Teaching English in Malaysia

Malaysia Overview

Malaysia is situated in the centre of Southeast Asia and  offers much in the way of variety from modern urban environments to deserted tropical beaches. The multicultural capital city of Kuala Lumpur is where most of the teaching jobs are, but there are also opportunities in Penang, other cities on the Malaysian peninsula and in Malaysian Borneo. English is widely-spoken and it is difficult to find teaching work unless you have significant experience and preferably a DELTA or MA TESOL.

Type of Institution Typical salary (USD/month) Typical hours Typical annual leave
Language centres 1,000 – 2,500 (DOS) Various but often 6 days a week 3 weeks plus national holidays
British Council 2,750 – 3,500 Various shifts including evening and weekend work 7 weeks plus national holidays
International schools 3,500 upwards 8am – 4pm Monday to Friday plus some weekend work 10 weeks plus national holidays

Main places for jobs

Kuala Lumpur and the Malaysian peninsula.

Typical requirements

Degree, TEFL certificate, 1-2 yrs exp.

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1. Experienced teachers are advised to look for openings at the British Council as these are by far the best paid positions for those without a Masters Degree. If you do hold a relevant MA (or DELTA) then you should have no problems finding a well-paid position in a prestigious institution. Inexperienced teachers are advised to get some experience elsewhere first!

2. Look out for opportunities to mentor local Malaysian teachers.

3. Be sure to negotiate with potential employers regarding the availability of free or subsidised accommodation and ask them about the EPF (Employees Provident Fund). A salary of anything less than 5000 Ringgit per month will be difficult to survive on (despite lots of language centres in Penang offering this sort of wage) and is not recommended even for the inexperienced as it pushes the earning potential down for all ESL teachers.

Red tape

Whether you have a position arranged in advance or not, it is normal to arrive in Malaysia on a three-month tourist visa and then begin the lengthy process of obtaining a work permit. This can take two months and will probably require you to exit and re-enter the country (Singapore is the obvious choice for this). You must be 27 years old or over to teach English in Malaysia.

Cost of living

Both furnished and unfurnished accommodation is easy to find. Rental agreements are usually for a minimum of twelve months and require an upfront deposit of two months’ rent. Food and transport are relatively inexpensive although expect to pay more for imported Western foods.

Tax and salary information

Employees are generally required to fill in a tax return form on an annual basis although it appears that income tax is paid monthly by your employer. EPF is a worthwhile scheme if you can afford to pay into it each month.


Excellent infrastructure – daily tasks can be accomplished easily Few decent openings for those without experience or postgraduate qualifications
Very cheap and relatively efficient transport system in KL The work permit application process often takes eight weeks
Lots of opportunity for professional development The cultural differences associated with living in a Muslim-majority nation may be a shock to the inexperienced

Directory of Recommended Schools, Language Centres and Recruitment Agencies

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Qualified English teachers please register with World of TEFL and we will contact you with relevant vacancies as they come in. This is a free service for teachers.


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