Did Taiwan ever have a program like JET (Japan) or EPIK (Korea)?

No, I just met tons of ETAs every year (usually would have met all of them in my county by the end of the year) and every year they were the same:

  1. They all thought I was a Christian missionary who was homeschooled my whole life and didn’t go to college (I keep my spiritual beliefs to myself, went to real “good” schools for K-12, and I attended a real university before going to a real grad school. I’m also a licensed teacher in the US who got my license through traditional, attending classes, student teaching and passing tests means, not through some “alternative licensing” method). Compare this to the ETAs themselves, few of whom had any background in education or interest in pursuing education after their gap year, let alone a teaching license. All while I co-taught 100% of my classes and they might have had another adult, let along teacher, in the room 20% of the time, if they were lucky (which is soooo veeerrryyy not legal, not to mention INCREDIBLY unsafe for the children)
  2. Every year, the ETAs insisted they were being paid “better than the other teachers in their school”. Even when I showed them from the TW government site that not only were they being paid less monthly, their colleagues were also being paid that monthly salary 14 times/year and also getting retirement benefits, they would tell me I was lying. They refused to see the reality that was in front of them. When I showed them my contract from my school, with 65k+/mo + 5k/mo for housing + airfare x2 + salary paid for 12 months with 3 months off, for me doing less work than they were in the same school, they insisted that having Fulbright on their resume made it all worth it.
  3. There were some weekend English camps at some of the schools that the FETs used to run and be paid NT$600-800/hr for. One time, an ETA joined and insisted that she “didn’t need the money” and refused to take it. That money was simply divided up amongst the rest of us. From then on, only ETAs were ever invited to help with the camps. The money from the government was still handed off to the school, but the ETAs were not paid that money because they were not allowed to any pay for any “work” they did. That means someone else in the school made a few thousand USD in one day, just for showing up to work while the foreigners did all the working.
  4. There is not a single “volunteer” activity that ETAs are REQUIRED to chose from that isn’t a full-blown, paying job. There are specific rules about volunteering in Taiwan if you’re not on an open work permit, and they are very clear in the law that you cannot volunteer to do things that are real, paying jobs. “Volunteering” at the hospital by getting ice packs and other supplies and delivering them to the people who need them? That’s a paying job that someone else already has. Someone is sitting with their feet up, collecting a pay check while you work for free. Teaching English in any capacity (university tutor, in the old people home) as a volunteer? When I helped with anything at the local university I was paid NT$2000/hr and was usually paid for 2x more hours than I actually worked. In the old people home, I used to hang out with them and sing songs and I would be paid $600/hr. Reading English stories to children in the public library was also $600/hr. When I brought this up with ETAs, every year, as they complained about how busy they were, they insisted that it was OK because “the people here need English help and I don’t need the money” and all sorts of BS that no normal human with a functioning brain that is able to think about basic justice for oneself says. They try to justify their unfair treatment by insisting that their resume will look better, they will have more opportunities, or that they need the (unpaid) work experience. And they go along with it all because they are constantly being told by Fulbright that their resume and experience matter more than being paid a reasonable wage for the job you do.

I could go on and on about all the other things Fulbrighers have shared with me over the years, but I have better things to do with my time. You were in Fulbright, so you know all these things. If I had time and money, I would find someone to actually document the scam that is Fulbright and bring it all to light. No one who has just come out of college, looking to chill out in a foreign country and HELP out in an English classroom, should be forced to do the things that Fulbright forces them to do, especially not at the pay they are receiving. If a major US newspaper got ahold of real, actual evidence of the BS of Fulbright, they would have a field day. Whether or not something would be done to address the problems/ change them is another story entirely, but from what I’ve heard and personally seen of Fulbright over the past decade, it’s a program that should have ended a long time ago. But you probably already know that.

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22 classes/week is the limitation for FETs. Local subject area teachers (ie, local English teachers) are paid overtime on any class over 18/week. Homeroom teachers teach no more than 16. If you are given a contract in a public school that has more classes than 22, run away. TBH, should insist on having no more than 18 like the local teachers…

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As for TFETP, what are the differences between Foreign Teachers and Teacher Assistants other than license and pay? Do they do different things?

It’s a new program, so I can’t begin to know the answer. The (formerly known as) FET program (for the licensed teachers) is an absolute mess right now, with many people who have been in their school for years only getting their contracts for next year today (visas all expired on July 15 with the previous school year’s work permit. Normally next year’s contract comes out in May, maybe early June at the latest)

I would warn anyone who wants to be an assistant that there’s a very good chance you’ll be taken advantage of, reminded by your school that you “don’t even have a teaching license”, etc. They started the assistant program because the pay for licensed teachers here hasn’t budged in 20+ years and it really is not get favorable to work in TW compared to a lot of developed countries’ schools anymore. Also, they fail at communication or making any effort to recruit people (hence Teach Taiwan’s frequent posts on Forumosa. Though I see they didn’t mention ESL teachers after I called them out for it). My guess would be that assistants would be a given a contract that is promptly ignored. Fulbright, for example, not to keep dragging them in, tells the schools and local governments that the ETAs are unlicensed and should co-teach all classes. That they are there only to assist the local teachers and that they are never to teach alone. In my county, not only did they have a maximum of 6 classes that were co-taught, they also ran an English village that only had ETAs working in it. So there wasn’t even a local teacher to pretend to be working there. They also usually had 30 classes a week. That means 80% of their contact hours in the school were in direct violation of the contract they had between Fulbright and the school, not to mention in violation of Taiwanese law in so many ways.

I doubt the TFETP assistants program would be any better. Probably even dealing with the same schools