Teaching English in Taiwan – Your Complete Guide
Bryn from Uniprep school in Taiwan has contributed to this guide to teaching English in Taiwan for us for those of you considering Taiwan teaching jobs.
Having lived and worked in Taiwan for over 7 years I’m here to teach you some basics about becoming an English teacher in Taiwan. Read on to find out the requirements, types of English teaching jobs in Taiwan, where to work and, of course, the salary.
Why become an English teacher in Taiwan?
Taiwan is a unique and beautiful country, with something for everyone. If you’re into hiking, technology, art, surfing, nightlife, or martial arts Taiwan is the place for you!
Unlike South Korea and China – whose visa regulations are complex, and whose horror stories are numerous – Taiwan’s regulations are loose enough to allow you a lot of flexibility in lifestyle. Likewise, Taiwan is a liberal, gay and foreigner-friendly, country.
Whether teaching English in the vibrant capital city of Taipei, the ever pounding cultural heartbeat of Tainan, or the Pacific kissed shorelines of Hualien or Taitung, teaching in Taiwan is a rewarding and beautiful life experience.
There is a great demand for English teachers in Taiwan and it’s pretty easy to find work there. Salaries are good for new English teachers and the cost of living in relatively low, meaning a nice lifestyle and the ability to save.
Where to work as an English teacher in Taiwan
Capital city Taipei is one of the modern Asian giants. Home to Taipei 101, once holding the title of the World’s tallest building, it’s a blend of ancient and modern, city and nature. From temples to museums, and Taipei’s famous night markets and street food, there’s always something interesting to do.
The advantages of living in Taipei are that it’s an easy place for a foreigner. There are also a lot of other foreigners in the city and amenities for English speakers, making great opportunities for a good social life.
On the other hand, the cost of living is more expensive in Taipei, particularly for accommodation. There are also a lot of English teachers, which can mean a lot of competition if you are a new TEFL teacher in Taiwan.
Kaohsiung is a port city, and thus an international location with a great demand for English. On the Southern coast of the island, it’s sunny all year and has beaches for relaxing, particularly on the small island of Cijin.
Salaries for Taiwan teaching jobs in Kaohsiung are similar to those in Taipei, but the cost of living is lower, meaning it’s easier to save money.
Tainan, Taiwan’s oldest city and old capital, has a high number of English teaching jobs for its size. Its laidback feel attracts foreigners wanting to get away from the big city and its excellent transport links mean you can get to Taipei and Kaohsiung quickly and easily.
Salaries for English teachers in Tainan are lower than in Taipei, but so is the cost of living.
Voted ‘the most livable city in Taiwan’, Taichung is Taiwan’s second-largest city. It’s location close to Taiwan’s mountainous interior, teaching English in Taichung means easy access to nature and walking.
Types of Taiwan teaching jobs
Taiwan has a myriad of jobs available for recent college graduates. Common jobs are in preschools and after-school programs. English teaching jobs in Taiwan teaching adults are rare.
Teaching English in Taiwan Buxibans
Most ESL work in Taiwan is centered on the Buxiban. A Buxiban is a cram school, or an afterschool program catering to all ages. Typically elementary schools end class at noon, forcing working parents, to hire a babysitter, or in this case a Buxiban to tutor their kids. Teachers generally work 15-25 hours a week at a Buxiban with classes from around 2-10pm Monday to Friday.
There are also Buxibans for adults, although finding work in these is more difficult. Expect the quality of your Buxiban to vary widely from school to school – as some cater to wealthy students, while others attract lower income families. They are all profit-driven, which brings it’s own challenges
You may also wonder which Buxibans are the best to work for in Taiwan but this is very difficult to assess. The reason for this is that each branch of a specific ESL chain has its own management and that’s where the problem lies.
One of the big chains from South East Asia, with over 250 schools in the region including many in Taiwan, is HESS and they recruit regularly from abroad.
