Taiwan: Teaching ESL in Taiwan
Teaching English in Taiwan is a great way to gain valuable experience and improve teaching skills, while enjoying a land of beauty, diversity, and mystery.
Living and Teaching in Taiwan
ESL teachers are in demand in Taiwan throughout the calendar year. Teaching positions are available through public and private schools, language schools, universities and colleges, and through private tutoring. Despite greater competition for positions over the past few years, the government’s education reforms are continuing to make opportunities available for foreign teachers.
Public and Private School System
Public and private schools in Taiwan are somewhat similar to North America's conventional primary and secondary school system, and run on a two-semester system. The first semester begins in September and lasts until mid- or late-January, followed by a four-week vacation which includes Chinese New Year. The second semester begins in March and goes to the end of June, followed by a two-month summer vacation. Higher qualifications, including an education degree and teacher’s license, are needed for those who want to teach in the public school system. If interested in teaching in a conventional school, peak hiring time is in July/August.
Private Language Schools
Private language schools provide supplementary education for students who require additional tutoring. Classes are offered during after-school hours and at other convenient times. As private language schools do not follow the semester system of conventional schools, teachers are hired year round.
Language centers tend to be divided into “chain” schools and “cram” (also called “bushiban”) schools. Chain schools are prolific in Taiwan and in many ways are a monopoly, having edged out many smaller cram schools. Cram schools tend to offer higher quality education and better working environments than their chain counterparts; however, most foreign teachers find positions in the chain schools and many report a good experience. As with many chain businesses, some branches can be better managed than others.
Universities and Colleges
Universities and colleges in Taiwan, similar to those in America, are divided into academic and vocational schools. National (government-run) academic universities draw the best students and teachers, and receive substantial funding. While positions for teachers with Master’s degrees are still to be found, the emerging trend to secure a teaching position in these universities is the requirement of a doctorate. Even though the demand for English teachers in academic universities is growing, most foreign teachers find positions in vocational universities (universities of technology). A third option for ESL teachers is the five-year junior college system. This system counts three years of high school, along with a two-year associate degree, to be equal to a lesser valued four-year degree. While these types of colleges are slowly being phased out, opportunities still exist.
Classes typically begin in August or September and run through July, with a semester break which usually coincides with Chinese New Year. As teachers would need to be settled in Taiwan by end of July, hiring takes place in spring and early summer.
Private tutoring is something that some ESL teachers do in addition to a formal teaching position; however, as a work visa is required to work legally in Taiwan, and your visa is tied specifically to your school, the ability to tutor privately is often determined at the discretion of the school. You should see a clause in your contract that states whether or not you can work outside of your scheduled hours. Some contracts clearly disallow tutoring on the side as it is considered to be competition, or at the very least a distraction from school duties. Those who do risk private tutoring charge between NT$500 - 1,500 per hour.
Graduates of Oxford Seminars receive our Graduate Placement Service with exclusive access to established schools and recruiters around the world.
There are many other resources available to ESL teachers searching for teaching positions abroad, including:
- Oxford Seminars' English Language Schools Directory
- The Chronicle of Higher Education
- ESL Jobs
- Job Monkey
- Overseas Job Centre
Jobs Teaching English in the Summer in Taiwan
Summer teaching positions in Taiwan do exist; however, rarely are they lucrative or even paying positions. Private tutoring can be a good source of income during the summer months.
Additional ESL Resources to Help Teach English in Taiwan
There are an abundance of ESL resources on the Internet to help ESL teachers teach English as a Second Language.
- Oxford Seminars' ESL Teaching Resources
- English In Taiwan
- BBC Skillswise
- About.com - ESL Teaching Resources
- Classic Reader
- ESL Junction
- Discovery Education
- Songs For Teaching
- Genki English
- Taiwan Forums
- The ARC (Alien Resident Card) should be kept with you at all times.
- As Taiwanese value image and appearance, being well-groomed is important.
- If patience is not one of your strong points, it would be a good attribute on which to focus your energies.
- The Taiwanese are a gracious, non-confrontational people. Any conflict should be handled in a calm, private manner so as to “save face”.
- Taiwan is considered to be a very safe country; however, it is still wise to limit the amount of money that you carry on your person.
- Adopt an adventurous attitude and explore the cuisine, culture, and sites of Taiwan.
- Use only bottled water from reputable companies for consumption. Boil filtered water if unsure.
- As the Taiwanese are typically petite compared to most Americans, clothing and shoes in larger sizes are not as readily available as they would be in the United States.
- The voltage in Taiwan is 110V, making the purchase of a transformer unnecessary if relocating to Taiwan from America.
- Consider getting an international driver’s license in your home country.
- Penalties for drug usage are severe; as such, be careful to keep your distance from them or from those using them.
The requirements and guidelines below are listed for ESL teacher applicants to Taiwan who are citizens of: United States, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa.
Minimum Requirements to Apply for Teaching Positions in Taiwan:
- Bachelor's (3 or 4 year) degree in any discipline – for teaching in a private school*
- Bachelor's degree and Teacher’s license – for teaching in a public school
- Native English speaker
*Sometimes a Two-Year College Diploma and TESOL certificate is sufficient.
Types of Applicable Visas:
- Visa Exempt Entry: Extended to several countries (listed on Bureau of Consular Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs website). Valid for 90 days. Not extendable or convertible to other visas.
- Visitor's Visa: Designed for those who intend to stay in Taiwan for less than six months. Can be used as an initial visa (for ESL teachers working in private schools) while waiting for a Resident Visa to be processed.
- Resident Visa: Designed for those who intend to stay in Taiwan for longer than six months. This visa is often issued to teachers who have secured a teaching contract and whose schools have processed the work permit prior to their relocation to Taiwan. Some schools have their teachers enter Taiwan on a Visitor Visa and then process the work permit and Resident Visa once there.
