Travel & Teach - Taiwan
Welcome to a sometimes tense but always fascinating island, where teaching opportunities abound for the enthusiastic adventurer. But it was not always like this and Taiwan has had a turbulent past. In 1895, military defeat forced China to cede Taiwan to Japan, but it reverted to Chinese control after World War II. After the 1949 communist victory on the mainland, 2 million Nationalists fled to Taiwan. Since then the ruling authorities have democratised and incorporated the native population within its governing structure. In the 1980’s and early 90’s the island prospered to become one of East Asia's economic ‘Tigers’. With this has come an increased desire to communicate and the demand for English has grown – hence as a TESOL teacher you’ll be made very welcome here.
The question of eventual reunification with China is the dominant political issue for Taiwan. Inflation and unemployment are low with an increasing importance being placed on capital and technology intensive industries. Because of its conservative financial approach and its entrepreneurial strengths, it suffered less from the Asian financial crisis in 1998-99 than many of its neighbours.
Taiwan is an excellent first stop for the more adventurous novice teacher. Teaching work is plentiful and it is quite common to be approached to teach English if you stay in any one place for long enough. The students are relaxed and very friendly, although very traditional in their learning methods. Do not expect much in the way of school resources - to help combat this fact take plenty of materials with you. The English language is in great demand as tourism and international business booms, although much of the demand comes from school age children who attend out of school ‘crammer’ schools or ‘bushibans’.
Very few schools advertise outside of the country, primarily for reasons of cost. Generally teaching positions are arranged from within Taiwan or through an agency. However we are seeing an increasing number of advertisements for jobs being placed on the Internet, so check out TESOL job websites like (www.tefl.com).
British Council http://www.britishcouncil.org/
British Council in Taiwan: www.britishcouncil.org/taiwan
Taiwanese Embassy UK: http://www.tro-taiwan.roc.org.uk
Taiwanese Embassy USA: http://www.embassy.org/embassies/tw.html
Taiwanese National Tourist Office: www.tbroc.gov.tw
Need more info: Teaching English Abroad available through our bookshop page
Global English students are working all over the world with their accredited TESOL certificates. Find out
how TESOL training from Global English has made a difference to their lives:
Marie de Kock
I'm teaching kindergarten (ages 3 - 8) and cram school (ages 8-12) in a small town on the East coast of Taiwan. I work for the "Gervas American Immersion School", whose head office is in Taipei and I teach at their school in Touchen.
This is my second year in Taiwan; I am much better equipped to teach than last year when I taught while studying your course. Therefore I enjoy the teaching much more. My advice to anyone who wants to teach in Taiwan is to avoid agents at all costs. Direct employment with schools can be arranged - take a look at www.tealit.com (Teaching English and Living in Taiwan). Another bit of advice: Try to work on the Eastern side of the island because of the pollution, unhygienic lifestyles, chaos and congestion in the streets on the Western side. I'm travelling and seeing the natural beauty of the island and loving it.
If you want to have legal working status in Taiwan and therefore have a working visa you do need a degree and/or a TESOL Certificate. If you do not have legal working status you cannot have an ARC and therefore no health insurance.
The best place to find English teaching jobs is in the ‘China Post’ newspaper. They have a website – www.chinapost.com.tw - go to Education and click on jobs. Most employers will want to see you before they offer you a position. The working hours are often afternoon and evening time, except for Kindergarten, which is any time between 8am and 6pm. Work for kindergarten and cram schools is plentiful.
If you teach cram school children after school then you have time to go and study mandarin in the mornings, which many English teachers do.
I started about 1 month ago. Since I have started work here I have dealt with complete and utter culture shock. However...I adjusted quickly and am really enjoying my time here.
Our school is what's called a cram school. There are a lot of cram schools in Taiwan and the schools are quite competitive with each other to get students. Parents pay for their classes here. A cram school is kind of like an "after school - school" - that's why we usually don't start work until 3 or 4:50. Taiwanese people are very 'results' oriented.
I am currently teaching two primary classes. I use a lot of flash cards, we play games and sing a lot of songs. The kids here love to play games. Most of them are worked extremely hard in their other schools and games aren't often played (if at all). I have two 'middle school or junior high school' classes. I have to admit that these are my least favourite. Junior high kids are so hard to motivate. I have two classes with high school students. My oldest class is my favourite as there is no curriculum and I get to decide what we're going to do each day…I brought in one of my favourite songs, we listened to it and wrote the lyrics and talked about what they meant.
For each class that we teach we're given a syllabus which tells us what to teach when and what books to use. Classes are 1 1/2 hours each and you take a ten minute break mid-way through. They are always jam packed and you're lucky if you make it to the end of your plan.
I also teach two adult students in private lessons; Stella and Paul. He's the president of a steel manufacturing company. He's so smart and is learning so fast. I can't wait until we can really start to converse and understand each other.
All in all teaching is quite good and rewarding. It's an adjustment for me getting used to all of the prep work that I have to do for no pay in order to do my work. I also mark exams, create questions for telephone testing (that's when the Teacher Assistants phone the students at home and test them in English), create questions for oral exams and anything else...
I think teaching will definitely get easier as we go along. I've been taking my TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) course online and now that I'm actually in the classroom it's all making so much more sense to me!
Travel and Teach
Work appears to be fairly plentiful all year round, both in term time and in summer, as students often take extra classes in the holidays. The only quiet time appears to be in the months just after Christmas. Dress smartly for interview, as appearance is very important in Taiwan. Once there, world of mouth is the most likely way of securing freelance teaching work. Otherwise, there are plenty of reputable schools around, as well as a few less reputable ones as well, so watch your step. Accommodation is not usually offered with any position and is expensive in the big cities.
You might find the
guide to writing your CV on our site quite helpful here.
You can expect the very basic level of pay to be around $500 NT p/hour and you can easily make up to double this amount for freelance teaching. At first, you may have to travel to various locations to make up a full timetable. Alternatively if you are able to secure a contract, don’t settle for less than a basic rate of pay around $50,000 NT per month.
The tax rate at first is 20% and reduces to around 10% after 6 months. If you are successful in applying for residency then you are also eligible to apply for a rebate. Cheap medical cover can be obtained by joining the Taiwanese health insurance scheme.
Students are generally considered to be very friendly, welcoming and eager to learn. We have been told that the atmosphere in class more than compensates for the possible lack of teaching resources at the schools themselves. Eager students should also help to make your first teaching experience less daunting and much more enjoyable. A busy nightlife can certainly be found in the big cities, although travelling further afield to the smaller provincial towns also yields its own rewards. Working on a tourist visa is illegal and the regulations are increasingly being enforced. If you are planning to arrive and then look for work, you might want to consider applying for a single or multi entry visa before you get there. A resident work visa should then be applied for by your new employers as long as they can offer you at least 20 hours teaching a week. Be prepared for a rigorous medical examination and ensure you have your original teaching and other certificates with you. Be aware that work visas are only valid for the sponsoring employer, although many still teach in a freelance capacity.