Teaching Jobs in Cambodia

If you’re looking for an adventure, have advanced English language skills and either already hold, or are willing to invest in quality TESOL/TEFL training, you’ll be pleased to know there is a multitude of paid teaching jobs in Cambodia for people just like you.

With an economy that is growing at a rate most developed countries can only dream about, coupled with 60% of the total population being under 30 years of age, there’s an insatiable thirst among Cambodian people to acquire English language skills. This directly translates into teaching jobs in Cambodia for folks who are up for the challenge.

Sure, you’ll be taking a risk loading-up your backpack and jumping on a plane because somebody wrote in a blog there’s an abundance of teaching jobs in Cambodia. It might be comforting to know that many people have gone down this path before you and have lived to talk about their adventure. These days Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, is full of foreigners pursuing teaching jobs and having walked in your shoes they’re more than happy to point you in the right direction.

Starting your search for teaching jobs in Cambodia while still in your home country can’t hurt, but the reality is that schools rarely engage foreign teachers ‘sight unseen’. Typically, employers (schools) want to see you ‘in the flesh’ and will ask you to do a ‘demo’ class before offering you a contract. This isn’t a reason to balk! With so many opportunities available, if one school doesn’t work out, there are plenty of others that will roll out the Red Carpet.

Most teaching jobs in Cambodia are filled via someone’s network. Talk to as many people as you can and knock on a few doors. With this kind of strategy, you’ll have more employment offers than you’ll know what to do with. Once you have an employment offer that you think will meet your needs, it would be wise to have a friend or perhaps even a family member in your home country read over the small print. Most contracts for teaching jobs in Cambodia are pretty straight-forward, but having another set of eyes read through the document offers additional surety. No doubt you’ll hone in on the provisions in the contract dealing with the pay rate and the number of hours you’ll be required to work each week, but there are other components that are equally important. Does the contract include an Exit Clause? Will the employer sponsor a Work Permit and related visa? What are the taxation arrangements? Is there anything in the contract related to disciplinary action in the event you do something that peeves the boss?

Typically, teaching jobs Cambodia allow folks with quality TESOL/TEFL training to earn around US $1300.00 (net) for working 80 to 100 hours per month. Obviously the salary depends on where the teacher works – rural, regional, metropolitan – the number of hours, the availability of free housing, free utilities and suchlike. Regardless, with the relatively low cost of living in Cambodia, foreign English language teachers can realistically save (after meeting all expenses) more than half of their salary each month, working sensible hours and without scrimping. These days, there are few people in western countries who can save this kind of money, working double the hours.

So, what’s the upshot here? There are plenty of teaching jobs in Cambodia for folks who possess decent English language skills, quality TESOL/TEFL certification and an adventurous spirit. When you find your ideal teaching job, make sure you conduct a thorough due diligence process so there are no surprises. Cambodia is a brilliant place to live and work as an English language teacher. Certainly, working as a teacher in Cambodia will allow you to earn a decent salary while leading an expat lifestyle. You’ll be living the dream.

About the writer: Peter Goudge has been living and working in Southeast Asia since 2006. He is the Managing Director (and owner) of Australian Vocational Skills & Education (AVSE-TESOL). AVSE-TESOL offers an Australian Government accredited TESOL/TEFL Training programme in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Phnom Penh.

Working as an English teacher in Cambodia offers a terrific lifestyle

One of the real benefits of working as an English teacher in Cambodia is the free time you’ll have to pursue social or recreational interests and to take in what this truly magnificent country has to offer. You might feel inclined to take a Khmer cooking class, practice yoga, join a gym or pursue a hobby that you’ve often thought about, but have never had the time (or money) to do. The bulk of the teaching work occurs in the nation’s capital city, Phnom Penh, during the daytime, Monday to Friday. Typically, foreigners who are working as an English teacher in Cambodia teach around 25 hours a week (100 hours a month) and earn a net monthly salary of approximately US $1,300.00. With the cost of
living being low
, most foreign teachers save around 50% of their net monthly income. In a nutshell, working as an English teacher in Cambodia means you’ll have plenty of free time – and money in your pocket.

There are many reasons why people put all their worldly possessions in a bag and leave their home country to teach English abroad, but from my personal observation there are a couple of common denominators, adventure and lifestyle. With free time and cash to spend, you can expect adventures and a great lifestyle in Cambodia.

During my free time in Cambodia, more specifically in Phnom Penh, I’ve tried my hand at a few pursuits, but it was old French buildings that captured my attention and interest. I know most people would find checking out old buildings incredibly boring, but it gets my blood pumping. If folks can go ‘bird watching’, I can go ‘building watching’. When was it built? Who lived there? Who worked there? What became of the occupants? What’s it being used for nowadays?

Here are some of my favorite, old buildings in Phnom Penh.

Phnom Penh Post Office
Corner Streets 13 & 102
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

The Phnom Penh Post Office was designed and built by Daniel Fabre (1830-1902), a renowned French architect and town planner. The building was completed around 1895. It’s a stunning example of French colonial architecture – painted bright yellow, high arched doorways and windows, balustrades, pillars, columns – and most striking for me, an extraordinary red tiled roof and arguably the most impressive nineteenth century clock tower you will see anywhere in the world.

In the late 1880s, Hyun de Verneville was appointed by the French Government to be the Senior Administrator of Cambodia, a French protectorate at the time. By all accounts Hyun de Verneville went about his job running the colony with considerable gusto. The Post Office building was part of his grand-plan to turn Phnom Penh into a modern city, the hub of French administration in the region.

