Teaching in Taiwan for just a Year

Teaching English is a very common job for foreigners in Taiwan. Whether you want to share your experiences as a teacher in Taiwan or learn from the experiences of others, this is the right place for you!

Re: Teaching in Taiwan for just a Year

Postby Kal El » Sat Apr 20, 2013 10:15

John Ross wrote:Recently, there was some criticism of old-timers here being out of touch. If you were 23, would you be interested in coming to Taiwan?

Yes. Most definitely. My only regret is that I didn't get here earlier. :idunno:
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Re: Teaching in Taiwan for just a Year

Postby cfimages » Sat Apr 20, 2013 10:31

When I first came (2003) I worked in a anquinban / buxiban in Zhanghua. Only afternoon / evening hours, no weekends, no privates. After the first year I'd saved around $150K I think (maybe a little more). I wasn't really trying to save though and didn't try to live to a budget or anything like that. One key though was that I didn't have any debts when I came.
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Re: Teaching in Taiwan for just a Year

Postby channamasala » Mon Apr 22, 2013 11:07

cfimages wrote:When I first came (2003) I worked in a anquinban / buxiban in Zhanghua. Only afternoon / evening hours, no weekends, no privates. After the first year I'd saved around $150K I think (maybe a little more). I wasn't really trying to save though and didn't try to live to a budget or anything like that. One key though was that I didn't have any debts when I came.


That sounds like my husband's two years in Korea. Each time he managed to save several thousand US dollars. The difference was partly his paid accommodation and higher salary relative to living costs, as well as secure hours, yes. But it was also partly due to his bachelorhood. He didn't try to save money, as you didn't, but he did anyway because as a lone introverted guy he didn't have a lot to spend money on. He didn't spend it all on beer and food on the weekends, he didn't have a girlfriend (well, he did, briefly), and he's the sort who can go out, roam about and spend nothing more than a few won on a cheap cup of coffee and maybe some basic stuff he needs for his place. He's never spent a lot of money on clothes, "product" or haircuts. Unlike me with my expensive whiskey habit and fancy cut and dye jobs!

Had he been single in Taiwan and living like that, I daresay he would have also saved money without trying. Maybe not quite as much, but a fair amount. It's all about what your baseline life looks like and what it takes to maintain that. Now, he and I save, but not quite as much as I talked him into actually decorating our apartment, living somewhere nicer (that we have to pay for) and traveling more than he ever did when he was single (in his entire first year in Seoul he went to Osaka once on a visa run and met up with me in Beijing once. That's it).

I still pay for the expensive whiskey unless it's Christmas or my birthday, though...
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Re: Teaching in Taiwan for just a Year

Postby channamasala » Mon Apr 22, 2013 11:12

John Ross wrote:
channamasala wrote:
John Ross wrote:Good post C.M.
One of the biggest problems with just coming for a year is that you're unlikely to acquire a taste for Taiwan Beer in that time frame. :smile:

Recently, there was some criticism of old-timers here being out of touch. If you were 23, would you be interested in coming to Taiwan?


Absolutely. In fact, at 23 I was interested. And you can't even say I would have been coming (pun intended) because I'd heard about Taiwanese/Asian women, because I'm pretty straight.

I graduated from college at 21 and took off more or less immediately for China. Not Taiwan, but only because it hadn't occurred to me to consider it. Having studied in India I wanted to experience life in another big cultural sphere in Asia (China). I finished my year in China at age 23 and backpacked around SE Asia, India, England and Ireland (well, 'I stopped in London and Dublin' would be more accurate). By then I'd heard more about Taiwan and was interested in checking it out. 3 years later I was on a plane to Taipei (I tried working in finance first. That didn't work out so well. Turns out I can't stand full-time office work).

What I wanted to get out of it was to continue studying Chinese, without living in China. At the time I didn't realize how different Taiwan really is from China.


Well, if working conditions were like they are now back when I first came here in my mid-20s, I would not have come.
Like Taiwan Beer the women were an acquired taste (I considered Sweden as an option...blah blah blah Agnetha..... ABBA...) so it was a combination of money, culture, and work flexibility that drew me. Perhaps I should explain the latter point. I had a project in Mongolia that I could only do in the warmer months; Taiwan offered a place where I could earn good money and get a job easily and on my terms, i.e. for less than a year. In those days I could say, "Look I can only work 8 months then the call of the Yeti will take me" and employers would agree. Very different today; harder to find work, the money is worse, the exchange rate is worse, and you have to sign up for a year. Wasn't always so. Taiwan is still a great destination - better in many ways than when I first arrived - but it would not have been a good fit for me if it had been like today.


