Certification for Teaching at an International School

I looked around for a bit, but I didn’t see an answer to my question so I thought I’d ask.

I taught English for two years in Taiwan at some buxibans. I had a good time, but I left two years ago to come back to the states, finish my masters in history, and get a job working in history. I thought I’d like it, but working a 9-5 sitting at a desk and staring at a computer screen all day has just left me absolutely miserable. I miss teaching and Taiwan, but if I go back, I’d like to teach history at an international school in Asia, preferably in Taiwan. It just seems like it has more of a future than playing with a monkey puppet in front of 4 year olds for $700/hour. All of them seem want a) teachers licensed in their home countries and b) teaching experience, which seems quite reasonable, but I’m not sure the best way to go about transitioning. There are some programs in the states, like the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence, which offer online courses that I could get certified to teach, but I would only get a temporary license and need a few years experience to get a permanent one. I’ve also thought about applying to Teach for American for 2016, but it seems to be a very controversial program so I’m a little reluctant. I could also get an M.Ed., but I don’t know if that’s overkill, and I still have pretty substantial student loans from my last graduate degree.

Anyway, I’ve just been exploring my options, and if anyone has any experience they could add, it would be really appreciated.

If this is something you really want, eventually you will do something about it. You have to ask yourself if this is something you really want or if it’s something you’ll do only if you can get it easily. If it’s just something you would do if it were easy, then this almost certainly won’t happen.

First I’ll explain why this is difficult in your current situation. Then I’ll give you a few possible ways you can make it happen.

First off, you will need a teaching license issued from any state to even be considered. Unless you did your undergrad degree at an Ivy League school. Many schools want you to have experience in your subject area. Your previous experience teaching English at a buxiban will at most be looked at as a small plus. History is probably one of the least in demand subjects. Since it’s not one of the core subjects or something specialized, it’s a pretty low priority in most schools’ curriculum. Plus there are a glut of history teachers out there trying to land those precious few jobs, many of them far more qualified than you are right now without any experience or certification.

Now what you can do, if you really want this, is get certified. There are a number of options. There is an online program called Teacher Ready teacherready.org that can get you a teaching license from the State of Florida and then try applying to some schools here. You could also come here to Taiwan, work some job teaching English, make connections & figure things out, save your money and attend The College of New Jersey Off Site Graduate Program in Hsinchu. Both options will cost some money. The Teacher Ready one is relatively cheap and the TCNJ one is rather expensive. TCNJ one will be better though. There is also Framingham State University and they do education courses in Taiwan as well, but you don’t get a teaching license at the end like you do with the aforementioned programs.

Since you are in the States, you may want to consider Teach for America. Yes, it is controversial and their motives are much less than noble, but if it results in you getting a state teaching license and some educational training from a reputable institution, then I say go for it.

Have you checked your state’s department of education for requirements to transition to teaching? They may have better information on courses to gain accreditation. A M.Ed will not suffice as a teaching license, so while it’s nice to have on the resume, it won’t get you a work permit.

To work at an international school in Taiwan (or private bilingual schools accredited by the M.O.E.), you’ll need to fall into one of two camps:

  1. Have an APRC or be married to a local and have a JFRV. This means the school don’t need to go to the MOE to get your work permit approved; or

  2. Have a valid (not-expired) teaching license from your home state. The MOE will verify your details against the details on your home state’s website (most have searchable databases of teacher information). You won’t require a health check if you go this route (the same as other professionals).

There’s also an option 3 where private school A has deals in place with cram school B to sponsor teachers who then work at school A. This works fine until the immigration department does a check and discovers you’re working at a school that isn’t listed on your work permit.

With a glut of teachers in Taiwan at the moment,a lot of international school teaching candidates have at least a Masters in their field plus certification.

Thanks for taking the time to respond. I’ve been looking closely at licensing for a while and looking at job openings. I think you’re right that Teach for America might be a good option, but my girlfriend also has a job offer in Hsinchu so doing that New Jersey program is also an option.

Yes, but the TCNJ one isn’t cheap. If you have some savings now you could get yourself started. It is easy enough to work full time and attend that program. I live in Taipei and work full time and commute to Hsinchu for classes with relative ease. You could move to Hsinchu, get some joe-schmoe job teaching English and use your savings toward the classes. If you want further details, send me a PM.