Australian Government accredited TEFL Course in Phnom Penh
Congratulations, you’ve completed the Australian Government accredited TEFL course in Phnom Penh at Australian Vocational Skills and Education (AVSE)! You’re now certified to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) classes! You’ve laughed at your trainer’s lame jokes, successfully completed the coursework and landed a terrific job teaching English in Cambodia. You’re brimming with confidence, and local students are lining up to learn English from ‘the messiah’.
‘You’re dreaming’, I hear you say. Okay, you haven’t jumped through all the hoops just yet, but you’re certainly in the right place. While this is good news, here’s some even better news. The Australian Government accredited TEFL course in Phnom Penh at AVSE (10773NAT) is designed to equip you with the skills needed to hit the ground running as an ESL teacher anywhere in the world. The assumption is you’re currently at ‘zero’, and the challenge is to be at ‘hero’ by the end of the course.
English is widely used in business, education, social settings, and networking. While French might be the language of love, English is commonly known as the international language. As a result, teaching ESL has become an industry in itself, attracting all kinds of people – high-flyers, the plodders, difference-makers, backpackers, the educational purists, and the academics.
Regardless of background or country of origin, fantastic opportunities await people who possess decent English language skills and quality TEFL certification, regulated and accredited by a government. The crucial job that teachers have in society and their revered status, especially in Southeast Asia, dictates that acquiring the skills, knowledge, and certification you need to do the job, is not an area where you can scrimp.
The Australian Government Accredited Certificate IV in TESOL (offered by AVSE in Phnom Penh), the Trinity Certificate in TESOL, and CELTA are three examples of high-quality study programmes for aspiring ESL teachers. The distinguishing factor with the Certificate IV in TESOL, Trinity and CELTA courses is that each is regulated and accredited by a government. It’s about quality, accountability and tangible outcomes for teachers and students.
Let’s take a closer look at what you’ll learn at AVSE’s TEFL course in Phnom Penh.
Things you will learn
The TEFL course at AVSE in Phnom Penh will serve as a valuable point of reference as you start your ESL teaching journey. Its aim is to focus on the critical areas where the English language teacher needs to be considered competent, such as:
Lesson 18: CALL – Computer Assisted Language Learning
Lesson 19: ESL Testing
Module 7 – Observation and Teaching Practicum
Lesson 20: Managing Yourself
Observation classes (minimum of six hours)
Critically assessed teaching practice classes (minimum of eight hours)
Module 8 – Last Steps – Finalising Course Requirements
Final Reconciliation: Assessment Documentation
Assessments will receive one of two grades: ‘Competent’ or ‘Not Yet Competent’. You must achieve a grade of ‘Competent’ with all assessment tasks to be awarded a Certificate IV in TESOL under the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). This includes those assessment tasks related to the observation and teaching practice classes. If an assessment task you’ve submitted is deemed ‘Not Yet Competent’, you will be allowed to revise your work and resubmit it without penalty.
What will you get for successfully completing the course?
While we don’t hand out gold stars (or gold bars) at the end of the TEFL course in Phnom Penh at AVSE, all being well, you will receive the following Australian Government accredited teaching qualification: Certificate IV in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, 10773NAT).
The qualification is comprised of these 12 ‘Units of Competency’:
TAEDEL401: Plan, organise and deliver group-based learning
TESCUL401: Develop and apply knowledge of cultural factors affecting TESOL teachers
TESPRN402: Assist learners to improve pronunciation and speech
TESGRM403: Assist learners to learn or improve grammar
TESRES404: Source and develop resources to support learning
TESRED405: Assist learners to develop reading and writing skills
TESSPK406: Assist learners to develop speaking and listening skills
TESASS407: Assess language learning
TESMTH408: Apply a range of TESOL methodologies
TESTST409: Assist learners to prepare for English language tests
TESCAL410: Use Computer Assisted Language Learning to assist learners
TESCHD412: Use creative strategies to assist children to learn English
The assessment and certificate issuance process takes up to 10 business days from the date the final assessment tasks are submitted. The offsite, independent assessment process is central to international recognition. The time between completing the TEFL course and receiving your certificate won’t impact on your ability to secure a teaching job at one of AVSE’s partner schools in Cambodia. They understand the protocols associated with a government-regulated programme.
