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Teaching English Abroad
Teaching English in Taiwan: Jobs and Resources
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Teaching English in Rural Taiwan

Koahsiung, Tainan, and Chiayi—little-known cities in southern Taiwan—are ideal places for serious travelers to fatten their wallets and expand their horizons when funds run low.

Long-Term Positions: The most common way to find a long-term teaching position is to go through a bu xi ban or private English language cram schools. The school will not only give you a job, it will also arrange a work permit and provide health insurance. The only real requirements are that you be a native speaker and have a bachelor’s degree (make sure to bring the original diploma with you).

Pay starts at around NT$550 (about $18 per hour) at the time of this writing. It’s certainly possible to get more, and there is no reason to take less. Some schools ask a teacher to work for no pay during the training period and take up to NT$20,000 out of the first few paychecks as a deposit against breach of contract. Although these may seem like reasonable clauses, they are often used to keep a teacher in an unacceptable working arrangement and they can usually be removed from the contract with a bit of bargaining. If not, there are a lot more schools; don’t be afraid to walk. The daily newspapers carry numerous ads every day, and Rickshaw, southern Taiwan’s monthly entertainment guide, runs ads as well.

Short-Term Positions: Working at a buxiban has some downsides as well—most importantly, a lack of flexibility that can prevent you from exploring the island and really delving into things Taiwanese. An alternative is to teach private classes.

Privates are generally more flexible and pay better than bu xi bans. They also tend to be harder to find, offer no training, and are less reliable. Technically, they’re also illegal, although the high demand for foreign teachers has caused the police to turn a blind eye.

Since they don’t advertise in the English language papers, the best way to find privates is just to ask other foreigners. Often, teachers who have been around a while have more work than they can handle and are happy to refer you to someone looking for a teacher.

The average rate for a private class is about NT$1,000 for an hour and a half. It’s possible to get more, but this is a good starting rate.

Working at a buxiban doesn’t exclude you from teaching privates. Most foreign teachers combine both steady work and higher-paying, short-term jobs, especially because it is impossible to get a resident visa if you work only in privates.

The most important thing to remember about teaching in Taiwan is that it’s easy to forget why you’re here in the first place. Taiwan is a fascinating, diverse culture with a rich linguistic and cultural heritage. Set up a teaching schedule that lets you meet your financial goals but leaves your the time to live and learn. A few lessons a week in Mandarin will help you meet friends and learn about the culture. So will taking the time to pursue your own hobbies and interests in the context of your new home. You may find yourself staying longer than you planned.

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