Teaching English in Taiwan: A Guide to Everyting You Need to Know
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Taiwan’s is one of Asia’s most popular destinations to teach internationally and the abundance of jobs, good pay, and quality schools make teaching English in Taiwan appealing on multiple levels.
We’ve compiled together as much valuable information as we could for you to make the leap and find an ESL teaching role in Taiwan. The information includes – types of jobs, how to find them, requirements, visa processes…and of course, how much money you can make.
However, before we get into all of that, here’s a first-hand look at what you can expect if you decide to teach in Taiwan.
In Taiwan, most teachers are able to save around 50% of their salary over the year.
-Charlie from Charlie on Travel
What Are the Requirements to Teach in Taiwan?
The requirements for teaching in Taiwan ultimately depends on the type of school – public and private schools. Naturally, private schools have a few extra requirements, but first, let’s begin with public schools:
You will need:
- BA or Masters in Education
- A valid teaching credential from your native country
But don’t panic if your degree wasn’t specialized in education – alternatively, you can have:
- BA in any discipline whatsoever
- Valid teaching certification in your native country
- A full year of teaching experience in a Western public school
So as you can see, you can become an ESL teacher in a Taiwan public school with a degree in anything other than education…as long as you also have one year’s formal teaching experience along with your valid teaching certification.
To teach English in Taiwanese private schools, you will need:
- A university degree in full
- A minimum 100 hour TEFL certification
- A completely clean national Criminal Background Check (CBC)
Please note: Your CBC must be valid within a six month period or you won’t be able to get a work permit.
So private schools aren’t as strict on the classification of degree, but they are more so in the background check of the teacher and your level of time commitment in your teaching certification.
How Much Can You Make Teaching in Taiwan?
An estimated monthly salary of between NT$ 50,000-65,000 – here’s how it breaks down:
|School Type||Salary in TWD||Salary in USD|
|Big Chain Schools||NT 600/hr||$20/hr|
|Public Schools||NT 1050/hr||$35/hr|
|Foreign-run Buxibans||NT 1050/hr||$35/hr|
The Visa Process for Teachers in Taiwan
Legal Process for Obtaining a Visa
Legal requirements state that you need a resident visa permitting you to accept and even look for jobs in Taiwan. This means that it would be a good idea to look for a teaching job before setting foot in the country.
This would be beneficial from a convenience standpoint as well as a legal one, as the school that employs you would take care of your paperwork and your visa renewal.
The Visa Process
Step 1: Find a teaching job before moving to Taiwan
Step 2: Apply for a resident visa once accepted for a job
Step 3: Provide the resident visa to the school that employs you
Step 4: The school will arrange your paperwork
Step 5: Begin teaching in Taiwan legally
Alternative Process for Obtaining a Visa
However, it is not irregular for prospective teachers to come to Taiwan without pre-arranged employment. If you are of the following nationalities you can get a visitors visa from the airport to stay in the country for 2 weeks:
- New Zealander
If you choose to go to Taiwan through this slightly more spontaneous method, then a top tip for you is to apply for a ‘landing visa’. You can apply for this at a Taiwanese Consulate in your country of residence, allowing you to stay for 30-60 days (depending on your country of origin and the type of visa).
Please note: ‘Landing visas’ cannot be extended as they are not renewable.
When stating that your reasons for visiting Taiwan during your visa application, it would be a good idea not to mention that you are looking for work, as this is technically illegal – so remember that one!
After Finding Employment
After you have found a teaching role in Taiwan, you will then need to validate your resident visa by leaving the country. You must have a valid passport for a minimum of six months from the planned date of entry.
In the possible scenario that you don’t find a job before your visitor or landing visa runs out, you can partake in a visa run to a nearby Asian destination such as Thailand. See this as a refresh before you begin the whole process over again.
Applying for an Alien Resident Certificate
An Alien Resident Certificate (ARC) is required when arriving in Taiwan with the intention to work. Here is what you need for your application:
- Work permit
- Passport (6 months validity)
- Two photos
To avoid a fine, the ARC must be applied for within 15 days from the day you arrive.
Applying for an Exit and Re-Entry Certificate
If you plan to do a bit of traveling during your time in Taiwan (asides from the visa run) then before you leave the Asian country you are required to apply for an exit and re-entry permit at a nearby Foreign Affairs police station.
Where to Find a Teaching Job in Taiwan
The majority of English teachers teach in Private Buxibans (‘cram’ schools). These schools run courses at the elementary level all the way to university.
You can find many Buxibans all of varying sizes across Taiwan. Larger schools are naturally more reliable in terms of offering work permits due to their size being evidence of their stability.
A typical amount of working hours per week for a full-time teacher at a Buxiban is 15-25 hours. However, teachers have to spend additional unpaid hours planning lessons.
