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Home / Teach English in Malaysia the Complete Guide for TEFL Teachers | Reviewed May 2022

Tefl Jobs In Malaysia

Located in south-east Asia, Malaysia is a beautiful country with a tropical backdrop, a mass of multicultural citizens, and some of the best cuisine you will ever find. From ancient to modern, Malaysia showcases everything that Asia has to offer. Starting in the South China Sea, it stretches from the Malay Peninsula to Borneo, a truly magical island. Kuala Lumpur is perhaps one of the most famous locations in Malaysia, but that is not to say you should forget about Malacca or Penang. In all these places, you get to see how the nation grew and developed with a history of trading with the Chinese, Indian, Arabian, and Dutch seafarers.

Many religions and cultures bring traditions and food that make your time in Malaysia unique. Be sure to take the time out to explore the local area and visit the many churches, pagodas, temples and mosques and then head out for a fantastic meal of Malaysian, Indian, or Chinese delights.

Economically, Malaysia is growing fast, and there is a large population. However, if you are a first-time teacher of English in Malaysia, you will find fewer vacancies than those seeking work in Thailand or Vietnam. If you have your bachelor’s degree, experience teaching and a TEFL certification, you will find many more doors open to you as an English teacher in Malaysia. In this guide, you can learn everything you need to know about living and working in this beautiful country, as well as the cost of living and finding work. That way, you can make an informed decision and decide whether becoming an English teacher in Malaysia is for you.

Job types

Public Schools

For TEFL-qualified English teachers in Malaysia, most jobs are in public schools. To reach the shortlist, you need a bachelor’s degree, but it does not need to be related to education. Experience and qualifications stand you in good stead. Public schools tend to teach Malay and English, and a substantial amount of value is placed on having English as a language skill.

Language Schools

Another potential source of employment for English teachers in Malaysia is private language schools. These run into categories, some are for children of international residence, and others are for the local population looking to expand their English language skills. In the latter, you may find that you are asked to work evenings and weekends as this fits in around the schedule of adults trying to learn English while holding a full-time job.

Business Schools

Because of the growing economy in Malaysia, English is considered a vital business skill, and therefore many businesses have set up business English schools within their premises. As an English teacher in Malaysia, you can find work at one of these institutions, but you will only be teaching adults, and again the hours could be slightly random as it will need to fit in with the corporate schedule.

Private language lessons

The final source of employment for English teachers in Malaysia is to work as a one-to-one tutor. You can offer private language lessons from your home or visit the student’s home. Remember that if you take more than one job, you should declare self-employment to your employer. Not all premises will allow you to work for yourself. You could also top up your income if needed as an English teacher online, where you are free to access any English student located anywhere in the world. Be sure to understand self-employment rules in any country and report accordingly if needed. You must have a work visa in order to earn money in Malaysia, and you will be deported if you are found to be working on a tourist Visa.

Finding a job

Finding work is a case of scouring the vacancy boards or approaching schools directly. Most TEFL companies will have details of up-to-date English teaching vacancies in Malaysia. You will generally find that every school wants to interview in English. And most are happy to do so over the Internet or on the telephone, meaning you do not need to fly out to Malaysia to secure employment. Typically you will need to pay your airfares and housing expenses. Once you have a job offer in place, you can start to apply for your work Visa, details of which are found below.

Work can be found as an English teacher in Malaysia all year, but there is a quieter spell around the Chinese new year celebrations. The whole area tends to shut down and observe the festivities for approximately two weeks, around the end of January and the beginning of February.

Qualifications

To teach English in Malaysia, you do need to have a bachelor’s degree. However, this does not necessarily need to be education-related. It can be in any subject area. Depending on the school you approach, you may find a master’s is required, mainly if you teach at a higher level. English teachers in Malaysia are expected to hold a recognised TEFL certificate with a suitable amount of hours; often, 120 hours is acceptable. They will also expect you to be a native English speaker and therefore have citizenship from an English-speaking nation; without this, you will find it hard to secure employment.

Visa Requirements for English Teachers in Malaysia

You will require a work visa to work as an English teacher in Malaysia. Before you head to Malaysia, this needs to be obtained in your home country. You will be refused entry if you do not have the correct paperwork. In addition, it is illegal to work on a tourist visa, so do not start work without a work visa.

Need to know

English teachers in Malaysia are paid well and can afford to live comfortably. Generally, you are expected to work a 20 to 25-hour week, which means you have plenty of time to explore the area and travel in your downtime. Some schools do call for full-time hours up to 37 in a week, and it is unusual to find a part-time position on offer. The bulk of vacancies will be found in the larger cities, which is probably the easiest way to live and work as an English teacher in Malaysia. However, there will be opportunities for English teachers in Malaysia in the smaller villages, but the pay will be less, and you will be further away from local amenities.

Some employers will offer housing benefits, whether a reduced rent or accommodation. However, others do not. So it is best to start by finding a temporary housing solution while you look for the perfect apartment to rent for the duration of your stay. You may also find an employer paying for the cost of flights, but this is even more unlikely so ensure you have covered that cost in your calculations.

Classroom culture

Learning is essential in Asia, and even if you come across unmotivated adults, the children are determined and want to learn. The classroom culture is inspiring, and teachers work hard to develop professional methodologies. So you will be expected to turn up looking smart and have put some thought into your lesson planning, not just rehashing the same old lessons.

