Buxiban owners' pet peeves about foreign teachers

What do bushiban owners bitch about when they get together?Teachers that leave without notice? Some teachers just pack up and leave without notice of any kind, leaving the school high and dry without a teacher and an extremely embarrassed manager trying to explain to parents and students what happened. Taiwanese children can be quite sentimental about saying good-bye to their teacher!



Great thread!! I hope that it sees a lot of legitimate posts and doesn

Hey, they bitch about students and parents, too! The best school I taught for hired only teachers who had been here for a couple years and planned on being here for longer. They also payed about 80% above the going rate, paid every Saturday night, and included us in school meetings, so they had no problem retaining reliable teachers who dressed fairly well. I imagine their biggest complaint was teachers trying to do things their own way when the curriculum said something different. Then again, we did have a voice in what was taught.

Early on I worked at a school that paid low wages and would hire just about any white face that didn’t have a joint in it at the time of the interview. The teachers were not at all involved in the school aside from actually teaching the class, showing up 5 minutes before class if their watches were running fast. The manager once told me that she didn’t really care if she had good teachers, as long as the kids were entertained. In fact, experienced teachers tended to cause more strife. I imagine the owners of those schools did bitch about teachers calling in sick too often, taking extended vacations, and leaving with little or no notice.

It comes down to cultural differences, and more specifically workplace culture.

Taiwanese are supposed to be respectful to their bosses, work late, show up in the weekends etc whenever asked. Sometimes buxiban owners will get upset when their foreign employee, who they see as having a very sweet deal, gets angry about being asked to work a little more. On the other hand the foreign teachers like to have everything spelled out plain and simple, regarding their employment conditions and if those conditions are ‘breached’ feel like they’re being taken advantage of.

A lot of my work involves liasing and mediating between the teachers and the bosses, and the number one complaint of bosses is ‘attitude’.

Of course another problem is communication and ‘inclusiveness’. The foreign teacher won’t be involved in staff meetings etc. because of language. Also some teachers give the impression that they don’t want to come out to a staff dinner or something (they say they can’t make it) and that sort of sets them aside form the other staff. Of course due to their specialist work and very different hours and pay, they are kind of different.

There are different ideas about ‘personal time’. In fact (and not just relating to employment), I think Taiwanese don’t really have a concept of ‘personal time’. “Can you come in for a teaching demonstration on Sunday?” “Um. sorry, no, I’ve got something else to do” (nursing my hangover/jut having a rest from working all week). “What are you doing?”. This is where the teacher needs to learn about what Chinese would think of as good reasons not to work (‘I need some time to myself’ or ‘It’s not in the contract’ are not good reasons) and employ some little white lies. If you’re married ot a Taiwanese, the best reason is you have to visit your parents-in-law. Otherwise make sure you’ve got Chinese classes in the evenings. Church on Sunday might be a good one too. Other time, you should make a little effort and compromise a little to show that you really are willing to help out when you are able.

Of course the bosses need to learn a little about foreigners’ ideas of a separation between work time and free time. They need to learn to respect their employees’ outside commitments. And then there’s the lying crooks who will try and exploit you as much as you can. My advice is to just get out of there as quickly a possible.

A longstanding cause of stress for me has been the various interpretations of “contract” that I’ve had to put up with in the work that I’ve done throughout Asia. But I’d have to say, some of the worst breaches I’ve seen or heard of, have come from the buxibans here in Taiwan.

In Oz, a contract can be made via a simple handshake or a nod of the head. We generally do our best to keep to the letter of the contract, and an excuse like “sorry, but I hadn’t planned for this little problem which resulted from to my ineptitude” doesn’t hold much credence or get much sympathy from the other party to the contract.

So, when Almas John wrote that we foreigners are too legalistic, he’s got a point, and we can use Sir Don’s reason of cultural differences to justify it. But when talking about something called “guaranteed hours”, then I think you’ve got to expect some sort of teacher backlash if a buxiban owner can’t keep to a simple agreement and offer regular hours to a teacher.

