Language Barriers in the Classroom

Language Barriers are Expected

One of the challenges of Teaching English as a Foreign Language in any country is the language barrier. And I’m not just talking about the language barrier I experience with the children, as that is to be expected. That is the reason that we have Chinese Teachers in the classroom, especially when dealing with the youngest children who are being exposed to English for the first time. It is very helpful when teaching a group of three-year-old’s what the rules of the classroom are. For some of the children it is their first time in a classroom, and it is primarily conducted in a language that they don’t yet speak. While we try to avoid direct translation when possible, it is sometimes necessary with the youngest/lowest level students. However, sometimes the language barrier also comes up with my Chinese teaching assistants, and finding ways around that is sometimes the most challenging part of working at my school in Beijing.

I really admire the Chinese teachers I work with, because I have never been challenged in quite the way that they have chosen to challenge themselves. They all live in their native country where the majority of people speak their native language and they choose to work in an environment where they are required to spend a good part of their day communicating in their second language, as the majority of Foreign Teachers don’t speak that much Mandarin. Some of them do it as a way to improve their own English levels so that they may eventually go to university or get jobs in the USA, UK, or Canada, while others have different motivations.

Chinese Teacher in Beijing

Relationships with Chinese Teachers

So far, I have had very positive experiences working with my Chinese Teachers in the classroom. They are delightful people who really care about their work and want to help you however they can. One of the biggest parts of their job is talking to the students’ parents, so it is very important for the Foreign Teachers to communicate well with the Chinese teachers about what material will be covered in a class and when. Depending on your relationship with them and how you both feel the class functions best, you can co-teach with them or they can function more as an assistant in the classroom.

English Levels Will Help Determine that Relationship

Sometimes this will depend on the Chinese teacher’s English level vs the English level of your students. CTs with a relatively high English level have an easier time helping teach higher level students, but when you get to the really high level classes, they tend to struggle to be active in the class and will take a more passive role. This isn’t really a bad thing considering that in these classes the students’ level of English is high enough that they can communicate easily with a Foreign Teacher. 

Chinese Teacher in Beijing

In one of my classes, the students’ English level is actually higher than our Chinese teacher’s so she and I have worked out other ways that she can help me in the classroom. She provides a lot of the materials I need and assists with making sure all students stay on task.

Good Communication

Good communication is key to doing this job well, and I have found a few ways that help communication between people who have a very high language barrier. One is to keep the language simple. Sometimes you may feel disrespectful by dumbing down your language, as you may feel like you’re treating them like children. But if the situation were reversed, they would have to do the same for you. Also, try to avoid using idioms, which can be hard because as native speakers we often don’t realize just how many we use in our everyday speech.

Touch Down in Hong Kong

After living in Asia previously I thought I knew exactly what to expect when I arrived in Hong Kong for the first time but oh how wrong I was.

I had heard from friends that Hong Kong International Airport was one of the most efficient in the world and I would agree with that about 80%, or maybe I just arrived on a bad day. After stepping off the plane and the humidity hitting me in the face I knew my first challenge in Hong Kong would be getting through immigration. After previously having ridiculously long and irritating waits in immigration queues throughout Asia, I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I got through the Hong Kong immigration.

Hong Kong Taxi

My top tip for anyone arriving into countries such as Hong Kong is to fill out and required documents or paperwork before you approach the immigration desk. For example, fill in your arrivals card and have it ready to hand over with your passport to the immigration officer, this makes the process easier and means there are less delays throughout immigration. I had all my documents ready when I entered the queue and within 10 minutes I was done and heading through the airport to collect my bags.

Now this is where my trouble began. As I located the carrousel that my baggage was going to be on I was surprised to see not only passengers still stood waiting for their luggage but also the captain of the flight and all his cabin crew. Unfortunately the carrousel was moving around but to everyone’s disappointment or annoyance there were no bags on it. In total we waited for around an hour before any of the baggage from our flight began to be loaded. After an 18 hour flight I just wanted to get my baggage and go to bed.

Hong Kong Street

When I finally saw my baggage appear on the carrousel I was so happy and after grabbing my 30kg suitcase I headed out of the arrivals hall to find a way to travel to Hong Kong Island. After researching the different public transport options from the airport I found two that would have been good for me. The Hong Kong airport express train which has fantastic reviews and is a relatively cheap option or a taxi which is slightly more expensive but would drop me off directly outside my new apartment.