Central Market
Corner of Streets 67 and 136
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

As the name suggests, Central Market is located in the centre of Phnom Penh, within easy walking distance of the Riverside precinct and other key attractions. It’s a must visit destination if you’re in to shopping, people watching or like me, drooling over remarkable infrastructure. The superb ‘art deco’ shape and form of this building are what make it a sight – and a site – to behold. The centre of the building is basically a huge dome (26 metres high) and there are sizable, rectangular ‘halls‘, 4 in total, protruding from the dome – north, south east and west. Each hall is home to a particular category of merchandise making it relatively easy for shoppers to navigate the building and find what they’re looking to buy.

Central Market was officially opened in 1937 after a 3 year building project. At the time, it was apparently the largest market in Southeast Asia. The original idea and design were put forward by Mr Jean Desbois (1891-1971). He was the Chief Architect in Phnom Penh, working in the French Protectorate. The building works were supervised by another French Architect named Mr Louis Chauchon (1875-1945).

Despite occupation by the Japanese, abdications, bombings, terrorist attacks, the scourge of the Khmer Rouge and a fragile economic and political landscape for as long as anyone can remember, Central Market is indicative of the resilience of Cambodia and the Khmer people. As a side point, it’s also a great place to buy cheap, professional clothes, footwear and stationery supplies for working as an English teacher in Cambodia.

The Old Chinese House
45 Sisowath Quay
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

The Old Chinese House is located in the Riverside area of Phnom Penh, immediately north of the night market, near Street 84. It was built in 1904 by Mr Tan Bunpa (1871-1952), a businessman of Chinese origin who was involved in importing and exporting food and timber. Apparently members of Mr Tan’s family continued living in the Chinese House until 1975 when they were forced to leave Phnom Penh under the Khmer Rouge and sadly, were never heard from again.

What I like most about the Chinese House is that it’s one of only a handful of buildings in modern day Phnom Penh that’s more than century old but is still pretty much in its original condition. There are three smaller buildings that have been added over the years, but the main house is largely unaltered. If you have an hour or two to spare in Phnom Penh, you really should visit this absolute gem. Over the past decade, the Chinese House has been carefully and expertly renovated, with parts of the natural decay that you’d expect with a building that’s more than 100 years old, being incorporated into the refurbishment.  The exposed beams, brickwork and the plaster from the era are striking.

Hotel Le Royal
92 Rukhak Vithei Street
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

This place is special, very special indeed! Jacqueline Kennedy (wife of President John F Kennedy), Charlie Chaplain and a plethora of other world-famous people have stayed in this iconic hotel that dates back to 1929. With its grand façade and refined interior, the Hotel Le Royal oozes influence and wealth, which characterised the life of the average French colonist, but is a stark contrast to Cambodia today.

The Hotel Le Royal was purchased by the Raffles Hotels and Resorts Group in 1995. After 2 years of painstaking refurbishment, the hotel recommenced trading in 1997 under the name, Raffles Le Royal Hotel. While the building is simply stunning and well worth a quick look, unless you’re a king, queen or someone of that stature, you may well struggle to pay the nightly tariff.


Working as an English teacher in Cambodia means you’ll have plenty of free time to live life to the full and enough cash in your pocket to pay your way. Regardless of whether you live in Phnom Penh or elsewhere in Cambodia there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself stumbling across examples of classic, colonial architecture. If it happens that you don’t share my passion for old buildings, that’s fine, there are plenty of other things to see and do in this truly magnificent country. Enjoy! Live the dream, working as an English teacher in Cambodia will give you the opportunity to do precisely that.

About the writer: Peter Goudge is the Managing Director and owner of AVSE-TESOL in Phnom Penh, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. AVSE delivers an Australian Government accredited TESOL programme in Cambodia and Vietnam for aspiring English language teachers. If you’d like to learn more about working as an English teacher in Cambodia, feel free to email Peter directly: peter@avse.edu.vn

Teaching English in Cambodia



Country Profile: Cambodia


What terrific news! After working double shifts for the past 6-months to save money, you’re about to head-off and pursue that long-held goal of teaching English in Cambodia. Your interest in Cambodia was sparked by email and SKYPE communication with the good people at AVSE-TESOL in Phnom Penh. Personally, I think you’ve made a great choice. Cambodia is the ‘last frontier’ for English as a Second Language (ESL) teaching.


In this blog post I’ll highlight key information about Cambodia that will help with making the transition to ‘living like a local’ a bit quicker than it might otherwise be.




Tip: They say we should be mindful of bad things that have occurred in history, so it’s less likely they’ll be repeated. With this idea in mind, no stint teaching English in Cambodia would be complete without visiting the ‘Killing’ Fields and the Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh, illustrating the Khmer Rouge years.


The Kingdom of Cambodia has a checkered history, not just over the past four or five decades, but for time immemorial. What we know as Cambodia today was part of at least two ancient realms before declaring independence for the first time in the year 802. At its peak in the 12th century, the Khmer Empire was the largest nation in Southeast Asia (as we know it today). The Angkor Wat religious temple, modern day Cambodia’s premier tourist attraction, dates from this period. Skipping forward six centuries, Cambodia became a French protectorate in 1867. Other than a period of Japanese occupation (1941 to 1945), the French ruled Cambodia until 1953.


Between 1975 and 1979, the Khmer Rouge controlled Cambodia under the leadership of the infamous Pol Pot. It’s estimated that the Khmer Rouge were responsible for the deaths of more than two million Cambodians, a quarter of the population at that time. In addition to massacre on an industrial scale, the Khmer Rouge destroyed much of Cambodia’s historic architecture and sites that carried religious importance. What wasn’t destroyed by those who ruled Cambodia during this period, was left in ruins by years of war and neglect. In the space of a couple of decades, Cambodia went from being a place that Kings, Queens, Presidents, Prime Ministers and Dictators went out of their way to visit, to a place of unimaginable suffering. It wasn’t until the early 1990s that Cambodia began to emerge from the darkness of war and famine. The monarchy was restored in 1993 and today Cambodia operates a ‘multiparty’ ‘democracy’ with a King as the head of State.


