How to Teach English in Taiwan
Finding Work in Taipei and other parts of Taiwan
Taiwan is an excellent place to teach ESL. Traditionally seen as working holiday type jobs that people only spend a few years on, English teaching is fast becoming a viable career option due to the rising demand for ESL education in Asia. Â While many teaching jobs in the region - especially entry level ones - have similar requirements, salary, and benefits, there are definitely some unique features to the market of each country. Spending some time and effort to find out which country is right for you is very important, whether youâ€™re an ESL beginner or a veteran looking for a change of scenery.
Teaching English in Taiwan offers a lot of great personal and professional benefits. Itâ€™s an excellent chance to learn Mandarin Chinese in a more immersive environment while still bringing in a paycheck. Jobs vary from lower level private institutes which are great for those who teach ESL to have fun and travel, to universities and other higher level work that are also great for more career minded teachers. There are also plenty of things to do in Taipei and other larger Taiwanese cities, as well as plenty of beautiful scenery in the more rural and remote parts of the country. The locals are also known as some of the friendliest and most laid back in Asia. But teaching in Taiwan also has its downsides - such as startup costs, finding a job with a reputable employer, and the possible need to string together a few part time jobs when you are first starting out. This article goes into some of what to expect when finding a job teaching ESL in Taiwan.
First of all, compared to other Asian countries such as South Korea and Japan, itâ€™s more difficult to secure a teaching job in Taiwan from overseas, especially one where your plane ticket and other benefits are already provided for you. It is much more common to have some money saved up, move to Taiwan without a job lined up, and hit the ground running. So while in one sense the barrier to entry (qualifications - a four year college degree is required to teach in the country) is low, in another sense (financially), it can be higher than elsewhere.. Many teachers fly in, look for work on a tourist visa, and then do an expensive visa run out of the country to get everything in order. This is done because you can not obtain a working visa in Taiwan itself. (The practice is also common in other Asian countries. When I taught ESL in South Korea, my second job required a visa run to Osaka, Japan to get my working visa in order).Credit: John Redway
Further complicating things is that some places in Taiwan prefer teachers who are already registered and have longer term visas (such as a previous work visa or residence permit). So if you do find a job, make sure that they can also sponsor your visa. I have heard this is more of a common issue in the southern parts of Taiwan, such as Kaosiung. For those ESL jobs able and willing to sponsor a work visa for you, the main document you will need is a copy of your college diploma. There are also other documents typically requested (which your employer will submit to Taiwanese immigration) - including copies of your resume, passport,and a health check certificate.
Types of Jobs Available
What kind of ESL work can you find in Taiwan? Â Itâ€™s important to note that the vast majority of ESL teaching jobs in the country are geared towards teaching children. For most first timers, many of whom are not experienced or licensed teachers in their home countries, this means teaching kids at a private institute (called buxiban in Mandarin). The quality of these positions vary, as do their salary and benefits. Many entry level jobs will be around 1,500 USD to 2000 USD a month. The benefits arenâ€™t quite as solid as other Asian countries (such as South Korea, where Â most jobs include free housing), but itâ€™s still enough to live comfortably on.
That is, however, if you can find a single full time job. While itâ€™s certainly not a hugely difficult task to find one, many ESL teachers in Taiwan rely on stringing several part time jobs together to earn decent pay.
There are many more options available for those with qualifications and experience. Unlike South Korea or Japan, teaching English in a public school in Taiwan requires a teaching license in your home country. University jobs - one of the few ways to teach adults in Taiwan - typically require Masterâ€™s Degrees or Ph.Ds. Note that if your degree was comprised of more than 50% online credits, you will not qualify to teach at a University in Taiwan. This is something to keep in mind for experienced ESL teachers, many of whom earn online degrees while working full time jobs in Asia.
Taiwanese Culture and Lifestyle
Of course, life outside of work is an important part of living in a foreign country. While some people have difficulties interacting with Taiwanese people and adjusting to Taiwanese culture, most agree that Taiwanese people are some of the friendliest and laid back in Asia. It should not be very difficult to make friends, at least in the larger cities. Taipei has plenty of English speakers and chances to meet Taiwanese who have experience living abroad. For those who want to learn Mandarin Chinese - whether for professional reasons or to improve your social life - there are plenty of good Universities to learn the language. Compared to some of its neighbors, Taipei at least does not have a huge drinking culture, though there are some nightlife districts, such as the Taipei City Hall area which has plenty of bars and nightclubs. Itâ€™s also easy to find Toastmasters clubsand other special interest groups for networking with both Taiwanese and expats alike.
While other countries in Asia are probably better for the long term ESL teacher, Taiwan still has a lot to offer. Its higher startup costs and slightly higher difficulty of finding jobs are offset by the lifestyle and travel opportunities it has to offer, as well as a great chance to learn Mandarin Chinese in an immersive environment while still earning some money.