The grass is always greener, isn't it? I still think Korea is the best place to get started in TEFL, and a great place for a young, indebted person to deleverage. Whether you're in public or private sector, you'll be saving plenty of money here. It's not the funnest country, but it is a convenient one. Even if you hate the culture, it's not hard to insulate yourself from it unless you're a narcissistic cunt who perceives everything as a slight against herself. You take the good with the bad and the rest is on you to be grateful you aren't a crash test dummy or medical test subject, which is about the only job you're likely qualified for as a liberal arts major anyway.
With that said, it's always good to be aware of your other options. Here is what I know of mine:
Teaching English in China
I would need a huge reason to give up the safety of my cushy job and move to the Earth's most polluted asshole where you need to chew the air with a fork and knife. I'm talking about Beijing, but apparently Tianjin is even worse. Shanghai's the golden ticket, but just like TEFL in Seoul, everyone wants to be there and fierce competition means you may have to take a pay cut. I've met lots of non-teacher expats living in Shanghai on my travels, and they are in no hurry to get out. In contrast, the existence of dozens of 'Fuck Korea' blogs and forums suggest a far less quality of life for expats in Seoul.
Teaching English in Taiwan
Say goodbye to free rent, tax exemption, and a quarter of your salary.
Say hello to good food, easy pussy and drugs.
HESS is the big ESL company here. They have enough clout to openly advertise kindergarten teaching positions, which are illegal and grounds for deportation if you are caught. You don't even need a TEFL certification.
You don't even need a TEFL cert, or if you have one, you only need a 2 year degree.
That's right. Taiwan is the sluttiest of all the countries in the TEFL market. Teaching English there is like walking into a porn set without a test and getting to shoot with hotter girls than the company next door. (I'm not using girls as a metaphor for jobs as the analogy would imply, I was being literal. Okay, to be clear, I mean that Taiwanese girls are the hottest girls in East Asia, and they are WAY more down to fuck than Koreans.)
Taiwan's a great country with shit weather. I'd love to live there, and the social scene is spectacular but...damn the pay is low. Everyone in Taiwan works long hours for low wages.
Teaching English in Vietnam
Believe it or not, all the reputable schools in Vietnam have more stringent requirements than Korea. Don't even think about trying to get in with an online TEFL degree. They are looking for CELTAs, DELTAs or Trinity TESOLs.
They call places that hire lesser-credentialed teachers 'backpacker schools', which is where you'll be working if you're trying to find a job after getting there first. To be honest, I don't know much about the TEFL market in Vietnam other than Vietnamese people are more enthusiastic about learning English than Koreans, who aren't enthusiastic about anything other than Korea (when their souls aren't being sucked out of them by their grueling work culture).
Getting Additional Credentials
Instead of looking for different places to teach English, you could get a CELTA, which would increase your marketability dramatically. It's about $2,500 and you can take it full-time, part-time, or online. I'm not willing to invest any more than the hundred bucks I paid for my online TEFL certificate, especially if it means I have to take time off work. Korea is like the only place where it's better to list 'White Female' than CELTA on your resume.
Getting a Master's degree online takes 3+ years and if you're getting an American one, it'll cost a bunch. What would I even get mine in? You need time, money, and direction to pursue one of these. For that reason I haven't looked at many programs. I have no confidence that a Master's degree would be worth its cost.
I went for something slightly different. I'm getting my teaching license through an alternative certification program. It's $5,000, but I can keep my awesome full-time job while I finish the 10 month program. Are you fucking insane? That's a huge bargain compared to what those silly Education majors have to do- 1.5 years of teacher's college, plus 6 months of student-teaching / slave labor. FUCK THAT!
Things that seem too good to be true, often are however, so I sought advice from four people.
First, my ex-girlfriend: BA in education, went to teacher college for 1.5 years.
“(Rolls eyes like a bitch) Those programs are shit, and they disgrace real teachers like me. They produce shitty teachers, and I don't support them at all.”
Could've seen that one coming from a mile away. A great cook with a delicious pussy, but quick to judge even by her own admission. Not that she's wrong, maybe alternative certification programs are shit and teachers aren't made through field experience, they're made in education classes in undergraduate programs and teacher college.
Next, my high school physics teacher: BS in Physics, licensed from one of the strictest states in the US,10 years of experience.
“There's a lot more BS paperwork than when I started, and the job market sucks. Schools prefer traditionally certified teachers, as well as certifications from certain states, NY and CA being two of the hardest states to get licensed in.
Finally, I spoke to a traditionally certified Special Education teacher at an international school in Korea, and an alternatively certified teacher working in the US. Both had 5-10 years of experience.
SpEd teacher: “You'd be foolish not to get an alternative certification if you can do it while you're here. It's much cheaper than what I had to pay, takes less time, and as long as it comes with a student teaching component and results in a state certification, you will be okay. It will be much easier to find a job if you get certified in Physics or Math.”
Both teachers agreed that once you have work experience, nobody looks at your certification. It's all about getting your foot in the door. Hey man, if I can get my condom-sheathed dick in a virgin asshole, I'm pretty confident I can get my foot in a door.
If there are any other better options aside from “look for a better job in Korea” for a guy here on an E-2 visa, I'd sure like to know. You could get married in an attempt at an F visa, but that's no longer a good idea, if it ever was. I know a girl that makes 3 million working for MBC in Busan, but she's trilingual. The rare non-English teaching jobs are hard to qualify for and harder to find, especially for guys like me- fresh outta undergrad, poor Korean ability, no additional certification.