While Cambodia’s reintegration to the world community is one of the success stories of the late 20th century, there’s a lot of ‘nation-building’ work that still needs to be done. Cambodians see a direct connection between English language skills and the development of their country. This directly translates into decent jobs teaching English in Cambodia for people like you – folks with the skills, knowledge, qualifications and willingness to step outside their comfort zone.




Tip: Don’t swim or wade in a river or stream in Cambodia. It might look inviting, but there’s a high chance of something lurking in the water that will make you very ill.


The total land area of Cambodia is 181,035 square kilometres. Cambodia shares land borders with Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. River systems, especially the Tonle Sap and the Mekong, flat farming land and mountain ranges are Cambodia’s most prominent geographical features. Rivers that flow through the country are essentially the lifeblood of Cambodian society. Among other things, Cambodia’s rivers provide an important food source, transportation and water for agriculture, the country’s main industry.


While Sihanoukville in the south of Cambodia is best known as holiday destination for beachgoers and folks who like casinos, it is the country’s only deep-water, maritime port. Sihanoukville has undergone massive transformation over the past decade on the back of casino-related development, funded almost exclusively by Chinese companies.


From a geographical perspective, most of the jobs teaching English in Cambodia are in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. Finding a teaching job in a rural area in Cambodia is possible, but it requires patience and lots of networking because they’re relatively few in number.




Tip: If you’re invited to eat with a Khmer family at their house, make sure you remove your shoes and hat before going inside. Also, a small gift, perhaps fruit or flowers, will be well-received.


Cambodia’s population is estimated to be 16.6 million people. Khmer is the largest ethnic group in Cambodia – 90%+ of the total population. Other ethnic groups in Cambodia with sizable numbers include Khmer Muslims, Vietnamese, Chinese and tribal groups such as the Pnong, Tampoun, Jarai and Kreung peoples. Over the past five years in particular, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of foreigners from Europe, North America and Australia who are choosing to take up residence in Cambodia. Anecdotally, the key ‘pull’ factors include the low cost of living, the relative ease to open a business and an expat lifestyle that’s afforded by teaching English in Cambodia and other lines of work where English language skills are vital.


I’ve had the good fortune to spend years travelling around the world. I have lived and worked in 8 different countries. I can put my hand on my heart and say without a shadow of doubt that Khmer people are right up there with the best of the best. Abject poverty prevails in Cambodia, but your average Khmer person will literally give you the shirt off his (or her) back. You’ll be invited in for meals, even though it’s not uncommon for a family to forgo a meal because they don’t have any money. There is every reason for Khmer people to be hostile towards foreigners given the pillaging that has occurred throughout history, but they’re not hostile at all. They’re a forgiving lot and they’re focused on today – perhaps tomorrow – but, certainly not yesterday.




Tip: Monks are revered in Cambodia. It’s important to always show respect to monks. Make sure you are dressed conservatively (fully covered) before entering a temple. Under no circumstances should you touch a monk.  


Official statistics on religious affiliation in Cambodia don’t exist, but observers estimate that around 97% of the population is Theravada Buddhist, with the remaining 10% consisting of Christians, Muslims and other denominations.


During your time teaching English in Cambodia, you’ll no doubt have the opportunity to visit any number of pagodas and other places of religious significance. It’s wise to do a bit of research beforehand on the places you plan to visit. Apart from providing information that will make your visit more meaningful, you’ll be informed about behaviour, dress code and suchlike, that’s considered appropriate at that location.




Tip:  If you’re teaching English in Cambodia in the wet season, make sure you carry your work shoes in your bag and wear sandals to and from school. Why? There’s a good chance you’ll have to wade through knee-deep water every now and again.


Cambodia has a tropical climate with warm to hot weather 12 months of the year. There are two distinct seasons in Cambodia, the dry season and the wet season.


The dry season typically starts in November and goes to the following April. The weather in Cambodia during this period is characterised by zero (or next to zero) rain. With temperatures reaching upwards of 38 degrees Celsius, April and May are the hottest months in Cambodia, with clear blue skies being the norm.


From late May through to October, heavy rain and high humidity dominate the weather pattern in Cambodia. Like that famous song for young children, ‘when it rains, it pours’, probably like nothing you have witnessed before. As quickly as it rains in Cambodia during the wet season, the rain stops and life resumes from where it left off. It’s a sight to behold.




Tip: If taking formal Khmer language lessons while you’re busy teaching English in Cambodia doesn’t appeal to you, learning how to count in the local language in your own time would be a wise move. You will find it handy when buying things.  


With 90% of the population being ‘ethnic Khmer’, it’s no surprise that Cambodia’s official language is ‘Khmer’. Interestingly, during the colonial period, French was the official language of Indochina, which included Cambodia.


English has replaced French as the dominant foreign language in Cambodia. Street signs are usually in Khmer and English. Postage stamps and currency include snippets of English. With a high number of Vietnamese, Chinese and Laotian people living and working in Cambodia, there’s a good chance you will come across folks speaking a language that is less familiar, as you go about your everyday business.




Tip: Doing business at any level in Cambodia can be frustrating due to the bureaucratic processes and language barriers. Put ‘one foot in front of the other’ and nearly always you’ll achieve the desired outcome.


Ostensibly the economy in Cambodia is based on the free market system, but government intervention is commonplace. Cambodia has recorded economic growth over the past decade that most western countries can only dream about, largely on the back of substantial foreign investment. Most economic activity in Cambodia is agricultural in nature. Key products include rice (a staple food across the region), rubber, cassava and pepper. Cambodia also has a thriving export market for teak, mahogany, precious gems, textiles and footwear.


Vocational Education and Training, including English language studies, is a relatively new industry in Cambodia. Like other segments of the Cambodian economy, it’s experiencing exponential growth and job opportunities for foreign teachers and trainers outstrip the number of suitably qualified people many times over. This is good news for people who are up for the challenge of teaching English in Cambodia or some other discipline.