I decided to get a taxi in the end because I did not want to carry all my luggage onto the train and then walk to my apartment. Throughout the terminal there are signpost both in Chinese and English which was a great help and I found my way to the taxi rank with great ease. Once there I had to decide which taxi I needed, there were 3 options and each route has a colour associated with it. I knew by looking at the map that I needed an urban taxi (red) to get to my apartment in Wan Chai.  After joining the taxi queue and waiting a couple of minutes my luggage was loaded into a taxi and I was on my way out of the airport.  My first views of Hong Kong were of the thousands of skyscrapers basking in the August sun, not a bad start to my next 12 months here.

Guide to Indonesia – Education System, Cost of Living, Visa Process

About Indonesia

The Republic of Indonesia, popularly known as Indonesia, is a transcontinental country that is located chiefly in Southeast Asia and has some of its territories in the region of Oceania. Indonesia is the largest island country in the world and it is situated in between the Pacific and Indian oceans. The Indonesian archipelago consists of 17,500 or more islands, of which about 1000 islands are permanently inhabited. Indonesia is the 14th largest country in the world in terms of total land area; it is also the 7th largest country in the world in terms of land and sea area combined. With an approximate population of 264 million people, Indonesia ranks fourth on the list of most populous countries. Among all Austronesian countries and Muslim-majority nations of the world, Indonesia has the highest population. Java, the most populous island of Indonesia as well as the world, is home to more than 50% of the Indonesian population. This article will serve as a guide to Indonesia for those who want to relocate there and are interested in teaching the English language in this country. 

Indonesia is a sovereign state that follows a unitary system of government. Its republican government is constituted of an elected legislature and a President. The nation has a total of 34 provinces – among these 5 provinces have been given Special Administrative Status. These are Aceh, the Special Region of Yogyakarta, Papua, West Papua, and Special Capital Region of Jakarta. Being the Indonesian capital, Jakarta is the most populous city in the country as well as the entire Southeast Asia. Indonesia shares its land borders with East Timor, East Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea. Vietnam, Singapore, the Philippines, Palau, Australia are among its neighboring countries. In spite of having a large population as well as high population densities in certain regions, the country also supports significantly high levels of biodiversity in its vast backcountry.

Guide to Indonesia – Economy

Indonesia is rich in a variety of natural resources such as oil and natural gas, copper, tin, and gold. It is also a major producer of rice, tea, coffee, palm oil, cacao, rubber, spices and medicinal plants. It has a strong footing in international trade and its main trading partners include the US, Japan, China, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia. Indonesia’s economic development is supported by its domestic framework and the global environment. Fiscal management, as well as credibility, has been bettered, and as result, GDP growth in Indonesia has increased from 4.9% in Q4 of 2016 to 5% in Q1 of 2017. Factors that have contributed to this growth are an increase in domestic consumption and rise in exports-volume. The nation has been investing more to ensure early-childhood development. There has been better integration across different sectors to launch development programs that focus on the betterment of early-childhood.

Guide to Indonesia – Demography

Indonesia has numerous native ethnic as well as linguistic groups that are distinct from one another. It has been estimated than 700+ languages are spoken in this island country! Among the ethnic and linguistic groups, the Javanese is both the largest and politically dominant. The population representing this group is spread unevenly throughout the Indonesian archipelago. As per the national census that was conducted in 2010, Indonesia had a population of around 238 million. The population of Indonesia grows at the rate of about 2% per year, which suggests that by the year 2020, the country will have a population of almost 270 million. The figure is expected to cross the 320 million mark by the year 2050. Almost 8 million Indonesians that live overseas constitute one of the largest diasporas of the world. Most of these migrant Indonesians live in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, the US, the UAE, and the Netherlands.

As has been mentioned above, Indonesia exhibits a vast ethnic diversity. There are approximately 300 distinct ethnic groups that are native to this huge island nation. Among all of these, the biggest ethnic group is comprised of the Javanese. These people form more than 40% of the total population of Indonesia. Among the non-Javanese groups, the largest ones are the Sundanese, the Madurese, and the ethnic Malays. Although a huge ethnocultural diversity has been responsible for creating well-established regional identities, it is important to note that Indonesians, as a whole, harbor a deep sense of national identity.

