Taiwan is seriously a hidden gem and it largely remains undiscovered by travelers from the West. Taiwan is steeped in history not to mention controversy and it wasn’t until the 1990s that Taiwan succeeded in becoming the first real Chinese democracy. Contrary to popular belief Taiwan is modern and popular culture has really blossomed. There are very few places that you can find a fusion of Chinese, Japanese and Western culture and influence all blended into one. With delicious food, interesting and fun festivals, vast and awe-inspiring temples, and alluring islands and nature, Taiwan is truly an amazing and bewildering place to not only visit, but to also work. So it’s no wonder that it’s becoming a popular destination for both experienced and new ESL teachers.
English teaching positions in Taiwan offer ESL/EFL teachers the unique opportunity to work in a number of reputable institutions from public and private Taiwanese schools to private language schools that specialise in English instruction. At the same time, you’ll be able to experience an exciting life while immersed in a culturally rich, historical, and subtropical country.
Taiwan has really come a long way when it comes to English instruction. It has of late become the ‘it’ place to go for those ESL teachers interested in teaching English and living in Asia. The Taiwanese are serious about education, especially English and with majority schools in Taiwan being reputable you’ll earn some great international teaching experience. Couple that with the stunning scenery of mountainous terrain merged with modern cities with impressive coastlines, you’ll have the time of your life working as an English teacher in Taiwan.
While working as an ESL teacher in Taiwan, you’ll have the opportunity to work at public and private schools. If you manage to score a gig teaching English in a Taiwanese public school, you’ll have the ability to earn a substantial living compared to the local cost of living. You could earn anywhere between NT 60,000 and 70,000 ($2,000-2,400 USD) every month. Not only will you pocket this each month, it’s likely you’ll also be offered performance bonuses and completion bonuses. Most public schools in Taiwan will start you off on a 6-12 month contract; however, if they’re satisfied with your performance, it’s very easy to renew your contract.
Public schools in Taiwan also usually offer a housing allowance to their foreign teachers – they really respect their foreign English teachers and you’re almost guaranteed to be treated like a king or queen while you’re there. In some cases you may even be given a return airfare on the completion of your contract and by law, your employers must give you national insurance and at least 10 days of paid holidays.
If you’re ready to pack your bags and jump onto the next plane to Taiwan to teach in a public school, you need to know that the standards for hiring foreign public school teachers are quite high and all candidates have to be certified to teach their subject in their home country.
Another option for ESL teachers wanting to work in Taiwan is to work at a private school teaching English. Teaching salaries at Taiwanese private schools are slightly lower than that of the public school and a teacher with one or two years of teaching experience can expect to earn between NT 40,000-62,000 ($1,400-2,100) every month. However, compared to public schools in Taiwan, the private schools do have more generous holiday times and a teacher should be entitled to approximately 20 days of paid days off throughout the school year not including Taiwanese National holidays.
Even though the salary is slightly lower, working at a private school as an ESL instructor in Taiwan does have its perks. Almost all schools offer reimbursed airfares on contract completion, medical insurance and an accommodation allowance. The great thing about working in a private school is that if you work more than your scheduled hours, you’ll be paid overtime, something which is not offered at the public school. Getting a job in a private school in Taiwan is much easier and all you need on top of your regular bachelor’s degree is an accredited TEFL qualification and in a few cases, previous teaching experience.
Taiwan’s also known for its buxibans, or more specifically its ‘cram schools.’ Some of the popular buxibans that come to mind are Hess, Kojen, Joy, and Giraffe. A lot of foreign ESL teachers looking for work while traveling through Taiwan often start out at a buxiban, but as they quickly learn the ropes about teaching English in Taiwan, they swiftly leave and most foreign buxiban teachers leaving within a year.
Image is very important in Taiwan, which is why English native speakers are in hot demand. They are definitely interested in your qualifications, but they’re also very interested in what you look like. There’s no such thing as ageism and sexism in Taiwan and if the owners of the school want to hire a young blonde over a very experienced and well-qualified older ESL teacher, they will without hesitating. Surprisingly, if you’re from Asian descent or a little bit Asian looking despite having grown up in the US or the UK and never visiting Asia, you might run into more difficulty because to the Taiwanese ‘native’ generally means ‘Western looking!’
After reading all of this, you might still be confused about where Taiwan actually is – it’s a densely populated island, which is its own country, southeast of mainland China. With well over 23 million inhabitants, there are a lot of eager people lining up to learn English. Known for its high-quality IT production, there’s also a great demand for business and technical English.
If you think that Taiwan is all skyscrapers and overpopulated cities like the capital, Taipei, you’re misguided. There are a number spectacular sights and visiting the East of the country, where it’s overpower mountains look down on lonely villages is an absolute must. Another impressive place in Taiwan is the Taroko Gorge and this really can’t be missed if you’re a lover of the outdoors.
The currency of Taiwan is the New Taiwan dollar (NT), however, the US dollar is widely quoted and accepted as is other major currencies. Despite the generous salary that a good teacher can earn in Taiwan, the cost of living is very cheap in comparison giving you a great opportunity to save or blow it all on more exploration of Taiwan or further afield.
Cheap meal for one: £1.86
Pint of local beer: £1.08
A regular coffee: £1.40
0.33l Bottle of water: £0.40
One-way ticket on local transport: £0.40
Starting taxi tariff: £1.55
Modern 1-bed apartment in city centre: £295
1-Bed apartment outside city centre: £193
Taiwan is a wonderful experience and it’s not your average over-crowded Asian country – it definitely has its own charm. Taiwan is economically strong, which is why it’s unlikely you’ll ever get cheated and with its gorgeous lush mountain ranges and its pristine beaches, you can’t help but fall in love with this mysterious and still largely unexplored Asian isle.