Teach English in Malaysia

a world of opportunities

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Kirsten Colquhoun
August 22, 2023

Contents

Introduction
Why teach In Malaysia
Where to teach
Qualify to teach
Start-up capital
Types of jobs
Teacher salary
Common benefits
Cost of living
Saving money
Life and culture

Selamat datang! Welcome! Is probably how you’ll be greeted in this friendly country. 

Home to the most beautiful rainforests and 20% of the world’s animals, Malaysia has oodles of natural beauty with beaches, caves, jungles, plantations and mountains to explore.

The cities are modern too, with skyscrapers, bustling cities and a thriving economy. Teaching English in Malaysia is financially and personally rewarding as TEFL teachers are in demand

Malaysia is a cultural hotspot with a diverse Indian, Chinese and indigenous population. The locals are hospitable, the weather is tropical, and the cost of living is low. Malaysia ticks all the boxes right?!

Why start teaching English in Malaysia?

If you are a qualified and experienced teacher, Malaysia wants you!

Malaysia takes education seriously and they want the best, so you can expect to work in well-run institutions and enjoy good continuous professional development opportunities

Malaysia is very affordable, allowing you to live a very comfortable life with the opportunity to save too. The country is beautiful with many natural sights, so your quality of life is high.

Best places to teach English in Malaysia

Malaysia is a big country but you will find TEFL jobs are concentrated in just a few places: Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor Bahru.

Kuala Lumpur 

Best for city slickers

The capital city, fondly called KL, is where the highest demand for TEFL teachers is, as well as the highest-paying jobs. KL is a bustling, modern city, with a great expat community and many private language centres. 

Naturally, the cost of living is higher in this major city. The temptation of eating out, and visiting rooftop bars and restaurants is understandable, so expect to spend a little more here than you would in a different city in Malaysia.

Penang 

Best for beach bums

If you love the beach and the slower pace of life, Penang is for you! It’s an island sprawled with beautiful landscapes and temples. Most TEFL vacancies (international and private language schools) are in the capital town called Georgetown, famous for its cuisine and quaint cafes.

Johor Bahru

Best for penny pinchers

Located in the south of Malaysia, you’ll find many people aren’t very familiar with this city – which means it’s more affordable to live in

Home to the tallest waterfall in Malaysia, Johor Bahru has beautiful forests, wildlife, beaches and cultural sights to keep you enthralled. The city is modern, so you won’t be compromising on your creature comforts. This is a great location if you are wanting to live in a city with fewer crowds and tourists.

What will I need to qualify to teach in Malaysia?

Before you pack your bags, let’s look at the different requirements and qualifications to teach English in Malaysia.

  1. A Bachelor’s degree is a visa requirement
  2. Visa requirements: You will need to secure full-time employment to attain a working visa. 
  3. At least a 120-hour TEFL certificate 
  4. Be a native English speaker from the USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa.
  5. Be between the ages of 27 and 50

Note: Malaysia does not accept applications from Israeli nationals.

The TEFL Academy offers TEFL courses to suit every lifestyle. Our courses are online, which means they are flexible and can be completed in your own time, at your own pace. Choose from a Level 3 120-hour course or a Level 5 168-hour course. 

How much start-up capital do I need?

In most cases you’ll be responsible for paying for your own flights, housing expenses, travel costs, setting up your mobile phone and buying groceries in the first month of relocating. This can range anywhere from RM 6,000 – RM 12, 000 ($1,350 – $2,700 USD). 

But let’s break this down a bit more.

  • Accommodation: First month’s rent and security deposit
  • TEFL certification: A TEFL course can cost between $100 and $500, depending on the length and level of the course and the course provider. 
  • Document fees: Any costs related to certifying and notarising your degree and TEFL certificate
  • Flight ticket: Variable. 
  • Visa application: The cost of getting a visa is subject to your home country. 
  • Living expenses: You will need one month’s worth of start-up capital of about RM 2,200 ($500) to help you settle in Malaysia.

