Teaching English In The Philippines (or any other country)

Many readers are familiar with my series on making a business out of teaching English in the Philippines (starts here Live in the Philippines — Online English Business Thoughts 1) as a way to support yourself in the Philippines (or enable you to become financially independent of where you live), so you can live in the Philippines if you want to.

Teaching English In The Philippines — Misconceptions :

  • You can’t teach English unless you are a degree-holding teacher: Folks, this just isn’t true.  Holding a degree and/or credentials like US state licensure documents is certainly an advantage, but as of this writing, in March, 2011, I know of no regulation or law that prevents any private person from holding him or herself out as a one-on-one, private tutor or language coach.  Some companies engaged in English instruction, on or off-line may require credentials, but I am not talking about getting a job with any of them … I’m talking about being independent and empowering yourself with your own independent business venture.
  • You Must Hold an ESL/TSEL certificate: Again, the answer is no, you do not.  Actually, just to make things more confusing there are many different terms for essentially the same thing. TESL, TEFL, TEOSL and CELTA and probably a few I haven’t found.  Google or Wikipedia is your friend if you want to know more on these, but,although, investing in such certification in the future make your teaching more ‘salable;, and also higher priced, it may be worth your while … but putting off taking action and getting yourself started at earning because of this alphabet soup ‘smoke screen’ is the wrong thing to do.
  • It’s easy to do: In my view, this idea will get you into a lot of trouble.  I’ve written quite often on Teaching English in the Philippines and mentioned many times why the ‘barriers to entry’ and the paperwork/permitting type process is very ‘doable”.  But don’t get me wrong, this is work.  In fact it’s building your own business, and you have to be serious enough to put in the time and deliver the good.  A ‘fast buck’ scheme this is not.

Teaching English In The Philippines — Getting Started:

Teaching English in the Philippines

Here's a group of my articles all in one place, just click on a number to go to the article

Again, I self-reference here, especially my how to set up English Teaching in the Philippines article here: Philippine Living — Online English Thoughts 3.  And where else am I going to refer you first of all than to my more of my own articles.  You can find them listed in order over on the right hand side bar (see picture) or here they are listed directly:

Live in the Philippines — Online English Business Thoughts 1

Live in the Philippines — Online English Business Thoughts 2

Philippine Living — Online English Thoughts 3

Philippine Living — Online English Thoughts 4

Finding A Philippine Pony — Part 2

Finding A Philippine Pony — Part 1

Other Opinions About Teaching English In The Philippines

My blogging colleague Joseph, who is a fellow living a lot as I do in the Philippines, except that he chose to make his home in Malaysia, recently wrote a great article on some of the opportunities available in offering language instruction online … see:
Teach English in Kuching |Teaching English in Kuching |Teach English Abroad.  Here’s one place I feel Joseph hit the mark exceptionally well…

…You can teach from any where to any where. As long as all parties concerned have good, reliable internet connection, have access to a computer, have Skype downloaded (its a free application) and preferably have at least basic equipment – a microphone and headphones are beneficial but its possible to use the speakers on a computer to do the job adequately…

So what about you? Any thoughts about Teaching English in the Philippines?


  1. Chasdv says

    Hi Dave,
    I trust you enjoyed your recent trip to Davao.

    Having an English teaching cert (TEFL etc) would add credibility to anyone teaching English,but more importantly to a newbie,he would gain valuable knowledge about planning lessons etc.
    Here in the UK you can do the full 100hr online TEFL course for equiv,US$400,which to me is a no brainer for any newbie wishing to teach.


    • says

      Chasdv (ID 5642) » That’s a great point, Chas. Thanks again for your valuable contributions here. While it may not be necessary, sounds like an online ESL course and certication could be a worthwhile investment. There are also resident course in Thailand which last year when I checked were about $1000 USD, all-in.

      Offering such course here in the Philippines would be another English-teaching-related business idea. If a person was already certified, especially if they had an English degree, this would be a no-brainer … as anything you can do and make a profit at in Thailand you could do and make as much or more in the Philippines. This is a hard lesson to teach Filipinos. Many of them look at Thailand as if it were some exotic, advanced country. I’ve lived there. It’s a nice place, nice people, etc., but advanced? Hardly. The worst enemy of any Filipino or Fiulipino=foreigner business is the deeply rooted inferiority complex that Filipinos are taught from birth.

