Are Taiwanese teaching contracts the worst in SE Asia?

I don’t really buy this ‘market forces’ stuff. I think that the market is skewed by the legal system deliberately placing foreign, non voting teachers in a very weak bargaining position. If it was a true market then teachers would be getting a much better package.

The argument of ‘well, if the deal in Taiwan is so bad then why don’t the teachers leave?’ is, in my experience, happening right now.

Will that create an increase in salaries? When the average school charges each student around 200NT per hour of group class teaching (in the case of the big chains often more), and the typical teacher gets 600NT an hour and TA 130NT an hour, with comparatively low additional overheads (comparative to most businesses), then there is clearly scope for improved packages. Do the math on a typical class of 15 students. Of course, employers won’t pay any more than they have to.

I’ve never understood the tolerance of Taiwanese parents to poor quality, inexperienced teachers. The ones who teach in between partying. Chinese culture has such respect for teachers that I find it strange that when it comes to teaching English many Taiwanese genuinely seem to believe that inexperienced teachers aren’t a problem, and that rapid turnover of teachers won’t affect the education of their children. Perhaps some Taiwanese posters have ideas about this? It certainly does keep teacher salaries artificially low. I used to work for a biggish chain and they had an upper limit of 600NT an hour. It didn’t matter how good you were, what qualifications you had, they simply would not pay you any more. They would prefer an experienced teacher to leave, and pay the cost of recruiting a new one, than even consider a tiny pay increase above this limit.

Is Taiwan really in Northeast Asia! Well I never.

God no! That’s not what they want at all! Of course they want the very very best. As long as its not expensive. If they had the choice between paying (a) NT$200/hour for their little darling to get “taught” by Joe Blow, eh? – who MIGHT not have a fake degree from Khaosan Rd.-- or (b) NT$215/hour for a fully qualified ESL expert with 10 years of experience under his belt, who do YOU think they’ll go for? (hint: answer “b” and you’ll be on the wrong page completely.)

God no! That’s not what they want at all! Of course they want the very very best. As long as its not expensive. If they had the choice between paying (a) NT$200/hour for their little darling to get “taught” by Joe Blow, eh? – who MIGHT not have a fake degree from Khaosan Rd.-- or (b) NT$215/hour for a fully qualified ESL expert with 10 years of experience under his belt, who do YOU think they’ll go for? (hint: answer “b” and you’ll be on the wrong page completely.)[/quote]

Yes, this is one of the big problems.

Another thing that I used to notice in the south of Taiwan (I have heard that Taipei is more savvy than this) is that parents oftentimes think that if the teacher is young, cute, and blonde, they will be a better teacher than an older teacher with experience and qualifications. Why? Because they are “cute” and “have more energy.” :unamused: So, where I used to live anyway in southern Taiwan, an energetic 19 year-old backpacker would have a better chance at scoring work at most schools than, say, a 35 year-old teacher with experience and qualifications.

I have heard that in Taipei this isn’t the case anymore. Is that true? Is it more professional than that?

so it’s all about the money, huh?

even if that were the case the wages here still don’t make any sense. (at least to me)

no experience = (maybe 600/hr)
HESS/GEOS etc =(maybe 550hr)
MA TESOL = (maybe 750/hr)
willing to teach kids = (750/hr)
qualified ielts teacher =(750/hr)
uni teacher =(800/hr)

basically there is nothing in it for people to try and harder and this is even true for the taiwanese themselves. Lecturers at NTU get the same as lecturers at any other uni in the land.

working two jobs is also endemic here. Teacher are grubbing around to try and make ends meet. 15 hours at place A, 5 at place B and 8 more at place C. This may be ‘just the wayit is’ in Taiwan’ but no one can claim this is a good situation.

