Until only a few years ago, Myanmar (also known as Burma) was off limits to most foreign travellers due to travel restrictions, and as such had no TEFL industry at all. Since it opened its doors, the country now welcomes millions of visitors every year who are intrigued to finally explore this hidden gem in Southeast Asia. It’s a country economically on the rise, with increasing opportunities for EFL teachers. There aren’t a huge number of TEFL jobs about, and many positions are voluntary, but its expected that the industry will continue to grow.
Those who are able to find a decent job in an international school can expect good salaries and very low living costs, with low rental costs or accommodation provided by your employer. Myanmar is largely untouched by Western influence and lacking in infrastructure, with top issues including frequent potholes on poor roads, aircon isn’t standardly found in rental properties, and lack of internet connection. As such it’s a country that offers more of an “off the beaten track” experience for EFL teachers. It’s a beautiful country with many places to explore, and beach-lovers will enjoy exploring the 2,250 miles of coastline. If this sounds right up your street keep reading to find out more about teaching English in Myanmar!
- Popular locations for TEFL jobs: Yangon, NayPyiDaw, Mandalay, Ngapali, and Tachileik
- Average salary for EFL teachers: The basic monthly salary for full-time positions is likely to be in the region of 1,000,000 to 2,650,000 MMK per month (£600 – £1,500 / $800 – $2,000) per month.
- TEFL qualification requirements: A 120-hour TEFL qualification will be required for most positions
- Prerequisite university degree: A BA degree is a visa requirement
- Term times: Official term commencement date is June 1st
- Currency: Burmese kyat (MMK)
- Language: Burmese
- Teaching programmes: International Schools, Volunteering, Private Language Schools
- Age restrictions: Upper age limit of 62, some jobs have limits of ages 21 – 55
- Previous teaching experience: 1+ year of experience preferred, 2/3+ for top jobs
Myanmar is predominantly a Buddhist country, and teachers are highly respected. As such, you’re expected to dress conservatively and behave in a formal manner. TEFL teachers in Myanmar report that students are eager, well-behaved, friendly, and welcoming people. As most positions in the country are either at international schools or voluntary positions in poorer areas, you’ll find students vastly different depending on where you teach.
Literacy rates in Myanmar are at 89.5%, with boys more proficient than girls. School is compulsory until the end of elementary school (when students are aged just 9 years old) but at international schools it’s compulsory until students are 15 or 16. The government provides a very small budget for education, and across the country the education standards are low at public schools, which is why there is a demand for quality international schools for those that can afford it. English is learnt in school from kindergarten, but proficiency is low. On the 2019 EF English Proficiency Index, Myanmar ranked as 86 out of 100 countries, in the ‘very low’ category. The study also found that the average number of years of schooling was less than 5 years per student, meaning that most students finish their education before starting high school. Those who can attend an international school are in a privileged position and their ability will be much higher than their state educated peers.
Requirements for teaching English in Myanmar
|Country||Avg. monthly salary||Degree required||Start of term||Teaching experience||Housing & flights included||Suitable for non-native English speakers||Age restrictions|
|Myanmar||£600 – £1,500
($800 – $2,000)
On a typical teaching salary, EFL teachers in Myanmar can live comfortably and put away savings each month. International schools pay handsomely compared to the local wage. Many employers will offer accommodation as part of your contract, but not all. Yangon is the most expensive city to live in, and rent can be high compared to other parts of the country, so it’s best to secure a teaching contract there with accommodation included. If you find a fairly priced rental apartment, the condition will likely be quite tired. It should be noted that there is currently a lack of adequate infrastructure in Myanmar, although this is continually improving. It does mean that there can be issues with electricity cutting out and poor internet connection, as well as housing availability. The housing market has not been able to keep up with the rise in visitors and workers to the country, which is why property is at a premium.
Eating local cuisine is very cheap but you’ll find that Western food is relatively expensive. Burmese cuisine is a mixture of influences from Southeast Asian, Indian, and Chinese food. Some foods to try in Myanmar include the popular lephet, which is a salad of fermented tea leaves, mohinga (the unofficial national dish), curries, samosas, and noodle dishes. The cuisine in Myanmar has a reputation for being a bit oily and not being of the standard of neighbouring countries like Thailand, but there are certainly great culinary experiences to be found!
Getting around the county is easy and affordable, and with more areas opening up to foreigners there are plenty of adventures to be had.
- Accommodation: £745 – £1,071 / $995 – $1,430
- Utilities: £79 / $105
- Health insurance: Cost of typical visit to a GP: £30 / $40
- Monthly transport pass: £11 / $14
- Basic dinner out for two: £14 / $19
- Cappuccino in expat area: £1.94 / $2.59
- A beer in a pub: £1.10 / $1.47
- 1 litre of milk: £1.19 / $1.59
- 2 litres of Coca-Cola: £0.89 / $1.19(living costs sourced from Expatistan)
“I work for an international school here, they have 6 branches in Yangon and one in Taunggyi. After teaching in summer schools, language centres and public schools around Asia and Europe it’s a nice change. I feel this school encourages and supports me to be the best teacher I can be. Of course, working for a school with more funds means I can dream bigger without worrying how to fund it! I teach pre-school and run a drama club with students from grade 7 -10. All the students are wonderful, funny, smart and kind – and their level of English is incredible.
When you read about Myanmar you will of course read about how kind and welcoming the local people are. I’ve never encountered a more gentle, neighbourly, and giving community. My landlord often picks fruit with me from his garden, and if you get stuck in the rain an umbrella and a smiling face will surely appear. You are warmly welcomed into homes and families and someone always says “good morning”. When accidents happen both people apologise and sort out costs without an argument and someone always offers you a ride if you look tired!”
Holly, TEFL Org graduate
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