If doing a quality TEFL course in Phnom Penh is something that has crossed your mind, reach out to the friendly folks at AVSE to talk through your options. AVSE offers a government-regulated ESL teaching qualification that will set you up for a brilliant job teaching English in Cambodia or elsewhere. There’s a lot to learn during the intensive 4-week course, but you’ll get all the support and encouragement that’s needed to successfully complete the study programme. Start your teach abroad journey today!
About the writer: Peter Goudge is the Managing Director (and founder) of Australian Vocational Skills and Education (AVSE) in Cambodia and Vietnam. Check out the AVSE website for more information about TEFL courses at AVSE in Phnom Penh, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City: www.avse.edu.vn
Where will you teach after your TEFL course in Phnom Penh?
Your TEFL course in Phnom Penh, Cambodia at AVSE will take four weeks. While the course is unashamedly intensive, you’ll have ample time to turn your mind to other issues, such as the general location where you’d prefer to work as an ESL teacher.
If you’re a ‘city’ person, your choices are essentially threefold, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. If you’d like to teach in a regional or rural location, Takhmao, Battambang or Kampong Thom might meet your needs. Does living and working near a beach appeal to you? If the answer is ‘yes’, Kep and Kampot are worth considering.
Settling on a location to begin your ‘teach abroad journey’ has, in my view, three key components. First, research, research, research. Second, rapport with the designated employment person at AVSE in Phnom Penh. Third, flexibility. So, let’s have a closer look at these three components.
Research, research, research
It’s true that the TEFL course in Phnom Penh at AVSE comes with hands-on job support, but this doesn’t prevent you from helping yourself. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to contribute to a decision-making process that will determine your immediate fate.
Once you’ve decided if you’re a big city, regional / rural or beach person, find a decent map of Cambodia on the internet or at a book store and start pinpointing possible locations. Gain as much information as you can about each location; Wikipedia is an excellent place to start – and it’s free. Next, narrow your choices down to three possible areas. Finally, search on Google and social media for job opportunities and teacher chatter in the three locations that are of interest to you. If you decide to ‘delist’ one of your three ‘definite possibilities’, add a new one and thoroughly check the place out. I’d encourage you to reach out to prospective employers on your own behalf, but make sure the employment person at AVSE is consulted beforehand. Why? You might be doubling up.
Build rapport with AVSE’s employment person
AVSE’s designated employment person in Cambodia is based at the same location where you’ll do your TEFL training. The employment person will know: 1. where there are teaching jobs available at a given time; 2. how to contact AVSE partner schools in particular geographic locations, and 3. about employment conditions in different parts of the country (hours, non-cash benefits and suchlike).
I’d encourage you to build rapport with the AVSE employment person while you’re completing your TEFL course. You can do this by sharing your aspirations (see, ‘Research, research, research’ above), keeping in regular contact, being mindful that he (or she) probably knows the local job market better than you do, turning up for job interviews that have been arranged for you with partner schools, and most importantly, by being flexible.
Your interactions with the employment person at AVSE need to be collaborative. For example, you want a teaching job and the employment person wants you to secure a teaching job. It’s your responsibility to ensure the employment person is kept updated on the work that you’re doing to help yourself find a great teaching job. Likewise, the employment person has a responsibility to ensure that you’re kept updated on work that he (or she) is doing on your behalf.
Let’s say that you have done all the right things from the day you arrived in Cambodia. You were a superstar in your TEFL course in Phnom Penh and you followed the ‘Research and Rapport’ suggestions above. Despite doing all the right things, there isn’t a teaching job available in your preferred location – or there is, but the conditions don’t meet with your expectations. What should you do? Grizzling is one option. Accepting that ‘it is, what it is’ despite everyone’s best efforts is, in my view, a far better option. Move on to Plan B, in consultation with the employment person at AVSE; this is where the rapport that you spent time building will bear fruit.
Being flexible when you’re looking for a teaching job doesn’t extend to selling your soul. It’s about being realistic, recognising that you’re a new person to the profession and that 90% of vacant teaching jobs at any given time, are in Phnom Penh. Starting a new career path in a foreign country is not a time to have an inflated opinion of where you fit into the picture. If there is a decent job on offer, grab it! Your first teaching job in Cambodia does not have to be your ‘forever’ teaching job. It might be a stepping stone to something better.
