These days, many young adults from the United States, Canada, and other Western countries are moving to Asia to teach English. Teaching English in Asia is a great way to experience a different culture, travel the world, and find adventure. Although Asia attracts teachers from many different countries, teachers from the U.S. are at a particular advantage. For some reason, many Asians are fascinated by the United States and really want to move there. (Don't worry, Canadians, I didn't forget about you. There are about 4 or 5 Asians who want to move to your country, too.)

There are two specific reasons why living and teaching in Asia presents a rather odd scenario for an American:

  1. The students you teach are trying to get into a college in the U.S. because they desperately want to escape Asia, and
  2. You came to Asia as a teacher because you desperately wanted to escape the U.S.

The image of America as "paradise on Earth" isn't limited to students; many Asian adults also want to come to the United States, but since they find it difficult to move due to job responsibilities and family obligations, they can only cherish the opportunity for their children to go there.

Regardless, here are some general tips about living and teaching in Asia.

Tip #1: Teach your students how to use sentence variety.

English as a Second Language logo
Comedy as an accidental second job.
Asian students probably already know that good writing requires sentence variety, but many of them may not understand the specific grammar rules for composing simple, compound, and complex sentences.

A simple sentence is the same thing as an independent clause. It contains a subject and a verb, and it expresses a complete thought. A compound sentence contains two independent clauses joined together by a coordinating conjunction. Complex sentences, however, are a bit more complicated because they involve independent clauses joined by one or more dependent clauses.

When a complex sentence begins with an independent clause and contains a subordinating conjunction in the middle, no comma is required. For example:

Jill noticed that a certain "coldness" had begun to develop in her relationship with her husband after having a spontaneous and confusing yet oddly satisfying homoerotic encounter with Susan in the ladies room.

But when a complex sentence begins with a subordinating conjunction, you must use a comma at the end of the dependent clause. For example:

After having a spontaneous and confusing yet oddly satisfying homoerotic encounter with Susan in the ladies room, Jill noticed that a certain "coldness" had begun to develop in her relationship with her husband.

Tip #2: Prepare your stomach for a new diet.

Dirty water in Vietnam
As a Westerner, the world is your toilet.
Adjusting to the food of another culture can be a big challenge, especially if you're picky about what you eat. The Asian diet (with its cabbage, garlic, spices, and sometimes rather odd combinations of ingredients) can often make Westerners feel uncomfortable. And by "uncomfortable," I mean violent, explosive diarrhea.

This is the type of diarrhea that thunders downward into the toilet bowl with such force that you actually worry about the porcelain cracking…the type of diarrhea that forces you to clean your entire bathroom AND take a shower afterwards…the type of diarrhea that would convince your doctor to refer you to an exorcist.

The only advice I can give is that your stomach will eventually get used to it. But until it does, don't go on any dates.

Tip #3: Don't move to South Korea if you already have a "drinking problem."

South Korea is a land of excitement, craziness, excessiveness, and alcohol. If you are struggling with a drinking problem in your home country, then you probably don't need to move to a place where alcohol consumption is socially acceptable and very common. In fact, it is almost rude to NOT drink in South Korea.

But then again, what does "drinking problem" really mean, anyway? The phrase, "drinking problem" can mean so many different things to so many different people. I was accused of having a "drinking problem" in South Korea, but nobody ever gave me their definition of what they considered a "drinking problem" to be.

I remember my weekends in South Korea very well, and I usually didn't have ANY problem drinking until the sun came up before vomiting, destroying various forms of property, urinating in random alleyways, accidentally eating dog soup, vomiting again, getting turned down by women from every single country, losing my cell phone, or ending up in a special type of karaoke room with a half-naked hooker.

Tip #4: Make your students write "if-then" statements…especially if their English is bad. (Trust me, it's funny.)

I asked my Korean students to produce a list of "if-then" statements, and these are some of the examples they came up with:

"If someone kill you…then you die."

"If you kill someone…then you go to prison or die."

"If you jump from building's roof…then you hurt a lot."

"If I study English hard…then I will talk well by English."

"If there is hurricane…then I will crazy."

"If it winds…then the tree and anything will be fly."

"If I have ball…then I will exercise the soccer."

"If I can't have my spirit…then I feel confusion a lot."

"If it rains…then the building will be destroy."

"If it strange winds…then many people will be dangerous."

"If I buy game player…then I'm so fun."

"If I hit you…then you will be die."

"If I call you every day…then you will be happy."

"If you play computer game a lot…then you will be stupid."

"If I have a dog…then I will eat the dog."

Tip #5: When your English teaching job burns you out, write poetry to express your frustration.

Man teaching kids in Asia
"You gotta be fuckin' KIDDIN' me!!"
Korean English academies are called "hagwons." Students attend these academies after a full day of class at their regular schools. After spending a full day at school, they really don't like to spend six additional hours receiving intensive foreign language instruction. Would you?