[quote=“yamato”]so it’s all about the money, huh?

even if that were the case the wages here still don’t make any sense. (at least to me)

no experience = (maybe 600/hr)
HESS/GEOS etc =(maybe 550hr)
MA TESOL = (maybe 750/hr)
willing to teach kids = (750/hr)
qualified ielts teacher =(750/hr)
uni teacher =(800/hr)

basically there is nothing in it for people to try and harder and this is even true for the Taiwanese themselves. Lecturers at NTU get the same as lecturers at any other uni in the land.

working two jobs is also endemic here. Teacher are grubbing around to try and make ends meet. 15 hours at place A, 5 at place B and 8 more at place C. This may be ‘just the wayit is’ in Taiwan’ but no one can claim this is a good situation.[/quote]

I think the money is only part of it. The complete (or near complete) lack of real benefits (other than partially covered health and labour insurances) makes teaching in Taiwan very undesirable.

What also is unfortunate is the lack of trust between most employers and their employees. For example, what someone said here or on another thread (can’t remember and too lazy to look) about taking a sick day. That person said that at his school, if a sick day was taken and he didn’t give 30 hours notice or something like that, he would have to make up the class at a later date AND teach another class without pay. Most schools I know make you try and get a sub teacher when you are ill. This kind of thing, and employers scheming for this NT and that NT and trying to get more and more work out of their teachers outside of what is in the contract (another example on another thread about recording a number of books for the school)…it’s bad enough that the contracts suck, but on top of that the employer / employee relationship is oftentimes tense, untrusting, and uncomfortable.

To top all of this off, employers will lie to the MOE about taxes and hours worked, lie to the MOE about where the teacher is teaching (i.e. kindie teachers are technically not teaching kindie), and so on and so forth. It’s one big, dishonest mess.

A job that didn’t pay so well could be tolerated easily IMO if the teaching situation in general were a lot better, i.e. with straightforwardness and transparency, with maybe a paid sick day / personal day thrown in now and again and maybe a few other little perks. But only a few schools are willing to try and go that extra mile (kind of like what cfimages was talking about).

When I did my CELTA many moons ago, I was in a group of 12…I was returning to Taiwan, one other teacher was going to Japan, and ALL of the others were going to Spain. Everyone knows that the pay sucks for TEFLers in Spain. But overall, the jobs are fun, the country is great, bosses are good, and there are some benefits thrown in. It makes it worthwhile for teachers to stay, even if they aren’t saving any $$$.

Taiwan has none of that. It has to work harder to keep people in the country. Most people do not like the living conditions, work conditions, etc. in Taiwan. Add to that low pay and a lack of benefits, and there is absolutely no incentive to work there.

The bottom line is, if anyone asks me about teaching in Taiwan I will recommend that they look elsewhere. The country is great and the people are fantastic, but quite frankly the working conditions are the worst I’ve experienced.

I agree and disagree with what has been posted here.

I don’t really care for the working conditions here in Taiwan either but back in USA no matter what field I was in working conditions would be much more difficult. Still the things that really get me are the visa and work issues related to it as it is incorrigible stressful and illogical-long complicated story why-save it for another thread.

Anways, probably the only things I really like about Taiwan are the food and the landscape other than that this place sucks, but that’s my opinion and based on the way my world is shaped. Regardless, I would teach somewhere else but there seem to be problems with other places to teach in Asia and basically the reason I am still here in Taiwan.

China–You don’t get paid that much money in real terms and having been there on travel purposes-I didn’t care for the government and the people generally seemed pretty xenophobic

Korea–Get paid a lot, but nearly everyone I’ve met who has been or knows about Korea has voiced negative comments about how bad and unwelcoming the locals are to foreigners and also work conditions being horrible as well (badly behaved kids, dishonest bosses). Please keep in mind this is what has been told to me-I may be wrong

Japan—get paid a lot as well but I hear the english teachers live on minimum wage according to Japan standards, I hate being in a very foreign place and barely scrapping by.

Thailand—don’t get paid enough to get by relatively comfortably-more recommended for vacation than work; moreover, having spent a lot of time in thailand–I don’t think I could live better than a bum on the wages given.

