Teaching English in Mongolia

- Mongolia

The following comments are from teachers who have worked, or are currently working, in Mongolia. If you are a teacher and have some advice about Mongolia, please share here.

There are lots of schools in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia's capital city, unfortunately not many of them advertise on the Internet. The best way to find work in Mongolia, which I've learned through experience is to get a tourist visa, for Brits you can get a 30 day tourist visa (ENTRY EXIT), for US you can get a 90 day visa free. If you find a job, the school organize the visa for you - this is advice I was given by a few ex-pats living in Mongolia and it worked out fine. They had a good time working and teaching in Ulaanbaatar. The schools are screaming out for English teachers and they will welcome you with open arms.

BEWARE of schools that offer you employment and send you a LETTER OF INVITATION for your visa, these schools often only provide you with a one-way entry only visa and because you travelled on their invitation you can't leave the country again without their permission, which means possible hefty fees, that shouldn't exist. Or they ask for money you don't need to part with.

The English Pub which you can find in the Lonely Planet is a good place to ask about teaching jobs and Dave the owner is generally quite helpful and if he doesn't know of any jobs, he'll definitely know someone who does!

Some schools:

No. 3 Joint Russian Mongolian School (state school) recommended by most people that have taught there, most of whom stay so jobs can be tough to get. $1000.

Success School of English - a new private school, the director is very friendly and helpful and can offer part time positions. Varies according to hours.

The American school of Ulaanbaatar (Canadian Curriculum!) - good and bad reviews regarding hours of work. $2000.

Hartford Institute (from Singapore) - same as above $2000.

Santis - I was warned about by a lot of people, Brits, Americans and Canadians, as the hours are not dissimilar to Hartford if more but pays less than half as much.

It's a bit of a culture shock and even though it is a 'developing country' it is non the less Third World.
Dan 25 February 2008

Be aware that Ulan Bator is the most impatient city in the world! Mongolians have no hesitation in jumping queues, will sound their car horns incessantly if their way is blocked (they don't brake for pedestrians even on a zebra crossing), and will push you in a crowd if it isn't moving fast enough. They will also just rush onto a bus without waiting for disembarking passengers to get off. Hazards include open manholes (where on earth do the covers go?), drunks, drunks, drunks, stray dogs, pickpockets and muggers. Many of the pickpockets are surprisingly well-dressed. Don't stroll alone at night. Perhaps the nomadic history of the people has resulted in a culture that seems unaware of pollution by trash - rubbish is just thrown outside, the city streams are sewers, and vodka bottles litter the countryside even. There are no gardens as other countries know them, and trees are regarded as almost a nuisance. I lived here half a year and never saw a flower. Indoors, Mongolians are hospitable, kind, and friendly - just don't expect smiles and courtesy in public places.
Mangawhio 15 April 2008

I am currently living and teaching English in Mongolia, but not in Ulaanbaatar. Ulaanbaatar is not the place to work in Mongolia - it has all of the usual big city problems - lack of safety and 100% pollution. Just 3 or 4 days in this city will affect anyone's eyes, sinuses, breathing etc. However, other cities and even small towns in Mongolia desperately need English teachers, and these towns are safe, friendly and although not clean, they are tolerable. I currently teach in the second largest city and it is totally safe. The people are friendly, and although third world, I am able to find most of what I need here.
Anonymous 15 August 2008

Most English teachers need a visa renewal after 6 months, and this requires a few days in Ulaanbaatar with this sh**** foreign office. What do they think - there's no social insurance to rip off. Ulaanbaatar is terrible in the winter, people seem to burn rubber from car tyres and rubbish... The best place to stay and teach seems to be Suhbataar, or even Darhan. Erdenet has some open-earth copper mines, and a lot of dirt from mining. Deep in the west, Khovd is a nice city to stay - green and rather clean. Bayan Olgii is also nice, mostly a marketplace and as cold as Lhasa.
Andreas 8 October 2008

More English schools in Mongolia have websites now. I work for Talk Talk English (http://www.talktalkenglish.mn) now and I've been very happy working here--but your mileage may vary. I think talk talk is a good compromise between schedule and salary. The American school is probably the best employer if you're only interested in how much you can save. They provide a pretty good salary and accommodation.
Anonymous 20 April 2010

If you come to Mongolia, teach outside Ulaanbaatar. You won't make as much money but you will spend much less and have a better time seeing what Mongolia is really about.
Dave 17 June 2010

I was in UB last winter for a week and the air pollution was the worst i have seen anywhere and i woke up every morning with a sore throat. But since my girlfriend lives just north across the border in Russia, i wanted to give it a try. I met a Mongolian on the plane who recommended Selenge, Mongolia but i can't even find it on the map. Can anyone recommend a better place to live and teach English in Mongolia than in UB? It has to be large enough to have a vegan restaurant. Thanks!
Nico 1 December 2011

I am currently working in Mongolia. I have been in THREE different schools and you must know that coming to TEACH here is mainly wasting your time.

Mongolia is a very corrupted country. Students DON'T attend classes at the university, but if they pay the fees they'll get a diploma (although they are not fluent, they will be "English Teachers", so you can imagine the English they are going to teach...) In the schools, children will not do any work (except, like in every place, a minority) but by the end of each term they will literally bore you with "teacher (sic), give me extra-points", or "what can I do for getting extra-points?". When the answer is: "Study harder for the next term", they will go to the principal/director etc. and he/she will come to you to say that you cannot give any F, because parents, prestige of the school etc. Finally they will receive a nice diploma saying that they have graduated with 98% (although they cannot say in which country Rome is)

Classes are kind of HELL. Children do not respect foreign teachers (although not violent, Mongolians are very racist and extremely nationalistic), -you just have to compare your class with those of the Mongolian teachers. It is impossible to have them in silence. When you tell them to sit down, they'll ask "why?", when you say that class is not over they'll ask "why?", when you say that 'because it's 10:20' they'll ask "why?", if they ask you: "where do you come from" and you answer "from Europe", what is the next question? Yes, believe it or not: "Why?" (it looks that is the only word they all know, however don't expect them to listen to your explanation. They just want to speak.

So, if you receive any offer from Mongolia, this is what you are going to find. Don't say that you didn't know ;-)
Sian 16 January 2012

Everyone's right about avoiding UB if you can. I love Darkhan, and there are plenty of schools here. I taught at one private school for two terms, and now at an English language training center. Taking a break for a bit, but learned a lot and look forward to teaching more. There are some people who've posted here who seem to have very narrow views of life here. The key in Mongolia is to accept every day, expect things to be out of your hands and learn from the experience of letting go and opening up to a culture that at its core, is about selflessness.
Michelle 5 June 2012

If you can handle the pollution UB is not that bad. I worked at about half a dozen schools and and enjoyed working there. Also, it was interesting that almost all these schools surprised me with T.V. cameras while I was teaching and put me on T.V.. Furthermore, some of these commercials were still running there a year after I left in 2010!!! Finally, I am sure I will be back there teaching again since my wife is Mongolian and so are my children.
Dennis 6 Jan 2013

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