Indonesia is one of the most beautiful and fascinating countries in the world, consisting of a spectacular archipelago studded with active volcanoes. There are many language centre franchises including English First in most of the congested cities of western Indonesia. National Plus schools pay more and offer good holidays although you generally need previous teaching experience in Indonesia.
In the last five years or so, the TEFL industry in Indonesia has reduced in size despite there still being very high demand for English language tuition. Sadly this reflects broader political and ideological issues in Indonesia as the authorities have been making it much more difficult for companies to employ foreigners (the expat community has almost halved), whether in the education sector or elsewhere. The time required to process a KITAS is now several months and as a result many language centres have either folded or have been putting teachers on 60-day Business Visas. Do not work on one of these under any circumstances as it is illegal and you may be fined and deported. It is simply not worth it when you can legally earn a similar or better salary elsewhere in Southeast Asia.
|Type of Institution||Typical salary (USD/month)||Typical hours||Typical annual leave|
|Language centres (e.g English First)||1,000 – 1,500 (DOS)||2pm – 9pm Monday to Friday plus some weekend work||2 weeks plus national holidays|
|National Plus schools||1,200 – 1,800||7am – 4pm Monday to Friday||7 weeks plus national holidays|
|International schools||2,000 upwards||7am – 4pm Monday to Friday plus some weekend work||10 weeks plus national holidays|
Main places for jobs
Jakarta, Bogor, Bandung, Surabaya (all cities in Java) and Medan (in Sumatra).
Degree (preferably in English or Education), TEFL certificate.
1. For inexperienced English teachers, a job at English First makes for a decent first year of teaching in Indonesia. However you need a KITAS to do this legally.
2. When searching for accommodation, look for ‘kost’ or ‘kos-kosan’ which are inexpensive boarding houses which can be paid for on a month-by-month basis.
3. In Java, it may be a good idea to choose a city or town served by Kereta Api, the national railway service. This way you can enjoy frequent and inexpensive trips away at weekends.
Your employer should sponsor you and pay for a KITAS (temporary stay permit) to be issued for you. This will probably entail arriving on a tourist visa and then flying out to Singapore for the day whilst it is processed.
Once resident, you need to report to your local RT or RW (neighbourhood security man). As an utterly antiquated and confusing system to the inexperienced, it may be a good idea to ask your employer to send someone who speaks fluent Indonesian to join you when you fill in the forms.
In 2011 it was announced that language centres were only allowed to employ teachers who have a degree in English, Education or Linguistics. However, the reality is that many employers ignore this totally unnecessary new rule.
If you wish to leave Indonesia for a short holiday you will have to pay for an exit permit in advance. These can be either for one trip or several trips – the latter costs rather more.
Cost of living
In Jakarta you can rent a room for around 200 US dollars per month or an apartment or house from 3,000 US dollars per year (payable in advance). Prices drop significantly outside the capital although there are very few apartments to be found.
Local food is incredibly inexpensive so if you enjoy chicken, rice and tropical fruits then you can eat very cheaply. Western imports can be expensive and most expats shudder at the price of a bottom-of-the-range bottle of wine.
Tax and salary information
Your tax will normally be paid by your employer so you don’t usually need to worry about that. However, you should request a copy of relevant paperwork (and your NPWP tax number) when leaving the country in order to have proof you have paid all due taxes. Most language centres pay you cash in the local currency – the rupiah. Some schools operated by foreign nationals prefer to help you open a local bank account and pay you in US dollars.
|Very friendly and welcoming people – your students are very likely to be pleasant, calm and eager to learn||May be increasingly difficult without an English or Linguistics degree|
|Slow, relaxed pace of life (and work)||High levels of ineptitude, nonsensical bureacracy, ingrained corruption and growing mis-placed nationalism|
|Once you get out of the cities, Indonesia is a genuine tropical paradise of stunning beaches, jungles and volcanoes.||Navigating the congested cities of Java can be rather difficult at first and holidaying abroad is a costly business unless your employer pays for an exit/re-entry permit for you|
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