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*Neil Dutfield is a 26 year old marketing graduate from England who is currently teaching English in Taiwan. I asked him to write a little bit about what it’s like to teach English there, what’s the money like, does he enjoy it etc. He got back to me with this… So if you’re interested in teaching English as a foreign language – read on!

 


Having travelled though most places in Southeast Asia, Taiwan was a place that I unfortunately didn’t get to visit, until now.  We (my fiancé and I), had originally planned to leave Australia, where we were living, and teach in Korea ( Editor: more about teaching in Korea  here) which is where we first met (ever the romantic…). However, thanks to the stubbornness of the Korean Embassy in Australia we decided to head to Taiwan (To get a visa I would have had to fly back to the UK and apply there…no thanks,   and when questioning this I was told ‘to respect the Korean law’… ok then).

And what a decision it turned out to be! Taiwan is a fantastic place filled with natural beauty, is rich in culture and the people are extremely friendly. The Taiwanese tourism board have certainly done a good job in hiding Taiwan from the western eye – I say this based on the fact I have hardly seen any foreign faces here…

Teaching English in Taiwan
Neil Teaching English in Taiwan

We came to Taiwan without teaching jobs lined up, and were able to find something relatively easily. I searched online and also dropped into some schools with my CV in tow. It is a lot easier to get a teaching job if you have a teaching certificate (obviously), but I was still able to get a job with only my Bachelors degree, although I did have an online TEFL qualification too.

I currently work for JOY English school which is a buxiban (or cram school), where children come after they finish school to study English. JOY is a cram school chain with many schools throughout Taiwan making it a very reputable school. If you have a real teaching certificate from your home country you are able to work in a public school (which my fiancé does). However, if you are like me with no teaching certificate you’ll be best served working in a cram school or kindergarten, where just a degree is suitable.

JOY English School Jhongli
JOY English School Jhongli, Taiwan

I’m pretty new to teaching English but you get training at the school and you will improve as you go along.  As with anything, practice makes perfect and teaching is no different.  I’ll fill you in with a quick rundown for  teaching English in Taiwan:

Age group: I teach a variety of ages ranging from 8-15. Some jobs can be for specific age groups or you can teach adults but I’m finding it fun and challenging teaching different age groups.

Hours: I’m in school from 3.30pm to 8.40pm Monday – Friday, with the occasional Saturday thrown in (8.30am-12.30pm). Most cram schools require you to work Saturdays as this is when the kids aren’t at school. However, you should really try and refrain from working at the weekends so you have time to explore the island! You could try working at a Kindergarten which have daytime hours. However, it is technically illegal to work at these and you could risk deportation if you get caught (I have heard some pretty interesting stories in my short time here!)

Money: Generally speaking you will make between $500NT ($17US) – $600($20US) an hour. However, there are jobs at smaller cram schools which can offer more than this. As a first time teacher, working at a chain school has given me additional training and support so I would thoroughly recommend this route for first time teachers. This is more than enough to rent a flat, eat out, pay groceries and enjoy your time in Taiwan (so make sure you can get those weekends off!!). I guess I earn around 40, 000NT a month (around $1400 USD)

I’ve been very fortunate so far with the people I have met in Taiwan with all the teachers at JOY making my experience so far even better – not to mention the kids…

Sun Moon Lake
Sun Moon Lake in Taiwan

I’ve been here for nearly 5 months now, and there is still so much to see and explore. Teaching English allows me to have good interaction with people but it is also allowing me to explore Taiwan too. If you have the opportunity to visit Taiwan or live in Taiwan I would thoroughly recommend it!!

 

*Neil has kindly offered to answer any questions you guys have about teaching English in Taiwan so feel free to comment below or send me a private msg and he’ll get back to you 🙂

Need more case studies? Visit CaseStudyHub.com – there are a lot of sample case studies and guidelines.

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31 thoughts on “Teaching English in Taiwan – Case Study

  1. I taught at joy English School in Madou, Taiwan a few years back. now I need proof that I taught there for another job but the website in English does not respond in order for me to communicate. Please help me.

  2. Would like teaching in Taiwan,but prefer working w adults,,,from what I’ve read here,it’s mostly about youngsters,,,I already hv lots of experience teaching English all over the world,,,Do any of you know if specific schools/jobs which don’t involve children? Thanks for any input,really enjoying this site!

