Taiwan, also known as the heart of Asia, provides teachers with a diverse selection of places to teach and travel. Located just off the southeastern coast of China, south of Japan, north of the Philippines, west of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, Taiwan brings so many different cultures and people together from not only Asia, but all over the world. Although, the island itself is quite small, less than 400 kilometers long and 150 kilometers wide, it is a treasure trove of natural beauty, warm people, and tasty Asian food.
Taiwan offers many different delights for foreign teachers specifically; but, as with teaching abroad in any country, there are certain factors to consider when making your final decision of where and how to teach abroad in Taiwan.
Being able to find a country that suits your own desires and expectations, both culturally and financially, is one of the most important parts about teaching abroad.
The last thing you want is to end up teaching in a country that contradicts your lifestyle. So, to make sure teaching abroad in Taiwan will be a great fit for you, make sure you are fully informed on what to expect from the experience. Here are four of the most important things to consider when searching for teaching jobs in Taiwan:
1. The Value of Education
Taiwanese people are serious about their education. From kindergarten all the way to university, most locals spend the majority of their lives studying. Moreover, students start to learn English from a very early age; if parents can afford it, they start teaching their children English from as young as two years old. When students get older, many of them have a strong desire to study abroad, meaning they’ll need to take an English language proficiency test, such as the TOEFL or IELTS. Furthermore, the demand for English teachers in Taiwan continues to grow as the nation attempts to integrate more and more into the global marketplace.
2. General Teaching Philosophy
Taiwan’s education system is primarily based on mass standardized tests that determine a student's future. In most cases, a test will determine a student's placement over their actual academic grades. Therefore, students’ test scores are the most important part of their education. Taiwan’s teaching philosophy generally stems from this type of education system.
The local teaching philosophy should play an important role in deciding where you teach abroad.
For the most part, Taiwanese teachers are strict with their students and extremely focused on results over process. Since almost all classrooms with a foreign teacher will have a Taiwanese co-teacher, they will often expect a lot out of their students. Every teacher, whether foreign or local, will have their own teaching style, so co-teachers will typically give foreign teachers their space.
3. Teaching Job Opportunities
Types of Schools. There are two main types of schools where foreigners can find teaching jobs in Taiwan. The first are cram schools, which are after school programs designed to help students with their regular school subjects, particularly English. Cram schools are more often than not private schools with many locations around Taiwan. The second most common type of school where foreign teachers can find jobs in Taiwan are public schools, which are much larger and where most students receive their education. Additionally, although teaching kindergarten is technically illegal for foreigners in Taiwan, it remains a widely recognized and accepted way for foreign teachers to teach English in Taiwan.
Experience & Requirements. For kindergartens and cram schools, almost all teachers are required to have a college degree. Many schools will also want teachers to have a TESOL certificate or teaching experience; in fact, public schools and larger private elementary, middle, and high schools will require teachers to have a teaching certificate from their home country.
Hours of Work. Kindergarten hours start in the morning and finish in the late afternoon. Cram schools begin in the afternoon, around 1:30 p.m. or 2 p.m., and run until about 7 p.m. The average hours of work for teachers in Taiwan range from 19 to 33 hours a week.
Salary & Benefits. Foreign teachers are normally paid hourly and earn anywhere from 550 New Taiwan Dollars (NTD) to about 750 NTD. Teachers often make more than enough money to live a comfortable life, rent a nice apartment/room, travel, and go out with friends. There are also opportunities for private teaching and tutoring to earn extra money.
4. Life Outside of the Classroom
In general, Taiwan is an extremely warm and welcoming place for foreign teachers. If you are a lover of the outdoors, Taiwan is the perfect country for you. The majority of Taiwan is made up of mountains, about 60 percent of the country; mountains cover the middle portion of the country, and extend out to some of the coasts as well. Taiwan’s mountainous regions provide beautiful natural scenery and many opportunities for outdoor activities, like hiking and river tracing. Although Taiwan is a small island, there are a vast number of places to travel and see, hidden in the nooks and crannies of its mountainous terrain.
Taiwan’s unique geography also makes it possible for large modern cities (i.e. Taipei, Kaohsiung, Taichung) to be intertwined with natural environments. If you decide to search for teaching jobs in Taipei, you’ll be giving yourself the chance to see one of the world's tallest buildings, Taipei 101, and within thirty minutes, you’ll be able to walk around tea plantations in the mountains.
Taiwan is absolutely a country of convenience. In every city you can find convenience stores on every corner, literally. These stores offer everything from full meals and drinks to the ability to pay your phone bills or collect your mail. Additionally, public transportation is pervasive and inexpensive throughout the country, and extremely convenient. High speed trains run along the western coast of Taiwan, from north to south, and slower trains run around the rest of the country. Coach buses offer similar services for much cheaper prices, and some places are actually only accessible by bus.
Taiwan is located in the middle of the majority of Asian countries. This makes it a prime location for traveling all over Asia. With tickets that are relatively cheap to neighboring countries, the ability to travel outside of Taiwan is a major bonus of teaching jobs in Taiwan.
Taiwan is a country full of culture, friendly people, and natural beauty. Although, people tend to be more conservative in Taiwan (hugging is a big deal) they welcome foreign teachers with open arms, a warm smile, and a big bowl of beef noodle soup.
Now that you are prepared for the search, it is time to find a teaching job in Taiwan and begin your adventure!
This article was contributed by Reach to Teach Recruiting, an agency that provides ESL teaching placements in Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam, China, and Singapore.