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Updated 15 Aug 2018

Teaching English as a second language is still one of the most popular sources of income for expats living in Taiwan.

Knowing the English language is becoming a necessity for Taiwanese people, children are required to learn it as a second language at school, and for many companies with a view towards internationalisation, it's considered highly beneficial for employees to have at least a basic ability with English. This general increase in interest has led to an Anglophilic society, where restaurants and shops have English names more often than Mandarin ones.

For expats, this means that the opportunities to teach English are varied and abundant. There is no restriction on which kind of student one may encounter - even those who aren't required to learn English often seek out lessons in order to satisfy their own desire to communicate in the language.

Living in Taiwan is easy and enjoyable, which means that few people achieve their original goal of staying for only one year. Many English teachers stay in Taiwan for at least three years and some never leave. This means that the job market is flooded and many people looking for jobs have a lot of experience. Although there are still many jobs available and it is almost unheard of for someone to not find a job at all, it may take some time to find an ideal job. New arrivals who enter Taiwan before securing a job should ensure that they have enough money to support themselves while job hunting.

A bachelor’s degree in any discipline from an accredited university in an English speaking country is the basic requirement for employment in Taiwan. One will not be granted an Alien Residence Certificate (ARC) without this. 


Teaching English in buxibans

The majority of jobs are at after-school English learning centres or buxibans. This is where elementary school-aged children go in the afternoon for supplemental English-immersion programme. The classes will generally meet for two or three hours a day and the teacher will have the same class for the whole year. Most buxibans have a morning kindergarten operating in the same building, so many expat teachers will teach kindergarten in the morning and buxiban in the afternoon. The English fluency in these classes is generally quite good, as most of the children have been learning since age three. 


Teaching English in Taiwanese schools

Local elementary and high schools also hire foreign English teachers to teach conversational English. Teachers generally have many different classes, each of which they will see for a couple of periods each week.

There are jobs teaching adults in Taiwan but these are less abundant. Students tend to take their studies more seriously and the classes are much smaller, sometimes even one-on-one. For these jobs, an expat may be based at an institution or language school where the students will come to the teacher, or the teacher will go to the business and teach there. 

Colleges and universities also offer employment which generally pays better, but one must have a Masters degree to qualify.


Finding a job teaching English in Taiwan

Many expats find that it can be easier to find a job from within Taiwan, especially as some reputable employers want to meet candidates before they hire them.

Most teachers find jobs through reputable online job portals - many of which cater specifically to prospective English teachers. Some portals are extremely popular, with jobs being posted frequently, especially close to the beginning of the school year. 

Otherwise, there are many intermediary placement agencies that aim to place teachers in schools, while also often offering teachers some degree of orientation into Taiwanese life. 

Mara Horowitz Our Expat Expert

I grew up in South Africa and always felt at home amongst the rolling oceans and endless skies. I always felt deep loyalty towards my home country but coupled with this felt a wish to travel and to explore. After completing my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and English Literature I went on to attain a teaching certificate. I then found myself settled in a quaint little house with good friends, a good job, a steady income and a gorgeous little cat. I realised that the time had come. The possibility to live out my days in the university town of Grahamstown was gaining in strength daily. I now had to either go abroad or stop saying that one day I would.  

This realisation was the beginning and in a whirlwind six months after which I found myself in Taipei, Taiwan. At first everything was different, huge, new and overwhelming but as time went by I began to sense that actually everything was still the same. It was still me looking at the world. It was still me drawing conclusions and making perceptions through the same mental habits and constructs that I had always used. With this development life returned to normality and I was ready to accept all of the promises of living in a foreign country, to find the experiences and to see the excitement.