Tip: Make sure you have a pen of your own that works when you arrive at your port of entry for Cambodia.


You will need a valid passport with a minimum of six months remaining and a valid visa to enter Cambodia. You will also need a lot of patience when you arrive at your port of entry. Entering Cambodia can be really quick or really slow, there doesn’t seem to be a middle ground.


If your plans include completing the TESOL programme at AVSE-TESOL in Phnom Penh and then travelling outside of Cambodia after the course finishes, a conventional Tourist Visa (coverage for 30 days) may well be sufficient. You can purchase a Cambodian Tourist Visa online or you can buy one at your point of entry. The price is US $30.00. Note, your payment needs to be accompanied by two passport size photos.


Conversely, if your plans include completing the TESOL programme at AVSE-TESOL in Phnom Penh and then teaching English in Cambodia immediately after, you’d be well-advised to opt for the one-month Ordinary Visa (E class) on arrival. Why? It can be extended indefinitely without having to leave the country on what is commonly called a ‘border (visa) run’. The Ordinary Visa (E class) costs US $35.00. Again, you will need two passport size photos to keep the visa people happy.




Tip: Cambodians really dislike bank notes that are old, dirty or torn, even if it ‘s only a nick. ‘Tainted’ bank notes are often given in change when a person buys something as a way of passing the ‘headache’ onto someone else. Carefully check your change for bank notes that are problematic.


Cambodia’s official currency is the ‘Riel’, but local people prefer to conduct transactions in US dollars. Prices are typically quoted and advertised in US dollars. ATM machines all over Cambodia dispense US dollars. Almost certainly your monthly salary from teaching English in Cambodia will be paid in US dollars.


It’s fair to say that Cambodia is one of those places in the world where there’s a need to be extra vigilant with money and items of value. Such is life in a country where abject poverty prevails. Among other things, being extra vigilant includes carrying your wallet in a front pocket, not storing all your money in one place, only carrying the money that you need at a given time, not counting your money in the street and being super careful when you use an ATM. Here’s a challenge for you. Put your ‘thinking cap’ on and come up with another five ‘being vigilant with money’ strategies.




I have touched on several key issues in this blog post, history, people and religion to name only three, with the intent of sparking interest and offering a helping-hand with your transition to everyday life in Cambodia. You’ll encounter plenty of frustrations in Cambodia, but they’re just part of the journey. Almost certainly when you look back on your time teaching English in Cambodia, it will be the people you met, locals and other expats, that will first come to mind. You’re very lucky! Grab the opportunity with both hands.


About the writer: Peter Goudge is the Managing Director (and owner) of Australian Vocational Skills and Education (AVSE-TESOL) in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh. TESOL certification through Peter’s company, AVSE-TESOL, is all about providing aspiring ESL educators with the skills, knowledge and quality certification they need for jobs teaching English in Cambodia, Vietnam and elsewhere. Here is a link to the AVSE-website:  www.avse.edu.vn





Cambodia: Grab the chance to be an ESL ‘pioneer’


There’s a substantial realignment happening at the present time in terms of preferred destinations for aspiring English as a second language (ESL) teachers. While interest in Japan, Korea and even Thailand seems to be waning, teaching English in Cambodia is becoming more than a faint blimp on the radar of both newbie ESL teachers and seasoned campaigners alike.


Cambodia is arguably the ‘last frontier’ in Asia for ESL teaching opportunities and like every other ‘frontier’ the world has known, ‘pioneers’ are in high demand. If you fancy yourself as an ESL pioneer, if you’re up for an adventure or perhaps you just want to make a positive difference in the lives of local people who have been doing it tough for generations, teaching English in Cambodia may well be your calling.


While students of all ages – young learners through to corporate high flyers – have been marching off to English language classes in Vietnam, Japan, Korea, China and in other Asian countries for the past couple of decades, it’s a relatively new trend in Cambodia, becoming more popular by the day. Why, you may ask, especially given that studying English as a second language isn’t ‘sexy’ like training to be a sports star or swiping pages on an IPad? From what I’ve witnessed first-hand over the past few years, the current generation of Cambodians see English language skills as a pathway to a better future. Moreover, the parents and grandparents of the current generation know how dangerous a lack of education can be. By any measure, Cambodians are resilient and they won’t allow a tragic past to repeat itself, or dictate what the future holds.


Privately owned ‘International’ schools and English Language Centres are sprouting all over Phnom Penh and there are even a few up north in Siem Reap and down south in Sihanoukville. The Sovannaphumi School is one of the largest ‘K1 through to K12’ institutions in Cambodia with 25 campuses and almost 30,000 students. Sovannaphumi is huge, by local standards and by world standards and there are a few other schools in Cambodia of similar size.


With the demand for English language classes in Cambodia going through the roof, there’s a corresponding demand for people with the qualifications and skills to take on jobs teaching English in Cambodia. Internationally recognised TESOL, TEFL or CELTA certification, such as the Australian Government accredited Certificate IV in TESOL, is the minimum academic qualification for teaching English in Cambodia. Those people who hold quality ESL certification and a university degree (in any discipline) are in strong demand. Rightly or wrongly, being a native English speaker is also looked upon favourably, but non-native English speakers shouldn’t be deterred; there are plenty of jobs available.


It’s fair to say the hourly rate of pay for teaching English in Cambodia is quite a bit less than what’s on offer in neighbouring countries. Moreover, the hours that ESL teachers in Cambodia are required to work, tend to be more. Having said this, the salary at the end of the month and even more important, the savings capacity through teaching English in Cambodia (around 50%) is not dissimilar to what’s on offer in neighbouring countries. By way of example, a native English speaker with a degree and TESOL will typically work 30+ hours a week teaching English in Cambodia and receive a net monthly salary of around US $1,300.00. In comparison, if the same person was teaching in Vietnam, he (or she) would typically work 20+ hours a week for a similar net salary.

