A Beginner’s Guide to Teaching English in Cambodia

Southeast Asia is a popular destination not only for travelers, but also for people interested in teaching English abroad. Nestled between Thailand, Laos and Vietnam sits the culture-rich land of Cambodia. Teaching English in Cambodia is gaining popularity as more and more jobs enter the market, and its laid back lifestyle offers plenty for the teacher who wants to make a decent salary while living in paradise. 

If you are looking for a guide to everything Cambodia than you are in the right place! If you are like me, information is key to helping me make any decision including teaching abroad! 

Plus, taking time to learn about the country where you want to teach can give you the courage and knowledge to make your dreams of teaching abroad in Cambodia a success!

teaching english in cambodia

Climate

Cambodia is considered to have a tropical climate with two different seasons governed by monsoons. The rainy season occurs from mid-May to October and their drier season is typically November – March. The coolest month is January with average temperatures of 82-83 degrees Fahrenheit or 28 degrees Celsius. April tends to heat up with temperatures of 95 degrees Fahrenheit or 35 degrees Celsius. So it’s safe to say that you won’t be freezing in Cambodia, but due to their rainy season you will definitely need a raincoat of some kind! 

Language

The official language of Cambodia is Khmer. If you are interested in learning some basic words and phrases that can help you transition abroad, check out a language learning platform called Memrise. It is completely free and provides you access to learning a foreign language at your fingertips!

Simply create an account, choose the languages you want to learn, and begin learning how to communicate with others in Cambodia in a matter of minutes! You won’t be an expert by any means, but knowing how to say words like “car”, “school”, “food”, “hotel”, “bus”, and other basic key words for travel are definitely helpful.

Religion

Another component that is helpful to know about the country is their main religion. The faith practiced most in Cambodia is Buddhism.  Although this is the most common religion, it is good to know that Cambodia is religiously tolerant of other types of faith. 

With this in mind, one site that may be cool to add to your bucket list is the Angkor Wat. It is a beautiful religious monument that is known to attract over a million people per year. 


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Regions of Cambodia

Cambodia is a beautiful country filled with many diverse landscapes that can be broken down into various regions. 

Phnom Penh

The capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh is a vibrant and bustling city in which many Cambodians work and live. The city is known for having authentic Khmer cuisine, along with other shops, and restaurants that could be fun to visit during your down time. 

Siem Reap:

Home to one of the most infamous and well-known sites of Cambodia, Siem Reap attracts many visitors for the chance of seeing the grand temple network called Angkor Wat. According to National Geographic, this historical jewel is said to be built in the twelfth century as a Hindu temple by King Suryavarman II for the religion’s “Lord Vishnu”. Later on the temple was converted to represent the nation’s current main religion, Buddhism. The temple includes beautiful stone carvings that tell amazing stories of significant faith such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Beyond Angkor Wat, you can try authentic Cambodian cuisine in Siem Reap  like kuthiew (traditional white noodle soup with your choice of pork or chicken). Yum!

South Coast:

The south coast of Cambodia is known for its beaches in places such as Sihanoukville, Takeo, or Kep. There are plenty of opportunities to try seafood local to their region and to get outside with activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, water sports, hiking, and more. Either way this area can give you the best of both worlds whether in the water or on land to help you get to know Cambodia even more than you did before. 

teaching english in cambodia

Northwestern:

This region of Cambodia is home to many beautiful historic temples such as Preah Vihear Province and Banteay Chhmar. Plus, how can we not mention that this region is home to floating villages! Yes…floating! How cool is that? You can take boat rides to view the floating villages all while enjoying the Sangker River. One of the biggest floating villages in Cambodia is located in Kompong Luong on the Tonle Sap lake. Not a bad thing to add to your bucketlist!

Eastern:

The eastern region of Cambodia is also very diverse with an array of wildlife ranging from dolphins in the sea at Kratie to elephants in the forest at Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri. This section of the nation also provides a culturally rich representation of ethnicities such as the Bunong people of Mondulkiri or the opportunity to view tribal cemeteries belonging to Ratanakiri. 

Why Cambodia is a great place to teach English abroad:

teaching english in cambodia

Beyond the stunning beauty that comes along with being in Southeast Asia, Cambodia will leave you with amazing memories for years to come. Teaching English abroad is a great opportunity for you to go out of your comfort zone (literally), experience a new culture, learn a new language, form new relationships, build your professional resume, become a global citizen, and to simply find a home away from home.=

Plus, you are sure to leave with a unique perspective on Cambodian culture. It is one thing to visit a country, but completely another to live, work, and interact with the people that represent the true essence of the place in which you are teaching abroad. Teaching in Cambodia gives you the chance to become a part of a global community that you can carry with you no matter where you go next! Also, you can look back and be proud of how much you have grown not only as a teacher abroad, but also as an individual!

Requirements for teaching English in Cambodia:

Teaching in Cambodia is not an impossible mission! In fact, it may be simpler than you think.

What you need is:

  • To be a fluent speaker of the English language
  • To have at least a High School Diploma
  • To have a TEFL Certificate (try our course with job placement
  • To have a genuine interest in living and teaching the English language in Cambodia

Salary

During your time teaching abroad in Cambodia, you can earn a monthly salary ranging anywhere from $700-$1000 USD. Plus, there’s ample opportunity to make extra cash by private tutoring or teaching English online

Teaching online allows you the flexibility you need all while earning some extra cash to support your bucket list (or pay off those student loans). Not to mention, depending on your company you can earn anywhere from $18-$24 USD per hour. Not too bad for a side hustle! 

Another way to make additional income is through private tutoring to members in the area which you will be teaching. This gives you the ability to set your own rates, interact with different age groups, as well as further immersing yourself in a new culture and create community.

teaching english in cambodia

Types of Teaching Jobs

There are many potential teaching sites where you can teach English in Cambodia. Here are some of the different types to help you become aware of what your new job may look like.

Private Language Institutes:

Private language institutes allow you the opportunity to teach English to students of all ages and beyond the normal school week. You’ll have the chance to design a more varied teaching experience with some classes being held during the evenings and weekends. Not to mention, private language institutes stay open throughout the year which means you can pick up more classes during your time abroad! For those of you looking for an experience outside of the traditional school work week, than this may be a wonderful teaching site for you.

Public and Private Schools:

Teaching in a public or private school can offer you the ability to teach children along with the time table of a traditional school week, Monday through Friday with holidays and school breaks off. Be sure to be flexible and open to public and private schools as they will not always have the highest salary when compared to other teaching sites.

Companies/Businesses:

Many companies and businesses can benefit from supporting their employees in learning English. This means companies often hire teachers to hold English language classes (focused on business English primarily). Your schedule would most likely correlate to the business hours of the business you are teaching. This can be a great opportunity for those of you who are wanting to teach English to adults and enjoy teaching English designed for business professionals in mind.


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Getting a visa/work permit to teach abroad

To teach English in Cambodia you will need a visa. Specifically, most people can stay and work here for a long period of time if they enter the country with an E-visa. This is inexpensive and will only cost $35 USD. 

For countries unable to obtain an E-visa when arriving to Cambodia, a tourist visa is the best option. In this case, you’ll have 60 days to find employment before having to leave. Once you obtain employment you can then begin the process of applying for an E-visa that will let you stay for one year.

Great apps to use for communication during your time abroad

Some tools you can use to communicate with friends and loved ones during your time abroad is through communications apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype, Email, Postcards, FaceTime, and other various communication methods.

So if Cambodia is still on your radar, then go for it! You are sure to make an impact through your time abroad while making memories you will never forget.

Happy travels!


Words by Melody Lipford.