Does moving abroad to teach English, saving money and being able to travel sound like a winning plan for your future? Then definitely choose English teaching in tiny but tantalising Taiwan [https://www.britannica.com/place/Taiwan]!
Dubbed as the “Heart of Asia”, this lovely land will certainly captivate your heart with its majestic mountains – one [http://taiwan-adventures.com/hikes-and-trips/high-mountain-hikes/jade-mountain-yushan/] of which boasts the highest peak in East Asia at 3,952 meters – unique culture [https://lifeoftaiwan.com/about-taiwan/culture-festivals/], vibrant night markets [https://eng.taiwan.net.tw/m1.aspx?sNo=0002040], and friendly, hospitable locals.
Incredibly, Taiwan’s goal is to be a bilingual nation by 2030, raising citizens’ English proficiency to impact the country’s international competitiveness. This is good news for TESOL teachers seeking to teach abroad, where the teaching market is massive with opportunities for every type of English teacher. Here’s what to consider for your future in Taiwan:
The Hiring Process
In Taiwan, public schools have two semesters:
- 1st semester = September – February
- 2nd semester = February – June
Therefore, schools typically seek new teachers at the end and beginning of each semester. Keep this in mind as you apply before your optimal start date. Private language schools, on the other hand, recruit year-round for English teachers.
English teaching jobs can be found online, via websites or Facebook groups, and interviews will take place online. Reputable job recruiters are highly recommended whenever seeking a teaching job abroad for legal and safety reasons. One such is Teach Taiwan [https://www.teachtaiwan.com.tw/], who assist with recruitment and job placement and provide other services for obtaining permits, visas and settling in Taiwan.
Other companies/sites to check out:
Facebook groups to stalk:
- Working in Taiwan
- Taiwan English Teaching Jobs
- Teaching in Taiwan for South Africans
As always, do due diligence in vetting companies/schools/people thoroughly before signing any contracts. In addition, familiarise yourself with Taiwan’s labour laws to prevent yourself from being taken advantage of.
Taiwan’s School Types
- Public Schools
In order to work at a public school, you’ll need a degree in any field and have at least 1 year of teaching experience at the relevant level. If you’re already a qualified school teacher in your home country, this will be an advantage.
- Private and International Schools
With smaller classes and normal office hours, private schools are great options when choosing where to teach English. Private schools also offer paid summer and winter vacations. There may, however, be more pressure and high expectations in these schools as they are privately funded, and salaries are generally lower than or equivalent to public schools. International schools typically teach American or UK curriculum, and because of their generous salaries, teaching positions are highly competitive and require a teaching degree.
- Languages Companies
These schools, colloquially called buxibans or chain cram schools, are institutions where students aged between 4-15 attend after school hours for extra English lessons. Often, preparation for examinations as high test results is important to Taiwanese students. These language centres are excellent options for TEFL teachers with little teaching experience. Unlike other countries’ language centres, buxiban classes are rather large and your teaching hours will run late into each evening. However, it’s a rewarding job with good pay, potential performance bonuses, and the satisfaction that comes with helping your students progress and reach their goals.
If you have a Masters degree or PhD in TESOL, education or a relative subject, then you’re qualified to apply to teach at a university. These teaching jobs, however, are difficult to obtain, and pay will depend on your degree.
Salaries vary according to location and type of school. Public schools offer approximately 50,000-70,000 TWD = 2000 -2400 USD, while private language companies offer around 39, 000 – 58,000 TWD = 1400 – 2100 USD. For South Africans, you’re looking at a salary of over R20,000 pm.
Depending on your school contract, benefits can include a housing allowance, health insurance, paid vacation, flights and more.
Note that you will be taxed according to the number of days lived in Taiwan. Taxes will initially be quite high (approximately 18%), but the longer you stay, the less it will become (approximately 5%). You will, however, receive a tax return of around 13% if you correctly file your taxes the following year.
Despite Taiwan being one of the most expensive Asian countries to live in, you’ll still be able to live a comfortable lifestyle on your English teacher salary and save money.
Be prepared to enter the country with savings, as you will only receive your first paycheck a few weeks later. You’ll need money for the essentials in the interim.
According to Numbeo, a single person living in Taiwan’s estimated monthly costs amount to R11,954.48 (23,163.40NT$) without rent. Let’s take a look at where you’ll be spending your hard-earned dough and how it will stretch.
- Housing – Many employers may assist their teachers with finding accommodation and, as said, often give housing allowance as part of the package. The cost of apartment rentals differ according to cities, yet you should be able to rent a shared or single apartment for a relatively low price which may come furnished. You will, however, need to budget for utilities (water, electricity, gas) and internet, unless you opt to use the free WiFi out and about or at school.
- Food – Being one of the world’s best food destinations, Taiwan spoils its inhabitants with delicacies ranging from smokey lurou fan (braised pork with rice) to buttery pineapple cake. Taiwan also has an increasing vegetarian population who delight in organic produce aplenty. When budgeting for food, as with any country, it’s cheaper to eat the local way in Taiwan. This will include eating out rather than stockpiling in your apartment’s small fridge. Check out this site for an updated price list of food items. The good news is that there are many Western establishments you’re used to seeing to satisfy those cravings (cue the golden arches).
- Transport – Taiwan has fast and efficient public transportation services (buses and trains), for which you can purchase a monthly transport pass for around 1,280 NT$. Alternately, you could walk, invest in a pre-loved bicycle, or if you’re feeling brave enough to tackle the busy streets, purchase a scooter. Note that safety is essential, so always wear a helmet and obtain insurance and a local scooter license.
- Other – For phone and internet deals to be found in Taiwan, consult this [https://www.taipeitravelgeek.com/taiwan-sim-cards] helpful site
Requirements to Teach English in Taiwan
- Native/proficient English speaker with citizenship from a native-English speaking country (South Africa is on the list)
- TEFL/TESOL Certification
- Bachelor’s Degree in any subject
- Visa – The school you’ve secured a teaching position with may assist in filing for your work permit and visa, or you may need to contact your local Taiwanese embassy to learn about this required procedure to obtain a visa. Your visa will be valid for the duration of your teaching contract, which is usually 1 year. Part of obtaining this visa will include providing all the necessary documentation (i.e. clean criminal background and health check, academic transcripts, valid passport, etc.). Note that your school/company will assist you in applying for an Alien Residence Certificate (ARC) within 15 days from arrival. The ARC permits you to work in Taiwan for 1 year and will need to be renewed if you extend your contract and before your visa expires.
- Currently, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, upon arrival in Taiwan, a 14-day quarantine is mandatory at your own expense, including a test on arrival and after the quarantine period. Additionally, your school may require you to stay away for a further number of days.
Are you ready to start the application process to begin your exciting English teaching adventure in Taiwan? Let’s check off the first requirement by obtaining your TESOL certificate. Contact us today to join one of our level 5, internationally recognised and accredited TESOL courses. Becoming a TESOL qualified teacher really is your ticket to the world.