One of the more obvious differences between teaching English in Cambodia and teaching in a neighbouring country like Vietnam is when most of the work hours occur. In Cambodia, English language classes mainly occur during the daytime, Monday to Friday and rarely in the evening or over the weekend. In contrast, English classes in Vietnam mostly take place in the evening, Monday to Friday and anytime over weekend.


Sure, the net monthly salary, hourly rates, savings capacity and suchlike that teaching English in Cambodia affords, are important considerations before diving in head first. I’d like to place another important consideration on the table – lifestyle! If I had to choose between: 1. living in an exotic country, working a handful of hours each week, saving money and getting ahead; or 2. the 9 to 5 grind in my home country while trying to make ends meet, the decision is very much a ‘no brainer’.


Those folks who turn their mind to teaching English in Cambodia need to be realistic about what’s on offer, or perhaps more important, what’s not on offer in a developing country. Basic infrastructure in Cambodia is either non-existent, ‘patchy’ or in both a literal and metaphorical sense, ‘in the pipeline’. Vermin are commonplace, garbage is dumped in the street (later taken away – mostly), the climate tends to be hot, very hot, or very, very hot with an occasional downpour that leaves whole neighborhoods submerged and local people tend to be unorganised and work at a pretty slow pace. Food choices can also be confronting; barbequed cockroaches are not my idea of snack food. Neither are the ‘arachnid-looking’ things, a Cambodian delicacy, that bear a striking resemblance to the ‘Daddy Long Legs’ that lived in my old pop’s outside loo when I was a kid.


The ‘negatives’ you’ll surely see first-hand if it happens you embark on an odyssey teaching English in Cambodia are part of the reason I love the place. It is stunningly different to any country I’ve visited – and I’ve been to a few – and the ‘unexpected’ prevails. You will smile more often than you’ve ever smiled before. You might even break out in an audible chuckle when you see something like a local person transporting two full size fridges in a ‘T formation’ on the back of a motorbike. I saw it on my last trip and I certainly broke out in an audible chuckle. Most of all, you will be taken back by the overt hospitality and friendliness of the local people. Cambodian people have every reason to be a cranky lot, but they’re right up there with the loveliest folks you will ever meet.


So, would I recommend teaching English in Cambodia? Yes I would, without hesitation.  If I had my time over again, I’d start with teaching English in Cambodia. Just now there are plenty of terrific teaching jobs available in Cambodia for people with the right qualifications, but things are changing – see my earlier ‘faint blimp’ comment. There’s  an expat lifestyle on offer that will allow you to get ahead and save money. The 9 to 5 grind that’s commonplace in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, South Africa and in most other developed countries will be a thing of the past. Give it a go!


About the writer: Peter Goudge is the Managing Director (and owner) of Australian Vocational Skills and Education (AVSE-TESOL) in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh. TESOL certification through Peter’s company, AVSE-TESOL, is all about providing aspiring ESL educators with the skills, knowledge and quality certification they need for jobs teaching English in Cambodia, Vietnam and elsewhere. Here is a link to the AVSE-website:  www.avse.edu.vn


English teaching jobs in Phnom Penh are a platform to reduce carbon emissions

Despite the science, it seems there is any number of world ‘leaders’ who simply don’t care about climate change, don’t understand it, or both. While waiting for genuine leadership on climate change, teachers like me and other individuals can choose to sit on their hands or proactively seek out opportunities to reduce their carbon footprint. I’ve made a conscious decision not to sit on my hands and I’d encourage colleagues who hold English teaching jobs in Phnom Penh and in other parts of Cambodia to take tangible action – starting immediately – to reduce carbon emissions.

The reality is that English teaching jobs in Phnom Penh and greater Cambodia afford an array of opportunities to reduce carbon emissions. At this point in time, I am focused on reducing my usage of plastic and paper. When I’ve managed to put these bad habits to rest, I’ll identify other areas where I can reduce my carbon footprint through my work as a teacher.

Let’s have a look at environmental issues pertaining to plastic and paper from the perspective of a foreign teacher in Phnom Penh.  

Reduce your use of plastic

It only takes a day or two in Phnom Penh to realise that local people have a love affair with plastic. Visit any Khmer shop and there’s a distinct possibility that you’ll exit with more plastic bags than the number of items you’ve purchased. Newspaper reports suggest that Phnom Penh generates 600 tons of plastic waste daily including the infamous plastic bag and PET bottles (and containers). “What is a PET bottle I hear you ask?” It’s a bottle made of polyethylene terephthalate, which is a form of plastic. If you buy water or a sports drink at a local store or a supermarket, almost certainly the bottle will be made of polyethylene terephthalate. The United Nations estimates that 91% of Cambodia’s plastic waste ends up in landfill, waterways and other places where it’s not meant to be. Anything that’s collected for recycling is shipped overseas with local people receiving a pittance.

These days, I take my own ‘fabric’ shopping bag when I go to a store in Phnom Penh. It’s true that I get strange looks when I knock back plastic bags, but that’s ok. I live in hope that one day I will see another person asking the cashier in a store to place his (or her) purchases in a shopping bag like the one I carry around. I might be naive, but I do believe it will happen.

Foreign English teachers love PET bottles, almost as much as Cambodians love plastic bags. If it happens that you’re a foreign teacher in Phnom Penh, there’s a high chance that the last time you took a class there was a PET bottle containing water in your ‘Teacher’s Bag’. Those of us engaged in English teaching jobs in Phnom Penh know about the importance of drinking plenty of water when working in a stifling Khmer classroom, but as educated people we should also know that PET bottles are bad news for climate change and potentially bad news for our immediate health. Who handled that PET bottle before you? Did that person wash their hands before handling the bottle that you’re now drinking from?