I’ve got no doubt that you’ll be a happy person once you’ve successfully completed the Australian Government accredited TEFL course in Phnom Penh at AVSE. You’ll be an even happier when you lock in your first paid job teaching English in Cambodia. While the friendly staff at AVSE in Phnom Penh will be by your side every step of the way, there are things that you can do ensure the transition from your TEFL course to employment goes smoothly. Do some research on cities and towns that might be a good place to work, build rapport with AVSE’s employment person in Phnom Penh – and be flexible. By following these simple ‘pointers’, you’ve got every reason to believe that you’ll be in a terrific teaching job in Cambodia straight after your TEFL course concludes.
About the writer: Peter Goudge is the Managing Director (and founder) of AVSE in Cambodia and Vietnam. AVSE offers Australian Government accredited TEFL programmes in Phnom Penh, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Check out the AVSE website: www.avse.edu.vn
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 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
If you’re weighing up the pros and cons of teaching English in Cambodia, you can be comforted in the knowledge that plenty of other people, including me, have gone through the same process. So, despite the ‘Worry Wart’ ribbing from your mates, turning your mind to whether a specific ESL teaching destination will be a good fit for you is the smart thing to do. Among other things, it’s akin to a preemptive strike on culture shock.
In this short blog post, I’ll highlight three ‘pros’ of teaching English in Cambodia and, to ‘balance the ledger’, three ‘cons’. Of course, we know there are many more than three pros and three cons, but I need to draw a line somewhere – akin to a preemptive strike on reader boredom.
Here are my three ‘pros’ of teaching English in Cambodia.
Advertisements in social media, feedback from ESL teachers on the ground and the sheer number of requests for new teachers that my business, AVSE-TESOL, receives from schools across Cambodia collectively point to a massive shortage of qualified foreign English teachers. In a nutshell, there are more ESL teaching jobs on offer in Cambodia than there are TESOL/TEFL qualified people to fill them. This is good news – an obvious ‘pro’ – for anyone who has Cambodia on their ‘teaching jobs abroad’ radar. Degree or no degree, quality, government-regulated TESOL certification is essential – check out the Australian Government-accredited TESOL programme in Phnom Penh at AVSE-TESOL.
The lifestyle you lead in your home country is almost certainly driven by your work hours (including time spent commuting), your financial circumstances and the weather. Sure, other factors influence a person’s lifestyle, for example, geographic location, hobbies, and socialising, but work, finances and the weather are the big three. Sensible work hours, high income (relative to the cost of living) and a tropical climate – ‘the big three’ – that come with teaching English in Cambodia afford a lifestyle that most people can only dream about. The 60-minute commute to work on the London Underground will be a thing of the past. Forget about paying AUD $12.00 for a beer in Sydney. Building sandcastles in Sihanoukville while walking around in a bathing suit will replace building snowmen in New York, dressed in a woollen beanie, earmuffs, gloves, and thermals.
Relaxed visa rules
Rules and regulations related to obtaining a visa to enter Cambodia and staying there for an extended period are arguably more relaxed than in other ESL teaching destinations in Southeast Asia and elsewhere. In Cambodia, with minimum paperwork and fuss, it’s possible to obtain a twelve-month visa (multiple entries) and a related twelve-month Work Permit sponsored by an employer (a school in our line of work) or as a ‘self-employed’ person. Interestingly, you don’t need a company structure in Cambodia to be eligible for a twelve-month work permit and visa because you’re self-employed. A twelve-month Work Permit, sponsored or self-employed, costs in the vicinity of US $330.00. The cost of a visa is around US $200.00.
Here are my three ‘cons’ of teaching English in Cambodia.
You can’t skirt around it; Cambodia has a war-torn past and ongoing governance issues. History tells us the local people are the first to bear the brunt of war, poor governance, or both, closely followed by the nation’s infrastructure. Basic infrastructure in Cambodia is either second-rate, dilapidated, or non-existent. Accessing the internet will frustrate you no end. Finding the health care you need if you get ill, will be challenging, especially if you don’t have medical insurance. Not all schools have air-conditioning, whiteboards, projectors and the like that teachers take for granted in more developed countries.
Here’s a quick task for you: think about how you will manage: 1. the problematic internet, 2. finding health care if it’s needed, and 3. delivering ESL classes without basic resources. Whining is one option. I think there are more productive things that you can do to minimise the inconvenience.
