What Is a Buxiban in Taiwan and Should You Teach at One?
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Buxibans are a key part of the English education culture in Asian countries, especially because they employ a lot of English teachers. If you are interested in moving to Taiwan to become a teacher, chances are that you would work at a buxiban or ‘cram school’, in Taiwan.
What Exactly Is a Buxiban?
A buxiban is basically an after-school program that provides additional education to students. They are not just English education classes. There are cram schools in Taiwan for most of the essential subjects – mathematics, music, art, and science. Most parents enroll their children to a buxiban to help them get their grades up to the incredibly competitive levels of the country.
Contrary to popular belief, not all cram schools in Taiwan try to get kids to learn as fast as possible. Most of them, however, try to ensure that their pupils have excellent test scores as this is crucial to a cram school’s reputation. The higher the reported test scores kids achieve at a cram school, the better its reputation and patronage.
How do Buxibans Work?
Buxibans are private businesses and they run from around 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Cram schools are popular in Taiwan and most parts of Asia because of a heavy dependence on skill testing from pre-school to college and even during career life. Therefore, most parents subscribe to several extracurricular academic classes for their kids.
Teachers in cram schools provide up to 30 hours of teaching to students every week to get them up to speed. These cram schools are highly competitive so they are always looking for an advantage to encourage more parents to choose them.
Buxibans hire native English speakers because of their experience and quality of language. Unlike before when cram schools just employed English speakers for show, the education standards are now high with most buxibans even have a structured curriculum of learning.
Pros of Teaching in a Cram School
Teaching at cram schools in Taiwan is quite lucrative. Even as a new teacher with the basic qualification of a Bachelor’s degree and not much experience, you could earn as much as NT$600/hour (about US$20) with other benefits. Experienced teachers can bargain for much more. There are also lucrative performance-based bonuses for teachers.
Getting a job at a cram school is also easy as there are many chains of cram schools run by foreigners and always in need of foreign English teachers. This helps you to build up your work experience which comes in handy when looking for other jobs.
Another benefit of teaching in Taiwan is the ton of new friends, experiences, and culture that you would be exposed to. For most teachers that spent time abroad, it is always a memorable chapter in their lives that is cherished.
Lastly, teaching children in a buxiban is rewarding. Teachers are able to work with students from the basic A-B-C’s to having full command of the English language.
Cons of Teaching in a Cram School
Buxibans are profit-driven businesses and your welfare as a teacher might not be a priority. Be sure to do your research about the different crams schools in Taiwan before accepting a teaching position.
Because you are teaching full-time with strict curriculums to work with, you may not have as much free time as you would like to travel and explore the country. Teaching in a buxiban is tasking and quite demanding.
You also have to have formidable classroom management skills as cram schools often have large classes with more than 30 children that you need to keep attentive for prolonged periods. This can be a daunting task for any teacher.
Should You Teach at a Buxiban?
Cram schools in Taiwan are an integral part of the society and also an opportunity for you to earn a decent living abroad. A teaching career in Taiwan commonly starts with some time at a local cram school and from there, the possibilities are endless.
Teaching abroad exposes you to a new culture, new friends and opportunities. If you plan on staying on for more than a year, learning Chinese would also help enrich your experience. Always do proper research about a cram school before accepting any employment contract.