Guide to Indonesia – Education

The education system in Indonesia is quite robust, and education is mandatory for a period of 12 years that include 6 years of primary education, 3 years of secondary education,  and 3 years of tertiary (or university-level) education. The Constitution of Indonesia makes it compulsory to allocate an impressive 20% of the national budget for education. Besides the state-run schools, that are non-sectarian, there are private and semi-private Islamic schools. Among these two types of schools, the first category is supervised by the Ministry of Education and Culture, and the second group of institutions is financed and supervised by the Ministry of Religious Affairs. Indonesia also has a number of international schools that are mostly private. These schools do not follow the prescribed national curriculum and often call themselves National Plus Schools to convey that they provide additional resources and exceed the requirements mandated by the Ministry of Education and Culture.

These schools use English as the medium of instruction, and also have international curriculums. The number of primary schools in Indonesia is about 170,000, while those of junior-secondary and high schools are approximately 40,000 and 26,000 respectively. Of all the schools that are operational in Indonesia, 93% are run by the government. Among these, about 85% are under the supervision of the Ministry of Education and Culture, and the rest are supervised by the Ministry of Religious Affairs. The private schools constitute just 7% of the total number of schools in Indonesia. It has been observed that the rates of enrollment for primary, secondary and tertiary education in Indonesia are about 90%, 75%, and 25% respectively. During 2016, the country’s literacy rate was slightly higher than 95%.

Guide  to Indonesia – English Teaching Jobs

Indonesia is one of the fastest-growing job-markets where English teachers can find ample opportunities around the year. On the Mark TEFL can provide necessary information for relevant job vacancies in Indonesia. Common modes of the interview are telephonic conferences and e-mail communications. However, certain schools show a preference for in-person interviews. Although teachers have to bear the expenses for their air-travel and accommodation, some of the schools provide assistance to alleviate their financial burden. Most of the expatriate teachers live in the apartments that have been vacated by others. It is also common for groups of English teachers to share apartments.

As the salary standards are quite generous in the main cities of Indonesia, and the English teachers have to work for less than 30 hours per week, they can afford a considerably comfortable lifestyle. Additionally, they can also have sufficient time to explore the exquisite beauty of the vibrant Indonesia. It is advisable to have a four-year degree in English and TEFL certification in order to get preference as an English teacher in Indonesia. For expatriate English teachers in Indonesia, most of the job opportunities are in the important cities such as Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, and Bandung. There are ample job opportunities in Bali too. However, the huge popularity of this island has made its job-market extremely competitive.

Guide to Indonesia – Cost of Living

Almost all the major cities in Indonesia are quite costly to live in. This is mainly because of their global significance as business and tourism destinations. We have compiled the information on the cost of living in Indonesia under three expense-groups. These are food, housing, and transportation.


Basic Lunch and a Drink

Rp 57,554

Combo Meal at a Fast Food Restaurant

Rp 45,673

Chicken Breast (Boneless)/ lb

Rp 25,848

Milk (Whole Fat)/ liter

Rp 18,501

Eggs/ dozen

Rp 24,309

Tomatoes/ kg

Rp 12,210

Local Cheese/ kg

Rp 59,632

Apples/ kg

Rp 34,843

Potatoes/ kg

Rp 17,526

Domestic Beer/ 16 oz

Rp 28,268


Monthly Rent for Furnished Accommodation

Rp 5,784,790 – Rp 11,480,900

Monthly Rent for Furnished Studio

Rp 3,635,870 – Rp 6,828,020

Utilities/ month

Rp 769,593 – Rp 1,396,190

Internet (8 Mbps)/ month

Rp 328,016


Gas/ liter

Rp 8,214

Monthly Ticket for Public Transport

Rp 261,268

Guide to Indonesia – Visa Process

Individuals who are interested in migrating to Indonesia for teaching English should be aware of the visa process that has to be completed. For immigrant English teachers, a Limited Stay Visa shall be necessary. This is a single-entry visa that is issued by the Indonesian government to foreign nationals who intend to stay in Indonesia for a variety of purposes such as study, research, sports, and much more. The visa can be extended upon arrival in Indonesia. The visa-holder can also obtain a temporary permit after arriving in Indonesia. If the visa-holder plans to exit, and subsequently re-enter Indonesia, he/ she has to obtain necessary permits from the Director General of Immigration. For the required documentation and other relevant information on the visa process, you may refer to the e-Consular Services of the Republic of Indonesia.

Why Is It Rewarding To Grab English Teaching Opportunities Abroad?

