Teaching English in Surabaya

When looking for teaching positions abroad, there’s nothing like teaching English in Surabaya. Surabaya (formerly Soerabaja) is Indonesia’s second-largest city and the capital of East Java province. It is located on the northeast coast of the island at the mouth of the Mas River (Kali Mas or Gold River in English). The city is one of the busiest ports in the country making it a hive of activity, and a place where world cultures come together.

Due to its role as the main trading city in the eastern region of Indonesia, Surabaya has become one of the largest cities in Southeast Asia. Today, the city’s population is around three million.

When you teach English in Surabaya, one of the first things you will notice is the beautiful Dutch influenced architecture. The city was once colonised by the Dutch, and this can still be felt today. Culture vultures also flock to the city to see Surabaya’s thriving Chinatown, Arab Quater and jaw-dropping mosques. As well as having one foot in the past, Surabaya also has one foot firmly planted in the future. While living in Surabaya, you will find malls, shopping plazas and a bustling night scene. 

When you’re not teaching, or exploring the city, you may find yourself trekking through Surabaya’s stunning mangrove forests, national parks and waterfalls. The mountains surrounding the city offer a great escape for campers and hikers, a firm favourite for English teachers in Surabaya.

City Statistics

  • Population: 6.5 million (Metropolitan area), 3 million (city population)
  • Public Transport: Juanda International Airport (Indonesia’s second largest airport), two main railway stations, taxis, motorcycle taxis (Ojek), buses and minibuses (bemo), rickshaws (becak)
  • Languages: Bahasa Indonesia, Javanese, English, Dutch (older generation)
  • Climate: Consistent tropical climate with average temperatures of 34°C
  • EF Flagship School: EF Surabaya Kayun
  • Total Number of EF Schools: 6

What Makes Surabaya Unique

  • Cuisine: Surabaya is known throughout as one of Indonesia’s culinary treasures. The city has a large variety of cuisines on offer that attracts tourists from around the country who are looking to expand their gastronomic horizons. Surabaya’s most iconic dish is Lontong Balap, a brown beef soup topped with longtong (rice cake), fried tofu, shallots, lento (fried mung bean cake) and sprouts.
  • Madura Island: An island off the Northeastern coast of Java, famous for bull racing. It was relatively off the beaten path for most tourists until the Indonesian government finished building the Suramadu bridge between Surabaya and the island of Madura. It is the longest bridge in the country. The island of Madura is also accessible by a ferry service which frequently leaves from Surabaya’s port, called Tanjung Perak (literally means: “Silver Cape” in Bahasa Indonesia).
  • Travel: Surabaya is well known as a hub for tourism destinations throughout Eastern Indonesia. Nearby Bali is a popular choice for a weekend getaway (only 45 minutes from Surabaya by plane!)
  • Surabaya Statue: This eponymous monument to the city is a unique attraction in its own right. The statue features a large shark (Sura) and a similarly sized crocodile (Baya) locked in combat.
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