Comparing the Schools and Comments

Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in Kuala Lumpur

October 11, 2015


Around the world, there are cities that have more than one international school. Many times there is an American school, a British School, and an international school that uses an international curriculum.

Some cities, though, have MANY international schools!  When that is the case, how do the comments about each school compare to each other?

This blog series looks at comparing some of these comments, all coming from international schools in the same city.

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Kuala Lumpur

Currently, we have 17 schools listed in Kuala Lumpur on International School Community.

Schools with the most submitted comments:
Newlands International School (51 comments)
Garden International School (21 comments)
International School of Kuala Lumpur (99 comments)
Mont’Kiara International School (27 comments)
Sunway International School (15 comments)
Taylor’s College (16 comments)
Alice Smith School (8 comments)

High Expectations for Teachers?

“The school’s workload is average. We certainly hear of neighboring (similar caliber) schools who expect a lot more out of their teaching staff. In addition to a normal teaching day, teachers also are expected to lead 2 after school activities (running 10 weeks long each) per year. Coaching satisfies this requirement. This is standard for international schools in Malaysia, as the government requires schools to offer ASAs. Some teachers work until 3:30 (official end of day), and others are consistently there until 5 or later. However, this is a matter of choice and personal work ethic, most often not because of additional duties required by the school.” – Mont’Kiara International School

“I dont think the workload is particularly heavy although the school has high expectations. A 100% teaching load comes with two non contact hours per day, slightly less in lower grades. In ES some of these blocks are taken up by co-planning and team meetings. After school meetings are twice monthly, relatively low compared to other schools” – International School of Kuala Lumpur

“Teachers usually take on one extra-curricular.” – Taylor’s College

“Teachers are trusted but a great commitment is expected. One after school club/week/term.” – Newlands International School

Language Background of the Students

“The students are mainly from the expatriate community of Kuala Lumpur and come from over 50 different countries. Malaysian students are only allowed to attend international schools if they have obtained approval from the Malaysia’s Ministry of Education. The GIS roll currently comprises approximately 40% Malaysian students, the second largest nationality group is British.” – Garden International School

“The Principal reminds the pupils every day to speak in English but some lapse back into Chinese.” – Newlands International School

“Chinese dialects, Bahasa Malaysian, some international sts.” – Taylor’s College

“The school requires students entering after kinder have been previously educated in English. I would say about 75% of the students are fluent in English, and the rest are in the ELL program. Students almost all speak English, even if they have friends who speak their native languages. I am not sure of the exact number, but I would guess about half of the students are native English speakers.” – Mont’Kiara International School

Housing Allowance

“The school provides an accommodation allowance of RM2,500 per month for single teachers, RM2,700 per month for married teacher with no children whose spouse is not working, RM2,500 per month each for married teachers, both of whom are employed by the school and RM3,000 per month for married teachers with children whose spouse is not working in the school.” – Garden International School

“For married housing you get around 987 USD a month; For single housing you get around 846 USD a month; For each dependent child you get 109 USD extra a month. No utilities allowance is given.” – Mont’Kiara International School

“The housing allowance is paid with the salary and is taxable. After tax for a single it amounts to appx 750 USD, for a couple, or with dependents it is more, up to about 1300 USD. Depending on area and size, it is possible to find accommodation in this bracket, though many people treat it as salary and just rent the place they really want for a bit more.” – International School of Kuala Lumpur

Salary Information

“As of next year, teachers will be paid in Malaysian RM. This is actually a positive change and will raise salaries that have gone down with the weak dollar. Taxes are between 12 and 20%, and teachers also contribute about 10% to EPF (retirement plan).” – Mont’Kiara International School

“Pay is good, with a great retirement (EPF) program that can go up to 42% of salary (including both employer and employee amounts). Teachers are paid 10 times (August through June) but in June they also get their July salary.” – International School of Kuala Lumpur

“Salaries are automatically paid into each teacher’s bank account at the end of every month, (usually on the 28th day of the month).” – Garden International School

“Beaconhouse have a real problem getting work-permits so much so that none of the eight foreigners at Newlands have made year two of their contracts. Some have been told to get out on returning from a Visa run. None have been able to stay to year two which means they have to pay a large fine to BH for breaking contract.” – Newlands International School

(These are just 4 of the 65 different comments topics that on each school profile page on our website.)

