Teaching English in South Korea vs Thailand Part 2

by Jason -- December 21, 2011

Last week I shared an interview with Ellie about her experiences in teaching English in Thailand and South Korea.

Today, I have one more interview with long-time travel blogger, Johnny Ward. He’s been traveling since 2006 and shares all of his knowledge and experiences on his blog, OneStep4ward.com.

1. Can you give a brief description of both your teaching job in Thailand and in Korea?

I graduated from University and went straight to Thailand for a year of teaching English overseas. It was a great gig actually, I went with no job and organised it when I was there. I chose to work in a language school as opposed to a government school. Both have similar amount of contact hours (around 20) but with the language school I only had to be there during contact hours, if I wasn’t teaching I was free!

In Korea I worked on English camps during summer and winter, basically one month English intensive camps. They’re great too because although you teach English every morning, afternoons are filled with other activities like movies, sport etc so it’s a fun environment. Both countries were private companies, in Thailand my kids ranged from 14-25 and in Korea about 12-16.

2. How does the pay compare between the two countries?

If you’re just an ESL teacher (i.e you dont have an education degree) in Thailand you earn around $1k USD per month, in Korea you get $2k + free flight and free accommodation but life is obviously much more expensive in Korea too.

3. How much savings is possible in each country?

In Korea, you can easily save $10k in a year,even up to $15k - in Thailand, you’d be lucky to save $2k.

4. How would you compare the student’s English ability and their desire to learn English?

Both sets of kids are so much more respectful than Western kids. And to be honest, the English level isn’t great with either. At the end of the day, kids are kids so their desire can vary so much.

5. In Korea parents put a lot of pressure on their kids to learn English and do well in school. Does this also exist in Thailand?

It does, but not anywhere near to a comparable level with Korean parents. It’s crazy in Korea. In the wealthier schools in Thailand it gets pretty hectic too, but generally speaking, it’s more relaxed in Thailand.

6. What other key differences were there that I didn’t ask about?

Lifestyle! Lifestyle in Thailand is amazing, there are no two ways about it. It’s cheap to travel, food is amazing, people are open, life is great. Korea is fun but it’s not as good as Thailand BUT you get paid effectively triple!

7. If someone was choosing between Thailand and Korea, which would you recommend? And why?

If you’re chasing cash - Korea all the way. If you want a year abroad, living the dream - then Thailand, just don’t expect to get rich in Thailand!


Thanks again to Johnny for taking the time to share his experiences with us. You can check out his awesome blog at OneStep4ward.com and follow him on Twitter @onestep4ward.

If you have any questions about teaching English in South Korea or Thailand, please leave a comment below and I’ll make sure to route the question to him.

Be awesome and help us share:

One Response to “Teaching English in South Korea vs Thailand Part 2”

  1. Great question, I have to say I taught for ten years in Thailand and I enjoyed it so much. it can be a problem sometimes dealing with the in school politics, but on the whole the kids are great, and the parent really care about their child’s education. biggest down fall. you are not allow to fail a student.
    But that made me in some ways a better teacher. because i would work even harder to get my weaker students to pass. So Not to give away a free pass.

Leave a Reply