- Spousal Visa: designed for those married to a Taiwanese citizen and living in Taiwan. This visa can be used to teach English, provided the necessary requirements are met.
- Landing Visa: This is awarded to you at the airport if you do not already hold one of the above visas. It is valid for a maximum of 30 days and cannot be converted to a visitor or resident visa.
Important Visa Information:
- Visas will only be granted if there is sufficient time remaining on the applicant’s passport. (This should be confirmed by a local Taiwanese Economic and Cultural Office).
- Leaving the country without a re-entry permit essentially cancels one’s visa.
- A visa must be used within three months of receiving it.
- One should apply for a visa in person if possible. If you cannot travel to the Taiwanese Economic and Cultural Office, contact the office to see if application by mail is permitted.
- Once you arrive in Taiwan, you must apply for the ARC within the first 15 days.
Standard Process for Obtaining Documentation to Work Legally in Taiwan:
- The applicant secures a contract with a legitimate school.
- The school applies for a work permit on behalf of the applicant.
- Once the applicant receives the work permit, he/she applies for a Resident Visa/Entry Permit at the Taiwanese Economic and Cultural Office.
- If the work permit is not processed by the school prior to relocation to Taiwan, the applicant applies for a Visitor Visa at local Taiwanese Economic and Cultural Office. Once in Taiwan the school applies for the work permit on behalf of the teacher.
- Once a work permit is obtained, application for a Resident Visa/ARC (Alien Resident Card) is made.
Standard Required Documents for Visas:
(Important to check with a Taiwanese Economic and Cultural Office as variations in requirements sometimes occur)
- A valid passport with at least six months remaining after travel dates (This should be confirmed with local embassy/consulate)
- Completed visa application
- Passport photos – as recent as three months (specifications should be confirmed with local Economic and Cultural Office)
- Original university degree
- University transcripts
- Employment contract with letter of invitation
- A health certificate (includes an HIV test and chest X-Ray, etc.)
- For Visitor's Visa: Bank account balance statement issued in the last 3 months with your name clearly indicated and showing sufficient funds (approx. $2,000 US) to stay in Taiwan for the period stated on application
- For Visitor’s Visa: Photocopy of one’s airline ticket or travel itinerary issued by travel agent indicating dates of arrival to and departure from Taiwan
- Visa fee - See local Taiwanese Economic and Cultural Office for fee table
- Work permit issued by the Council of Labor Affairs (obtained by your employer)
As countries that have diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China (PRC) may not have formed diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan), consular services are administered through representative offices.
Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in the United States
Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Washington, DC
4201 Wisconsin Avenue N.W.
Washington, DC 20016
Phone: (202) 895-1800
Fax: (202) 895-1922
Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday 9:00am - 5:00pm
Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Canada
Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Ottawa
45 O'Connor St., Suite 1960
World Exchange Plaza Ottawa
Ottawa, ON K1P 1A4
Phone: (613) 231-5080
Fax: (613) 231-7112
Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday 9:00am - 4:00pm
American Embassy and Consular Services in Taiwan
American Institute in Taiwan (AIT)
#7, Lane 134, Hsin Yi Rd, Section 3, Daan District
Taipei, 106-59, Taiwan
Phone: +(866) (02) 2162-2000
Fax: +(866) (02) 2162-2251
Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday 8:00am - 11:0am, 1:00pm - 3:00pm
American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) - Kaohsiung Branch
5F, No. 2, Zhongzheng 3rd Rd, Xinxing District
Kaohsiung City, 800-52
Phone: +(866) (07) 238-7744
Fax: +(866) (07) 238-5237
Canadian Embassy and Consular Services in Taiwan
The Canadian Trade Office in Taipei (CTOT)
6F, 365 Hua-Hsin Building, No. 1 SongZhi Rd, Xinyi District
Taipei 11047, Taiwan
Phone: +(886) (02) 8723-3000
Fax: +(886) (02) 8723-3592
Hours of Operation: Monday to Thursday 8:15am - 12:00pm, 12:30pm - 5:00pm and Friday 8:15am - 12:15pm
Australian Embassy and Consular Services in Taiwan
*In the absence of formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, the ACIO (Australian Commerce and Industry Office) represents Australian interests in Taiwan.
Australian Commerce and Industry Office in Taipei
The President International Tower 27th-28th Floors #9-11 Song Gao Rd
Taipei 11073, Taiwan
Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday 8:45am - 12:30pm, 1:30pm - 5:15pm
British Embassy and Consular Services in Taiwan
British Trade and Cultural Office in Taipei
26th Floor President International Tower
Number 9-11 Song Gao Road, Xin Yi District
Taipei 11073, Taiwan
Phone: (886) (02) 8758-2088
Fax: (886) (02) 8758-2050
Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday 9:00am - 12:30pm, 1:30pm - 5:00pm
Irish Embassy and Consular Services in Taiwan
*Irish citizens living in Taiwan should contact the Embassy in Beijing, China.
Irish Embassy in Beijing
3 Ritan Dong Lu
Beijing 100600, People's Republic of China
Phone: (+86 10) 6532 2691 or 6532 2914
Fax: (+86 10) 6532 6857
Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday 9:00am - 12:30pm, 2:00pm - 5:00pm
New Zealand's Embassy and Consular Services in Taiwan
* In the absence of diplomatic relations with Taiwan, the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce operates the New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office in Taipei
New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office in Taipei
9F, No. 1 Songzhi Road
Taipei 11047, Taiwan
Phone: +886 2 2720 5228
Fax: +886 2 2720 5255
Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday 9:00am - 5:30pm
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