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Teaching English in Taiwan
 
 
 

Most travellers who work in Taiwan pick up temporary jobs teaching English. Jobs teaching other languages, such as French, German, Spanish or Japanese, do exist but have a much smaller proportion of the market.

In finding employment with a language school, experience, teaching qualifications and references are not required but obviously help. On paper, a big issue is also made about accents, with the North American English accent being heavily favoured over British, Australian and South African accents in many language schools' sales marketing. However, in practice, many schools that advertise 'American English' and claim that their teachers are all from Canada or the USA, actually employ teachers from anywhere. Age is a factor, with applicants in their 20s seemingly being preferred. More than anything, appearance is probably the major factor in finding employment with most schools, and reliability and turning up on time for work is then the major factor for keeping your job.

However, in many schools there is a prejudice against teachers applying for jobs who are not of white Caucasian appearance, seen as the typical Western appearance in Asian countries. This is independent of whether or not the teacher has relevant teaching ability and citizenship of one of the permitted ARC (or Alien Residency Permit) countries. Many parents who send their children to schools to be taught English expect the teacher to look like they are from the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, and so on, and so the decision on the part of the school managers is mainly about economics. For those affected by this, it's a sad fact of Taiwan that is unlikely to change in the near future. Good employers without such prejudiced requirements do exist, but greater perseverance is needed when looking for them.

It is illegal to work without a work permit and an ARC, and legal work officially requires a university degree and usually a long (two month+) application process. However, illegal employment is easy to find with many school managers being willing to pay under the table for short durations. Be aware that if caught or reported, you risk criminal charges and could be deported. The government tends to waver from being very lax on this issue under one administration to suddenly taking action under the next; but remember that it only takes one disgruntled student to report you and have you fined and deported.

The regulations for getting an ARC do change from time to time and each administrative part of Taiwan has its own ways of handling them, so it is best to be updated and find out what the experiences of others are in your area. Do keep in mind, that you can only get an ARC for English teaching if you are a “citizen of a native English speaking country”. Taiwan's government defines these countries to be only the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and South Africa. Almost all teachers apply for an ARC through their employers only after starting work and it is tied to their ongoing employment with that school. Therefore, if the teacher wishes to leave their employment, they will have to quickly find an alternative employer or lose their ARC and hence be required to leave Taiwan. Also, very few schools will arrange an ARC without at least a year-long contract being signed.

A lot of the illegal teaching work that the majority of English teachers partake in is simply through private student tuition with payment being cash-in-hand. You can find a lot of private students around universities that have a Chinese-teaching department – look for the areas where all the foreign students will be and check the noticeboards. Because the majority of adult private students want to practise English conversation, you won't need to have any Chinese ability. However, it is definitely a selling point and, if you do have Chinese-speaking ability, it's worthwhile mentioning that in any advertising of your services. Also, once you have some regular students, remember that in Taiwan, as in most Asian countries, 'connections' or 'guanxi' are very important – if your students like you, they will in all likelihood recommend you to their family and friends.

Teaching English in Taiwan can be lucrative, as the salaries are very high compared to the cost of living, typically ranging NT$500-650 per hour before deductions in most language schools, with anything between NT$500-1000 per hour being negotiable for private students. In the past few years, the flow of would-be teachers into Taiwan has increased dramatically, resulting in stiffer competition for jobs as well as a general drop in wages and this trend may continue. On top of this, the Taiwanese dollar has been sliding in value over the past five years, meaning you get less and less for your dollar in foreign currency at the end of the month.

Besides English-teaching, other common kinds of employment available for mainly native English-speaking travellers include small acting parts for TV and film, voice talent (video games, dubbing tracks, etc.), editing and even writing educational materials. Many of these will be advertised on billboards in Chinese language-teaching institutes and universities, where there are likely to be many foreign students.

 

 
 

 



 


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