You will be expected to demonstrate that you fully understand how to teach English in Malaysia, no matter what age group you work with. Most international private schools will have their curriculum, and they will expect you to get up to speed really quickly.

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LIVING COSTS

You’ll be pleased to know that the living costs in Malaysia are the third cheapest in Asia. This means that the salary, which averages out between €1000 and €2000 each month, is plenty to live on, and you will even be able to save money. The most prestigious posts, including some international schools, offer some highly paid jobs giving a luxurious lifestyle. If you feel that you are not making enough money, you can look at taking on private students in your spare time.

You will find that eating out and your accommodation costs are very reasonable for imported items like cigarettes and alcohol tend to be very expensive. Although Malaysia is a Muslim country, you are allowed to drink alcohol in most states. It is, however, banned in Kelantan and Terengganu. Although it is expensive, it doesn’t seem to put the locals off as alcohol consumption is very high in legal states.

Food is incredible, and you will find every influence on offer. Eating out is relatively cheap if you’re not drinking, but the most cost-effective way to avoid cooking is to use street food. Of course, anything imported will always be more expensive, but if you tend to live like a local, you will find you don’t need to spend a lot to get by.

The highest cost of living is found in Kuala Lumpur, but comparatively, it is still incredibly reasonable compared to living costs in the UK or US. Your accommodation, utilities and groceries will be cheaper than you are used to. You will even find that travelling is relatively inexpensive so getting around to see the sites when you are not at work is also an affordable pastime.

In order to provide the most accurate cost of living figures, we use numbeo.com, the world’s largest cost of living database, updated regularly.

  • Accommodation: £368–£637/€400-€768/$481–$833
  • Utilities: £49/€51/$64
  • Health insurance: Cost of a typical visit to a GP: £13/€15/$17
  • Monthly transport pass: £17/€21/$23
  • Basic dinner out for two: £16/€19/$21
  • Cappuccino in ex-pat area: £2.58/€3.10/$3.37
  • A beer in a pub: £4.32/€5.23/$5.65
  • 1 litre of milk: £1.17/€1.43/$1.53
  • 2 litres of Coca-Cola: £0.73/€86/$0.96

Tefl Jobs In Malaysia: KEY POINTS

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AVERAGE SALARY

$500–$800

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EDUCATION NEEDED

Bachelors degree

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TEFL CERTIFICATE NEEDED

120-hour TEFL qualification

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MAIN JOB TYPES

Public & private schools

KEY FACTS

  • Popular locations for TEFL jobs: Kuala Lumpur, Malacca, Penang Sabah, Kota Kinabalu and Johor Bahru.
  • The average salary for EFL teachers: Qualified English teachers in Malaysia can expect to make $1,200-$2,300, £979-£1800, €1000-€2000 (4,700-9,000 MRY) a month.
  • TEFL qualification requirements: At least a 120-hour TEFL qualification Prerequisite university degree: Most jobs require a degree, but any subject is acceptable
  • Currency: Malaysian ringgit (MYR)
  • Term times: January to May/June and May/June to mid-November. The school year ends with a six-week holiday from mid-November to early January.
  • Language: Malay
  • Teaching programmes: International schools, Public schools, International kindergartens, Language Centres, Private tutors, Volunteering
  • Age restrictions: Maximum 65
  • Previous teaching experience: is required for the higher-paid roles.

When you arrive in Malaysia, as an English teacher, you will find that the local community are amiable and welcoming to ex-pats. It helps, of course, that English is a widely spoken language, and most people understand it. Malaysia‘s main religion is Muslim, but they welcome all cultures and beliefs. You will find many ethnic Indians, ethnic Chinese and a mix of ex-pats from around the globe.

Getting around is relatively easy, although the public transport system is not as comprehensive as in some countries. It tends to be reasonably good in the bigger city centres, and you can also use trains which are very cheap although not so prevalent. Most people don’t rely on walking due to the hot temperatures, and generally, there are no pavements and crossings, so you’re walking on the road. You are also at risk from pickpockets on motorbikes who snatch bags from people as they pass.

The best way to get around is to use an Uber, taxi or GrabCar, which are in plentiful supply and very cheap. However, if you are staying for a long time and want to take your chances on the roads, you could look at hiring a scooter.

Facts about Teach English in Malaysia the Complete Guide for TEFL Teachers | Reviewed May 2022

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LANGUAGE

Malay

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POPULATION

3.24 crores

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TEFL TEACHER DEMAND

High

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CURRENCY

Malaysian ringgit

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CAPITAL

Kuala Lumpur

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OUR MALAYSIA TEFL RATING

3.5/5

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Tefl Jobs In Malaysia: FAQS

Q:

How much can I earn as an English teacher in Malaysia?

Qualified English teachers in Malaysia can expect to make $1,200-$2,300, £979-£1800, €1000-€2000 (4,700-9,000 MRY) a month.

You’ll be pleased to know that the living costs in Malaysia are the third cheapest in Asia.

To teach English in Malaysia, you do need to have a bachelor’s degree. It can be in any subject area. Depending on the school you approach, you may find a master’s is required, mainly if you teach at a higher level. English teachers in Malaysia are expected to hold a recognised TEFL certificate.

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