Witnessing abject poverty (and its consequences) is confronting. As an ESL teacher in Cambodia, you will have abject poverty in your face daily. In Phnom Penh, beggars and street kids of all ages are seemingly on every corner. You’ll see whole families, mum, dad, and kids living rough on the pavement. The garbage from businesses and households that’s left to rot on the street is a magnet for vermin. With abject poverty comes the need to make ends meet by whatever means, and in Cambodia, many people do precisely that. Almost certainly, you’ll be shocked. How will you respond?
I heard a young ESL teacher describe his time teaching in Cambodia as ‘too vanilla’ for his liking. Then and there, I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about, which provides an insight into my age and social circle. Thanks to a Google search, I now understand that he meant ‘conventional’, ‘same-same’, and lacking variety. I can see why some folks teaching English in Cambodia might think that way. There’s not a huge difference between schools ‘A, B, C and D’ in Phnom Penh on a number of fronts, including their target customers, the curriculum, pay scales, architecture and suchlike. Anecdotally, 90%+ of the teaching work in Cambodia is with young learners, 4 to 17 years of age, who attend Private Schools. Company classes are scarce. Occasionally a teaching position at a university or college will pop up, but you could go weeks without seeing a job advertised at this level.
There is an upside and a downside to every aspect of life if you were inclined to look, and teaching English in Cambodia is no different. It comes with pros and cons. The number of available jobs, the lifestyle and the relaxed visa rules are good reasons for ESL teachers, newcomers, and seasoned campaigners to make their way to Cambodia. Equally, the poor infrastructure, abject poverty and the ‘same-same’ nature of the teaching work in Cambodia are all reasons why ESL teachers may choose a different destination. It comes to personal choice, and in my opinion, the pros far outweigh the cons – and in the main, the cons can be easily managed with a bit of forethought.
About the writer: Peter Goudge is the Managing Director and owner of AVSE-TESOL in Cambodia and Vietnam. AVSE-TESOL delivers an Australian Government accredited TESOL programme in Phnom Penh, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City. Check out the AVSE-TESOL website: www.avse.ed.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 ‘creepy crawly’ things are not my idea of snack food. There’s an ‘arachnid-looking’ thing, a Cambodian delicacy, that bears 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 English in Cambodia – professional conduct matters
Foreign English teachers in Cambodia are highly respected 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 during your time teaching English in Cambodia doesn’t begin and end with 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 AVSE-TESOL in Phnom Penh include ‘professional conduct’ as a stand-alone unit in their four-week, Australian Government accredited TESOL programme. 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 English 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
From my own experience teaching in Cambodia, here are 16 professional conduct tips, that I’d encourage you to reflect upon and, if you share my view of the world, act upon.
1. Teacher-student relationship
Honour the sanctity of the ‘teacher–student’ relationship. First, 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.
2. Safe and secure environment
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 English in Cambodia and discharge these accordingly.
3. Student expression
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.
4. School rules
Be aware of school rules when teaching English 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 English 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.
6. Lesson planning
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 English 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.
9. Treat equally
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 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.
12. Personal beliefs
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.
13. Life story
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’.
14. Additional duties
Teaching is a highly regarded occupation in 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 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 English 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.
15. Social media
From my observations teaching English 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.
16. 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 English 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 English 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 English 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 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
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.
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, it hasn’t always been this way. During the colonial period, French was the official local language.
Nowadays, street signs and the like in Cambodia 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
Have you been thinking about doing a TESOL course in Cambodia, but are unsure what to expect and where to do it? In this blog post, I’ll share my view on what to expect and the best place in Cambodia to do your TESOL, based on my personal experience.
What does TESOL mean?
First, let’s start with the basics. ‘TESOL’ is an acronym. It stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. People like you and I do a TESOL course to learn how to teach English to students who are not native English speakers. In the TESOL training industry, there are essentially two types of courses: 1. those that are government-regulated and legitimate ESL teaching qualifications that come with worldwide recognition, and 2. diploma mill courses that might look enticing on a website page or in flashy videos but carry no academic weight.
What to expect from a TESOL course
Assuming you go down the legitimate path, refer to point one above; you can expect to acquire the knowledge, skills and government-regulated TESOL certification you need to secure a job teaching English in Cambodia or another country.
