I have just finished my second long term contract with Gloria English School. If you are new to teaching, this is a great first position.
The curriculum is set, and although there are quite a lot of books to get used to for each of the levels, once you have become comfortable with the materials, it is very easy to plan your classes. You also have some creative freedom when it comes to the games and activities you plan to support the lessons.
You will work alongside a Taiwanese co-teacher, who will carry a far higher workload than you will. This teacher will be responsible for dealing with the parents, writing the report cards, ensuring the test scores are high enough, and even teaching all the grammar so you don't have to. You will teach in the classroom together on your teaching day and he or she will ensure that Mandarin is written on the board for the kids to copy, homework books are completed, etc... It is important to communicate fully with your co-teacher to ensure a good working relationship....you will often become good friends outside of class, too.
Gloria is a cram school, so the kids come after their regular school hours to study English. This means you will teach in the evenings Mon-Fri, usually two classes, one from 5-7pm and the other 7.10-9.10pm. The teenagers and higher level students will often come on Saturdays, so this will be your busiest teaching day, and you could be teaching anywhere from 10am to 9pm. Of course, this means that Sunday is your only full day off.
Don't feel so bad about 'giving up' your Saturday, though. Almost everyone in Taiwan works on Saturdays, so you will find most of your colleagues in the same boat. You still have time to go to Taipei on Saturday nights (40 mins by bus/ 30 mins by taxi), or get some rest and do some sightseeing on Sunday. You also have a lot of free time during the week. Taiwan seems to be go, go, go 24/7 so you will always find something to do, and most businesses open during your free time.
If you stay in the accommodation that Gloria provide for free, it's a little bit like university dorms. Sometimes up to 15 teachers will be living there, so it's an instant social life! You can also get help with planning your classes and lots of advice about living in Taiwan. I moved out during my second time at Gloria, and found a great apartment that cost 11,500ntd to rent ( about 380usd), so it's very affordable to do if you want your privacy back!
I had a great time at Gloria, and in Taiwan. If you want an adventure while still having the support of a good school, then this is for you.
What would you improve about this program?
I guess if you are a little shy it could be difficult for you at first. Maybe new teachers can be assigned a 'buddy' who will take care of them for the first week or so?
It could also be useful to know that you will (maybe) have to buy a scooter, although a lot of teachers used bicycles to get around. Your work schedule will be split over three of the Gloria schools so you'll have to travel between them. However, having a scooter is amazing, and one of the many things I will miss about being in Taiwan.