I’m living proof that ditching PET bottles is achievable without pain or withdrawal symptoms. Buy a reusable water bottle, take it with you wherever you go and top it up when the opportunity presents itself. Something as simple as a reusable water bottle will: 1. reduce your carbon footprint; 2. save money because you’re not buying drinks; and 3. reduce the likelihood that you’ll pick up a ‘lurgy’ of some kind due to the poor hygiene practices of a shop assistant.

Save paper

Everyone loves tress, but we keep chopping them down to produce paper and other products. Chopping down trees is detrimental to the environment on a number of fronts. Trees store toxic carbon. This is good news.  When a tree is chopped down, the toxic carbon that was stored is released back into the atmosphere. This is bad news. On top of this environmental merry-go-round where carbon is stored and then released again, deforestation typically includes a burning process and more toxic gas finds its way into the atmosphere. This is also bad news. Adding insult to injury, land that was previously a forest is often used for agricultural pursuits, which account for 20% (+/-) of carbon emissions worldwide. This is horrible news.

No matter how you look at it, chopping down trees for paper and commodities beckons an environmental catastrophe. Through my work as a teacher, I’m doing my bit to turn things around.

I can honestly say that none of my peers working in English teaching jobs in Phnom Penh have a ‘moonlight’ gig chopping down trees. I can also honestly say they’re all ‘big-time’ consumers of an end product of chopping down trees – paper. Teachers have used copious amounts of paper from time immemorial, especially English teachers for some unknown reason. Single use flashcards made on the fly, back up tasks printed in huge quantities, a box of tissues on the teacher’s desk, newspapers, magazines and circulars that are read and discarded or just discarded, paper planes in the staff room (it does happen), memorandum after memorandum, paper hats at staff birthday parties and the list goes on and on.

Changing the mind-set when it comes to paper usage in English teaching jobs in Phnom Penh won’t happen overnight, but as they say, every journey starts with a single step. I’ve taken that first step and I’d like to see others who hold English teaching jobs in Phnom Penh doing their bit. Here are some really easy things that I’m doing right now and you can also do starting from today:

  • Only buy recycled paper
  • Use both sides of the page
  • Say no to paper (and plastic) straws
  • Unsubscribe to junk mail
  • Communicate by email
  • Avoid printing emails
  • Be creative when wrapping gifts
  • Use a ‘bum gun’ rather than toilet paper
  • Use a handkerchief rather than tissues

Science tells us that climate change is real and that we need to take action now to have any hope of turning things around. Those of us who hold English teaching jobs in Cambodia – and elsewhere – are well-placed to take immediate action in a whole range of areas directed at reducing our carbon footprint. Right now, I’m focused on plastic and paper. I’m making subtle changes in my consumption habits including saying no to plastic bags, taking a reusable water bottle with me when I’m out and about and using a handkerchief rather than tissues.

What are you doing to reduce your carbon footprint?

About the writer: Peter Goudge is the Managing Director (and owner) of AVSE-TESOL in Phnom Penh (Cambodia) and Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam). If you’d like to know more about how to reduce your carbon footprint, or AVSE-TESOL, feel free to email Peter directly: peter@avse.edu.vn

Australian Government accredited TEFL Course in Phnom Penh

It’s your time to shine… AVSE-TESOL offers a brilliant TEFL course in Phnom Penh, Cambodia for aspiring English language teachers. The course involves a time commitment of 150 hours over a 4-week period, with a heavy bent towards practical teaching experience. At the end of the 4-week study programme at AVSE in Phnom Penh, participants graduate with TEFL certification that’s Australian Government accredited and internationally recognised, the perfect springboard to teach English Cambodia.

Over the past decade, more than 4000 trainees have completed AVSE’s Australian Government accredited TEFL course and embarked on a on a rewarding career path teaching English in Cambodia, Vietnam and elsewhere in the world. Top shelf accreditation, international recognition and more than a decade training aspiring English language teachers in Southeast Asia all help to distinguish AVSE’s TEFL course in Phnom Penh in a highly competitive market. Offering everything a TEFL trainee needs in the one place to get started on their teaching journey is another distinguishing factor – visa guidance, airport collection, complimentary accommodation during the study programme, a Welcome Party, a free City Tour, a guaranteed teaching job, the friendliest staff you will ever meet and the lists goes on and on.

Once you have completed the TEFL course in Phnom Penh at AVSE, you will be equipped with the skills, knowledge and certification you need to land that all-important first job as a paid English language teacher. Jobs teaching English in Cambodia are available pretty much 12 months of the year. Most foreign English teachers in Cambodia work a 20 hour week and manage to save (after meeting all expenses – rent, food and suchlike) between US $500.00 to US $1,000.00 a month, without scrimping. The opportunity to save serious money and get ahead will be all yours – and you’ll do this while leading an expat lifestyle in an exotic country.

So, how can you start this new chapter in your life, teaching English in Cambodia? Firstly, you need a spirit of adventure. Secondly, you need to make that life-changing decision to become an English language teacher abroad. Thirdly, you need to settle on a date to make the big move. On this point, you’ll be pleased to know that new TEFL courses start at AVSE in Phnom Penh 12 months of the year. Lastly, you need to complete and submit the plain-English, online enrolment form to join the TEFL course in Phnom Penh, which can be found via this link:  https://avse.edu.vn/enrolment/payment-methods/

The enrolment form to join the TEFL course in Phnom Penh at AVSE is straight-forward and will take less than 10 minutes to complete. Among other things, you’re asked to provide your name, address, contact details and information about how far you got at school, completed elementary school, completed high school, completed university and suchlike. There’s no doubt that a university degree (any discipline) will open a few more doors for you as an English language teacher in Cambodia, but don’t be disheartened if it happens you don’t have a degree, you’re still welcome to apply. Each enrolment application for the TEFL course in Phnom Penh is carefully reviewed by the Admissions team at AVSE, with employability as an English language teacher in Cambodia being the key factor when it comes to accepting or declining an application. If AVSE has any doubt about its ability to deliver on the employment commitment that comes with the TEFL course in Phnom Penh, the applicant is advised accordingly in a sympathetic and professional manner.