I’d guess that 90% of broken promises come down to the buxiban owner’s poor management skills, which is hardly the fault of the teacher. Let’s face it, most of the buxiban bosses don’t even have the capacity to run a roadside noodle cart, let alone a school… So if the boss stuffs up, and uses a pissweak excuse to cover the mistake (maybe this is a cultural thing, too), why shouldn’t a teacher be peeved?

In my opinion, the offer of guaranteed hours would help to get the most out of a teacher and keep him/her from looking for work at other places. The convenience of the arrangement should also keep the teacher happy. So if an agreement as simple as “minimum hours” can’t be kept, then I think you’d have to be living in a dreamworld to not expect a teacher to think about leaving.

Furthermore, if a deal on guaranteed hours has been broken, then what does it hold for the rest of the agreement that a teacher has with a buxiban? Should the teacher still be expected to keep to the letter of the contract? As far as I’m concerned, unless the boss is prepared to talk about the issue, and explain things in a compassionate and conciliatory way, then I wouldn’t even want to wipe my arse with that contract.

It’s definitely a two-edged sword, but I’d say the boss’ blade is a sharper.

The Big Babou

Big Babou

The mention of double edged swords and wiping arses in your post has a brought a tear to my eye! :shock:

Big Babou,
Sorry if my post wasn’t clear. The comment about foreigners being too legalistic is not my opinion, rather what Taiwanese bushiban owners have told me. When a person is “guaranteed” a certain number of hours then he has every right to expect them. If the nature of the business makes it impossible to guarantee a set number of numbers, then the boss should say that when hiring someone.

Ta for the clarifiaction, Almas John.

I understand what you’re saying, and think that this problem could be rectified by proper industry regulation. For example, in the UK, all language centres (i.e. buxibans) are inspected by The British Council, and their approval is an industry standard. However, the B.C. won’t extend the courtesy to cover chools in other regions, or even offer a consultancy service to do it… There are also various other means of quality assurance, such as the ISO, but the cost is very prohibitive and most people in Taiwan couldn’t care about it, with respect to education.

Basically, it just comes down to both parties keeping their word.

Sorry to rant’n’rave, but it’s a full moon.

The Big Babou :wink:

I bitch about teachers not giving a shit about the job they do. A lot of folks just want to cruise, especially teachers that have been here for a while. Then they are so surprised when they get their rearends fired. Also that, “I’m a foreigner, so it’s okay if I act like a prima donna.”

“You want me to teach chapter 10 this week?” “Well yes, it is in the schedule.” “Oh right dude, we have a schedule…I forgot. Now what chapter do you want me to teach?” " Chapter 10, it is in the schedule…you know, the schedule that is right in front of your face." “Oh yeah, chapter 10…that’s the one right after chapter 9, right?”

You would be amazed how many meatheads are running around here trying to teach. This stuff is not rocket science, but they still can’t get it.

Great thread…good therapy for me as I need to vent sometimes.

I don’t see how this can avoid turning into a slanging match between owners and teachers. But I will do my best to keep it on topic.

Please chaps, don’t start making personal attacks ! Although I am a teacher and have very strong views on certain issues (such as the so-called “contract” of employment - has one ever been enforced through the courts?), I would like to hear the other side of the story…!


Hey hexuan, I didn’t mean for what I wrote to be meant as a personal attack. I think it best for me just to leave this thread alone.



Here’s a question that I think is on-topic: If it were possible for a buxiban owner to offer a salary that was above market rate, say NT$800 per hour for children’s classes, would it be possible for the owner to recruit better-trained, more professional teachers? Assume here that the boss is skilled with managing relationships, and that there is enough work to go around, give or take a few hours.

Actually, I have a similar opinion to DB. I had to fire an undermotivated teacher recently. Sleeping on the job! Didn’t believe it at first but then we had it all recorded on our classroom camera system.

I am not the owner, but I am the one in charge of the other foreign staff. For the most part it is a pleasure but it does have its moments just like DB stated.

