What’s it really like teaching English in Taiwan? Many people make the move to Taiwan to teach but they don’t come fully prepared. This isn’t their fault as Taiwan and the way of life is very different from what most people are used to. A few things you should know in advance is how you are treated as a teacher and what is expected from you. There are many different kinds of English schools in Taiwan, but the majority are known as cram schools. These cram schools are where most teachers work and while they may have different names, they all operate pretty much in the same way. They provide classes for children to learn English as there is a large market of parents wanting their children to improve their English.
The first rule is that you need to keep the children happy. Education is second to happy students. Happy students mean money for the school. If you are a teacher that is excellent as teaching but not so good with the children, be warned. Cram schools are a business and money is their priority with educating children second. Some schools may place a lot of emphasis on education but at the end of the day they are a business that earns money by providing classes for children. If children are unhappy, they will leave and the school will make no money. Being a good teacher and keeping your class happy are two very different things. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t teach well, but keep in mind that your boss will probably start to ask questions if children start complaining or leaving your classes.
English teachers in Taiwan are disposable. If you work at a cram school or kindergarten, be aware that you basically have no negotiating power. You may be able to ask for and get some minor concessions, but if you cause too much trouble or are always demanding things, you’ll be shown the door by simply not being asked to resign your contract when it runs out. There is a large supply of teachers in Taiwan but only a certain amount of demand. This means that you would be best to do what you are told, smile and nod your head. Teachers that complain can be replaced very easily and quickly as there is an almost endless supply of university graduates coming from the USA, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia each year.
Teaching English in Taiwan can be a challenge if you don’t accept the fact that you are a commodity that can be bought and sold. Education is important at cram schools but since they are a business the most important thing is their bottom line. If your classes think you are only an average teacher and they don’t express any great interest in you, there is a chance you’ll just be asked to not re-sign. You may also find that you are asked not to re-sign if you constantly complain or demand for pay increases and other job related matters. Teaching in Taiwan can be fun and rewarding as long as you know what it is really like.
Want to know more about which cities are the and more about teaching English in Taiwan? Find out the truth about teaching in Taiwan from someone who has personally experienced it so you can teach English in Taiwan without making the common mistakes most people do.