Another chain is Shane Schools, who recruit from abroad through their own recruitment arm Saxoncourt. They provide a guaranteed 20 hours per week with their own curriculum and materials.
Make sure you take a thorough interview with the branch you’re planning to join, get a feel for their management and teaching methods.
Cram schools like buxibans are also a popular English teaching job in South Korea. Read our interviews with teachers working in South Korea.
Teaching in a public school in Taiwan
If you are a certified teacher in your home country, with a PGCE, BEd or similar, you can work in Taiwan public schools. Hours can be better than buxibans, usually 8.30-5.30 rather than working into the evenings. Salaries and benefits are better, including housing and flight allowance and paid holidays, but competition can be harder.
Some public schools now have English programs as well, with options for TEFL teachers.
Becoming an English teacher in a Taiwan kindergarten
Teaching kindergarten falls into a legal gray area in Taiwan. While not expressly illegal, it is considered to be illegal employment, which could result in deportation. However, some feel it is the most satisfying and rewarding work available, and therefore it is often pursued by foreign teachers.
Other Taiwan teaching jobs
If you have the necessary credentials, meaning a degree or postgraduate certificate in education and/or a teacher’s license from your home country, you could pursue employment at one of Taiwan’s international schools. Many of these are American and run the American curriculums. Salaries and benefits are excellent; you are looking at $5000 a month and higher, and because of this, competition can be fierce.
Private Tutoring in Taiwan
Another questionable teaching job in Taiwan is private tutoring. Legally, this should only be done by those with permanent residency. However, this doesn’t mean that teachers don’t pick up some extra money from private classes under the table.
Unlike South Korea for example, Taiwan’s visa law allows you to work at more than one school at a time (preschool in the mornings, Buxiban in the afternoons).
If you want to read more about teaching English in Taiwan, check out our interview with Ciaran.
When is the best time to look for a teaching job in Taiwan?
As many Taiwan teaching jobs are in private after school programs, recruitment is year-round. However, more hiring goes on in the summer – July/August, and around Lunar New Year in January/February.
Teaching English in Taiwan Salary
Wages for teaching English can vary wildly according to how much you work. It’s fair to assume that you should be making around 20 USD an hour. I’d advise that you pursue a job giving you a minimum of 25 hours a week, providing about two thousand USD a month. 60,000 NT or 2000 USD dollars is enough to save money, pay bills, and live well with a low-cost vacation every six months.
I’d also advise you find work that provides an expendable income, as vacation days and cancelled classes will hurt your pocketbook if you’re living paycheck to paycheck.
Some teachers in Taiwan who choose to work 40 plus hours a week will make as much as 5 thousand USD a month. This always seemed ridiculous to me. Who moves to East Asia to spend every waking moment in a basement Buxiban? I advise you find work that is a balance between enjoying the beauty of Taiwan and work.
Cost of living for English teachers in Taiwan
One of the great things about teaching English in Taiwan is that the cost of living is low compared to the salaries. While salaries in South Korea may be higher, living costs stack up.
Taiwan teaching jobs generally do not provide housing. Unlike South Korea or China, teachers are expected to find their own apartment.
A studio apartment in Taipei costs around $300-400 USD a month, with around $200 for housing outside the city, in New Taipei. Apartment in Taipei for this price will definitely be on the small side, as with most big cities. In the other cities, housing cost are lower – you are looking at $150-250 USD for a studio.
When you sign a lease on an apartment, you are expected to pay a month’s deposit plus, generally two months rent upfront, so factor this in when you get ready to go over. This is the case in most countries where you need to rent your own accommodation to teach English.
Water and electricity bills amount to $15-30 a month, depending on your usage, and internet is another $15. Mobile phone packages with unlimited data are around $20 USD per month.
Food costs can be very cheap if you eat local. Obviously, if you want to add regular western-style meals to that, the cost will add up. Nights out can also increase your living costs, especially if you drink in western-style bars.