Your TESOL course in Cambodia will not be a ‘walk in the park’. Just as the provider of your TESOL course has responsibilities and obligations, for instance, delivering on job placement if promised from the outset, you’ll also have responsibilities and obligations. You’ll need to give your TESOL course your ‘best shot’. Professionally going about your business will be a core requirement from day one. Being realistic and adaptable will be expected. The entirety of your TESOL course will be one of those times in your life when you need to listen to the experts who deliver the training.
We’ve canvassed what to expect from the actual TESOL course – skills, knowledge, government-regulated certification and ‘hard yards’ – but what else can you expect given that the study programme doesn’t take place in a vacuum? You’ll be pleased to learn that your TESOL course in Cambodia won’t be ‘all work and no play’!
During your TESOL course, you’ll have ample time to explore Cambodia’s stunning landscapes and meet many amazing people, locals, classmates, and other folks who share your passion for adventure. The cost of living in Cambodia is a fraction of what it is in western countries, so your money will go further. I’m certain you’ll adore the food – think fresh seafood, crispy baguettes, and delectable fruits dripping with sweetness.
Cambodia has a rich culture and history. There are plenty of things to see and do – and getting around is cheap and relatively easy. Travelling to Cambodia for any reason, whether to do a TESOL course or otherwise, must include visiting the World Heritage listed Angkor Wat Temple, located a few kilometres outside of Siem Reap. It’s in the same ‘league’ as the Pyramids of Egypt, in my opinion, and I’ve had the good fortune to visit both.
Where to do your TESOL course
If you agree with the idea that it’s better to do a legitimate, government-regulated TESOL course in Cambodia, as distinct from a ‘diploma-mill’ course, check out the AVSE-TESOL website: www.avse.edu.vn
The TESOL course at AVSE-TESOL is accredited by the Australian Government. It’s equivalent to Cambridge University’s CELTA programme. Skills, knowledge and government-regulated TESOL certification – you will find all three and a lot more at AVSE-TESOL. Here’s a snapshot of what’s included: 150 hours of ESL teacher training over four weeks, 14 hours of practical teaching experience with actual ESL classes in a real school environment, certification under the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF), 25 nights’ accommodation within walking distance of the training location – and hands-on job support in AVSE-TESOL’s extensive network of partner schools located the length and breadth of Cambodia.
While the Australian Government accreditation says something about the quality of AVSE’s TESOL course, it’s the practical dimension of the programme and the meaningful job support that people rave above.
What are you waiting for? Start your adventure in Cambodia today and see where it takes you!
At the beginning of this post, I mentioned that I’d share my view on what to expect with your TESOL course in Cambodia – and where to do it. You can expect to acquire the skills, knowledge and certification needed to get a job and be a decent English language teacher, but you’ll need to ‘put your shoulder to the grindstone’. You can also expect time available to take in the best of what Cambodia offers. If you plan to go down the ‘legit’ path with accreditation and the like, I drew on my personal experience and suggested that the AVSE-TESOL programme in Cambodia is worth checking out.
About the blogger: Originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, Meg Innis has spent the past four years teaching English in Cambodia, Vietnam and most recently in South Korea. She’s an intrepid traveller who is always looking for the next teaching destination.
TESOL course in Cambodia – how to check if it’s ‘legit’
If you’re looking to do a TESOL course in Cambodia, no doubt the internet will be your first port of call. By doing a Google search for ‘TESOL course in Cambodia’, ‘TEFL in Phnom Penh‘, ‘teaching jobs in Cambodia‘ or similar, you’ll find page after page of TESOL/TEFL 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 in Cambodia. First, is the course ‘nationally’ recognised? Second, does the course include a sizable, practical teaching component that: a) offers a mix of teaching experiences; and b) is critically assessed? Third, does the course come with meaningful, ‘hands-on’ job support?
If a TESOL course that has caught your attention fails on any of the three elements that I have identified, I’d suggest that you give it a miss and resume your search. Let’s look at ‘nationally recognised’, ‘practical teaching component’ and meaningful ‘job support’ in more detail.
