Indonesia is a major global hirer for TEFL teachers, with positions available year-round at the bigger chain schools. Teaching work can be found across the country, from the sprawling capital Jakarta to the stunning island of Bali. While competition will be high in the most picturesque and sought-after locations, with applicants needing an impressive CV and qualifications to make an impression, there are also plenty of opportunities for newly-qualified teachers. Regardless of your qualifications, do research into the wide variety of locations you could be working in rather than just going for the most popular options, as the country has a treasure trove of unique destinations. TEFL jobs in Indonesia offer great wages in comparison to the low cost of living, so EFL teachers can really make the most of their time off. Jobs are plentiful, with many even offering benefits such as airfare and accommodation.
Those with a sense of adventure are truly spoilt for choice in Indonesia. Explore tranquil islands, witness the continuously smoking active volcanoes in the Pacific Ring of Fire, and see incredible wildlife such as orangutans in their natural habitat. Indonesia boasts 17,000 islands, 200 active volcanoes, more than 500 languages, and a population of 255 million. The largest archipelago in the world presents a lot of adventures and opportunities for EFL teachers!
- Popular locations for TEFL jobs: Jakarta, Bali, Palembang, Medan, Surabaya, Bandung, Semarang, and Yogyakarta
- Average salary for EFL teachers: The basic monthly salary for full-time positions is likely to be in the region of 11,000,000 – 20,000,000 IDR (£565 – £1,030 / $745 – $1,355) per month. Most positions pay around 14,000,000 IDR (£720 / $950) per month
- TEFL qualification requirements: A 120-hour TEFL qualification will a minimum requirement for most positions.
- Prerequisite university degree: A BA degree is a visa requirement. Some specify that the degree must be in English Language/Literature, Linguistics or Education
- Term times: The school year starts mid-July and ends in mid-June, but many schools hire around the year
- Currency: Indonesian rupiah (IDR)
- Language: Indonesian
- Teaching programmes: Private Language Schools, Independent Schools, Public Schools, Kindergarten, Voluntary, Freelance, Corporate
- Age restrictions: Some jobs specify ages 18 – 35 years / 25 – 57 years / 22 – 40 years
- Previous teaching experience: Some positions ask for 3+ year of experience, or specify experience type – young learners/adults/IELTS exam
In general, you can expect your young students in Indonesia to be polite and highly motivated to learn English, with few of the discipline problems associated with European youngsters. Class sizes might be big (up to forty students) but on the whole you’ll find them well-behaved. Whatever type of position you’re looking for, be sure to pitch it correctly in your interview and work out what they’re looking for. Some schools are academic and professional, with a focus on grammar and teaching specific areas that will benefit students in their exams. Others will want the students to have a good time and be engaged in the lesson, with fun and games that won’t go down well at other institutes. Wherever you’re applying, do your research and find out what is expected of you.
A teaching bugbear you’ll get familiar with in Indonesia is jam karat, which means ‘rubber time’; basically, being pretty flexible with the official start time of things, even lessons. You’ll have to get used to students turning up late for class. As it’s part of the culture, presenting a hard line on student lateness won’t get you anywhere. The majority of locals in Indonesia practice Islam, so teachers should be conservatively dressed. Also, make sure you’re smart and formally dressed for interviews as appearances really do matter, particularly if you don’t have the best-looking CV.
Requirements for teaching English in Indonesia
|Country||Avg. monthly salary||Degree required||Start of term||Teaching experience||Housing & flights included||Suitable for non-native English speakers||Age restrictions|
|Cambodia||£650 - £950
($800 - $1,200)
|China||£1,200 - £1,600
($1,500 - $2,000)
|Yes||September||No||Yes||Yes, if degree obtained from an English-speaking country||Under 55|
|Hong Kong||£1,600 - £2,800
($2,000 - $3,500)
|Yes||August||No||Not usually||Yes||Under 60|
|Indonesia||£700 - £1,100
($850 - $1,350)
|Yes||July||No||Not usually||No||Under 60|
|Japan||£1,600 - £2,200
($2,000 - $2,700)
|Malaysia||£900 - £1,850
($1,100 - $2,300)
|Myanmar||£1,000 - £1,800
($1,250 - $2,200)
|South Korea||£1,300 - £2,000
($1,600 - $2,500)
|Thailand||£800 - £1,050
($1,000 - $1,300)
|Vietnam||£950 - £1,300
($1,200 - $1,500)
The fourth cheapest country in Asia, the low cost of living in Indonesia makes it an attractive TEFL destination. On a teacher’s salary you can live well, having enough to enjoy eating out and go on trips during your time off work. Food is inexpensive if you’re eating local cuisine – buying your own groceries and cooking at home will save you some money, but it’s comparable with the cost of local dining, so many teachers eat out a lot at markets and local restaurants. Western imports are expensive and, with the exception of beer, so is alcohol. If your lifestyle includes visiting bars and clubs a few nights a week, you’ll quickly burn through even a generous salary, but savvy spenders in Indonesia can see themselves saving a large sum of money by the end of their contracts.
The biggest expense for teachers is accommodation, but costs can be kept low if you share with other teachers or if you secure a teaching position that comes with free accommodation or a stipend. In Jakarta it’s common for renters to have to pay their annual rent in a lump sum at the beginning of the tenancy, but many employers can offer you a loan to cover this at the start of your contract. For those newly arrived in the country, sharing accommodation that is provided for you is certainly easier than signing up to a contract with the weight of it on you if you decide to leave early.
- Accommodation: £376 – £1,044 / $501 – $1,391
- Utilities: £62 / $83
- Health insurance: Cost of typical visit to a GP: £14 / $19
- Monthly transport pass: £20 / $26
- Basic dinner out for two: £9 / $13
- Cappuccino in expat area: £2.34 / $3.11
- A beer in a pub: £3.03 / $4.04
- 1 litre of milk: £0.96 / $1.28
- 2 litres of Coca-Cola: £0.85 / $1.13
(living costs sourced from Expatistan)
“By doing TEFL, you’ll experience huge personal development. This cannot be understated and yet I don’t even know where to begin. I’ll just say that the version of me who arrived in January 2017 experienced huge upgrades in areas where they were needed by the end of the year. When you remove yourself from a monotonous and comfortable environment and put yourself in a place where every day is an adventure and a challenge where you are constantly learning – you adapt magnificently. Remember, Cheryl Strayed says in Wild: “You can quit anytime”. You can. Or, like Bilbo Bagins, you can miss your home comforts and go on an adventure anyway. Because like Bilbo, I’m single. I’m also childless, I don’t have a mortgage and one day I might have all three of those things. I know now, that then, I won’t want to be miserable that I didn’t take a chance to grab life with both hands and have an adventure while I’m still fully independent!
For Christmas 2017, I visited a local Church and enjoyed humming along to familiar hymns. I went with the Christian sister and father of one friend – she and her mother are Muslim. After the service, all of the family and I went out to Pizza Hut for a Christmas meal (pizza – for Christmas!). I was stunned, humbled and so happy to be a witness to this unified and diverse family – and was invited back for this year! Experiences like this one are the real crown jewels of the travel diary.”
Helen, TEFL Org graduate taught in Indonesia
Discover more student stories from TEFL Org graduates.