Here is some information on Buxibans with specific age groups of students…
Elementary and Kindergarten Level Buxibans
For Elementary and kindergarten buxibans, most schools do not require teachers to have previous teaching experience or certification, as they generally look more for enthusiasm and commitment. This is due to younger children needing less in the way of standard English teaching and more of someone who has a lot of energy.
Some schools will enlist the help of a Taiwanese teacher so that you would not be overwhelmed.
- Most elementary and kindergarten schools do not require previous teaching experience or certification.
- Some schools will enlist a Taiwanese teacher to help you adapt.
- Will require a lot of energy to teach younger students.
- Can be overwhelming to manage younger students.
High School and University Buxibans
Positions are rare in high schools and universities and you are more likely to find work in schools for younger children.
Although, if you make connections with the right people and introduce yourself to authority figures in English educational departments in Taiwan, you may find a way into a role.
Classes would include around 25 students and would still be an average amount of working hours of 15-20 a week.
It also goes without saying, that the teaching material would be much more advanced compared to elementary positions.
There is also the opportunity to teach at larger buxibans where students prepare for the ‘Test of English as a Foreign Language’ (TOEFL) exam. This is an exam that employers require for their non-native prospective employees to take to ascertain their proficiency in English.
These types of teaching positions in Taiwan can lead to higher salaries, which means that the requirements are more strict. You will need a full degree, some teaching experience and the willingness to do a significant amount of preparation for each class – so it is not a role you can just walk into!
- Can lead to higher salaries.
- Teaching material more engaging for passionate teachers.
- Positions are rare.
- Teaching material is much more advanced requiring extra preparation.
University English Night Classes
Teaching at these kinds of classes means that a lot will be expected of your abilities as a teacher. The students are very much eager to advance their English skills as they are often preparing for overseas trips for business or career ventures.
- A lot will be expected of your abilities as a teacher.
- The students are eager to learn
Private Junior, Middle and Elementary Schools
Since early 2000 it became possible for foreign teachers to get hired at these types of private schools. This is great news for someone who wants to live in Taiwan and pursue teaching as their full-time career.
- Opportunity to pursue as a full-time career.
- Work will be more demanding in a private school.
What It’s Really Like to Teach in Taiwan
Working as a teacher in Taiwan is hard work and challenging at times, but it’s a fun and rewarding cultural experience too. The ESL schools in Taiwan are private schools which most often have kindergarten in the mornings and later classes for secondary school students. It means that a teacher could be starting work at 8AM and not finishing until 9PM, though that’s rare. Most ESL teachers in Taiwan usually have at least 1 free period per day, though these can be at awkward times, depending on your timetable.
In Taiwan, the average teacher will work 25-35 hours per week. That time is the classroom contact time. Teachers are only paid for their teaching hours. Extra job responsibilities that are necessary – such as marking homework and writing to parents – are unpaid.
There are many jobs available for native-speaking English teachers in Taiwan, though there is a preference towards the American accent in Taiwan’s ESL schools. ESL teachers in Taiwan mostly come from the USA, UK and South Africa, though there are teachers from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other countries too. To be an ESL teacher in Taiwan, you need a university degree in English, education or a similar subject. However, you do not always need a TEFL or CELTA qualification to teach in Taiwan. In some schools, you are able to earn a TEFL on the job. In other schools, they will require a TEFL, so check when you apply.
In Taiwan ESL schools, the classroom is an English-only environment. This means you do not need to speak any Chinese to teach in Taiwan – and actually, it’s generally preferred that you don’t. ESL schools prefer to have a fully immersive English environment. Children start learning English from as young as the age of 2, and most English schools run courses for students up to the age of 16. The Taiwanese are very friendly and children are generally well-behaved due to strict rules. Many of the children are at school for very long hours and can be tired in English classes.
The monthly salary for an English teacher in Taiwan totals around 50,000 NT (£1000) after tax. Tax starts at 18% and drops to 5% after 183 days, and is reimbursed at the end of the following tax year. Though in comparison to a salary in your home country this might seem low, in Taiwan this is a very good salary for the cost of living. In Taiwan, most teachers are able to save around 50% of their salary over the year. A 2-bed apartment outside of Taipei would be approximately 2,000 NT (£236) per month and food in Taiwan is cheap.
Want more? Check out this video:
FAQs about Teaching in Taiwan
Do I need a college degree to teach English in Taiwan?
Yes, you will need at least a Bachelor’s degree to teach in Taiwan.
Do I need a TEFL to teach in Taiwan?
No, a TEFL is not a requirement to get a job in Taiwan but it can improve your chances and help get you more money.
Can I teach in Taiwan with a criminal record?
No, it will be incredibly difficult to get a job with any sort of criminal record.