Laos is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia bordering with China and Myanmar (Burma) in the north, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west. Laos is a traditional country that is far away from the modern world and the stresses and demands that come with it.
This peaceful country with its laid back people is what really puts this country on the map. With ever increasing tourism, beautiful scenery and a very relaxed way of life, it’s no wonder that more and more people are visiting Laos every year.
There are no tropical beaches that attract so many visitors to other countries in Southeast Asia. Instead, most people visit Laos to get off the beaten track of backpacking around South East Asia. Tourism is now one of the fastest growing industries in this country and more and more people are visiting every year. For this reason, Laotians see English as an important skill for finding a job and many people want to study English. For this reason alone, there is a growing demand for English teachers in the country.
Students are equally as laid back and most schools and language institutes are not usually well regulated or organised. For some, this is part of the charm of working in the country! The easy going nature of working will really make you feel like a million miles away from home.
Why Teach English in Laos?
With an increasing number of tourists visiting the country and a growing tourism industry, the need to speak English is becoming ever more important for Laotians. Furthermore, Laos is a member of ASEAN and the official language of this group of nations is English which also adds to the importance of the English language for Laotians.
Where to Teach English in Laos
There aren’t many paid positions outside of the capital city, Vientiane. In the smaller cities and towns you might find some paid work available, but probably not full time work. If you are interested in volunteering as an English teacher, you will find opportunities all over the country.
Types of Teaching Jobs in Laos
As the country is developing, more foreigners are also beginning to live in the country. Some of the local population are also beginning to make a good living. As a result of this, some international schools have become quite popular and new schools are also opening up. These schools follow international curriculums and classes are mainly taught in English. As a result, you will find opportunities teaching English to children in these schools. Moreover, if you have the relevant qualifications and experience, you might find opportunities teaching other subjects in English too.
A number of English language schools are opening in Laos. Mainly these schools are opening in the capital city, but some are also opening in other towns and cities too. These schools offer teaching programs for students of all ages and they often provide classes throughout the day, 7 days a week.
As Laos is a poor and developing country, you will find that there are many volunteer opportunities in the county. Most of these programs will involve teaching younger students and most don’t require any sort of experience of qualifications.
Teaching Requirements and Qualifications
If you want to find a job, most employers will require that you are qualified to teach English. Therefore you will need at least a degree and a teaching certificate like a CELTA, TESOL or TEFL. However, you will find schools that are willing to overlook this requirement because of the demand for native English speaking teachers. Those with no degree, certificate or teaching experience are likely to find it a little more difficult to find a job.
Therefore, to maximise your chances of finding a higher paying job in one of the better schools you will need to get your TESOL, TEFL or CELTA certificate before you arrive.
Expected Salary and Living Costs
The salary can vary quite considerably depending on a number of factors including your qualifications, experience, the school you’re working for, and the area in which you are living. As a rough guide, you can expect to earn as little as $500 per month or as much as $1500+ per month.
International schools pay more than language schools and you can expect to earn a salary towards the higher end of this pay scale. Those with qualifications and experience will also expect to earn around $1500 or more.
If you work in a small school, you can expect to earn less. However, you can expect to earn around $1000 depending on how many hours teach.
Finally, those with no qualifications and experience and those working outside of the capital city might be lucky and earn around $1000 per month, but in all probability it will be much lower than this.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in Laos is extremely cheap when compared to western countries and even a bit cheaper when compared with neighbouring countries.
The cost of accommodation is very low and you might expect to pay just a few hundred dollars a month for a small apartment. If you want something a little more comfortable that comes with a few mod-cons, you should expect to pay about $350 a month or more. A cheaper alternative is to share a house with other expats living in the country. This can drastically reduce the amount of money that you spend on accommodation.
Travel is very cheap in the country and you can get around for just a few dollars each day or less.
Finally, food can be very cheap. If you eat the local food, you can get a meal for just a dollar or two. Moreover, you will also find cheap western restaurants where prices range from a few dollars a meal and up. Western food in supermarkets is quite expensive, so if you are planning on cooking at home each day, it might work out more expensive for you than eating the local food.
For more exact information about the cost of living in Laos, take a look at Numbeo.com.
Most people usually enter the country on a tourist visa that lasts for 30 days and this visa can be extended. If you want to work in the country then you must have a business visa. To obtain a business visa you need to provide proof that you are employed and your employer can provide all the necessary documents for you. In some cases, your employer will take care of this for you. You might be lucky and find a school that pays for your visa, but in most cases you will be expected to pay for this yourself and the cost is about $280 per year.
Getting a visa is usually quite easy if you have a job in Laos. For more information about visa requirements and the different visas on offer, click here.
How to Find a Job Teaching in Laos
Most language schools and international schools usually require an interview in person and most people will find a job when they are already in the country. It is rare for schools to advertise for positions online, but they sometimes do advertise on websites, local forums and job boards.
The best way to find a job teaching English in Laos is to start looking for a vacant position when you are already in the country. You can try looking in the local newspapers, but you’re probably much better off heading to the schools yourself and enquiring about vacant positions in person.
Teaching English in Laos
With more and more people wanting to learn English the demand for English teachers is increasing. The salary can be quite low, but in most cases it will be enough to pay for a comfortable lifestyle. More English teachers are looking at teaching in Laos because of the relaxing and laid back way of life and the relative ease in finding a job and getting a visa.
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 Laos, we would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment and share your experiences with us.