  3. Hi! Thank you guys for all the information posted here. Very helpful indeed.
    Anyways, I’m Filipino, and my husband works in a factory in Taiwan right now. I wanted to teach in Taiwan not only because he’s there but because I really want to work abroad. I’m currently proposing a research problem (the last requirement I need to obtain my masters degree in Biology) so after 5 months or so I’m pretty sure I have that degree in my hands. However, i don’t have a teaching license plus my nationality is somewhat a drawback as most filipinos work in factories in Taiwan. I am enrolled in the top school in my country but im not sure that would be a strong argument. Currently, I dont need a teaching license because I can teach in Universities here in my country. But u know the pay is not that good so I really wanna venture abroad. Please share any advice or opinion you have about this matter. Will I be able to land a job in Taiwan in case I go there. I’m also getting ready to visit Taiwan by February 2016.
    Thank you everyone. Looking forward to your comments.

  4. I’ve been in Taiwan for 8 years also and I’m a white female. When I got here I was 38. Now I’m 46. It makes a huge difference, especially for women. It’s harder to get jobs if you’re over 35, unmarried and don’t have an APRC. Older men have a bit easier time than older women, especially if they’re married to a Taiwanese woman. If you want an adventure/ experience, it’s good to come here when you’re younger and have some time to spare.

    Any Taiwanese citizen with cash in hand can open a buxiban. They don’t have to know anything, at all, about teaching (anything), administration, management etc. They don’t need to know English at all to open an English teaching buxiban.

    If you want to get a *real* job here, like working at University or a government run school (not private), you need at least an M.A. degree in something related to education/ linguistics. For practicing law, something to do with electronics, translation or some other niche, you must be fluent in Chinese and have the credentials. Some foreigners get sick of working for buxibans so they open their own buxiban, or start an editing/ consulting firm for helping people improve English brochures, letters to get into college, etc.

    Note: if you want to learn Chinese (Mandarin), it’s better to start learning before you come. Enough so you can have a remedial conversation, understand, be understood, read a bit. Most schools do not support your learning Chinese. They want you to represent in every way a foreign culture and language. Schedules change often, buxibans will not put aside time for your lessons. They are purely businesses, they don’t care about your personal life. They don’t care what you get out of the culture, they care what you can do for them. If you already have a good scaffolding, it’s tenfold easier to build on it than to start here from zero.

    Schools that recruit people from overseas and provide housing do so for specific reasons. So they own your ass. Your ARC and digs depend on them, you don’t know shit about the laws and only superficially about the culture, so you’re perfect fodder. They’re not going to tell you anything that will give you more power. It’s great for people who are young and don’t mind viewing the culture from behind that safety net. Not so much for people with experience or those who are older.

    My advice, save money while you’re here, unless you’ve got a gold mine waiting for you back at home. Make your experience count as much as possible. Unless you plan to put down roots here, which is very tricky and requires giving up your citizenship elsewhere, have a plan B and a plan “and then,” too. If you’re a functional drunk, you’ll be fine, although you’ll probably spend most of your earnings on beer or shots or whatever you’re into. Know that, no matter what your personal beliefs or logic dictate, no matter if in your home country puffing on certain stuff is no big deal, it could very well land you in jail here. You don’t want to be in jail.

    If you’re female, know that typical feminine attributes will help you, but don’t go all beauty queen in an office full of females. No matter if they’re all wearing shorts that only cover half their asses. They’ll look at you as the enemy. Dress nice, but not too sexy. If, on the other hand, if you’re more of a tool-belt girl, unless you find the right fit, you’ll lose points for that, too. If you’re not into Taiwanese men, it will be slim pickins in terms of any kind of relationship, since most of the non-Taiwanese men here have a penchant for Taiwanese women. That’s a whole other story.

    Older women who are already married to western or european men and whose children are adults and are on a middle class adventure spree with a house to come back to also do ok if they have an MA and experience and are here for a fixed period of time.

    I’ve run out of steam. There is some great food here (I think), I like the language, things about the culture, there are some beautiful places in nature if you get out of the city. There are a lot of good reasons to come here. Everything I wrote about buxibans is general, there are always exceptions. Your personality, enthusiasm and ability to go with the flow all play a part, too. It’s actually easier to come here with very little experience, depending where you’re from, so you don’t expect certain treatment.

    Lastly, if you’re teaching kids, if you can do magic tricks, juggle or play the guitar, that should give you a leg up. One more thing, foreigners teaching kids under school-age (kindy) is illegal. No school is going to tell you that. Yet there are plenty of schools who employ foreigners to teach kindy. Every so often there will be a raid and you’ll have to book it off campus or to the roof or wherever if you don’t want to get deported.

  5. Thanks for being in Taiwan and appreciating it! Came across your blog while researching for what to do in Split, Croatia, and what a nice surprise, enjoy more traveling!