Types of English teaching jobs in Malaysia

The requirements to teach in Malaysia are quite demanding, which makes it best for qualified and experienced teachers

Private language schools

Teaching English at a private language academy or school in Malaysia will require you to teach 25 to 30 hours a week. Depending on the school and course, you can teach students from primary school to university level, as well as business professionals. Job applications are open all year round.

International schools

Teaching English in Malaysia at an international school offers the best salary

International schools in Malaysia offer health insurance, housing and flight benefits.

Depending on the school, you could be teaching English using the American, British, or Australian curriculum. Students are both Malay and foreigners, so your classrooms will be a diverse blend of cultures!

Public schools

Securing a job at a public school will be the most challenging of all the TEFL jobs in Malaysia. The public school system is mainly geared toward exam preparation. Teaching English at a public school will consist mainly of teaching conversational classes. Teaching hours are much shorter than that of private language schools.

Universities

Experienced and highly qualified teachers will find university jobs to be the most rewarding. English class teaching hours are less (12-15 hours a week), benefits are great (health insurance, retirement benefits) and the salary is competitive.

University teaching courses include General English courses, Business English courses and English for Specific Purposes (ESP) courses such as English for Engineering or Medicine. Classes are mixed with local Malaysian and international students.

Private lessons

Teaching private English classes is pretty common in Malaysia. This area of teaching requires some research and flexibility. Setting your hourly rate will depend on market research, negotiation and your experience and qualifications.

How much do English teachers make in Malaysia?

Most positions for TEFL teachers will allow you to live comfortably in Malaysia.

  • Your average monthly salary at a private language school will be around RM5 5,500 ($1,200).
  • At an international school, entry-level teachers can expect to earn RM 5,500 – RM 9,000 ($1,300 – $2,000) a month and experienced teachers can earn RM 10,000 – RM 15,000 ($2,200 – $3,500).
  • Working in a public school, you can earn around RM 5,500 ($1,200) a month.
  • University salaries are around RM 8,000 to RM 11,500 ($1,800 to $2,600).

For private lessons, TEFL teachers usually charge between RM 45 and RM 115 ($10 and $25).

What are common benefits for teachers in Malaysia?

Many, but not all, schools offer health insurance and housing benefits. If accommodation is fully covered, you may be sharing an apartment with a co-teacher. Once you have completed your 3-month probation period, you’ll be able to have your own place if you choose, with your employer providing a housing allowance. 

As a teacher in Malaysia, you’re granted usually 18 days of leave, with 17 additional public holidays. Your airfare can be covered too (up to $1,000).

What is the cost of living in Malaysia?

Good news! The cost of living is low in Malaysia. This will definitely off-set the not-so-high salary you can expect to earn. 

Accommodation

  • One-bedroom apartment in city centre: RM 1,600 ($367)
  • One-bedroom apartment outside city centre: RM 1,100 ($248)

Utilities

  • Gas, electricity, water, garbage disposal: RM 195 ($44)

Food and groceries

  • Monthly shop: RM 600 ($135)
  • Meal at an inexpensive restaurant: RM 12 ($2.68)

Transport

  • Monthly travel pass: RM 100 ($23)
  • One-way ticket: RM 3 ($0.60)

Internet

  • Unlimited: RM 115 ($26)

Entertainment

  • Gym, cinema, clubbing: RM 700 ($170)

Is it possible to save as a TEFL teacher in Malaysia?

Most definitely. You will be able to save on average RM 1,300 – RM 2,200 ($300 – $500) a month after expenses. If you want to save even more money, teaching private English classes will bump up your salary even more!

Eating out is inexpensive, while alcohol is quite expensive, so this will eat into your budget. Malaysia is an Islamic country so drinking is not the norm. 

Travel costs are very low, so you will have ample opportunity to meander around Malaysia and visit neighbouring countries too.

Life and culture

If you teach English in Malaysia, you’ll be exposed to new cultures both inside and outside the classroom. Malaysia has predominantly three cultural groups: Malaysians, Chinese and Indians. 

Islam is the main religion in Malaysia, so be mindful of being culturally sensitive. Dressing modestly and being respectful in the workplace will foster good work relationships. 