Don’t really know about Vietnam-maybe it’s all right. I stay in Taiwan though overall because even with lower wages I still save a bunch while living a much more comfortable lifestyle than in USA. For me I don’t really think of vacation that much and the health insurance provided to me is much better than what I get in USA-I pray to god I don’t get cancer though. So I guess my situation in Taiwan, even though not entirely perfect beats out other places in asia, please though correct me if I’m wrong about other countries because if I am then I’m gone (Japan always seems like a cool place).

Regardless, I’m burned out from teaching english so gonna tough it out for a few more months, do some vacationing around asia and get back home.

Most teachers in Japan earn at least 250,000. While this is no way ‘top dollar’ by Japanese standards there are many in Japan who earn a lot less. It’s also worth noting that this is a pretty deccent salary even back in your home country (if you factor in the 7% tax compared with about 23% in the UK)

Japan is the best place in Asia, as far as I can tell. You are spot on about Korea. Though I do know people who have enjoyed it, the fact that dave’ esl cafe has a seperate forum for complaints about korea and that the US government actually warned teachers not to go there is quite telling.

Taiwanese people are lovely…it just the jobs.

People on this thread suggest that ‘that’s just the way it is’ but remember that the weakest member of the herd is the one that gets picked off. For years people complained about the horrors of NOVA in Japan and finally, after about 20 years the bottom fell out of the company and hundreds of English teachers weer left stranded in Japan. This stuff doesn’t happen in a vaccum.

I’ve been working here at least a decade. I have never seen or heard about, save in the mass chain schools which one ought to avoid on principle, the attitudes you are talking about here. Especially in today’s market. Perhaps many years ago when parents had to be on a waiting list to even get into a chain like Frobel… Now parents are asking many more questions, expecting more results, and calling schools on lack of progress/shite curriculum. Increased competition combined with a poor economy lead many parents to be more concerned about the bottom line, and the value of services rendered.
I know, as I’m one meself.

No foolin?
A map is a person’s best friend.
You might even find out where the Wales are, upon closer inspection…

I’ll have another look for the Wales.

Seriously though, I’d had a couple of beers when I posted that. Apologies if I offended anyone.

$2,500 a month is nowhere near decent (nevermind “pretty decent”) for the US even with 7% tax.

[quote=“Indiana”]

Another thing that I used to notice in the south of Taiwan (I have heard that Taipei is more savvy than this) is that parents oftentimes think that if the teacher is young, cute, and blonde, they will be a better teacher than an older teacher with experience and qualifications. Why? Because they are “cute” and “have more energy.” :unamused: So, where I used to live anyway in southern Taiwan, an energetic 19 year-old backpacker would have a better chance at scoring work at most schools than, say, a 35 year-old teacher with experience and qualifications.

I have heard that in Taipei this isn’t the case anymore. Is that true? Is it more professional than that?[/quote]
It’s not just the parents. In one school I know of in Taipei, all of the teachers are Americans, according to the Taiwanese boss - but if you meet these teachers, you will discover that none of them are American, and none of them are native speakers of English. They’re all white and, to Taiwanese eyes at least, attractive - ie., blond or light-to-medium brown hair.
Or consider my Chinese school classmates - the pretty blond Italian with minimal English skills was hired to teach English in the first couple of days she was here, but the Chinese-American (whose dad was white, and so didn’t even look all that Chinese), native speaker, with a degree in languages from a really good university couldn’t get a job.
I even know a man who is illiterate (in English; I’m assuming he can read his native language) who had no trouble getting hired as an English teacher in Taipei.
If you look right, according to the stereotypes of the average Taiwanese, you’ll get hired. Your qualifications don’t matter.

[quote=“James651”]
China–You don’t get paid that much money in real terms and having been there on travel purposes-I didn’t care for the government and the people generally seemed pretty xenophobic

Korea–Get paid a lot, but nearly everyone I’ve met who has been or knows about Korea has voiced negative comments about how bad and unwelcoming the locals are to foreigners and also work conditions being horrible as well (badly behaved kids, dishonest bosses). Please keep in mind this is what has been told to me-I may be wrong

Japan—get paid a lot as well but I hear the English teachers live on minimum wage according to Japan standards, I hate being in a very foreign place and barely scrapping by.

