Teaching English in the Philippines

By | December 27, 2016

The Philippines is an island country in Southeast Asia. The Celebes Sea separates the Philippines from Indonesia, Vietnam is west over the South China Sea, Taiwan and China sit in the north across the Luzon Strait and Borneo is located past the Sulu Sea.

The Philippines is home to over 98 million people and is the 12th most populated country in the world. The English language is widely spoken because it was a former colony of the United States. Many Filipinos are learning English and there are some opportunities for native English speaking teachers.

The country’s climate is tropical and it is hot and humid for most of the year. This archipelago consists of 7,107 islands and there are many beautiful beaches in the country.

Read more about the Philippines.

Why Teach English in the Philippines

A Perfect Dying AfternoonThe Philippines isn’t normally a country that most people think about when they decide to teach English abroad. However, there are a number of people moving to the country to learn English and study in one of the many English speaking universities in the country.

On top of this, the country is home to countless call centres that take customer services calls for the US market.

For these reasons there is a big demand for English teachers in the country. However, as many Filipinos can speak English to a near native standard, there aren’t that many opportunities for native English speaking teachers. Having said that, highly qualified and experienced native English speaking teachers will find some opportunities in the country.

Where to Teach English in the Philippines

Similarly to nearly every country in the world, it’s no surprise to see that most of the opportunities for TEFL jobs in the Philippines are in the bigger cities. Whilst there are English schools all over the country, it’s the big cities where you’ll most likely end up if you’re teaching in the country.

Types of Teaching Jobs in the Philippines

Private Language Academies/Schools

Most native English speaking teachers will find themselves working in a private language institution of some sort. There are literally 1000s of these schools dotted around the Philippines. As a high number of Filipinos are moving away from the Philippines, you’ll find that a lot of them want to pass an internationally recognised English course and there are many TOEFL and IELTS courses.


golden sunset 2Some native English teachers will find work in a university, but you’re going to need to be more highly qualified and experienced than other types of teaching work. You’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree and possibly a master’s degree as well as an internationally recognised teaching certificate like a TEFL, TESOL or CELTA.

Call Centres

A lot of call centres employ native English speaking teachers to prepare their staff for their jobs. As most of the call centres cater for the US market, they are looking for teachers with a strong North American accent to teach workers.

Private Tutoring

It’s not easy to make a living from tutoring alone, but if you are already working in the country a number of teachers supplement their income with private lessons.

Teaching Requirements and Qualifications

As the standard of English is very high in the Philippines, there isn’t a strong demand for native English speaking teachers like there is in other Southeast Asian countries. People that do want to work in the Philippines will need to be qualified and experienced.

You will need at least a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree will improve your chances of finding a well-paid teaching position. Ideally, these qualifications should be in an educational field. Moreover, you’ll definitely need an internationally recognised teaching certificate like a CELTA, TESOL or TEFL to stand any chance of finding a job.

[sc:ESLBannerInText ]

Expected Salary and Living Costs

[sociallocker id=”1062″]Salary

For a full time job, you can expect to earn around $1000 per month. There are schools that pay much less and you’ll find a few that pay more. However, you’ll need to very well qualified and experienced to find a job that pays well in the Philippines.

As stated above, there are many Filipinos that are fluent in English and prepared to work for much less than foreigners. Therefore, you might find that it’s quite difficult to find a high paying teaching job and you might need to settle for less than $1000 per month and some jobs can be very poorly paid.

You’ll also be paying income tax on your salary and this is currently 25%.

Living Costs

Although the country is developing quickly, the cost of living is still very low. Even in the big cities you can find an apartment for as little as $150 – $200 per month

A meal in a local restaurant can be cheap at only a few dollars per person. As the country is quite westernised, you’ll find that there are lots of western style restaurants, but the prices are more than local food.

Transport in and around towns and cities is very cheap and taxis are around 50cents per kilometre.

For more information about the cost of living in the Philippines, take a look at Numbeo.[/sociallocker]

Visa Requirements

North Mindoro Beach

Image Courtesy of WikiMedia.