Within 3 days of receiving you’re your enrolment form to participate in the in the TEFL course in Phnom Penh, the Admissions Officer at AVSE will reach out to you by email with instructions on what needs to happen next. All being well with your enrolment form, you’ll be on your way to an exciting new career path teaching English in Cambodia. It’s that simple.

About the writer: Peter Goudge is the Managing Director (and owner) of Australian Vocational Skills & Education (AVSE-TESOL). With TEFL schools in Phnom Penh, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, AVSE is the largest provider of high quality, in-class TEFL courses in Southeast Asia.

Dodgy TESOL/TEFL courses in Vietnam & Cambodia are on the rise…

What can you do to give yourself the best possible chance of not being scammed by dodgy TESOL/TEFL providers in Vietnam and Cambodia? I will address this question head on, but first some perspective.

It seems to me we live in an era when personal enrichment ‘trumps’ all other considerations. Look no further than the fledgling vocational education and training sectors in Vietnam and Cambodia. They are seriously under attack from offshore entities offering dubious study programmes and certificates that carry paper recycling value only.

As recently as yesterday, in my capacity as an employer (school owner) in Vietnam, I received job applications from two unrelated individuals. Both applicants purported to hold ‘internationally recognised’ TESOL/TEFL certification and produced certificates to support their claim. In both cases, the certificates were issued by a Limited Liability Company (LLC), one based in the United States (Florida) and the other in South Africa. I am not the sharpest bloke getting around, but I do know anyone can set up a LLC with minimum effort and small change. Moreover, I don’t know of an LLC anywhere in the world that has the authority to accredit an ESL teaching qualification, let alone issue an ‘International English Teaching Licence’ as occurred in one of the two cases mentioned above.

Those who make a living out of peddling dodgy TESOL/TEFL courses and certificates have no shame. They’re not remotely bothered by academic standards, course outcomes, being accountable and suchlike. They want your money and they’re very skilled at getting their hands on it.
History shows that whenever and wherever there are well-meaning folks who are prepared to spend money, in this instance on vocational education and training, the scallywags come out to play. This is especially prevalent in developing countries like Vietnam and Cambodia where checks and balances are either non-existent or limited to the extent unsavoury characters can line their pockets by duping unsuspecting consumers. I am aware of one entity currently operating in Vietnam that makes a big deal on the internet about their ‘TESOL/TEFL certification’ being accepted for Work Permit purposes. Being ‘accepted’ by an oblivious Vietnamese public servant does not mean the certificate is accredited by an internationally recognised, independent, accreditation authority. I did find myself asking why the issuer in this case would want to ‘crow’ about their certificate being ‘accepted’. Perhaps they were surprised with the outcome! If so, why would that be? Perhaps they know something that the unsuspecting consumer doesn’t.

So, what are some of the ‘Red Flags’ to look out for when you’re shopping around for a legitimate TESOL/TEFL provider in Vietnam or Cambodia? In my humble opinion, I’d encourage you to reflect on: 1. the price of the course; 2. accreditation; and 3. the legal status of the provider. There are many other ‘Red Flags’, but let’s just focus on the three I have identified, for the time being anyway. Allow me to elaborate.Price: If you are in the market for TESOL/TEFL certification in Vietnam or Cambodia, the price of the product will surely be one of the key considerations. World-wide, TESOL/TEFL training is one sector where in the main – you do get what you pay for. Bonafide academic accreditation does not come cheap. How much did the teachers who taught you in primary school, in elementary school, in high school or at university or college pay for their teaching qualifications? I suspect thousands and thousands of dollars. You should make an effort to ascertain the cost of CELTA, the Trinity Certificate in TESOL and the Australian Government accredited Certificate IV in TESOL. Why? Your research will provide an insight to the cost of TESOL/TEFL certification that has quality accreditation and truly carries international recognition. An independent assessment process, suitably qualified staff, infrastructure, continuous improvement, utilities, equipment, benchmarking and policies on all kinds of scenarios are just a random selection of everyday cost factors associated with bonafide accreditation. Dodgy operators don’t have to bear these costs and consequently they can charge a fraction of the price for their ‘TESOL/TEFL course’.

The reality is, if you want cheap and nasty there are plenty of ‘TESOL/TEFL courses’ available in Vietnam and Cambodia. I recently saw a 150 hour ‘internationally recognised’ course advertised for US $179.00 from the self-appointed TESOL/TEFL Master who infers his programme has the tick of approval from a US Cabinet Secretary. How can an internationally recognised TESOL/ TEFL programme be so cheap? I’m talking really, really cheap, US $179.00, for a course that runs for 150 hours – a bit over US $1.00 an hour – for an academic qualification that is supposedly legitimate. Give me a break! Dig just a tad below the surface and you’ll see this is basically yet another Limited Liability Company that literally banks on the fact that enough people in Vietnam and Cambodia will part with US $179.00 for a ‘certificate’ that carries the value of a sheet of paper and some coloured ink. More recently this particular entity added an acronym to the ‘certificate’ they issue implying a higher level of accreditation than just the LLC that was used for the first ‘role-out’ of certificates. Again, scratch a tad below the surface and you will learn that any person (or LLC) can pay a token fee to the entity that owns the acronym, to have the acronym printed on certificates, effectively adding another layer to the deception. Personally, I am aghast that prospective ESL Educators fall for it, but they do. Then, school owners who know a thing or two about accreditation in the TESOL/TEFL industry are the bearers of bad news when a person who holds a bogus certificate applies for a teaching job.