  6. Hey guys,

    I just had a couple of queries – so at the moment I am in my final year of my degree at Uni and I’ve pretty much decided I want to teach English in Taiwan for a while after my degree. Currently I have no teaching experience although I know I can go to Taiwan with just my degree however I am a little nervous about teaching from scratch. Would you suggest its ok to just go to Taiwan and get help from the schools there whilst teaching or am I better to do a CELTA/TESOL to boost my skills in all areas of teaching and improve my skills in general?

    Also I’ve noticed that in Taiwan a lot of the schools are wanting a one year contract although as I’ve never been to Taiwan, I’m just slightly worried if I got there and I didn’t like it (which I doubt) or if I didn’t like the school that I’d be tied into the contract. So I was wondering if there are schools that offer like 3 month contracts or if there was a problem do I just walk out or would it have implications as I’d signed a contract i.e. would I be able to get a job at a different school/would I have to apply for a new visa etc..

    Lastly, as this will all be a totally new experience for me .. am I best heading for the capital Taipei or should I possibly consider Taichung/Tainan and also before traveling there should I try to find a job/apartment before I go or should I just turn up, crash at a hostel for a couple weeks and job/apartment hunt like mad when I arrive?

    Thanks a lot for your help, it is greatly appreciated!!

    Regards .. Stu

    1. hey stuart, personally mate i’d always get a TEFL first (ideally, if you can afford it, a CELTA) – it gives you so much more confidence and a much better idea of what is going on.

      If you get a job before you go, you always run the risk of getting a bad gig. It’s not permanent though, and there are always ways around moving positions – it might be tough but it’s certainly possible, i know teachers in Korea who have done this before for sure. Generally though, you’ll have to sign up for the 12 months – 3 month contracts aren’t common as they’re not conducive to learning. It’s not fair on the kids with teachers changing all the time :S

      For where to live, just get your google on, do some research, contact couchsurfers from the region etc – it’ll come down to personal preference 🙂

      1. Hi Stuart,
        I agree with Johnny – it would definitely be a good idea to get a TEFL before going away as it will give you some knowledge and confidence for teaching. I got mine before I came to Taiwan, and having that extra bit of knowledge certainly helped.

        I came to Taiwan without a job as thought I could get a better job but without a teaching degree the best jobs you’ll find are in cram schools working evenings.. As a first time teacher I’d recommend getting in one of the chain schools such as Joy or Hess (for the first year). You probably won’t get paid as much as an independent cram school but the good thing about the chain schools is that training is provided before you even enter the classroom so you’ll be well prepared. You can sort this out before you head to Taiwan so you don’t have to stress about finding a job (it took me about a month to find a job from scratch).

        Unfortunately you will have to sign a one year contract. However, if you do not like the job or school you find yourself in, you can always find another teaching job and they can transfer your ARC over (so effectively you’re not stuck at the same school should you not like it).

        In terms of location, if you go to Taichung you will definitely need a scooter to get around as it’s a big place. In Taipei everything is more accessible because you can travel on the subway (MRT) – giving you more options for jobs too. Taipei would certainly be easier, but as Johnny said it is definitely down to personal preference. I’m not sure about Tainan as haven’t been there yet (am heading there this weekend though but from what I’ve heard it’s quite small and quiet there – will let you know).

        Hope this helps and if you have any other questions don’t hesitate to get in touch!

  7. Hi guys,
    I’m just reading your comments about the different ways how to get a job as a Teacher in Taiwan. My situation is little bit funny too. I have a bachelor degree in English language and literature, 2 years experience in school teaching and tutoring, I’m white guy, but a native speaker. Give me an advice please, how to jump over this disadvantage and be abke to find a job there. I spent a vacation in Taiwan one month long and I just felt in love with this country. I’ll appreciate any of your comments
    Miro

    1. Hi Miro,

      From looking at you comment it seems everything is in order for you to be an English teacher so I would get applying. There are a few sites online that can be used to search for jobs in Taiwan (such as Daves ESL, and Tealit).

      I absolutely love Taiwan too – such a good place to live and everyone is so friendly!

      Good luck, and if you need any help, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

      Neil

  8. Yeah….its all in my article lol I’ve spoken to a few parents through contacts, and that’s also the general consensus. Either the parents only wanting white teachers or schools requesting them out of fears the parents will withdraw their money…i mean children =P

    1. u mean recommendation about teaching english mate? Sorry, it’s gonna be tough. People generally want native speakers, and even if they bend there rules and take non-native speakers they will still want to employ a white face (racist, i know but what can we do :S). Sorry mate!

