When it comes to teaching English, Taiwan may be one of the best-kept secrets. While most people opt for Japan, South Korea, China or Southeast Asia, Taiwan might actually offer a better deal. It is a secure and beautiful tropical island populated by ultra-friendly people.
On top of that, it has remained a teaching hotspot for years and instructors there are paid almost on par with South Korea and Japan. Yet, this small island often flies under the radar as a great place for teaching English abroad. As an added bonus, Taiwan is also less expensive than Japan or South Korea, which affords a comfortable lifestyle.
Do I need a certificate for teaching English in Taiwan and how to do I get a working visa?
For the most part, you do not need a TEFL, TESOL or CELTA to teach in Taiwan, but it may help if you have one. However, do not expect to waltz in and impress everyone with your TEFL certificate. Like everywhere in Asia, the manager of a school or owner prefers to judge you more on your personality and mannerisms during the interview process. In short, don’t be a jackass and you will land a job so long as you have a university degree.
It is possible to enter Taiwan on a tourist visa and then change it to a work visa. In my opinion, this is the best way since you will have a chance to first feel the country out, find areas where you are interested in living, talk to teachers and visit schools.
Of course, you will need at least a few thousand in the bank to hold yourself over before your first paycheck, but it is always better to fly into a country first if the country permits one to change a tourist visa to a work visa.
However, when entering on a tourist visa do not tell immigration that you plan on working there. It is always advisable to buy a multiple re-entry permit. This is the case anywhere in Asia. Sometimes it doesn’t pay off to be cheap.
How much money can I make teaching English in Taiwan and what kind of opportunities are there for teaching English in Taiwan?
Most teachers with little experience start off making about $2,000 per month, which requires roughly 25 teaching hours a week. The majority of Westerners in Taiwan are employed by what are called buxibans. Most newbies will find themselves teaching for one of the big buxibans (cram schools), such as Hess, Shane, Joy English, Kid Castle, Kojen and Sesame Street English. Expect a similar salary working for any of these schools.
However, there are teachers with at least a few years experience in Taiwan making $3,000 or $4,000 per month working for more selective institutes. Unlike other industries, working for larger companies in ESL does not equate with a bigger salary and often mid-sized or smaller companies offer the best working conditions and pay.
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In addition to buxibans, there are opportunities to teach for public schools. These positions usually pay around $2,000 per month but will offer more paid vacation time and holidays. This is generally the case anywhere you teach in Asia.
It is also possible to teach at a Taiwanese university, but this will require at least a master’s degree and preferably a degree in English, linguistics or teaching English as a second language. Unless you have a great inside connection, this is more or less the case throughout Taiwan and in the rest of Asia as well.
What is the cost of living in Taiwan and do schools pay for accommodation?
While the cost of living in Taiwan is relatively lower than the United States, Japan or Europe, schools do not pay for accommodation. However, a modern one-bedroom flat even in the capital of Taipei can be rented for about $500 per month and $300 in the countryside. Internet only cost about $20 per month and expect to pay around $70 per month on utilities.
A meal at an inexpensive restaurant cost about $3, a beer at a bar about $1.50 and $4 to $6 will take you almost anywhere in a taxi. On top of that, Taiwan is known for its inexpensive night markets where you can eat a cheap, but delicious meal before heading out for a night on the town.
Keep in mind that it is certainly possible to do a couple of private lessons on the side while holding down a full-time teaching position in Taiwan. If you are ambitious about saving money, then this extra cash can go straight to the bank along with anything else you can save.
How to start finding a job to teach English in Taiwan
If you would rather seal the deal before setting foot on Taiwanese soil, then some of the bigger chain schools, such as HESS do hire from abroad. Simply visit the websites of the larger schools and apply. You may also come across ads on Craigslist or ESL job boards. Despite all the ads that appear on Google searches, you do not need to HIRE A RECRUITER or have a TESOL, TEFL or CELTA certificate.
There are plenty of job opportunities in Asia for Westerners, but prospective teachers should definitely consider teaching English in Taiwan.