have to offer. You might be surprised to learn that it only takes six hours by bus (US $17.00) to travel from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. You can pop over to Vietnam for a weekend away.
So, how can you start this new chapter in your life, teaching English in Cambodia? Firstly, you need a spirit of adventure. Secondly, you need to make that life-changing decision to become an English language teacher abroad. Thirdly, you need to settle on a date to make the big move. Lastly, you need to complete and submit the plain-English, online enrolment form to join the TEFL course in Phnom Penh. The enrolment form will take less than 10 minutes to complete. Among other things, you’re asked to provide your name, address, contact details, information about how far you got at school, how did you hear about AVSE-TESOL and suchlike. You will find an enrolment form to join the TEFL course in Phnom Penh at AVSE here.
What are the core requirements to join the TEFL course in Phnom Penh at AVSE? There’s no doubt that a university degree (any discipline) will open a few more doors for you as an English language teacher in Cambodia. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t have a degree; it’s not a core requirement for a Work Permit in Cambodia. You need a ‘fun’, ‘can do’ disposition. You also need to be adaptable, keeping in mind that Cambodia is a developing country with a harsh climate – very hot and very wet.
AVSE staff will reach out to you by email with instructions on what needs to happen next, within three days of receiving your enrolment form to join the TEFL course in Phnom Penh. All being well with your enrolment form, you’ll be on your way to an exciting, new career path teaching English in Cambodia. It’s that simple. What’s my advice? Grab this once in a lifetime opportunity now.
About the writer: Peter Goudge is the Managing Director (and owner) of AVSE-TESOL in Cambodia (Phnom Penh), Vietnam (Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City) and Online. Originally from Australia, Peter has lived and worked in Southeast Asia since 2006. Check out the AVSE-TESOL website: www.avse.edu.vn
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