Teaching English in East Timor

By | November 27, 2013
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Image Courtesy of Wiki Images.

East Timor is a small country (population around 1.1 million) in Southeast Asia. It borders with Indonesia on the west side of Timor Island. East Timor is a poor country with about one third of the population living on a salary below the international poverty.

Moreover, around half of the population is illiterate and the country has been held back by a long struggle against occupation from Indonesia. However, in 2013 the country had one of the largest growths in the world.

There are not many opportunities for teaching English in East Timor because it is a very small country. You will find some paid opportunities, but there will be a lot more voluntary teaching jobs than paid.

Why Teach English in East Timor

East Timor is a small but very beautiful and exotic country. The country is very hot and maintains temperatures of around 30-35°C all year round.

Off the beaten tourist trap and away from the usual TEFL teachers in Southeast Asia, East Timor could really be an experience to remember.

Where to Teach English in East Timor

Most paid positions will be the capital city called Dili. If you are looking for volunteer, you will probably find opportunities all over the country.

Types of Teaching Jobs in East Timor

Dili, East TimorMost teachers will find themselves working in language institutes and schools. These schools will require that you work around 20-25 hours per week and teach a variety of levels. Often these schools offer a range of different courses and teach a range of different ages.

Moreover, you will find that a number of local NGOs are looking for volunteer teaching staff to provide students with English lessons.

Teaching Requirements and Qualifications

If you’re volunteering, you won’t need any particular qualifications or experience, just a willingness to help students improve their English.

If you are looking for paid employment as an English teacher in East Timor then most language schools will require that you have at least a bachelor’s degree and a relevant teaching qualification like a TESOL, TEFL or CELTA.

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Expected Salary and Living Costs

[sociallocker id=”1096″]Obviously, if you are volunteering, you will receive no salary. However, you might be provided room and board.

On the other hand, you could expect to earn as much as $20 per hour being a qualified and experienced teacher.

The cost of living in East Timor isn’t as cheap as other countries in South East Asia. A one bedroom apartment could cost you as much as $500 per month for a fairly decent one and a cheap meal can cost anywhere between $3 – $5 and western food can be extremely expensive.

Having said this, if you found a good job and lived a fairly simple life, you would be able to save some money each month.

For more information about the cost of living in East Timor see Numbeo.[/sociallocker]

Visa Requirements

A cross above Dili, Timor LesteIf you want to work in East Timor, you will need a working Visa. You will enter the country with a tourist visa and then usually the school you are working for will apply for the visa for you.

To obtain a working visa you must provide originals of your teaching certificate, bachelor’s degree and a criminal background check. Moreover, you will need to get a medical check done locally when you arrive.

For more information about obtaining a working visa visit the official Immigration Services website here.

How to Find a Job Teaching in East Timor

As you can enter the country and stay for some time on a tourist visa, it’s possible to find a job when you are already in East Timor.

Alternatively, some schools actively recruit teachers online either through their own website or on jobs boards.

Teach English in East Timor

There are many reasons why people choose to find TEFL jobs in East Timor. It’s a small, laid back and beautiful country situated in the tropics of Southeast Asia. Away from some of the more popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia, the country is said to have a unique charm about it.

A number of people choose to volunteer as a teacher, but as more paid teaching opportunities are coming up in East Timor, more and more people are living and working as an expatriate English teacher in the fast growing country.


Although I have never worked in this country, every effort has been made to ensure that this information is correct. This blog post has been written after extensive research online, interviews with teachers who have worked or are working in the country, and local schools have been contacted. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. If you have worked or are working in East Timor, we would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment and share your experiences with us.

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