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*UPDATE: There is a PDF of this that you can take with you here.

Are you looking for a job teaching English in East Asia? Do you want to know what schools/employers there really want?

So you've probably heard this and that from various promoters of TEFL, TESOL & CELTA courses. But are they telling you the truth?

Part of the reason I wrote this was to cut out the BS and lies I see so many TEFL course providers tell to newcomers.

For me this data wasn't really surprising, but that's because I have been part of the teaching English in Asia thing either as teacher or researcher for a good 13 years.

I started teaching in Taiwan in 2004 and then later Korea, China and now I live in Japan. I worked in a lot of schools as either a full, part-time or substitute teacher

So the qualities of a teacher that schools are actually looking for that you will find here are not a surprise to me. I could have roughly told you these before without doing any research since I have seen so many jobs.

taiwan experience


It's cool to actually see some data. So how did I get this data?

I did a combination of command "f" on a Mac to find the count of keywords on a page (multiple job ads on a page) and sometimes a count of the Google search results.

Towards the end of the article I will tell you how you can use this info to help.

What do employers want in ____?

  1. Taiwan
  2. Korea
  3. China
  4. Japan
  5. Total results

What do employers in Taiwan want?

These are some of the most common words employers used on on 02/19/2018. These were based on 50 job posts. 

taiwan tealit

The number represents how many times it was placed on the page.

  • experience 71
  • degree 34
  • professional 31
  • children 28 (i.e, working with children)
  • team 18 (join our "team" or "team" player)
  • enthusiastic 13
  • responsible 13
  • kids 10
  • passion 9
  • adult 8
  • tefl certificates 7 (preference)
  • patient 7 
  • positive 6
  • criminal background check 4
  • teaching demo 4
  • teaching license 6
  • chinese ability 0 (compare that to Ohayosensei in Japan below)

I only counted the word "degree" here and one other time. A degree is pretty much a given requirement to teach English in Asia.


What do employers/schools in Korea want?

These numbered search results were taken from on Feb. 19, 2018 using the keyword and the following search operator: "keywords below go here"


  • kids 1,960 results
  • experience 1,820
  • energetic 726
  • enthusiastic 345
  • passionate 293
  • positive 284
  • professional 42
  • tefl 36
  • responsible 32 "keywords below go here"

korea eslcafe

  • experience 524
  • tefl 283
  • professional 173
  • kids 104 children 147
  • enthusiastic 106
  • fun 84
  • passion 71
  • responsible 56
  • energetic 52
  • friendly 52
  • passionate 35


What do employers want in China?

For this I searched 2 sites: via Google and eChinacities. "keywords below go here"

china eslcafe

  • experience 719
  • professional 399
  • kids 269 children 280
  • adults 240
  • passion 202
  • enthusiastic 197
  • fun 177
  • tefl certificate 123
  • energetic 99
  • responsible 91
  • no experience 44


china echinacities

The below results were found by site search on, "teaching jobs".

  • degree 53,836
  • experience 52,654
  • TEFL cert 17,837
  • love children 15,621
  • professional 12,377
  • children 11,621
  • enthusiastic 5,385
  • responsible 4,516
  • adult 2,864
  • fun 2,443
  • passion 2,236
  • creative 1,521


What do employers in Japan want?

This one and the Taiwan one are the most accurate as all the job posts were on one page, so I could easily find the keywords and get a direct count. Feb 19, 2018


  • experience 124
  • no experience 0
  • children 65 kids 18
  • adults 35
  • responsible 0
  • tefl certification 48
  • professional 1
  • enthusiasm 1
  • japanese ability 24
  • must currently reside in japan 56 education/teaching Jan. 19-Feb 19, 2018


  • experience 275
  • children 215
  • professional 98
  • fun 98
  • japanese ability 71
  • motivated 69
  • enthusiastic 68
  • love children 65
  • creative 63
  • adults 52
  • positive 41
  • passion 38
  • responsible 36
  • tefl 26


Final tallies

How accurate is this?

  1. Some of the words here have were not necessarily used in the same sense. For example, the keyword "enthusiastic" is a pretty common quality that schools are searching for in a teacher, but the word can also be used in a different way like the school could say we are "enthusiastic" about making learning English fun.

  2. Some results may include multiple postings by the same school or recruiter which inflates the keywords mentioned in that post.

  3. Some keywords may have multiple meanings. For example, most schools want “experience” but a smaller percentage may accept teachers with “no experience”. 

  4. I didn't search for all of the same exact keywords on every site which resulted in some differences.
  5. The numbers in Taiwan and Ohayosensei are way lower, but more accurate as I manually counted them compared to search results.

Here is a combined list of the above keywords

  • experience 56,187
  • tefl cert 18,070 (-17,000 for China)
  • love children 15,686
  • professional 13,121
  • children 12,356
  • enthusiastic 5,770
  • responsible 4,744
  • adults 3,199
  • fun 2,802
  • passion 2,556
  • kids 2,361
  • creative 1,584
  • tefl cert 1,070 (Japan, Korea, Taiwan)
  • energetic 877
  • passion 328
  • positive 290
  • japanese ability 95
  • motivated 69
  • must currently reside in japan 56
  • no experience 44

Schools prefer teachers with experience, however there are a few schools that have stated above that they accept teachers with "no experience".

Most of the jobs in East Asia are for teaching children. According to the numbers above there were 30,000 plus mentions of children, kids, etc. vs. 3,000+ mentions of adults (mostly from echinacities). 

So according to those numbers there are possibly 10 times as many jobs teaching children than there are adults in Asia.

How do you get experience when you have none?

Start where you are now.

  • If you are going to teach kids take the TEKA course
  • Take a TEFL/TESOL/CELTA course although the "A" CELTA stands for adults and most courses copy CELTA so look for a course specialized in teaching kids like TEKA (if that's who you will teach). And if you don't know who you will teach then the odds list above say you will teach kids.
  • Substitute


Wanna become that teacher that's professional and good at teaching kids?

Because as you now know that's what most schools in East Asia want...

This course is especially focused on teaching English to kids in Asia. 


"I wish I would have taken this course BEFORE I started teaching here three years ago. The methods and insights given in ESL Insider's..." Dolly M.

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