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If you work at an international school in Kuala Lumpur, share what you know. Consider becoming a Mayor for unlimited premium membership!

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Surveys

New Survey: Does your school have an official English-only policy on their campus?

July 13, 2014


A new survey has arrived!

Topic:  Does your school have an official English-only policy on their campus?

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Many veteran international school teachers have already figured out that there are a nice “handful” of these types of international schools throughout the world.  Some teachers and administrators think this kind of English-only policy is a necessity for the success of their students; others teachers and administrators are quite against it…strongly against it. After teaching at an English-only policy international school, some teachers will choose never to teach in a school like that again because of their negative and painful experience trying to enforce it on their students.

There are many cons to having an English-only policy at an international school.  It’s likely that it is giving the wrong impression of what being an “internationally-minded” person is all about.

downloadInternational schools need to think very smartly about the makeup (language background) of their student body because of course that can affect what the “language of the playground” is. When the makeup is not balanced in a way that hinders the target language level/goal of the majority of the students (that the school wants them to achieve to), then of course many schools resort to a English-only policy to try to counteract that (for example at international schools with a majority of host country nationals)…and it would appear that not-well-thought-out solution fails almost every time. At least that is what was happening at a number of international schools nowadays.

Just because English is the target language of most international school classrooms, doesn’t mean that English is the superior or dominate language of the school; and teachers and administration should let their students and their parents know this in a clear, organized, and meaningful way. One suggestion on how to do this is to encourage an interlingual classroom.  In an interlingual classroom, students are encouraged to use their home languages in the classroom.  This suggestion will most likely not only be a new experience for you as the teacher, but also for your students…as they may not be used to being able to do this. In turn, some modeling and explicit examples on how to do this in a lesson would be necessary.

Another suggestion is to support multiliteracies in your classroom.

Share what your opinion is on this issue, as there are many perspectives and experiences at a variety of international schools that need to be shared with the rest of the community.

Also, go ahead and vote on Does your school have an official English-only policy on their campus? Go to the homepage of International School Community and submit your vote today!  You can check out the latest voting results here.

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We actually have a comment topic related this to this issue. It is called: Describe language abilities of students at this school and what is the “common language spoken in the hallways”? Is there one dominate culture group?

Right now there are over 560 individual comments (about 100s of different international schools) in this comment topic on our website.  Here are a few of them:

“There is a 30% cap on Thai students in order to maintain an international population. The other largest groups as of 2014 are U.S. (14%), Indian (8%), Japanese (6%), Australian (6%) and British (5%). Approximately 50 nationalities are represented in total. Most of the students are fully fluent in English, and unless with a small group of friends who share similar backgrounds, they tend to use English.” – NIST International School (Bangkok, Thailand) – 29 Comments

“The school requires students entering after kinder have been previously educated in English. I would say about 75% of the students are fluent in English, and the rest are in the ELL program. Students almost all speak English, even if they have friends who speak their native languages. I am not sure of the exact number, but I would guess about half of the students are native English speakers.” – Mont’Kiara International School (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) – 27 Comments

“ASM is truly an international school. The school strives to maintain what is called the “magical mix”, meaning 1/3 is American, 1/3 is Spanish, and 1/3 is from all over the world. For this reason, the English level is extremely high. A mix of predominantly English and Spanish is spoken in non-structured environments around campus.” – American School Madrid (Madrid, Spain) – 27 Comments

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How NOT to Save Money

How NOT to save money when working as an international school teacher #3: Send money home every month (Mortgage, College Debt, etc.)

May 25, 2014


We all hear about the big possibility of saving money while working at international schools, but the reality is that many of us don’t save much of any money.  So, why aren’t these international school teachers saving money?

