Choosing to live and teach in Taipei is like giving yourself a huge gift. As the hub of cultural, political, and academic life in Taiwan, Taipei has all the pull of a big city, but with an added low cost of living and fresh culture that makes it an amazing place to live and teach abroad. Taipei features unique architectural sites, like the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall as well as hot springs, national parks, and Maokong, once the largest tea grower in Taiwan, so teachers will never run out of stuff to do outside the classroom. All of these features, along with a societal emphasis on education, come together to make teaching jobs in Taipei an exciting venture into the Chinese speaking world.
Home to 24 universities, Taipei is a city of education and learning, and therefore, teaching opportunities are plentiful. Fortunately, there are many types of teaching job opportunities in Taipei. The most common type of teaching job in Taipei is in the realm of teaching English. Like the U.S., Taiwan has both a private and public school system, and both require various subjects, which includes English.
Private Schools. Private schools in Taipei include language schools and private grade schools. As in the U.S., the curriculum at private schools is more rigorous, and therefore, teaching jobs in Taipei at private schools can be more challenging. Teachers should expect lessons and projects to be monitored more heavily and individual student involvement to be higher than in teaching jobs at public schools. This may be daunting for first time teachers, but consider that many schools have a 100 percent English policy, and the challenge becomes much easier for new teachers with limited Chinese skills. To teach abroad in Taipei, in addition to a college degree, you’ll likely need a TEFL certificate; certification that includes 120 hours of coursework is commonly preferred.
Public Schools. Those teaching in Taipei at a public school will have the opportunity to control lessons much more, as public schools entail much more open curriculum. Teachers usually work a traditional Monday to Friday work week, but face the challenge of differing class sizes, limited resources, and students with greatly varying levels of English proficiency. Public schools will expect teachers to have at least a year of teaching experience or a degree in education as well as a teaching certificate.
Private Tutoring. Depending on the type of school you choose to teach at, you may only be working in the morning hours or afternoon, especially if you work with a younger age, like kindergarteners. If this is the case, you can fill time and add money with private English tutoring in Taipei. Tutors can make anywhere from $30 to $40 an hour teaching English in Taipei to school children, people prepping for business overseas, or anyone looking to improve their English skills (which is everyone). As a native speaker, finding teaching jobs in Taipei can be as easy as leaving your apartment or using Google effectively, and many teachers find clients through directly through their schools.
Taipei is largely considered one of the most liveable and easy to adjust to cities for expats. It’s less polluted, more friendly, and cheaper than other Asian cities and many teachers who make the move end up extending their contracts. Many teachers site the ease with which they meet people and make friends, making it hard to leave. Taipei is also a convenient city, and no matter where you live you’ll be in walking distance of shops, grocery stores, and cafes.
If you’re a health nut, there’s trails and courts scattered about town and if you love heights you can climb to one of the many observation decks on Taipei 101, the second tallest building in the world. In terms of getting around the city and travelling abroad, Taipei has efficient and clean public transit (but heads up it stops at midnight) and flights to nearby vacation spots are cheap. Anything you put on your abroad bucket list, you’ll be able to check off here, and you’ll add a whole bunch of stuff you didn’t even know about.
Taipei is a capital city with all the typical lights, perks, and costs. Compared to other places in Taiwan, Taipei is expensive, but for Westerners, it will be easy to support daily needs and wants. Teachers can expect to make anywhere from $1600 to $2700 each month, depending on the school placement. Keep in mind that some schools have moved to hourly pay over salaried positions, so be aware of this before you sign your contract and make sure your hours are guaranteed.
Most schools will offer reduced cost housing for teachers, whether in a single apartment or more dorm-style housing. If not, they will most likely offer you a housing stipend, leaving much of the choice up to you. A nice apartment with two to three bedrooms could run you about $500 a month, but like every big city, real estate comes in all shapes, sizes, and costs. Many expats prefer living in the neighborhood of Tianmu, which is home to most of the international schools, Westernized buildings, and diverse cuisine.
For Westerners coming to live and teach in Taipei, living well is surprisingly cheap. A delicious meal costs $1.50 to $3, and a local drink about $2, which leaves plenty of money for traveling, your savings, and enjoying Taipei’s exciting night life. Travel to and from the U.S. averages at about $1500, but most teaching jobs in Taipei will pay for your round trip ticket and give you paid time off to spend your hard earned money exploring. Another perk of teaching in Taipei is the possibility to pay off student debt, something most U.S. teachers don’t enjoy as freely or quickly.
If you plan on securing a teaching job in Taipei before you arrive, as mentioned above, your host school will likely help you secure housing. Additionally, most host schools or placement providers will help you secure your work visa, as long as you can provide them with your college diploma. However, if you plan to arrive before obtaining your visa, it is possible for most nationalities to obtain a 90 day landing visa. Once you begin your teaching job in Taipei, your school will then need to switch your exempt status to a visitor visa and start the process of acquiring your work permit. Be aware you will need to get a health check, similar to a physical, as well as obtain an Alien Residence Card, or ARC, both of which only some private or international schools will cover.
As far as housing goes, Taipei has a huge expat community making it easy to find a roommate or a spare room if your host school doesn’t provide pre-arranged housing. However, your school will most likely help you find a place in walking distance or short subway ride from your school within about two weeks or less. Another perk of teaching in Taipei is that apartments are bigger than you might expect from other large cities around the world for about a third of the cost. A two bedroom split evenly can run you only about $185 a month. Be wary of fifth floor illegal apartments, which are unsafe, run super hot in the summer, and often have roof leakage. They typically unregistered and unfortunately, frequently rented by unknowing Westerners.
For the latest info on Taiwan’s visa requirements, check out the GoAbroad’s Taiwanese Embassy Directory.
A huge benefit of teaching in Taipei is the chance to experience a culture unfound in the West, and to study and learn Mandarin, the world’s most widely spoken language. Language learners exposed to the Mandarin of Taiwan will be exposed to the ancient, traditional writing system that utilizes pictograms and radicals, an awesome glimpse into the China of yesteryears (er, centuries).
Taiwan is a different culture outside of the classroom as well as in it. Taiwan’s education system has different ideas about education than most schools or styles of teaching you are likely used to. For instance, it’s not uncommon for each lesson plan to need approval and for teachers to spend a large portion of time working on memorization and repetition with students.
Taiwan is for comrades and dissidents alike. Whether you’re drawn to the milk tea, the beautiful tropical climate, or to the hard working, dedicated students eager to improve their mastery of English, those who choose to teach abroad in Taiwan won’t soon be disappointed.