Thailand—don’t get paid enough to get by relatively comfortably-more recommended for vacation than work; moreover, having spent a lot of time in thailand–I don’t think I could live better than a bum on the wages given. [/quote]

I have met a lot of people who have taught in the above places (especially Korea).

As for Korea, most folks I know have taught at universities. You can teach at a uni there with a Bachelors. They saved a great deal of cash, even if they were there for a year or two (in addition to having ridiculously long paid holidays, housing, a bonus of one month’s salary every year, etc. etc.). But dealing with the people there is what drives many teachers away after a short time…I have never met anyone who was there for more than 3 years. The teaching packages, though, well outdo Taiwan. But you do have to be careful about who you work for. That’s where Dave’s ESL Cafe comes in handy.

In Japan, the cost of living is so high that it is difficult to save anything on $2500 a month, from what I have heard. But, the university jobs, if you have the right quals, can sometimes pay double that. As for buxibans though, I think the pay is way too low to live well in Japan, although teachers seem to love it there. I knew someone who worked at a buxiban in Japan, and he was making about $2500 a month and was given a company car and housing. But, he didn’t save anything. He then went to Korea and saved $9000 in his first year there!

Salaries in Thailand are on the up, and I have seen jobs that pay about $1000 - 1200 / month or so with housing and other benefits. Yes, that’s lower than Taiwan, but with benefits thrown in and a lower cost of living (especially in places like Chang Mai), it’s still a better deal.

As for buxiban teachers in Taipei…are you actually able to save much? I mean, my husband and I were able to save quite a bit when we were living in the south of Taiwan…but our flat only cost NT7,000 a month and we were double earners, and we had been there for a while so we were on higher salaries than most teachers we knew. We were offered jobs at TES (then TBS) years ago but turned them down because of the cost of housing in Taipei…it would have cut into our savings too much (besides the fact that the salaries offered were the same as what we were getting where we were in the south). So, when I think about potential savings, cost of living and salaries for the typical buxiban teacher in Taipei, typical savings would probably be parallel to what one could save in Japan or Thailand…and living in Japan or Thailand, IMO, sounds far more appealing!! :rainbow:

[quote=“naijeru”]
$2,500 a month is nowhere near decent (nevermind “pretty decent”) for the US even with 7% tax.[/quote]
Who only pays 7% tax in the US? I agree, $2500 a month in the US isn’t decent. After rent, utilities, car costs, groceries, prescriptions, and extremely limited entertainment, we’re teetering on the line between black and red every month. And that $2500 is after paying over $600/month health insurance. Welcome to a public Independent School District.
So in comparison, it seems foreign teachers in Taiwan are making a better living based on cost of living in comparison to the US. A change in the quality of teachers will come with a change in requirements. Joe Blow with a bachelors in the US can’t find a permanent teaching job without certification or being enrolled in an alternative certification program. For those who’ve been in TW for a lot of years, think back to the quality of buxiban teachers 10-20 years ago when many had no degree at all, and weren’t allowed in public schools. Change is happening, but in the typically slow Taiwan fashion.

[quote=“kjmillig”][quote=“naijeru”]
$2,500 a month is nowhere near decent (nevermind “pretty decent”) for the US even with 7% tax.[/quote]
Who only pays 7% tax in the US? I agree, $2500 a month in the US isn’t decent. After rent, utilities, car costs, groceries, prescriptions, and extremely limited entertainment, we’re teetering on the line between black and red every month. And that $2500 is after paying over $600/month health insurance. Welcome to a public Independent School District.
So in comparison, it seems foreign teachers in Taiwan are making a better living based on cost of living in comparison to the US. A change in the quality of teachers will come with a change in requirements. Joe Blow with a bachelors in the US can’t find a permanent teaching job without certification or being enrolled in an alternative certification program. For those who’ve been in TW for a lot of years, think back to the quality of buxiban teachers 10-20 years ago when many had no degree at all, and weren’t allowed in public schools. Change is happening, but in the typically slow Taiwan fashion.[/quote]