Touching other people is not appreciated, so don’t be tempted to pat your Young Learners on the head! Handshakes are acceptable, but bows are also common. 

Start your teaching course journey with a certified TEFL course provider

Contents

Selamat datang! Welcome! Is probably how you’ll be greeted in this friendly country. 

Home to the most beautiful rainforests and 20% of the world’s animals, Malaysia has oodles of natural beauty with beaches, caves, jungles, plantations and mountains to explore.

The cities are modern too, with skyscrapers, bustling cities and a thriving economy. Teaching English in Malaysia is financially and personally rewarding as TEFL teachers are in demand

Malaysia is a cultural hotspot with a diverse Indian, Chinese and indigenous population. The locals are hospitable, the weather is tropical, and the cost of living is low. Malaysia ticks all the boxes right?!

Why start teaching English in Malaysia?

If you are a qualified and experienced teacher, Malaysia wants you!

Malaysia takes education seriously and they want the best, so you can expect to work in well-run institutions and enjoy good continuous professional development opportunities

Malaysia is very affordable, allowing you to live a very comfortable life with the opportunity to save too. The country is beautiful with many natural sights, so your quality of life is high.

Best places to teach English in Malaysia

Malaysia is a big country but you will find TEFL jobs are concentrated in just a few places: Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor Bahru.

Kuala Lumpur 

Best for city slickers

The capital city, fondly called KL, is where the highest demand for TEFL teachers is, as well as the highest-paying jobs. KL is a bustling, modern city, with a great expat community and many private language centres. 

Naturally, the cost of living is higher in this major city. The temptation of eating out, and visiting rooftop bars and restaurants is understandable, so expect to spend a little more here than you would in a different city in Malaysia.

Penang 

Best for beach bums

If you love the beach and the slower pace of life, Penang is for you! It’s an island sprawled with beautiful landscapes and temples. Most TEFL vacancies (international and private language schools) are in the capital town called Georgetown, famous for its cuisine and quaint cafes.

Johor Bahru

Best for penny pinchers

Located in the south of Malaysia, you’ll find many people aren’t very familiar with this city – which means it’s more affordable to live in

Home to the tallest waterfall in Malaysia, Johor Bahru has beautiful forests, wildlife, beaches and cultural sights to keep you enthralled. The city is modern, so you won’t be compromising on your creature comforts. This is a great location if you are wanting to live in a city with fewer crowds and tourists.

What will I need to qualify to teach in Malaysia?

Before you pack your bags, let’s look at the different requirements and qualifications to teach English in Malaysia.

  1. A Bachelor’s degree is a visa requirement
  2. Visa requirements: You will need to secure full-time employment to attain a working visa. 
  3. At least a 120-hour TEFL certificate 
  4. Be a native English speaker from the USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa.
  5. Be between the ages of 27 and 50

Note: Malaysia does not accept applications from Israeli nationals.

The TEFL Academy offers TEFL courses to suit every lifestyle. Our courses are online, which means they are flexible and can be completed in your own time, at your own pace. Choose from a Level 3 120-hour course or a Level 5 168-hour course. 

How much start-up capital do I need?

In most cases you’ll be responsible for paying for your own flights, housing expenses, travel costs, setting up your mobile phone and buying groceries in the first month of relocating. This can range anywhere from RM 6,000 – RM 12, 000 ($1,350 – $2,700 USD). 

But let’s break this down a bit more.

  • Accommodation: First month’s rent and security deposit
  • TEFL certification: A TEFL course can cost between $100 and $500, depending on the length and level of the course and the course provider. 
  • Document fees: Any costs related to certifying and notarising your degree and TEFL certificate
  • Flight ticket: Variable. 
  • Visa application: The cost of getting a visa is subject to your home country. 
  • Living expenses: You will need one month’s worth of start-up capital of about RM 2,200 ($500) to help you settle in Malaysia.

Types of English teaching jobs in Malaysia

The requirements to teach in Malaysia are quite demanding, which makes it best for qualified and experienced teachers

Private language schools

Teaching English at a private language academy or school in Malaysia will require you to teach 25 to 30 hours a week. Depending on the school and course, you can teach students from primary school to university level, as well as business professionals. Job applications are open all year round.

