It's no longer a secret that Taiwan offers some of the best opportunities to teach English in Asia. Many choose Taiwan for its low cost of living and availability of high paying jobs (that's a win-win!). Living in Taiwan is also a great opportunity to study Chinese while immersing yourself in Taiwan’s unique combination of urban progression and traditional Chinese culture. Many teachers who have also taught in South Korea or China all agree that Taiwan offers the best standard of living for English teachers in Asia.
In order to teach English in Taiwan, most teachers will require a bachelor’s degree and a clean criminal record. Native English speakers are given preference, and teaching certification, such as TEFL, is preferred but not required. The average salary for teaching in Taiwan is $2,000 - $2,400 USD per month.
Almost all new English teachers in Taiwan start at private cram schools known locally as buxibans. Students aged between 4-15 come to these schools after normal school hours just to learn English. The teaching hours will generally be anywhere between 2 pm to 10 pm. The largest of these buxibans include Hess, Shane, Joy English, Kid Castle, and Kojen. Hundreds of other small schools exist throughout the country so it is very important to research and compare schools to separate the good from the bad.
If you’re a certified teacher in your home country and have a few years of experience under your belt, you have the option of working in the Taiwanese public school system. Most commonly, open English teaching positions are for the high school level rather than elementary or middle school level. You'll find that there is more freedom in deciding your own teaching curriculum at public schools than private after-school programs. At the end of your six to twelve-month contract, many public schools provide a bonus.
Finding a job to teach English at a Taiwanese university is harder than at other teaching institutions. Usually, you will need at least a master’s or Ph.D. level degree to teach at this academic level. The benefit is that you will generally work fewer hours for higher pay.
When and Where to look for Jobs in Taiwan
The majority of teaching opportunities in Taiwan exist in the capital of Taipei. This is a large cosmopolitan city with a lot to offer in terms of quality of life, and is generally the destination of choice for most new teachers. Other large cities in Taiwan include Taichung, Tainan, Kaohsiung, and Hualien, which all fit the bill if you're looking for an immersive environment that encourages more language and cultural experiences.
The new school year starts in the fall (late August/early September), so the best time to start looking for an English teaching job in Taiwan is a few months beforehand, at the end of June or the beginning of July.
How to Apply for Jobs in Taiwan
The most common ways to find a job in Taiwan are through online postings, like the Go Overseas job board, or by using a recruiter. As you'll quickly discover, there are many recruiters in Taiwan that specialize in placing English teaching jobs. There are many forum posts debating the pros and cons of recruiters, but overall we believe that most do offer quality services that make the transition to Taiwan easier.
The need for recruiters stems from the problems caused by the large number of teachers who break their contracts. Not all teachers make the necessary adjustments to living abroad and decide to return home early with little regard for the students they leave behind. Some schools have turned to recruiters for a better applicant pool and higher retention rates.
Reasons to work with a recruiter:
- Most are operated by foreigners themselves who have already taught in Taiwan and thus in a better position to relate to your specific needs.
- It's free for you! Recruiters charge the schools for their services.
- The larger recruiters offer a great support network when you first arrive in Taiwan.
- In order to be successful, a recruiter must only work with quality schools who keep their teachers happy.
When working with a recruiter doesn't work:
- You're already in Taiwan. Most recruiters work on a 2-3 month schedule which makes finding work on short-notice difficult.
- Some of the best buxibans in Taiwan require personal interviews and prior experience teaching in Taiwan.
- Some recruiters will stop working with you if they learn you're also working with another recruiter. Admittedly this is a smart thing to do, but keep this to yourself as long as possible.
- You like the challenge of going it alone.
Average Salary of Teaching Jobs in Taiwan
Most new teachers in Taiwan start out at $600 NT per teaching hour. A standard workweek is 25 hours of class time + additional preparation. This equates to a monthly salary of $60,000 NT (roughly $2,000 USD). This is easily enough to live comfortably in Taiwan and save money. To give you an idea of the cost of living, a room or a shared apartment costs about 5,000 NT ($165) in a rural area and about 15,000 NT ($495) in a city center. Inexpensive meals tend to run between $3 - $6. Plus, if you have taken a TEFL course, or have prior teaching experience, you are eligible to demand a higher base salary.
With a little hard work and determination, a career teaching English in Taiwan can be very lucrative. Teachers who stay in Taiwan and gain experience often transfer to more selective buxibans, earning up to $150,000 NT / month. Some even go on to open their own schools!
For a long time the requirements to teach English in Taiwan were very relaxed. While this is no longer quite the case, many job opportunities still exist for teachers with limited qualifications. The standard requirements are:
- Native English speaker
- Bachelor's degree in any discipline
- A criminal background check
- Be able to sign a one year contract
- Be physically and mentally healthy
- Be at least 20 years of age or older
Do you need a TEFL Certificate?
The short answer is no, particularly if you're looking for a job at a buxiban. However, some schools do require some form of TEFL, and those that do tend to offer a better working experience. A TEFL also allows you to demand a higher salary, which will usually offset the cost of the course itself within a year. Year two and that's all profit. Learn more in our guide to TEFL certification.
Visa & Sponsorship
It’s best to find an English teaching job before arriving in Taiwan, as the school will usually sponsor your work visa and help arrange the necessary paperwork. To start teaching legally in Taiwan, you’ll need to go through a health check, apply for an Alien Resident Card, and a work permit. You will need a copy of your university degree, your background check, and your passport (valid for at least six months). Also, take note that it’s illegal to arrive in Taiwan on a tourist visa with the intention of finding work.
Classroom & Work Culture
A note about teaching at any of the aforementioned buxibans is that a standard curriculum is already established and ready for new teachers. For the most part, the materials are entertaining and well-grounded in teaching the kind of English Taiwanese can relate to. There is a strong emphasis on spelling and memorization with less regard given to reading and understanding. This is reinforced by educational values that emphasize quick results that may overlook learning. For example, you might find some students who will memorize a book instead of learning how to read it.
With your curriculum already set at a buxiban, teachers are primarily tasked with encouraging proper pronunciation and classroom engagement. To this end, many schools enforce a strict "English only" learning environment, which means even if you know Chinese, you can't use it in the classroom. You'll also be expected to play a lot of games to keep students engaged and reinforce the association between learning English and "fun." Remember, these are private schools where making money sometimes comes before effective teaching methods.
Contributed by Andrew Dunkle
Teaching Programs in Taiwan
How much do English teachers make in Taiwan?
Salaries vary depending on the type of school you teach in (ie public or private), but on average, English teachers in Taiwan earn between $2,000-$2,400 per month. Many schools also offer benefits such as severance pay, housing, and flight allowances.
Can you teach English in Taiwan without a degree?
Almost all English teaching jobs in Taiwan will require a Bachelor's degree. If you are not a degree holder, you may be able to find a volunteer program through which you can teach.
What do I need to teach English in Taiwan?
In order to teach English in Taiwan, most schools will require you hold a Bachelor's degree and have a clean criminal record. Preference will generally be given to native English speakers. A TEFL certification is generally preferred but not required.
Is English widely spoken in Taiwan?
While it's possible to get by in Taiwan only speaking English, it's generally a good idea to brush up on some basic Mandarin phrases. English will be more widely spoken in Taipei than in other parts of the country. The government has alluded to plans to make Taiwan a Mandarin-English bilingual nation by 2030, but at this point English is not nearly as commonly spoken as Mandarin.
How long can a US citizen stay in Taiwan?
US citizens can stay in Taiwan up to 90 days without a visa. If you plan to stay longer you will need to apply for a visa.