I’d be pissed if my employees spent all day on Forumosa. But who am I to speak? :wink:

I would be too, but then I work all day and all night.
A bit of therapy everyday works wonders for my sanity.
I am about to disappear though, we are changing our curriculum and well at the moment I can teach on auto pilot with everything already prepared from the last 2 years. This year will be different with my ass having to be in 3 schools running around like a headless chicken.

Teaching demos, training days, new curriculum, Boss Hogg is about to get a little quiet. :cry: I spend 30 minutes on forumosa before work. 30 minutes at lunch time and 30 minutes at the end of the day. If I have done all my work my boss tells me I can do whatever I like online, apart from porn that is :laughing: .

I don’t give a hoot what the teachers do with their non-teaching time as long as it’s legal, in line with school policy, and doesn’t make their work suffer. Hand in stuff on time and everything will be ok. Teach what you are supposed to teach and teach it well not half assed. Complain if you must but don’t be an a** about it.

Not too much to ask really

It would only be possible if the employer was able to accurately judge how good the teacher was. Also I wouldn’t say better training or being nore professional are necessarily the most important things. Most important is having a good ‘teaching personality’, some good experience teaching in Taiwan is a plus and of course there’s the old ‘attitude’.


There’s nothing like an atmosphere of trust. :shock:

[quote=“Durins Bane”]Hey hexuan, I didn’t mean for what I wrote to be meant as a personal attack. I think it best for me just to leave this thread alone.


No need. I didn’t mean you (or anyone else) ! It’s just that this thread has the potential to go wrong. I am all up for robust sharing of opinions. Please post on.

My main gripe with the attitude of buxibans is that the so-called “contract” is:

(a) one-sided in favour of the employer, and;
(b) unenforceable.

Has anyone ever heard of a teacher enforcing a contract against a buxiban ?

The entire discussion seems to be based on the premise that all English teachers are ill-educated high school dropouts who couldn’t give a shit about their work. Is this premise still valid in 2003 ?

How am I expected to feel about an employer who does not make one single contractual promise to me (except that if he does give me any work it will be paid at NT$xxx per hour), and yet binds me in every way he can think of including not only precluding me from working elsewhere, but also requiring me to idemnify him against any losses he may occur in the event I do work elsewhere and get caught ? My employer’s English and Chinese versions of the contract also vary widely. My employer knows it is illegal to withold pay (as in a penalty for early termination) but words it so in the English, hoping I do not notice the Chinese uses the term “compensate” rather than “withold”.

Why do I work there ? Because I think I can do what is required and maintain cordial relations with the management. But I will still fight my corner. This is mainly because each assault on teachers’ rights, and encroachment into private time in hypocritically worded as being “in the interest of the students”. Once the hypocrisy is stripped away (and I think this is happening) disputes between staff and management are more of the mundane drawing lines in the sand that can be expected in any workplace. It is worth noting that my school provides a no-nonsense ARC and pays on time exactly what they say they will. (I’d rather not reveal which school.)

It’s funny, you hear all this stuff on these forums about bad bosses and schools, but we never really consider who is writing these comments. And I think this thread is good because people can hear the other side of the story.

School owners look at profit…how one goes about it is one’s own business. My major expense is foreign teacher’s salaries (close to seven figures per month). That is a major expense…and so I need…must…look at that cost and ask myself, “Am I getting my money’s worth?” Hey, I will pay a teacher whatever salary that teacher is justified in getting.

I get stuff like, “I have one more student in my class. I want more money”. "Hey, you get a raise every six months, and you are working 40 hours a week here…vacation time whenever you want it…slurp my butt "(to paraphrase). I slap down the investment, take the risks, put in the hours, why shouldn’t I see the profit? I think many teachers don’t see this. What it comes down to is that many teachers don’t realize that this is a business. That is the first thing I tell new teachers. It is all about money. Yes, it sounds “greedy” and “evil”, but there are many schools that are making lots of money and still providing a quality education to their students. I don’t profit share with the teachers because they did not take the risks.