Where in the World are Magda and Brent: Teaching English in Taiwan
Unlike many popular teaching destinations in Asia and elsewhere, one need not secure a position before arriving in Taiwan. The visa process is simple and straightforward, so, like me, you can arrive in Taiwan, feel it out, get a sense of where you would like to teach and what system best suits your desires and needs (public schools, bushibans –or “cram schools”, similar to a Korean hagwan–, or even working a variety of part time jobs to fill your schedule as you see fit). Although there is certainly peace of mind that comes with securing a job before embarking on a 16 hour flight to live and work in a new land, I have never been one to shy away from adventure, so fly away I did to seek employment and explore a new country at the same time.
I first landed in Taichung, on the west coast of Taiwan. Having done my research and hoping to avoid winter at all costs, I discovered that Taichung has a climate similar to southern California: sunny and warm all year round. Perfect! What I didn’t realize, however, is that Taichung is much more seasonal in its hiring than Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan. Outside of the capital, you are best to arrive in August or January to find a job in Taiwan. So, after a lovely week and a half of enjoying the sunshine and cuisine of Taichung, I made my way to Taipei to find work.
Flashback: Traveling and Teaching English in Taiwan
Allow me to back up a moment and give my initial impressions of the country and people of Taiwan. When I first arrived in Taiwan, I knew there was a highspeed rail (HSR) service connecting Taipei to other major centres in the country. What I didn’t know was how any of that worked. As I wandered the airport after immigration looking for some sign of English to guide me, a well-dressed, friendly Taiwanese man came and asked if I needed any help. He didn’t work at the airport; he was a business traveler, but he took time out of his undoubtedly hectic schedule to walk me to the ticket window, help me purchase my ticket, and then show me where to catch the shuttle bus to the HSR station. I can’t imagine a better greeting to a people and culture.
After leaving Taichung, I arrived in Taipei and crashed with a friend while I looked for a job. I used all of the resources available to me, from the Oxford Seminars English Language Schools Directory to Facebook groups and Google. Looking for work in off-peak times is still a challenge even in Taipei, but it is certainly possible. Although semesters may not be ending or beginning, there are always teachers coming and going for various reasons, so in a large city with a plethora of English schools, there are positions opening up year round. Within my first week, I had secured four interviews in Taipei and New Taipei City (the newly developed suburbs around Taipei), and one of these jobs was perfect! A long-time teacher was leaving and they needed someone to fill in for a few months until their spring semester started. This fit my timetable perfectly. The employer was willing to apply for a work permit and ARC for me so I could work legally, and the school said I could start right away. It couldn’t have come together any more cleanly for me.
What I noticed in the five months I lived and worked in Taiwan was that it is very open to foreigners. Unlike Korea and some other countries I have taught in, the ex-pat community is not limited to teachers and the occasional American soldier. Taiwan is full of ex-pats working in all manner of industries, from restaurateurs to marketers to small business owners. It is alive and thriving with people from all walks of life, and the people of Taiwan are most welcoming to visitors to their land. Whether you’re staying for a few months or a lifetime, Taiwan greets you with open arms. It was a wonderful feeling to visit this hospitable and friendly nation, and I hope to travel there again soon to teach and learn on my never ending adventure through life. I highly recommend Taiwan as a teaching destination to anyone looking for someplace warm and welcoming. Live life. Love life.
Sign up below to receive email updates whenever Magda and Brent post new content as they a travel and teach abroad, or follow Oxford Seminars on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest to see updates as they travel through Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, and more in their journey across a dozen different countries in between ESL teaching contracts in Taiwan and the Czech Republic.
Written By Magda and Brent
Magda is an Oxford Seminars graduate with an honors degree in biological sciences. She loves traveling and has been to nearly twenty countries, with plans to see them all! She spent a year and a half teaching English and Science in Incheon, South Korea, and is looking forward to many more opportunities to teach and travel abroad on the horizon.
Brent has been involved in ESL as a teacher, Oxford Seminars TESOL/TESL/TEFL instructor, and writer for much of the past decade. His teaching exploits have taken him to South Korea, the Czech Republic, and most recently to Taiwan. As both a teacher and avid traveler, he looks forward to every opportunity to explore new cultures, sample new cuisines, and meet new people. There’s no better way to see the world!