Exactly - it's all about what you want out of the experience. If working conditions were what they are now in 2006 (they weren't that different, to be frank - the change people talk about seemed to already have begun) and I were in my 20s, I still would have come, because I was looking to stay a couple of years, study, and have some adventures. It would have worked for me.

But now that I'm 32 (egads!), if I were looking at Taiwan for the first time, and spoke no Chinese*, with the priorities I have now (making enough money to enjoy life, traveling, saving more, no longer interested in teaching children, grad school and other qualifications) I would definitely NOT have come. The market is too saturated, the pay is too low, benefits, perks and overall treatment of teachers too shit-tacular and the newbie jobs are too crappy for me to have considered it. Had I stayed in the US longer or life had gone differently, I might be on a plane to Istanbul now (another great city that tugs at my heartstrings - my time in Turkey was just magnificent - oh, take me back to Constantinople).

At 32, after nearly 7 years in Taiwan, if I still worked the kind of shit buxiban job I had when I first came (I know people who have, and people who had been in those jobs for years when I arrived, so it's not impossible) and still made the same terrible pay for being a dancing monkey for some children, Chinese or not I would probably be on that plane to Istanbul now. I'm still here because I've maneuvered myself into a well-paying job, now have the connections to go freelance or work in conjunction with others as I please, and it's worth it. I'd say "talent finds its place" but some of those people I knew still working those terrible jobs were VERY talented and experienced and really could have done better, so that's not the case.

*because I'd still choose Taiwan over China and might still have come if the objective were to improve on already-existing Chinese ability
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Re: Teaching in Taiwan for just a Year

Postby BeachBoy » Fri Jul 04, 2014 05:02

I am a 56 year old American lawyer with a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature. I plan to take the Teaching English as a Foreign Language course at FSU in the near future. I understand the down sides but the thought of teaching in Taiwan for a few years after I retire or just walk away from the practice of law is appealing. I will have some retirement income and don't think I'll end up sleeping under a bridge.
I spent 2 enchanting weeks in Taiwan in late 2012 and will be back next April for a few weeks.
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Re: Teaching in Taiwan for just a Year

Postby John Ross » Fri Jul 04, 2014 07:58

BeachBoy wrote:I am a 56 year old American lawyer with a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature. I plan to take the Teaching English as a Foreign Language course at FSU in the near future. I understand the down sides but the thought of teaching in Taiwan for a few years after I retire or just walk away from the practice of law is appealing. I will have some retirement income and don't think I'll end up sleeping under a bridge.
I spent 2 enchanting weeks in Taiwan in late 2012 and will be back next April for a few weeks.


Not a bad plan Beach "Boy". Because the teaching scene here is, generally speaking, neither lucrative nor a career step-up to other jobs, it's best suited to the young (those just out of college) and to those more advanced in years who are wrapping up a career and keen for a new adventure. I've met quite a few chaps here in their late 50s and early 60s who cast their bow line, came to Taiwan, and are glad they did so. The only danger you'll face is that terrible danger that exists in almost all corners of the globe - yes, marriage.
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Re: Teaching in Taiwan for just a Year

Postby TainanCowboy » Fri Jul 04, 2014 08:05

BeachBoy wrote:I am a 56 year old American lawyer with a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature. I plan to take the Teaching English as a Foreign Language course at FSU in the near future. I understand the down sides but the thought of teaching in Taiwan for a few years after I retire or just walk away from the practice of law is appealing. I will have some retirement income and don't think I'll end up sleeping under a bridge.
I spent 2 enchanting weeks in Taiwan in late 2012 and will be back next April for a few weeks.

Wise words from Mr. Ross.

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Re: Teaching in Taiwan for just a Year

Postby BeachBoy » Sat Jul 19, 2014 02:40

Thanks! I assume one could live comfortably on USA $2000 - $3000 a month? I think that was the upshot of forum conversations I read previously.
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Re: Teaching in Taiwan for just a Year

Postby maoman » Sat Jul 19, 2014 03:30

BeachBoy wrote:Thanks! I assume one could live comfortably on USA $2000 - $3000 a month? I think that was the upshot of forum conversations I read previously.