Unless you’re married to a Filipino, there is a lot of red tape to get a visa. The authorities are strict in the Philippines and you or your employer will need to apply for an Alien Employment Permit. This permit is valid anywhere from six months to two years. Once this permit has been issued, you can then apply for a working visa.

To qualify for a working visa you will need a valid passport, a solid job offer and medical certificate and police clearance.

For more information about obtaining a working visa for the Philippines, you should look at the Bureau of Immigration’s website.

How to Find a Job Teaching in the Philippines

Almost all employers will want to conduct a face to face interview which means you’ll need to already be in the country when you’re applying for jobs. A number of employers in the Philippines do advertise for vacant positions on the internet, but they will require an interview before you are offered a position.

Moreover, employers use local newspapers and jobs boards to advertise for vacant positions.

Finally, the tried and tested method of finding a job will work particularly well in the Philippines. Get yourself dressed up, prepare your CV, find a list of schools and go out and ask for a job!

Teaching English in the Philippines

There is not a huge demand for foreign English teachers in the Philippines because many Filipinos speak English fluently and work for a lot less! You will need to be well qualified and experienced and you won’t earn as much money as you would in other Asian countries.

Many people go to study English in the Philippines and you’ll find that you might be teaching students from other countries such as Korea or Taiwan. Language schools that specialise in teaching English to non-Filipino students often offer pretty low salaries for native English speaking TEFL teachers.


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 the Philippines, we would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment and share your experiences with us.

[sc:ESLBannerEndArticle ]

14 thoughts on “Teaching English in the Philippines

  1. eidel

    I’m from the Philippines if we talk about other ascent other than US i think they will find more opportunities for British ascent here. were not fluent in English if we say very good grammar because actually we have our own English variety which is the Philippine English. it is just its easy for us to catch US/American ascent since we always have English basic foundation.

    1. eidel

      actually Spanish is supposedly the second language of the Philippines thats why Chavacano, Ternateno, and Caviteno which are known Spanish Creole exist in the Philippines moreover until 1980’s the Philippine constitution defines Spanish as national language. Spanish language deteriorated in the Philippines during American Colonization. Americans that time teaches English in public schools that’s why my great great grand parents speaks English and at present times English is a common household language here in the Philippines.

      1. William Lake

        Yes, from the colonial past of the Philippines, I know that Spanish has left a lasting legacy on the country with language and religion, etc.

        What about nowadays? Are people still learning to speak Spanish in the Philippines?

    2. William Lake

      Thanks for the information! Why would the British accent be preferred over the American accent? I’m British myself, so it’s nice to hear that, but I’m just wondering why that would be the case?

      1. nichole

        I am an American currently living in the Philippines and have noticed that my west coast American accent is preferred over other American accents do mostly to the reason it is what they are used to hearing from American TV and movies. As to the British accent I’ve been told by my Filipina friends its because its sounds sofisticated to them.

    3. Madie Everett

      You meant accent, not ascent. Ascent means: takeoff, rise, climb, launch, liftoff. Just saying!

  2. nichole

    Also a a side note some schools prefer a British accent if there school is teaching British English. Schools here either offer British or American English programs and depending on there program dictates the preferred accent.

  3. mike

    Hi William,
    Firstly thank you for your blog site and allowable of comments..it does help!

    The English in the Phills and I am speaking from experience in Mindanao is a mixture of many dialects. The minority who have grasped the English context speak quite well and without slang…however many to most bastardize the English and translate it from their perspective. For example…to say “i will hang the clothes out on the clothes line – clothes on line dry or put the power on – on the power”. Another example: it hurt cos it on the power meaning when you hit your funny bone. Many to most study English as a subject at elementary school etc but as the young filipinos mention in jest “we slept or didnt go to school those times”. However from my experience many to most young ones can read English quite fluently far better than speaking English!

    Another prime example of the English in the Phills can be experienced watching their news broadcast…many broadcasts have both English and tagalong/bisaya mixed within the broadcast. Some here say its a high-ender (upper class) dialect with some saying we havent words in our language for those English words.

    Most though just say Songu (not sure of the correct spelling) meaning nose bleed. They get a nose bleed from listening and talking English. Or just turn their heads and avoid eye contact. From what I feel and have heard they get embarrassed with the lack of the English language.