And don’t forget the bundle you save on (very heavily) state-subsidized medical care. Or the lack of “service fees” at the mechanics. Or the fact that you can travel relatively short distances to get from Point A to Point B, saving a lot of petrol money. I make half as much here as I’d make in the States if I were to emigrate there, but I save twice as much all the same, because of the much lower living costs. In terms of “usable money”, Taiwan is the place to be.

[quote=“kjmillig”]
Who only pays 7% tax in the US?[/quote]
No one. It was suggested as an adjustment to consider the pay as decent in Japan and even the US. My contention is that even $2500 per month as net income is not decent for the US. It’s short of the already low average income of ~$37,000 a year. I agree that for Taiwan $2,500 USD per month is very good given the cost of living and low tax rate. You can live well, travel AND save if you budget wisely. And that’s just in your first year.

Shame on you, Naijeru, for making me cry. The average salary in the US that you list is higher than a teacher in the South makes, even with an MA.

[quote=“kjmillig”] I agree, $2500 a month in the US isn’t decent. After rent, utilities, car costs, groceries, prescriptions, and extremely limited entertainment, we’re teetering on the line between black and red every month. And that $2500 is after paying over $600/month health insurance. Welcome to a public Independent School District.
So in comparison, it seems foreign teachers in Taiwan are making a better living based on cost of living in comparison to the US.[/quote]

This is sooooo true. Even with a salary like $2500 / month, you have the potential to save (assuming your rent, etc. in Taiwan is reasonable) so much more than you could in the States. It is a much better financial situation.

If I looked at my husband and I, if we were living in the US, we would have to have 2 cars, possibly pay for health insurance, pay for high utility costs, etc. etc. As teachers, we wouldn’t be saving much of anything. And if we were living in the UK, forget it…we would barely even be able to make ends meet as teachers. In Taiwan though, living in the south where our rent and costs were low, we lived / travelled well and had enough $ to study abroad for a year without going into any debt whatsoever. I am really thankful for that. :rainbow:

The South in TW or US? I happen to work for probably the highest paying district in the Houston area. Starting pay for a 1st year teacher is $43,000, or $43,500 with an MA. But that’s gross, not net. Full family insurance coverage with dental and vision is well over $600 a month. And one is mandated to pay into the Texas Teacher Retirement System, which sucks as an investment unless you elect to pay a lot more into it voluntarily.
U.S. median income for 1st year teachers nationwide is about $33,730. :astonished:
http://www.payscale.com/research/US/All_K-12_Teachers/Salary
I absolutely agree that in liquid, usable income, TW comes out ahead.
Thanks for the clarification, Naijeru.

[quote=“kjmillig”]The South in TW or US? I happen to work for probably the highest paying district in the Houston area. Starting pay for a 1st year teacher is $43,000, or $43,500 with an MA. But that’s gross, not net. Full family insurance coverage with dental and vision is well over $600 a month. And one is mandated to pay into the Texas Teacher Retirement System, which sucks as an investment unless you elect to pay a lot more into it voluntarily.
U.S. median income for 1st year teachers nationwide is about $33,730. :astonished:
http://www.payscale.com/research/US/All_K-12_Teachers/Salary
I absolutely agree that in liquid, usable income, TW comes out ahead.
Thanks for the clarification, Naijeru.[/quote]

So, you work for a private school and have to pay your own medical insurance? Is it the same now for other teaching jobs, like public school and universities? That’s crazy. My sister is a federal security guard and she has to pay for her own medical, too. What a chunk to take out of your salary each month!

Your question about the south being in TW or the US, I am not sure if that was directed toward me or not, but if it was I was referring to the south of TW.