Overall a good experience but read the fine print

Ratings
Overall
8
Benefits: 3
Support: 4
Fun: 5
Facilities: 6
Safety: 10
Review

First, let me say I agree with the sentiment of other reviewers -- your experience is very much what you make of it, but it also varies considerably from school to school across the Kojen system. I had friends at other Kojen schools who were pretty unhappy for varying reasons (remote school location, too few hours, not enough foreign teachers/social life, difficult directors). From that perspective I guess I got lucky; I was placed at one of the bigger schools in Taipei, which was well located, in a more affluent part of the city. There was a constant flow of students year-round, which meant more hours and better pay. My director, Chinese teachers and secretaries were also pretty reasonable and I even developed a close working relationship with some of them. Keep in mind however, you have very little control over which school you are placed at, as the Kojen head office assigns you to one based on school needs.

Kojen doesn't do a lot (and by a lot I mean any) hand-holding. In my experience, the new teacher orientation and "teacher-trainers" who were supposed to help you plan your lessons provided minimal guidance at best. The best advice to cope with this is to just be confident and flexible and recognize that unless you have teaching experience, you're probably going to be out of your element and make mistakes for quite some time before finding your groove. On the plus side, Kojen teaching materials and lessons are incredibly formulaic (consistent with the Taiwanese style of rote repetition). Once you get the hang of them, you could do the lessons in your sleep. On the flip side, this also meant that there wasn't a tremendous opportunity to be creative in your lesson planning -- if you're looking for more creative, Western style teaching methods (and they do exist in Taiwan) you'll likely be frustrated working for Kojen (and any big name cram schools).

Pay and hours are also important points. And, you should know what you're getting into before signing a contract. I can't speak for the kindergartens, but if you work for a Kojen buxiban, you should be prepared for an erratic schedule year-long, including Saturdays. My contract stipulated that I was required to be available to teach up to 21 hours/week in the summer, but that they were entitled to give me as few as 13 hours/week and that you are not allowed to work for another school while under contract. For the first three months of my contract I was only offered 16 hours/week, which was not enough to comfortably live on in Taipei at $580NT/hour. It was not until about four months in that I started picking up more hours. It should be noted that teaching in Kojen is reward-based, which means if your director likes you, you do a good job and keep the parents happy, you will likely be awarded more hours based on merit -- great news if you're looking to make more money. The flip side is that you have to take the classes they offer you, without much room for negotiation. If the hours don't coincide with your schedule and you turn them down, you will likely find yourself without an option the next time.

I don't have much first-hand evidence, but I was told that pay at Kojen was notably lower than many other buxibans, and importantly some of the rates between adult and children's classes differed. They do offer "bonuses", based on student completion and rate of return. However, it was a gray area about how they calculate the bonuses and how often you receive them. Bottom line: you shouldn't count on them in your monthly wages.

Though this review may be tinged with cynicism, my experience overall in the fifteen months I worked at Kojen was exhilarating. At the end of the day, it really is about connecting with and sharing your language with kids. I hope I have shed light on some of the questions and challenges I personally faced during my experience, to help you make a more informed decision on yours.

Best of luck and have an amazing year!

Jess

Would you recommend this program?
Yes, I would