      1. Thanks for your advice Johnny. Maybe I can find some other job. Your blog is very inspiring to people like me, who always dream of traveling around the world. 🙂

        1. Just to intervene here, Johnny’s right, as a non native English speaking Asian it could be prove extremely difficult in getting a job teaching English. However, there are some non native English speakers teaching in Taiwan (e.g. Italian, Austrian, and other European countries).

          Hope this helps,
          Neil

        2. If its any consolation, as a black person, i’m lower on the totem pole than you….even though i’m British….(now) lol.

          I’ve done a lot of research, as I’m writing an article about this and also hope to teach English in Asia, and the general consensus is that being white will get you in pretty much anywhere. I have a case study of a certified black teacher with experience who was passed over for an unqualified white applicant (had a degree, but no telf/celta/pgce etc). You would be shocked at my case studies lol But race isnt the only barrier, theres also nationality, gender and age – to name a few.

          I have been checking out/applying to different places with my friends – who are white – and they seem to be doing better than I am. But with that said, there are a number of people and programs that I have been in touch with who are happy to give everyone a chance, and treat everyone equally.

          The way I look at it, if someone doesn’t hire me because of the color of my skin, then thats not really someone I want to work for anyway. It’s a shame people just accept that thats just the way it is. But I guess if something works in your advantage you have no incentive to change it.

          Give me a shout on nandi.mundeta at yahoo dot com and I can send you some details of people and organizations who I have found to be extremely helpful. After my article is published, I will post it on my blog and hopefully that will be of some assistance to you.

          The important thing to remember is that its going to be hard, but it’s not impossible. Don’t lose hope either. There are a lot of fantastic organizations and people out there. It’s a big set back, but its certainly not something you should let discourage you.

          Best of luck you to. xx

          And sorry for yet another long post lol x

          1. hey nandi, just to step in – it’s not necessarily the institutions that discriminate against the colour of the applicants but simply that the wealthy parents of these kids demand white teachers. At the end of the day, the parents are the ones who pay for the running of the school through their fees so if they all ask for a white teacher then the school has to adhere to that, and there’s not a lot they can do. I’m not saying it’s right (far from it, i think it’s terrible) but I know that is simply a fact of the system in Asia. Sad but true.

  9. “I’m in school from 3.30pm to 8.40pm Monday – Friday”. Perfect. You can go drinking after work then recover until work. #winning!

  10. Whata great recommendation for teaching! It just makes me want to pack up and get out there.
    Thank you Neil.

  11. One more great post to get me hooked on the idea of teaching English – time to get that TEFL degree, just in case 🙂

    1. absolutely mate, you can get TEFLs for as little as $500 – a great investment for the freedom they can give you

      1. Thanks for the comment Joseph 🙂

        I think I actually got my TEFL for well under $500. To teach in Taiwan, and Korea you don’t need a TEFL – only a bachelors degree is required.

        However, by doing a TEFL it’s a great way to introduce you to teaching English as a foreign language, can give you good classroom ideas and is good to have in the locker should you want to pursue teaching at a later date 🙂

        1. couldn’t agree more – not a necessity for some countries but certainly a worthwhile qualification to have if you ever need to escape the ‘real world’

        2. I did an Oxford Seminars TESL/TESOL 100 hour course. It was part online, part in person. It is more expensive ($1195), but worth it. They go over a lot of material, such as dealing with disruptive children, teaching vocabulary, etc. There are tons of topics. Also, they include a job search adviser to help you find a job and prepare your CV, etc. YOu can ask the adviser anything. Very helpful.

          I am currently working at a single location cram school (A & F English School, not a chain) located in northern Kaohsiung. I have been in Taiwan since November 2014. It took me a month to finally sign the contract and start working but only 2 weeks to find a place to work. I applied to 17 schools, all of them were looking for teachers and would have hired me but I was looking for something with a more flexible curriculum. The place where I work, I can add things to the curriculum. A good example, all my classes now include singing Disney songs. If I worked in a chain school, I would not have that flexibility. I am getting paid $600 NT per hour, don’t accept anything less. I only work 16 hours a week though, which leaves me lots of time to travel and yet still enough money to save.

          1. Hi, I just have one question because I am really looking for a teaching job in Taiwan. Do you feel that English schools and centers in Taiwan only want native speakers? Because I am a Vietnamese girl, I have some teaching experiences and IELTS 7.5 and I plan to stay here in long-term. Do you think there is any chance I can be an English teacher here? I found it quite difficult because I am an Asian…

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