While starting any discussion on English teaching opportunities abroad, it is paramount to analyze the role of globalization in the contemporary world. The entire world has been undergoing rapid change due to the phenomenon which is known as globalization. Although it might sound a little perplexing, the world is getting smaller because of this process. As technological advancements and innovations are rendering geographical boundaries insignificant from the communications standpoint, the world is getting transformed into a global village. People from different parts of the world can easily interact and transact among themselves without caring about differences in time zones and other parameters. Besides the wide range of benefits that have been brought about by globalization, there has also been a rise in the demand for a common medium of communication that can be used effectively in order to interact seamlessly on a global platform. English has been the lingua franca of the world since the olden days and for the same reason, it is the language that the world prefers even today. English teaching opportunities abroad have increased significantly in the past few decades because of the fact that English is not a native language in many countries of the world. Due to this reason, native English speakers and qualified English teachers are in high demand outside the English-speaking world.

English Teaching Job Markets Abroad

As the number of English teaching opportunities abroad is increasing every day, the English teaching job markets are also becoming more and more structured and defined. There are various countries in the world that are inherently rich in terms of natural as well as human resources. Globalization has made these countries highly popular destinations for investors, technocrats, and skilled professionals. Immigration rates have increased to a great extent. However, for many countries that belong to this league, English has never been a native language. When globalization had opened the doors for attracting investments that would, in turn, develop their economies, it also posed a challenge in terms of communication. Sensing the nascent demand which was ensuing from this situation, people from the English-speaking countries started to migrate in search of English teaching opportunities abroad. On the other hand, and rather simultaneously, corporate and government departments in non-English speaking nations started searching for proficient English teachers who could provide effective training to inculcate necessary language skills in their people. Very soon, English teaching job markets were created in different countries across the globe.

Today some of the most prominent English teaching job markets are present in South East Asian nations such as China, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, etc. It is interesting to note that a significantly large English teaching job market is even present in Russia. In the discussion that we have presented so far, it must have been clear to you that all the major English teach job markets abroad to have certain common characteristic features. They are either strong or growing economies. They are globally popular destinations for either business and technology, or travel and tourism, or both. Quite obviously, they are favorable pastures for people who look for English teaching opportunities abroad. Most of these job markets are beneficial for those English teaching professionals who have completed a formal tertiary (i.e. university) level education and have also acquired a certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) or Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). The requirement of either of these two certifications should be considered to be paramount while searching for English teaching opportunities abroad. The holders of these certificates are considered to be proficient enough to teach English.

Rewards of English Teaching Opportunities Abroad

English teaching opportunities abroad do have a lot of rewards. While the salaries and other perks for English teaching jobs abroad might not be as high as those for job roles in the oil and gas, construction, mining, and other such sectors, they are still quite lucrative. Additionally, English teaching opportunities abroad are also not labor-intensive; therefore the teachers have to work for a lesser number of hours per week and get sufficient personal time that can be utilized in many different ways. An English teacher who has taken up a language teaching assignment abroad can always choose from a variety of teaching jobs. She can teach English in schools, to corporate professionals, or even to individuals who prefer to avail private tuitions after their work hours. The salaries would vary from one job type to another. Moreover, a teacher can also opt for multiple assignments if she can manage her schedule efficiently. That would allow her to increase her income.

Another great reward of English teaching opportunities abroad is that a person can explore new countries. Imagine, you have taken up an English teaching assignment in Indonesia or Russia! You can always have the opportunity to visit new places, meet new people and taste new delicacies. Isn’t that the kind of life that we all want? Well, English teaching opportunities abroad can definitely give you that. Along with a lucrative job that guarantees a decent pay-package, these opportunities would also give you the invaluable chance to appreciate the cultural diversities of the world and satisfy your wanderlust. On a whole, English teaching opportunities abroad are the tickets to a fantastic experience.


As the world is shrinking every day owing to fast-paced globalization, English has become highly important, and almost indispensable, as the global medium of communication. Outside the English-speaking world, there are numerous English teaching opportunities that are quite lucrative. Proficient English teachers who have acquired the necessary certifications can grab English teaching opportunities abroad and get nice salaries, as well as a great chance to explore new countries and the unique experiences that they offer. On the Mark TEFL would like to encourage English teachers from all over the world to come forward and get themselves TESOL/ TEFL certified so that they can successfully grab gainful English teaching opportunities abroad. We feel that these opportunities will surely help you enrich yourselves in a variety of ways.