* * *

Hagwon Hell

Up in the morning and down the road
To Hagwon Hell you go
The hours are long and the students are jerks
My friend, this is going to blow

Your students are stressed; they go to school all day…
They always do homework…they have no time to play

But it's not really their fault that they study too much…
Their parents are forcing them…to be doctors and lawyers and such

The economy is tough, and these kids are out of luck…
Because if they don't learn English…their futures are fucked…

And it doesn't really matter what dreams they hold dear…
If they don't study their asses off…they won't have careers

Up in the morning and down the road
To Hagwon Hell you go
The hours are long and the students are jerks
My friend, this is going to blow

These children have pressure, and they feel quite blue…
But when they vent their frustration…the target is YOU!!!

They shout and they whine, they insult and abuse…
And all they do is laugh at you…when you blow a fuse

The students are tired, and they don't give a shit…
They hate learning English…and they think you're a prick

You thought you'd love teaching, but after this year…
All you're going to care about…are hookers and beer

Up in the morning and down the road
To Hagwon Hell you go
The hours are long and the students are jerks
My friend, this is going to blow

* * *

Tip #6: (For women) Use your free time to try new hobbies, explore your own spirituality, or even write the novel of the century.

Because you're going to have free time. LOTS OF IT. If you are an unmarried, Western woman who has decided to teach and live in Asia, you are probably going to remain single for two reasons.

First, many Asian women here are attracted to Western men, and many of the Western men end up dating them. Part of the reason is that "the game" played by Western women doesn't work over here. I hate to generalize, but many Western women have the attitude that they are God's gift to all male creatures. When it comes to socializing, flirting, or dating, they just love it when men show interest in them because this puts the ball in their court and allows them to manipulate and control a vicious game that often results in useless male competition. Heedless of the social carnage and collateral damage being created, they allow their egos to be fulfilled by this destructive male competition right before they select the worthless asshole they originally planned on dating anyway. This particular attitude can be summed up in one sentence:

"I'm smart…I'm hot…I'm special…and he's going to have to work really hard to prove himself to me."

Sorry, honey…but no, he isn't. He's already dating the Asian woman he met last weekend…the Asian woman who isn't going to put him through the special form of hell that you had planned for him. She has an entirely different form of hell waiting for him after they get married.

…So, how's the novel going?

Second, Asian men are certainly datable, but many of them aren't going to move to the U.S. In fact, they will probably eventually ask you to marry them as they settle into their own jobs and lifestyles here in Asia. If you don't want to marry them, it's pretty much over.

…So anyway, how's that novel going?

Tip #7: (For men) Make your massage "special" without paying any extra money.

"Special" massages are relatively easy to find in Asian countries such as Thailand, Korea, and Taiwan. These massages are also much cheaper than they are in the U.S., but they are still a bit expensive considering that the paycheck you receive as a teacher in Asia is never going to make you rich.

However, there is a way to beat the system and get a "happy ending" without paying the extra money.

  1. Don't have sex or masturbate for three months. Allow the pressure to build.
  2. During these three months, consume lots of high-powered Korean Red Ginseng. (Ginseng is known for its ability to greatly enhance the male sex drive.) In addition to this, eat lots of oysters, figs, asparagus, avocados, cucumbers, almonds, garlic, bananas, eggs, basil, and celery. Take lots of vitamin supplements as well. Keep allowing the pressure to build.
  3. At the end of this three-month period, watch two hours of pornography. Make sure that the pornography contains lesbian action and massive orgy scenes.
  4. At this point, you will be so horny that you may even feel sick. Immediately after you finish watching the porno, go to a legitimate massage parlor and ask for a regular body massage. These are relatively cheap.
  5. You will probably find yourself laying on the table wrapped in nothing but a towel as a beautiful Asian women walks into the room and starts rubbing oil on your body. Keep fighting at this point…don't give in just yet. (When I'm trying not to think about sex, I usually dwell upon the historical implications of the Industrial Revolution in terms of its impact on 18th century international trade, the rise of the modern nation-state, the advent of the Information Age, and the resulting political effects of the globalized service economy…but that's just what works for me. Think about baseball if you must.)
  6. You will feel sweat pouring down your forehead as she continues to spread oil on your body, each motion becoming more and more sensual. At some point, she will smile at you and ask you what your name is. GAME OVER.
  7. After not masturbating or having sex for three months…after consuming a long-term supply of Korean Red Ginseng combined with aphrodisiacs and vitamin supplements…and after watching two hours of massive orgy scenes that could be described as nothing less than "titillating"…the combination of an attractive woman rubbing oil on your body, smiling at you, and asking you what your name is should be enough to stimulate an explosion the likes of which have not been seen since Mount Tambora erupted in Indonesia on April 10, 1815.

The poor female Asian masseuse who stimulated your explosion will probably not even realize what just happened. She may not even be in the Eastern hemisphere anymore. The power of the blast could have sent her all the way to the United States, which is probably where she originally wanted to go anyway.