How NOT to save money when working as an international school teacher #3 – Send money home every month to pay your mortgage, college debt, etc.)

DSC_9710Not all teachers decide to move abroad because they have a sense for adventure. It is because they need to save some money to pay off their debts; which we all know is something hard to accomplish as a teacher back in your home country!

Do you have a similar story?  You just finish getting your Bachelor’s degree and teaching license at a good university (working part-time as well of course). Then you take out one loan (a big one at that) to do your 15-month Master’s degree programme (while continuing to work part-time!).  Finally you receive your license and luckily get a teaching job straight away. You just start getting into the world of the working adult while just starting to pay off your student loans. The payment is so small each month, you hardly see any of your loan amount going down. Then you hear about a programme that states if you work continuously in a school of high poverty for five years, that your government will take some money off of your total loan amount. Finally after working six years and getting a part of your loan paid off by the government, you find it is the right time to finally teach abroad like your friends are doing.  Unfortunately, you DSC_4746still have some of your student loan left to be paid (even after you receive the help from the government).  Also during this time, you bought a house and now have a mortgage payment as well.  Deciding it might be a good idea to rent out your house while you teach abroad, you continue to own it while you set off to your first placement.  To make a long story short, you have two monthly payments that are not going to stop anytime soon.

So the big question is, do you work abroad to save money to pay off your loans or do you work abroad to enjoy the wonderful expat life of traveling and exploring the world?  Can you do both?  Many of us try!

Your original goal of paying off your debt with all this extra money you are making teaching abroad might not happen as quickly as you had originally hoped.  I mean there is always another break coming up and a trip to be planned! And I don’t need to remind you that you might also find your travel money dwindling away as you continue to make those student loan and house payments.  Thus the cycle continues; whatever savings you start to have to help you pay off your loans just gets sucked away into whatever you need to pay for at the time.  There are always things that come up here and there that you need to put your savings towards: deposit for your new apartment, helping a family member in need, etc.

Of course, the easy answer to finally pay off your loans is to just simply stop traveling and going out to eat all the time, but of course that is easier said than IMG_0061done.  Maybe you can earn some extra money by tutoring some kids at your school, but then that takes away from that wonderful expat life as well…causing you to stay late at your school.  I guess there needs to be some give and take somewhere to help you achieve your goal. Where are those international schools again where you can have it all (paying off debts while continue to live the wonderfully exciting life of an expat)?  I’m not for sure they exist.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  Maybe after 8-10 years of working abroad you finally have your financial situation under control. You find that you have enough extra savings to make a one-time payment to pay off the rest of your student loan.  Yes, you’d rather use that money to take a trip to the Seychelles, but you know it is something you must do and the time is finally right to do it.

The goal of finally being debt free is a good goal to have. Can you just imagine the life of an expat international school teacher who is debt free?  Now at last you will be saving thousands each month!  {If only it were that easy!}

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10250675_670889319613030_1138008231_nTo save you some money, we do have a comment topic on our website related to this theme.  It is in the benefits section of the comments and information tab on the school profile pages. It is called: Average amount of money that is left to be saved.

‘Depending on lifestyle and housing expenses you could save around $10,000US a year.’ – Green School Bali (Denpasar, Indonesia) – 44 Comments

‘The amount that can be saved depends entirely on how teachers choose to spend their money. It’s entirely possible to eat at nice restaurants daily and stay in accommodations that cost 50,000 baht per month or more. However, it’s also possible to stay in a decent condo or apartment for 20,000 – 30,000 baht per month, and spend much less on food and other necessities.’ – NIST International School (Bangkok, Thailand) – 29 Comments

‘You can save about 1000 USD a month once you are settled and are able to budget yourself. Of course, the less you do, the more you save.’ – Canadian International School Bangalore (Bangalore, India) – 18 Comments

‘A single person, if they choose to live modestly, could easily save $1000-$2,000 a month. The EPF program also is an automatic savings (retirement) which is an additional savings of $1,000 a month through school and self contribution. That money also earns interest while you live in the country.’ – Mont’Kiara International School (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) – 27 Comments

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