If the TESOL/TEFL programme you are looking at is really cheap, you may feel inclined to ask the provider, why his (or her) programme is 90%+ cheaper than legitimate courses – CELTA, Trinity and the Australian Government Certificate IV in TESOL. Almost certainly you will get some lame explanation that you will be able to see right through.

Accreditation: Internationally recognised accreditation is critical with TESOL/TEFL certification. In a nutshell, if the course isn’t accredited by a government, a legitimate university or a legitimate vocational training college, you will almost certainly be wasting your money, no matter how cheap the course is. If the accreditation doesn’t measure up, you’d be well-advised to vote with your feet.Teaching English in Vietnam or Cambodia is a profession where quality training is an essential starting point for, among other things, possessing the skills and knowledge to do the job, especially if you expect to be paid for your time. Would you have root canal work done by a random person knowing that he (or she) was ‘accredited’ by an individual who apparently lives in a mail box in the Bahamas and derives income from issuing dodgy certificates to people who think they’d make a good dentist? I wouldn’t! How would you feel after learning the ‘medical practitioner’ you’ve been taking your children to see for the last 5 years is chameleon-like, in the sense that he’s actually a qualified baker, who masquerades as a doctor. Surely, you’d be appalled.

The dodgy TESOL/TEFL operators seemingly have a never-ending bag of tricks to give the appearance of accreditation. They want to ensure: 1. you believe the ‘spin’; and 2. they get their hands on your hard-earned money. They’ll claim international recognition when they don’t have it. They’ll tell you their certificate is ‘accepted’ inferring that ‘accepted’ is a synonym for ‘accredited’. Typically they’ll produce a flashy, colourful certificate decorated by a US, UK, Canadian or Australian flag (all 4 flags in some cases), with an ‘in your face’ emboss (looks impressive, but costs less than 10 cents), pronounced signatures from people who are supposedly really important and acronyms galore. All this ‘fluff’ is designed to fool you into believing you are buying something of value, when the reality is very different.

Legal status: Over the past few years I have heard and read about Vietnamese Government officials raiding schools in various Districts in Ho Chi Minh City, in Ba Ria near Vung Tau and in Dalat with unfortunate consequences for the school owners and in a few cases, TESOL/TEFL students from abroad. Word has it the Ba Ria raid left a group of unsuspecting Filipino ‘TESOL’ students staring deportation in the face because the ‘TESOL School’ they were attending was unlicensed. As a matter of interest this particular ‘TESOL School’ was relentlessly advertising its ‘internationally recognised’ TESOL certificates that are accepted (as distinct from registered or accredited) by the Vietnamese Government – sound familiar? The Singaporean owned Raffles School in Ho Chi Minh City is another one I remember being raided, in part for offering courses and certificates without permission from the Vietnamese Government. The school never re-opened from the day it was raided. The Raffles incident was especially nasty with at least one of the managers jumping on a flight out of Vietnam while officials were scouring Ho Chi Minh City looking for him. Very, very unpleasant! Check out the following link about the raid on the Raffles School: https://bit.ly/2Ttew7g

TESOL/TEFL Schools in Vietnam and Cambodia with quality accreditation are typically legal in all respects – they have too much to lose not to be legal. In stark contrast, the dodgy schools have no interest in being legal because it involves hard work, time and a lot of money. All schools will tell you they’re legal, but the reality is that 90% (+/-) of TESOL/TEFL providers in Vietnam and Cambodia well and truly fly under the radar. Thorough due diligence is imperative if you are to have any chance of identifying legal TESOL/TEFL courses in a sector where the legal to illegal ratio is something like ‘one in ten’. Reading online reviews and suchlike can be helpful, but it’s not sufficient. Here are three basic ‘due diligence’ type questions you should ask a TESOL/TEFL provider directed at gaining an insight to their legal status:

  1. Does your institution have permission from the Vietnamese (or Cambodian) Government to offer a vocational training programme (sourced from abroad) in Vietnam (or Cambodia)? If so, I’d like to see written proof.
  2. Does your institution have permission from the Vietnamese (or Cambodian) Government to issue ‘internationally recognised’ TESOL/TEFL certificates in Vietnam (or Cambodian)? If so, I’d like to see written proof.
  3. Is your TESOL/TEFL course accredited by an entity that carries academic weight – a government, a legitimate university or a legitimate vocational training college? If so, I’d like to see written proof.

If the TESOL/TEFL provider you are speaking with answers yes to all 3 questions and backs up their responses with written proof, there’s a high chance they’re legal. If not, almost certainly the ‘provider’ is just another dodgy ‘diploma mill’ looking for the next person to scam.

So, what’s the underlying message in this article? Pretty simple really! The TESOL/TEFL industry in Vietnam and Cambodia is booming and there are plenty of unsavoury characters who see this as an opportunity to make some serious money. These people are smart, really smart! With just a bit of the old ‘grey matter’, you can be even smarter and this is what’s expected from folks who see themselves working as an English language educator. If a TESOL course seems cheap, find out why it is cheap. Inevitably it will have something to do with accreditation, legality or both. If the course isn’t accredited by a government, a legitimate university or a legitimate vocational training college, smile politely and walk away knowing you’ve out-smarted a dodgy TESOL/TEFL provider. If the course isn’t 100% legal in the country where it’s offered, it would be a brave person indeed who’d part with their money and enrolled.

About the writer: Peter Goudge is the Managing Director (and owner) of the Australia-Vietnam School of English in Ho Chi Minh City & Australian Vocational Skills & Education (AVSE-TESOL) in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi & Phnom Penh. TESOL certification (Australian Government accredited) through Peter’s company, AVSE-TESOL, is all about providing aspiring ESL educators with the skills, knowledge and quality certification they need for jobs teaching English in Vietnam, Cambodia and elsewhere. Here is a link to the AVSE-website:  www.avse.edu.vn