There's a big difference between 2k and 3k a month. One could live comfortably on 2k/month. One could live very comfortably on 3k/month.
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Re: Teaching in Taiwan for just a Year

Postby Big Vern » Sat Jul 19, 2014 15:09

post71926.html?hilit=number%20of%20foreign%20teachers#p71926

I'm not so sure about the over-supply of teachers. It could be argued that fewer old timers are leaving and more teachers have open work rights, but in general there doesn't seem much evidence that there has been any change in the number of people coming here to teach since 2004. If I had to guess I would say that there are the same number of teachers here as there were 10 years ago, although the break-down of their nationalities has changed.

The drop off in children has been spreading through kindy, then elementary, JHS and SHS student numbers. It's now hitting universities. Obviously that's created the shortage of teaching hours. It's still area specific to a degree, though. Areas with large numbers of young families (Taoyuan, basically) haven't been hit as hard as others.

I dunno. Recommending someone to enter a market with a seemingly unending decline in demand seems a little irresponsible. The big difference with a decade ago is people could spend a year or two here and save money which doesn't seem possible now. My experience is they end up with just their air fare left or, more often, out of pocket. Taiwan doesn't seem to be the place to go to have fun/learn Chinese and pay off debts/save up money to travel anymore. It's a one or the other situation. Ten years ago I feel people could enjoy the best of both worlds.

There is still money to be made, though, and the lifestyle is really good for me at least.

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Re: Teaching in Taiwan for just a Year

Postby jimipresley » Sat Jul 19, 2014 15:14

Big Vern wrote:
There is still money to be made, though, and the lifestyle is really good for me at least.

So why do you never visit me, you stingy fuck? :heart:
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Re: Teaching in Taiwan for just a Year

Postby Big Vern » Sat Jul 19, 2014 15:24

jimipresley wrote:
Big Vern wrote:
There is still money to be made, though, and the lifestyle is really good for me at least.

So why do you never visit me, you stingy fuck? :heart:


You're always more than welcome to visit NanKan, my lover. Seriously, once my workload reduces I'll pop over to Taipei. Promise to bring you a bottle of whisky this time so I stay in your good books :wink:
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Re: Teaching in Taiwan for just a Year

Postby channamasala » Mon Jul 21, 2014 01:52

Nobody has better whiskey than I do. I have a bottle of The Arran 12, a bottle of Ben Nevis 13, a bottle of Label 5 (gift from a student) and two small flask bottles of Famous Grouse for mixing drinks (I :flaming: WILL NOT :flaming: despoil the Ben Nevis or The Arran with any other flavor accompaniment). I drank all my Cragganmore 12 and all my Laphroaig Quarter Cask, sorry.

(#notsorry)
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Re: Teaching in Taiwan for just a Year

Postby BeachBoy » Fri Jun 10, 2016 21:15

I am returning to Taiwan for 3 weeks in late October. Will be meeting with a number of people involved currently in teaching English. Any changed perspectives from this group?
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Re: Teaching in Taiwan for just a Year

Postby channamasala » Fri Jun 10, 2016 22:28

Nope - not really. All I can say is that now that I have gone freelance and actually enjoy my self-created job, working for people I respect (that has got to be a first in Taiwan) who actually know what they are talking about vis-a-vis language teaching and SLA (again, a first in Taiwan for me)...if I could go back and do it all again I would, I'd just go after those qualifications faster and would have that Master's now rather than planning to start next year. I'd probably end up in much the same place, though perhaps a little further along. But, if I were not in Taiwan as I am now, several years further into my thirties, I would only come if the right job opportunity presented itself. I would NOT come and start at the bottom at some shit buxiban job. If I could get something better than that right off the plane or before I even got on - a university job, corporate training, EAP/exam classes, a salaried academic position, an international school job - I would. I am reasonably qualified enough that I could potentially be recruited internationally (that was not true ten years ago).

But for the usual "I clown around for kids at Hess" job to start? No, not worth it. Especially not for just a year. Especially if one isn't qualified to get something better. Salaries are stagnant and working conditions are terrible in like 90% of the industry.
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