      • Chasdv says

        Hi Dave,
        I agree,i also see a demand for teaching expats Tagolog and Cebuano online,for those enterprising Filipinos qualified to do so,but as you say,they are far and few.

        • says

          Chasdv (ID 5646) » The need is there. When you search for example on Google for ‘learn Tagalog’, the whole first page of results is mainly guys selling books or audio/visiual courses on commission. Nobody really offering one-on-one instruction at all.

          Which leads, of course, to a slick, but totally above board deal. Some of these companies selling expensive courses pay fairly large commissions … say $100 bucks. What a Tagalog speaker could do is offer a ‘deal … buy the course through me and your first 5 hours of instruction are free, after that, $5 or $10 bucks an hour. You’d make money from both ends of the deal that way and the student would have a coach to get him/her through the course. Self study language courses don’t often work well based on will power alone, and without a coach or a critic, you never know if you are rally getting the prounciation right.

          Day to day usage is a problem also. Not long ago my wife read an article from a well educated Filipino man who had recently returned to the Philippines after living in the US about 50 years … my wife’s first comment? “Sounds like my grandfather’s Tagalog, nobody uses the same words that way any more” 😉

          I often wonder why virtually no one ever commented on this article: You Don’t Have To Teach English in the Philippines. My friend Fred Reed lives in Mexico and his wife is, no surprise, Mexican and a native Spanish speaker. People contacted her about learning Spanish before they moved to Mexico. So she tells them the book they must buy .. with a commission from Amazon involved if she’s smart, and for about $20 an hour, she walks/works them through the book. Gets all the business she wants from what I understand.

          You just look at the prices that places like Berlitz charges and you’ll very quickly decide $20 an hour is a bargain … or look even at a junior college course in Spanish. Typical one semester classes ar about 40 classroom hours, and when I was last going to a State college many years ago, each course ran my $600 or $700, plus books. I ‘m sure they cost more tioday … that’s $20 an hour or thereabouts, and it’s not one-on-one witk a real native speaker.

          People just don’t seem to understand there’s a lot of value in language instruction. I have a nephew, working on his masters in eduction, who has been a fiull-time degreed teacher here at an expensive school for years. He often asks me what he can do to earn more money, especially online. I’ve mentioned teaching Tagalog before … always got the usual Filipino inferiority attitude, “Oh there’s no money in that.” Maybe I should make him my employee and force him into a money making situation … I think his school is already on their summer break, he’s got time on his hands … if he doesn’t make ago of it, at least I’ll learn some Tagalog 😉

  2. says

    Dave, I doubt that a fellow American expat I met in Iloilo City last year had that certificate you mention. He’s teaching Koreans via Skype and making three bucks (USD) which is good money in the Philippines as you know. Since he doesn’t have a valid visa to live in the Phils anymore I don’t think he cares about any certificates, also.

    • says

      Dave DeWall (ID 5645) » Sounds low to me, as I think a lot of folks are getting closer to $6 USD per lesson, but who am I to argue with success? Point is, as you have shown us, it certainly can work … and compared with the 15 peso per hour Internet cafe boondoggles and such, it’s a much more viable way to make an honest dollar, in my book.

      Interesting how many foreigners live here for years and years ‘out of status’. I don’t, of course recommend it, but I know several guys who have been here 20 or more years with no paperwork … nobody really cares.

    • Joe says

      Is this the fugitive guy (Jeffrey Dana Pounders, 49) who was arrested by police and immigration officers for sexually abusing a minor in Alabama, and was sent back to the USA?

      • says

        Joe (ID 5653) » Probably not, but then, who knows. One dirty little secret that seldom comes out in these pro-Philippine living sites is, there are a LOT of low-life Americans hanging out here, hiding either from open warrants, child support payments or in many cases just their own warped minds. I’ve been on record before and I’ll say it again, the Philippines should be much more careful who they let in here.

  3. says

    I’m heading on back to Malaysia (Kuching) tonight Dave, after spending almost 5 weeks in the cold of the United Kingdom. And finally I’ve got my hands on the excellent book by Tim Ferriss – “The 4 Hour WorkWeek”, which will be great company for the upcoming 30 hours of travelling to be done!