Another popular place for new TEFL teachers to start out is Thailand. This also has a low cost of living, but salaries are definitely lower than Taiwan. Find out our experience of how to get an English teaching job in Bangkok.
What are the requirements to teach in Taiwan?
The main requirement for teaching in Taiwan is a bachelor’s degree or four-year college equivalent; therefore pack several sealed copies of your transcripts and diploma. A teaching degree is definitely a plus, but being a communications major with a good attitude will get you just as far.
A Passport from a country where English is the official language
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like non-native English teachers can get legal work in Taiwan. There are many other options in Asia though, including Vietnam and Thailand.
Find out about teaching English in Vietnam.
Likewise, a TESOL or TEFL certification can be to your advantage. Although, having received considerable teacher training personally, I have never had an employer ask about my certification.
For jobs in Taiwan, an online course is ok. You can see here what online TEFL courses we recommend.
One option that will help you get work in Taiwan is the ITTT TEFL course, which you can take online. You can get a 15% discount on through the link below. If you use this link, we also get some money. Thanks in advance!:
Criminal Record Check
You will need a criminal background check. If you have a record of violent, sexual, or other serious crimes, you will not be hired or granted a visa. If you’re American, apply for your FBI back ground check early as processing takes a long time. If you are from the UK, use the ACRO criminal record check.
Finally, you’ll need to get a health check done at a local hospital. This will scan you for HIV, syphilis and tuberculosis; testing positive for any of these will greatly hurt your chances of receiving a visa. It does not scan for illegal drugs – although I’d strongly advise you avoid these in Taiwan, the death penalty is still applicable.
Full-time Taiwan teaching jobs generally contribute to Taiwan’s NHI or national health insurance is fantastic. It is cheap, provides more than adequate coverage, and clinics are widely available. Typically your boss will pay half your NHI and the rest will come out of your salary.
ARC Alien Resident Card – and its desirable older brother the APRC – are terms you will quickly become familiar with in Taiwan. In order to stay in Taiwan, it is important to pursue this year-long visa. Acquiring this important document will also allow you to utilize the NHI.
Once you arrive in Taiwan and find work, you have 15 days to apply for your ARC. This will give the right to rent long-term accommodation, and come and go as you please from Taiwan. Your employer will apply for your ARC for you and will help you with the process.
How to get a job teaching English in Taiwan
You have two options when finding English teaching jobs in Taiwan: find a job that will recruit you from abroad or fly to Taiwan as a tourist and look for work when you arrive.
Obviously, both have their advantages and disadvantages. You will feel more secure getting a job before you arrive as an English teacher in Taiwan, which is going to be reassuring if you are a new TEFL teacher. However, you won’t have the option of seeing where you will be working, meeting potential employers etc.
A popular place to find work as an English teacher in Taiwan is TEALIT.com. Many schools advertise their positions there and you can find big chains and small schools. They also have private tutoring jobs advertised and a page for finding apartments and roommates.
Another popular place to find teaching jobs in Taiwan is Dave’s ESL Cafe. This site has been popular for English teachers for many years and there are always jobs in Taiwan there.
Read our post on how to write a TEFL c.v. and covering letter to ensure you get that interview!
Another option if you want more support is to find a decent agent. Agents have contacts in many schools in Taiwan and will match you up with one that fits your credentials. They only charge the school for this service, so it won’t cost you anything at all. It can be hard to find good ones, but try Reach To Teach as an option.
Teaching English in Taiwan is a great option for new TEFL teachers, looking for an Asian experience, with a good cost of living and an interesting lifestyle.
Bio: Bryn Thomas is a Master of Asia Pacific Studies from National Cheng Chi University in Taipei, Taiwan. His research focus is traditional industries and privatized education and currently works for UNI-Prep Institute. He has over ten years of ESL teaching experience and is an avid practitioner of Ju Jitsu.
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