Speaking good English for many Asian people is an excellent plus when it comes to apply for work or placement in prestigious national universities and Western schools.
As a result, there is a multi-billion dollar ELT industry and a huge demand for English teachers throughout Asia.
Taiwan relies heavily on international trade to succeed as one of the world economic leaders, and with English being the international language of business, it is no wonder that teaching English in Taiwan has become a solid industry with many English teaching jobs available. These range from positions in high schools, to English cram schools (aka bushibans or buxibans), to kindergartens, to adult business schools, etc.
Although English is taught at school many Taiwanese students of all ages attend extra classes at private language schools or take courses in conversational English through their employer to improve their oral skills, making Taiwan a teacher’s market. No matter whether you want to teach in the middle of Taipei or on the Taiwan’s East coast, there are many job opportunities for everybody.
Students are of all ages and occupations: preschoolers, primary, secondary, college & university students, housewives, business people, professionals, etc., and even some senior citizens, all looking mainly to improve their conversational skills.
The best jobs are in Taipei, and (to a lesser extent) Taichung and Kaohsiung. Taipei is a very international, cosmopolitan city with a lively nightlife. Kaohsiung tends to be more laid back, cheaper and offers easy access to beaches.
Hiring criteria vary and some schools will employ foreigners whether or not they are native English speakers or have any experience whilst others insist on Anglophones and relevant educational qualifications; the most commonly requested qualifications are a degree and a TEFL Certificate.
Since the downtown in the economy, finding work is becoming more competitive and employers are demanding more; these days a TEFL certificate is almost a must in most places.
Schools hire both full time and part time teachers, preferably between 20 and 45 years of age. More mature teachers (45-60 years old) are considered if there is no supply of new blood, as it were. So if you are in the latter age group just be patient.
Native English speakers from Canada and the USA are highly sought after as there is a bias towards North American accents which are usually preferred over British or Australian, etc (but don’t let this put you off if you’re not from North America – many other nationalities work in Taiwan).
The typical full-time employee can expect to teach is 15 to 25 hours per week. Many teachers increase their income with private lessons in their spare time.
As a prospective teacher it is highly recommended that you apply for a visitor visa in your home country before leaving for Taiwan. This is a longer term visa allowing you to stay in the country for up to 6 months and can be easily extended by simply visiting the local police station in Taiwan to have your passport stamped.
Not having a Visitor Visa and relying on a Visa Free entry (valid for up to 2 weeks) or on a Landing Visa (valid 30 days) will result in you having to leave the country for a period of time and then re-enter to satisfy the requirements for visa application.
- To have your work permit you need to have an accredited degree which must be notarized at the nearest Taiwanese embassy.
- Only a Visitor Visa can be converted into a work permit.
- A 30 day Landing Visa cannot be converted into a work permit.
- You can start teaching for the school only after receiving your work permit.
When applying for a visa tell the Taiwanese Embassy you will vacation in Taiwan (as opposed to teaching) so you can get a 60 day Visitor Visa.
Note that for teaching jobs it is not normally necessary to have a criminal records check or to get the Alien Resident Certificate (ARC) which you will require once you begin work. However, you may be asked to produce one if you apply for an Alien Permanent Resident Certificate (APRC).
Pay & Conditions in Taiwan
Pay will vary depending on where you are living, with the bigger cities paying more. If you have a degree and a TEFL certificate then you can expect slightly more than teachers who do not.
Prices are significantly lower than, for example, the US. An entry level salary is around $1500 USD (€1187, £954) per month which is plenty enough to live on but this can go up to over $3000 USD (€2374, £1909) per month for well qualified and experienced teachers.
Living in Taiwan can be great fun and tremendously rewarding. It’s an incredible country to discover both as a tourist and a resident. Rent is anywhere from about $350 USD (€277, £223) to $600 USD (€475, £382) per month depending on the apartment and monthly living expenses range around the $1000 USD (€791, £636) figure if you are having a very good time!
Being careful with your money will allow you to save!
The schools tend to be quite good compared to other Asian countries although you may need to prepare a lot more of your own material for lessons rather than be given a book to rely upon.
Criminal Records Check – necessary to teach in Taiwan.
Teaching English in Taiwan – more info and resources on teaching in Taiwan