    One’s own creativity is only limited by self-belief! Live life to the full and don’t look back!

    To everyone’s success!


    • says

      Joseph Archibald (ID 5647) » Hi Joseph, tanks for stopping by and for contributing, Valuable as always. My goodness, has it been 5 weeks already? Hope the trip goes well and that you’ll soon be back in the warmth of Malaysia. And for those of you who haven’t yet made his acquaintance, Joseph is a fellow Scot who makes his home in Malaysia and earns some income from the net … many believe it’s all BS, but it isn’t, I can assure you … I’m working on my US income taxes now, ouch 😉

      Read his blog at http://josepharchibald.com/ or learn how to rank your site high in Google with his book on mastering SEO rankings and getting to the top of Google

  4. John Miele says


    I was looking for Filipino lessons in a traditional classroom setting here: Much like you would get at a community college in the States for adult education (Languages are tough for me… I think I will learn better in a classroom).

    All I was able to find that were geared towards foreigners (Filipino as a second language):

    1. Miriam College: P6,500 in a class of 5, for 36 hours of instruction. Only held if enough students want to take the class. Otherwise, P15,000 for private, 1 on 1 with one of the school’s Filipino faculty (This is what I will be doing)

    2. De La Salle University: P40,000 for one year, twice per week, evening or weekend schedule. Held only if enough demand.

    3. UP Diliman: P20,000 per semester, class once per week, on Tuesdays at 09:00.

    As you can see, the classes are only held if there are enough students. That indicates to me that despite the number of foreigners here, not enough are wanting to learn Tagalog or more schools would offer it.

    On the other hand, if you want to learn English here, there are hundreds (thousands?) of options.

    • says

      Thanks for that valuable contribution, John. There are thousands and thousands of schools, many at the adult level, here in the Philippines, but so many are nothing like an American Junior College type model.

      Adult education is a market niche that is really overlooked. I actually found the same situation when I worked in japan. There are essentially no easy ways for a foreigner to learn Japanese ‘in country’ … and it’s one heck of a lot harder to get by in Japan with no Japanese than it is to get buy in the Philippines with no Tagalaog or Bisaya or Ilocano … no one seems to value their own language, it seems.

      I actually have been thinking seriously about making a deal with my nephews local private school. These kids learned English from biorht … it’s the way my wife’s family has done things for generations, and when they started pre-kinder they only knew a smattering of Tagalog … just like their 60 year older uncle 😉

      Now they are pretty fluent in Tagalog, have learned from regular vocabulary and grammar quizzes and such … the stuff that school learning is made from. The desks are darn small, though (and the teachers (although only the administrator is a nun) still carry rulers … or I image they do .. so much of public and private schools are totally Catholic focused a non-Catholic like me often feels really lost …

  5. Andy Carr says

    Can someone give me some information about applying for an English teaching job in Manila. I don’t have an ESL certificate but I have a Masters degree and have taught English Composition at colleges.

  6. Jazon Peralta says

    It is true that you don’t need any type of degree or certification to teach in English efficiently (especially if you are going to start an independent business). But for those who are still in need of training, there are a lot of institutions such as this one – http://talkshop.ph/blog/2013/07/talkshop-workshop-studio-is-now-open/ that can help an aspiring teacher learn more. But then again, I agree with your article. The ideas are out of the box.

    • says

      @ Jazon Peralta

      Thanks for writing in. I try to stay outside the box. Too much of today’s education is dedicated to confining people to act alike, think alike and react alike. It is not an accident that both the US and Philippine educational systems are copied directly from the German systems in the days of Count Bismark. Line up the little ‘troops” all in a row, make them wear uniforms, blindly follow orders and be grouped artificially in “classes and grades” because that makes it easier for the sergeants … oops, I mean teachers … to keep them in an orderly formation. In most environments this would be child abuse. Inhibiting and holding young minds in check to suit some administrators vision of orderliness.

      There is room for much more education in this world than what we typically call “education”, that’s for sure. I made good money ($30 or $35 USD per hour) teaching “Conversational English” in Japan, and there is no reason anyone with decent English conversational skills can’t do something similar, online … if they go seeking. (ads will not be found in the newspaper .. a “J*O*B will not be offered, most likely). Good luck with your site/business. Make a noise. “Sigaw Pinoy” 😉


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>