A Day in the Life of a Teacher in Cambodia


By Olivia Hart
A day in a life of an ESL teacher in Cambodia has been quite conventional, excluding the longest lunch breaks you’ll ever have. I was teaching in one of the biggest International schools in Phnom Penh and that meant around 12 campuses, each teaching around 500 students of all ages. The native speakers are teaching English, the Filipinos, Science and Maths and Khmer were obviously teaching Khmer. Up to grade 5 we also had local T.A.’s to help us with translations and classroom management.


Students have 6 classes every day and at least one hour of those is English (kindergarten and lower primary classes have got one in the morning and one in the afternoon).

I would recommend teaching in Cambodia to anyone that wants to start the day with the sunshine, delicious ice coffee and smiling faces of the locals.

When you start work, you get a curriculum, which you base your weekly lesson plans on, including printed out copies of the worksheets you are going to use and 3 (obligatory) weekly homework’s. You’re supposed to write the lesson plan on the weekend and give it to your campus’ coordinator on Monday morning. How you prepare your lessons is completely up to you but after a certain time all of the teachers on our campus used pretty much similar teaching methods and pace.

To start the day…
08:20am – Arrive to the Teachers room, get your stuff ready and get prepared for 3 morning English lessons that start at 8:30.
08:30am – The first hour of every Monday. No 45 minutes are easier for me, because we have a lot to do! Keeping busy allows things to run smoother and start your week productively. Also the students are more obedient after the weekend. The morning is usually quite calm and focused on writing or grammar.
09:20-11:20am – Second hour begins after a 5 minute break and the third hour follows. It’s clockwork, keep to the lesson plans and deal with the kids talking to much!
11:20am-01:30pm – Luuuunch breeeaaaak. Have lunch, have coffee, go shopping, have a nap, write your lesson plan (the lazy ones), correct your tests, go to the dentist, go swimming, save world hunger, you have the time to do it all!!!

01:30-04:20pm – Second part of the day, usually more focused on different worksheets, activities, basic games (not the fun ones like in Vietnam), reading and vocabulary.
04:20pm – The days done. So I sit on a moto and decide what is the plan for the rest of the day. Mondays are not really drinking-appropriate days so the pool with your friends, the gym or just chilling at home or at a bar are options I pick out the most.

Tuesday to Friday are quite similar although we usually reserved Fridays for some extra activities or tests. Saturdays and Sundays are off so you get plenty of time to party or do whatever activity you choose.
The good thing about teaching in Cambodia? You’ll have a lot of free time and little to zero stress at work. The parents (and consequently the students) give you a lot of respect because they are very eager for their children to learn English and teachers that stay for a while are valuable. Although the pay is smaller than in the surrounding countries, the lifestyle is very cheap so you can also save up enough to visit home or splurge on the beautiful Cambodian beaches.