AVSE’s TESOL course in Cambodia, is an excellent example of a study programme that’s nationally recognised (in Australia) and therefore meets a key criterion to be internationally recognised. On the homepage of the AVSE website ( www.avse.edu.vn ), you’ll see:
the logo of the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF), the umbrella entity for nationally recognised training in Australia;
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 Cambodia 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’ 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 ‘weasel words’ such as ‘our certificate is accepted’. ‘Accepted’ isn’t a 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 Cambodia 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 TESOL trainees 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 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 one of AVSE’s partner schools.
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’ – 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 about making a genuine effort, accepting that mistakes will happen and showing 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 your skills to a potential employer. Anecdotally, 70% of trainees enrolled in the TESOL course in Cambodia at AVSE, 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 will the TESOL provider 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;
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 ‘Job support’. 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 a ‘diploma mill.
Holding a ‘TESOL certificate’ that literally carries the value of a single sheet of paper, 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 Cambodia 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 Cambodia, 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!
Doing a TESOL Course in Cambodia comes with challenges
If you’re looking to be challenged, the Australian Government-accredited, in-class TESOL course at AVSE-TESOL in Cambodia (Phnom Penh) will ‘suit you to a T’. The coursework will challenge you; there’s a lot to get through in under four weeks. The local environment will also challenge you. Cambodia can be hard work. It’s really hot and dirty, and you’ll have abject poverty in your face. As an ESL teacher, there’s also ‘wall to wall’ kids. Collectively, the challenges that come with doing a TESOL course in Cambodia and carving out a teaching career might seem like a good reason to avoid the place. However, I’d argue that the challenges Cambodia presents for ESL teachers are why you should go there. If you wanted ‘same same’, presumably, you’d stay home.
Personally, it’s the ‘wall to wall’ kids that I found to be the most challenging during my first few months in Cambodia. I went to Cambodia naively thinking I’d teach adults. However, it quickly became apparent that 90% of the ESL teaching opportunities in Phnom Penh and elsewhere in Cambodia involve young learners, 4 to 17 years of age. While it all worked out fine for me, my TESOL course in Cambodia at AVSE-TESOL was excellent, and I grew to love teaching kids, I wanted to share my thoughts and a few kid-related tips for newcomers.
Your exposure to Cambodian kids will go well beyond your work as an English language teacher, where you’ll be pulled, pushed, pinched, whacked, jumped on and the like. Cambodia is a developing country where abject poverty is on display for everyone to see. Poverty leads to kids (and adults) living on the street, begging for money and engaging in petty crime. Kids in the classroom, kids in the streets and laneways, kids down by the riverside in Phnom Penh, kids working in jobs that an adult would ordinarily do – no big deal, right? It is a big deal if you naturally shy away from kids. It can be an even bigger deal if you naturally gravitate towards kids and people get the wrong idea.
Here are some kid-related tips given to me by a fellow Brit who’d been teaching in Cambodia for six or so years when I first met him shortly after I arrived in Cambodia. The tips held me in good stead throughout my TESOL course in Cambodia and during my 12-month teaching stint.
Kids in the classroom
As much as humanly possible, keep kids seated throughout a lesson. When they start wandering around in a classroom, disturbing you and their classmates, trouble inevitably happens. During my TESOL course in Cambodia, I was given a range of proactive and reactive strategies to reduce the likelihood of kids wandering around. Make sure your lesson plan contains a mix of short, sharp learning activities, have plenty of backup activities, so the students are always occupied, set class rules from the outset and clue up on non-verbal cues to manage your class. Most importantly, don’t touch a student anywhere or at any time and don’t pick them up like you would with your child. Why? First, they’re not your child. Second, you are leaving yourself open for unfounded accusations. If you’re reviewing work, do it from the side rather than the back. If a student wants to give you a high-five or similar, make it an imaginary high-five.
Avoid giving free English lessons to kids
After you’ve completed your TESOL course in Cambodia, all being well, you’ll be working as a professional ESL teacher at a school within days; such is the demand. Whether you’re working in Phnom Penh or elsewhere in Cambodia, you’ll hold an esteemed position in the local community. In part due to the respect you’ll command, there will be all kinds of invitations to help local kids with their English outside of a regular school environment, often voluntarily. As a kind-hearted soul, your first inclination may be to ‘help out’. Unfortunately, from my observations, this kind of situation nearly always ends up in tears due to unrealistic expectations, changing circumstances and lack of professional distance – right through to dealing with false accusations and legal problems. It’s simply not worth the grief. If you feel the need to help local people outside of the classroom environment, best to donate to a reputable charity and leave it at that. Avoid giving free English classes.