    Regarding the preference for English…yes the American (hey Joe) way seems more preferable followed by the British with sadly the Aussie lagging about last – apparently we have a slang sound! The Spanish dialect has a minimal influence with from what I can gather used for words such as veranda, balcony etc as there are no words for these types within tagalong/bisaya.

    To finish with a classic example of the problems that differing and combined dialects can have in Mindanao – a local of the island with good English both reading and speaking struggles to decipher and translate tagalong whilst watching the news or TV programs… with then the added problems of differing and parochial dialects sprinkled around the island.

    Maybe nothing new for experienced traveled educators but I thought I would share: Regards mike

    1. William Lake

      Hi Mike,

      Thanks very much for the insight! I’m sure people considering teaching in the Philippines will find this very helpful!

  4. Gary

    Although you are correct in many ways, I’d like to add to what you stated. I’ve been teaching English in the Philippines for a while and I must say that it has its ups and downs.

    Firstly, if you are a young and qualified native speaker, it’s very easy to get a job. Most foreigners in the Philippines are retirees, and thus most native English teachers are 60+. Some students don’t want older teachers and prefer someone younger.

    Secondly, the pay, although low compared to other countries, is quite high for here. You will make at least three times what a Filipino regularly makes at an ESL school. You can expect between 15000-50000 depending on the school, your position, time of year, and your contract. The upper number is more than what most doctors make and the lower number is what you would make at a call center. 50000 is also around what you would make working in Taiwan or Beijing. That’s not what I would consider low especially since the living standards are lower here.

    On the other hand, you will be required to have at least 8 hours per day available to teach or tutor. This is more than some countries and less than others.

    Workers rights are horrible and complaints from foreigners generally fall on deaf ears. Expect few vacation days (if any), and don’t expect to receive overtime or a Christmas bonus the first couple of years you are working.

    Experience doesn’t matter when it comes to pay in many institutions. They prefer to give pay based on loyalty. If you stay with a company long enough, you’ll make a handsome salary.

    1. Beau

      Gary, are you Filipino? What kind of ESL programs pay the most? Would the students mostly be Filipinos or Koreans? I was under the impression that Filipinos don’t need ESL classes.

      I’m asking because I’m Filipino-American, born and raised in the US. I have a Master’s Degree in English (ESL concentration) but no formal teaching experience yet, just volunteer teaching. I want to move to the Philippines because I love it there, but I also want to work.

  5. Gary

    Also, Spanish is spoken by very few people. Most Filipinos know some words since those words are used in their language, but most still obscure those words in spelling and pronunciation. Most people know Spanish numbers and common words like trabajo (trabaho in Filipino and gwapa in Spanish spelled guapa in Filipino) but not much else.

    As for Filipinos speaking English, yes, many do speak some English. Around 80% speak some English. However, the amount of fluent English speakers is much lower. You can easily go to a large mall like SM and speak English, but try to ask directions to a stranger and they won’t know what you said. Most Filipinos don’t even graduate high school and even if universities are suppose to use English, very few actually do. My brother in-law graduated from a well known University with an Engineering degree and he is very far from fluent.

    However, even though only around 20% of Filipinos are fluent in English, that’s still around 20 million people. But, you won’t be in competition with them for jobs if you are white. Most of your customers will be from other Asian countries that view white as native English speaking, rich, and better teachers. That’s not always the case, but its the sad truth.

    Also, working at private schools generally pays more than call center English accent trainers and University professors. The main exception is international school’s, but they generally favor British accents since they are mostly European based.

    1. William Lake

      Thanks very much for your helpful information. It’s much appreciated. Have you been working there for long?

  6. Jana

    Hi William,

    Your blog and comments are very helpful. Thank You
    I’m thinking of moving to the philippines and try to find a teaching job ( English)
    I have a bachelor degree in education and i finished my CELTA course a couple of weeks ago.
    I know it’s easier to find one when i’m there, but i was wondering if you (or someone else) could give some advice or directions where to look while im still in Belgium.

    Thanks in advance and keep up this nice blog

Comments are closed.