International schools

Teaching English in Malaysia at an international school offers the best salary

International schools in Malaysia offer health insurance, housing and flight benefits.

Depending on the school, you could be teaching English using the American, British, or Australian curriculum. Students are both Malay and foreigners, so your classrooms will be a diverse blend of cultures!

Public schools

Securing a job at a public school will be the most challenging of all the TEFL jobs in Malaysia. The public school system is mainly geared toward exam preparation. Teaching English at a public school will consist mainly of teaching conversational classes. Teaching hours are much shorter than that of private language schools.

Universities

Experienced and highly qualified teachers will find university jobs to be the most rewarding. English class teaching hours are less (12-15 hours a week), benefits are great (health insurance, retirement benefits) and the salary is competitive.

University teaching courses include General English courses, Business English courses and English for Specific Purposes (ESP) courses such as English for Engineering or Medicine. Classes are mixed with local Malaysian and international students.

Private lessons

Teaching private English classes is pretty common in Malaysia. This area of teaching requires some research and flexibility. Setting your hourly rate will depend on market research, negotiation and your experience and qualifications.

How much do English teachers make in Malaysia?

Most positions for TEFL teachers will allow you to live comfortably in Malaysia.

  • Your average monthly salary at a private language school will be around RM5 5,500 ($1,200).
  • At an international school, entry-level teachers can expect to earn RM 5,500 – RM 9,000 ($1,300 – $2,000) a month and experienced teachers can earn RM 10,000 – RM 15,000 ($2,200 – $3,500).
  • Working in a public school, you can earn around RM 5,500 ($1,200) a month.
  • University salaries are around RM 8,000 to RM 11,500 ($1,800 to $2,600).

For private lessons, TEFL teachers usually charge between RM 45 and RM 115 ($10 and $25).

What are common benefits for teachers in Malaysia?

Many, but not all, schools offer health insurance and housing benefits. If accommodation is fully covered, you may be sharing an apartment with a co-teacher. Once you have completed your 3-month probation period, you’ll be able to have your own place if you choose, with your employer providing a housing allowance. 

As a teacher in Malaysia, you’re granted usually 18 days of leave, with 17 additional public holidays. Your airfare can be covered too (up to $1,000).

What is the cost of living in Malaysia?

Good news! The cost of living is low in Malaysia. This will definitely off-set the not-so-high salary you can expect to earn. 

Accommodation

  • One-bedroom apartment in city centre: RM 1,600 ($367)
  • One-bedroom apartment outside city centre: RM 1,100 ($248)

Utilities

  • Gas, electricity, water, garbage disposal: RM 195 ($44)

Food and groceries

  • Monthly shop: RM 600 ($135)
  • Meal at an inexpensive restaurant: RM 12 ($2.68)

Transport

  • Monthly travel pass: RM 100 ($23)
  • One-way ticket: RM 3 ($0.60)

Internet

  • Unlimited: RM 115 ($26)

Entertainment

  • Gym, cinema, clubbing: RM 700 ($170)

Is it possible to save as a TEFL teacher in Malaysia?

Most definitely. You will be able to save on average RM 1,300 – RM 2,200 ($300 – $500) a month after expenses. If you want to save even more money, teaching private English classes will bump up your salary even more!

Eating out is inexpensive, while alcohol is quite expensive, so this will eat into your budget. Malaysia is an Islamic country so drinking is not the norm. 

Travel costs are very low, so you will have ample opportunity to meander around Malaysia and visit neighbouring countries too.

Life and culture

If you teach English in Malaysia, you’ll be exposed to new cultures both inside and outside the classroom. Malaysia has predominantly three cultural groups: Malaysians, Chinese and Indians. 

Islam is the main religion in Malaysia, so be mindful of being culturally sensitive. Dressing modestly and being respectful in the workplace will foster good work relationships. 

Touching other people is not appreciated, so don’t be tempted to pat your Young Learners on the head! Handshakes are acceptable, but bows are also common. 

Start your teaching course journey with a certified TEFL course provider

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