Kids are not a tourist attraction
You might be surprised to learn that there are travel companies in Phnom Penh organising tours for westerners to visit poor families, orphanages and the like. While I am sure tours of this kind are a source of much-needed funds – and most of the participants are well-meaning, it’s a bizarre practice and a good example of ‘Only in Cambodia’. Exhibiting kids like we exhibit animals in a zoo is demeaning and probably violates fundamental human rights. Most people in a developed country, parents in the UK, for example, would be appalled if their child’s kindergarten group was ‘displayed’ or required to sing a cute song for a busload of foreign tourists. Give this kind of activity a miss.
Don’t give money to kids
If you give money to a student, he (or she) will tell their parents, school friends and others. Through a simple Google search, you’ll see that Cambodia has a sad history of attracting foreigners with their own agenda, who were happy to give money to kids. Being tarred with the same ‘deviant’ brush will, at a minimum, end your teaching career, and you’ll have your face on the front page of newspapers far and wide – even if your intentions were noble.
Like most English language teachers, you’re almost certainly a kind-hearted soul by nature. Imagine you’re on a day off from your TESOL course in Cambodia, and checking out a tourist site. There’s a scruffy-looking kid who asks you for $1.00. Will you give the kid some money? By handing over money when confronted with this kind of scenario, you’re essentially encouraging the child to continue begging. ‘Working’ as a beggar doesn’t leave much time for schooling, markedly increasing the likelihood of a lifetime of vulnerability and poverty. Don’t give money to Cambodian kids under any circumstances.
Professionals are the experts
Once you have completed your TESOL in Cambodia, you can rightly say you know a thing or two about teaching English as a second language, and have a certificate that says as much. However, TESOL Certification doesn’t qualify you to rescue children you believe are vulnerable any more than it permits you to work as a dentist, a medical practitioner and the like. It is irresponsible and dangerous to rescue a child in a foreign country. Instead, let the professionals with the skills and local knowledge help the child. If you encounter a situation where you believe a child is in danger, make immediate contact with a government (or non-government) child protection agency or reach out to the local police. You’re not making a fuss or bothering anyone by passing information to those qualified to deal with children at risk. On the contrary, you’re taking appropriate action to ensure a child is safe.
Doing a TESOL course in Cambodia and working as a professional English teacher in Phnom Penh or another city comes with many challenges. My greatest challenge was learning how to interact with local kids in the classroom and elsewhere. I picked up a few tips that I wanted to share with others thinking about heading to Cambodia to work as an ESL teacher. Don’t – touch local kids, hand out money, offer free lessons, participate in silly ‘kid-related’ tourist activities or take the law into your own hands trying to ‘save’ a kid. Constantly remind yourself that you are a visitor and go about your business as expected from a visitor to your own home.
About the writer: Paul Douglas did his TESOL course in Cambodia at AVSE-TESOL in late 2018. He worked as an ESL teacher in Phnom Penh until February 2020. Paul is currently working in a few different jobs in Portsmouth, in the south of the United Kingdom, saving money for his next teaching abroad adventure.
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 grabbing 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 give you a helping-hand.
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
Notarize & legalize US documents (in the US) for teaching jobs in Cambodia
While it’s fair to say that Cambodian officials aren’t too bothered about teaching credentials from abroad being notarized and legalized for local purposes, it’s wrong to assume that this is always the case. Unfortunately, it’s not, and consequently, you’d be well-advised to have your important documents notarized and legalized before you leave the United States (US).
Sure, notarizing, and legalizing documents in the US for use in Cambodia involves time and money. However, the time commitment and financial outlay pale into insignificance compared to the fallout associated with having your key documents rejected in Cambodia. Your key documents for teaching jobs in Cambodia – quality TESOL or TEFL certification, a university or college degree, and a background check, are only useful if they’re accepted by Cambodian authorities. In my opinion, it makes sense to get the tick of approval before you leave the US.
Let’s drill down on how to have your documents for teaching jobs in Cambodia notarized and legalized before you leave home.
