Language Center or School?

16 Jan 2020 | Theodore

Teaching is an enriching experience. Regardless of the way you teach, each one comes with its own unique set of pros and cons. Below are some of the biggest differences between them.

Schedules

Language Centers: this is the biggest difference between all three. With language centers, you work more days and have less time off, but it does have its benefits with that (see income). However, many times your schedules can change last minute. Most teachers begin their days after 12:00 and don’t finish till late (20:30/21) and work on the weekends as it’s the busiest time for centers.  But hey, weekend pricing for activities won’t affect you but they may impact your socialization.  Also, first year teachers typically don’t get to choose their holiday times and for how long they get time off.

Schools: Schools offer the most structure out of the three. As most places in East Asia, your schedule may change last minute, however your schedule should otherwise be more structured than in a Language Center. With your workday starting at 7:30/8 and ending at 16:00/17, you devote your time between in class teaching and office hours or prepping. You get weekends, nights, and if you are in Hong Kong- a lot of paid holiday leave. It’s the perfect opportunity to see the world and local community.

Class

Language Centers: Language centers focus on smaller classes but more classes. In language centers, you could have a back to back schedule, or you could have a schedule with awkward gaps in it. It is common for classes sizes to not exceed 10-15 students, however there are the exceptions. Due to needs or language abilities your students could come and go as they advance or need more assistance. You can bond more with the students if you stay long term as the students may move levels with you.

Schools: With varying class sizes, most of your classes will have more than 15 students sometimes upwards to 50, but this is all dependent on the school itself. In Hong Kong most of the classes have on average 30 students (Hong Kong Education Bureau, July 2019) for both primary and secondary students. With these classes, you typically teach only one year of students and get a new bunch of students the following year. In some cases, you might be able to progress with the students as the move up levels. There is less one on one interaction as in a language center.

Income

Language Centers: With a higher than average salary, a language center is the place to look if you are looking for a higher pay and don’t mind more work or a more hectic schedule. It’s a good trade off for those only teaching for a year abroad and are just saving money or are just wanting to travel during their holidays/breaks.

Schools: Having an average base salary of $21,000HKD (Glassdoor), ESL teachers in Hong Kong can make a wide range of salaries depending on years of experience, qualification, and if they work in the public sector or an international school. As a teacher in Hong Kong, there are many opportunities to grow and to develop.


Working in a language center is great for those who like a short term job experience. Schools are the perfect place for those who are seeking any form of career development, a gap year to gain international experience, or develop new skill sets.

Working with us is an excellent opportunity for those who want to develop as professionals- with our ongoing training services and socials, you have opportunities to grow and network. Whether you are wanting to gain skills for one year or creating a career in education, we are here to assist you in all aspects of your professional development.