My path to becoming an English teacher in Taipei has certainly been an indirect and precarious route. But at the age of 22 I find myself here teaching my native tongue with no degree, no previous teaching experience and no experience working with children.
In my two months working here so far I’ve had a lot of fun and would strongly recommend that anyone thinking of teaching here give it a try.
Teaching certainly isn’t for everyone and every age certainly suites different personalities differently. For me the younger the kids, the more I enjoy it. I’m naturally extroverted and loud so standing up in front of a group of 4 or 5 year olds and trying my best to keep them engaged in learning the language is very natural to me. My brother on the other hand (also teaching here in Taipei) prefers teenagers and adults where he can have actual conversations with the students about things like cultural differences, movies, sports and music.
Unlike most teachers my brother and I do not have bachelor’s degrees. But luckily for us as young Canadians, we were able to apply for a 1-year working holiday visas and can work here for no more than a year. Though some jobs require a Bachelor’s degree to apply, this hasn’t been much of an obstacle. The demand for Native speakers is high enough that it didn’t take long for either of us to land positions.
Who can teach?
Teaching requires confidence, patience and an ability to adapt to different students. If you have or could gain these skills teaching could be right for you! To qualify to teach here in Taiwan there are two very important but not always essential prerequisites.
-1 Native English Speaker
The number one thing schools search for is a teacher whose first language is English. Adds often explicitly say you must have a passport from one of the 7 major English speaking countries; USA, Canada, Ireland, UK, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Some companies will only be searching for a teacher with a North American accent. But this is not overly common and should not discourage anyone without a Canadian or American passport.
It is certainly not impossible for someone who’s second language is English to land a job teaching here. I’ve personally subbed for a french teacher and have heard of teachers from many other countries.
-2 A Bachelor’s Degree
A bachelor degree is essentially the easiest path to an ARC (Alien Resident Card) work permit. If you have a degree from a University or College you can easily get sponsored by your school with very minimal hassle. But if you don’t have a bachelor’s degree you may be from one of 21 countries where young citizens can get 1 year working holidays to Taiwan. This process is more complicated as it requires a fairly thorough medical check, bank account check, criminal record check and you need to buy 1 years health insurance.
What teaching in Taipei is like
The types of schools in Taiwan can vary greatly from incredibly disorganized to very strict. I’ve seen some principals and bosses who can be very overwhelming and involved in the teachers lesson. I’ve also arrived on jobs where no staff spoke English, I had little to no lesson plan and could essentially do whatever I wanted. My recommendation would be to try and find a school somewhere in the middle so you do get some training but aren’t overwhelmed by the presence of a boss.
The teaching itself can vary quite a bit based on classroom behavior, size, level of English, age of students and any other number of variables. But for the most part I find every class you will walk away from feeling at least some level of satisfaction that you have helped students to learn a skill that will be incredibly valuable to them in the future.
How to get a job and what you will be paid
Facebook groups are the most common place that jobs are posted. The most used groups are:
-Taiwan English Teaching Job Openings
-Teaching English in Taiwan
-Need a Sub Teacher or Want a Sub Teacher in Taiwan
Jobs are generally in the $650 ($21 usd) an hour range although they can fluctuate by $100 or so either way. Also note, that this wage does not include travel and prep time so your actual hourly earning compared to work will be less.
Living in Taiwan as English teacher
I’ve hear Taiwan referred to as “Asia lite” and think this is very accurate. You still get the relatively low cost of living, different culture, and wonderful food of some of the more popular backpacker destinations around Asia, but without sacrificing all your comforts. There are many hiking trails around Taipei, toilets are more common than squatty potties and the super convenient MRT makes traveling around Taipei a breeze.