Is Phnom Penh in Cambodia a Premiere Teaching Destination?

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Perhaps saying that Phnom Penh in Cambodia is a “premiere” teaching destination is a bit of an overstatement. While it’s true that it’s very easy to get a teaching job here, there are other things you need to consider. For one, will you be teaching for a long time or are you only planning to get experience and apply for a short stint? Secondly, will you be travelling with your family or by yourself? If you have a small child with you, Phnom Penh might not be the ideal teaching destination.


Cambodia welcomes teachers, especially foreigners. You won’t even have to have TEFL or TESL certification to teach, although they would certainly come in handy if you’re trying to teach in a higher paying school. Some teachers here say that they’re ridiculed for applying in a position wearing shirt and tie. Apparently one can get accepted by wearing casual clothes and even flip flops for footwear. However, this point can again be contended as some pricier schools would expect more from you.

If you want to teach for a short time, Phnom Pehn, Cambodia is a good place to gather some experience perhaps while you’re exploring the country. Most of the positions pay you at an hourly rate, anyway, and these schools won’t even ask for your working visa. Of course, hourly rates mean that you will be teaching part time, and you will get your pay but you won’t receive free housing nor health benefits.

Traveling with family

If you’re traveling with your family, and if you wish to stay in Phnom Penh with the hopes of raising your child here as well, you should probably entertain your second thoughts. The medical care here has improved in the past few years but your child could be in trouble if s/he gets drastically ill. The weather in Cambodia is very different from the USA as well, and if you’re looking for an air conditioned condominium unit, you might not be able to pay for it with your meager teacher’s pay.

Most of the foreigners teaching ESL here are unmarried. They travel alone and are prepared to weather it out just to gain experience. Teaching children who use English as a second language gives one training, and makes one more familiar with the structure of the English language. Most native English speakers, unfortunately, take this for granted because they were born with the ability to understand at least the basics of the language as well. Unfortunately, native speakers are also oddly enough less armed in terms of vocabulary, and most likely to commit grammatical mistakes as well.

How much are you willing to risk?

It’s alright to teach in Cambodia for a reasonable amount of time. Most people do it because they want to earn money while taking their “long vacations”. However, Phnom Pehn, Cambodia is hardly the “premiere teaching destination” some advertisements make it look. True, there are a few people who have decided to teach here for a long period of time, but they are truly in love with the culture of the country, the simplicity of the lifestyle, and their vocation to teach those who can’t pay for much for their education. If you can’t see yourself in that description, teach here for only a few months or not at all.

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