Option 1: Outsource
Assuming you have the original versions of your key documents (degree, diploma, background check, and the like), there are specialist companies across the US that will complete the entire process for you. You will find a selection of these companies by doing a simple Google search with keywords such as ‘document authentication service USA’. It’s worthwhile shopping around because fees and timeframes vary markedly. There are obvious pros and cons with outsourcing the notarizing and legalizing of your documents. You’ll save time and there’s a lot to be said for letting the ‘experts do it’. On the other hand, your key documents for teaching jobs in Cambodia will be in the hands of a third-party, which comes with risk.
Option 2: Do it yourself
Step 1: Gather your documents
You’ll save a lot of time (and money) if you have your key documents at hand, but let’s assume the worst-case scenario. For whatever reason, you don’t have any of your key documents, but you want to turn this around and navigate the notarizing and legalizing processes yourself. Here’s what you need to do:
Academic: Contact the institution that issued your degree, diploma, or certificate and ask for a replacement document that’s the same as the original – sealed, stamped, and the like. Almost certainly, you’ll incur a fee. The institution that initially issued your degree, diploma, or certificate can also provide information on what’s involved with notarizing the document – at the ‘institution’ level.
Police (Background check): Contact the FBI Office closest to where you live and ask about the process to obtain a background check. If you’re asked why you need a background check, tell them straight – you’ll be applying for teaching jobs in Cambodia. While Cambodian officials have been known to accept State background checks, you are strongly advised to obtain a background check from the FBI, averting a problem in the future. Unlike your academic documents, an FBI background check does not need to be notarized at the local level.
Step 2: Contact the State Authentication Office
Once you have gathered all your documents, you can move to Step two. Authentication procedures vary from state to state. You are strongly encouraged to contact your respective state’s authentication office for more information on what needs to be done with each of your key documents. You’ll find the contact details for the proper authority in your state via the following link: https://www.hcch.net/en/states/authorities/details3/?aid=353
Step 3: Obtain the Signature and Seal of the ‘State’ Secretary of State (State Authentication Office)
This step typically involves your State Authentication Office signing and sealing your documents. “What for”? I hear you ask. It’s about ‘checks and balances’. The folks at the state level need to confirm that whoever notarized your documents at the local level (Step one) is authorized to complete the task.
Step three is where the notarizing and legalizing process can get ‘interesting’ because of the Hague Convention. In short, if you plan to use your documents for employment (or other purposes) in a country that’s a signatory to the Hague Convention, theoretically, you’re ‘done and dusted’ after finialising Step three. Unfortunately, Cambodia isn’t a signatory to the Hague Convention, so you have a couple more hoops to jump through.
Step 4: Obtain U.S. Department of State (Federal) authentication
While it’s highly likely that the government officials in Step three will forward your documents to the Department of State (Federal) for the next layer of authentication (an Apostille), this isn’t always the case. You might have to take on the task yourself. If so, contact the Department of State (Federal) for guidance via the ‘free-call’ number noted below.
Department of State (Document Authentication Office)
518 23rd ST. N.W., SA-1, Columbia Plaza
Washington, D.C. USA 20520
Tel: (202) 647-5002 or 1-800-688-9889
Step 5: Obtain ‘legalization’ from the Cambodian Embassy
Once your key documents have passed through steps one to four, they need to make their way to the Cambodian Embassy in Washington for ‘legalization’. Give the Cambodian Embassy a call, so you know exactly what they expect you to do. Check out the following link: https://www.embassyofcambodiadc.org/
When it comes to notarizing and legalizing US documents (in the US) for use in Cambodia, you have two options: 1. outsource the task in its entirety, or 2. do it yourself. Both options come with pluses and minuses. Cost, available time, security, and the like will no doubt be pivotal in the decision-making process. Regardless, of whether you outsource notarizing and legalizing documents for use in Cambodia or complete the task yourself, the goal is the same. It’s about having your documents in order for teaching jobs in Cambodia and presenting yourself in the best possible light to potential employers.
About the writer:Peter Goudge is the Managing Director (and owner) of Australian Vocational Skills and Education (AVSE-TESOL) in Phnom Penh, 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. Apparently, Mr de Verneville went about his job 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 opened in 1937. At the time, it was the largest market in Southeast Asia. The 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 teaching 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. They were forced to leave Phnom Penh under the Khmer Rouge, and sadly, were never seen 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
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