Fellow Forumosa Fanatics: Questions on my Aspirations to be an English Teacher

Hello (早) fellow Taiwan[ese] enthusiasts, current teachers, residents, alike! I, villanelle, have been looking around this forum for a while and decided to join on the account that I can share my interests in this island just as you do, and very much would like to be a teacher of English in the future. I have a few questions, but please bear with me as I try not to type too much…

I would like to start with a personal account for clarity’s sake:

I am currently a citizen and resident in the United States of Caribbean descent. As of August, I have a BA in Neuroscience from a top 50 University (not that it matters… excuse me if that’s crass). I have initially wanted to pursue a non-teaching, STEM career on the island, but coming from a family of [language] teachers I wanted to switch gears and make a respective change in a plethora of motivated students’ lives. I very much enjoy the idea of teaching and from being in University I have had positive feedback when giving seminars and such.

I am on my second year of learning Chinese and have gotten to the intermediate level of reading/speaking/writing (I’m working on listening!) and hopefully by late 2019 I would have decent, business-level ability for getting around. I understand that Chinese is not allowed in classrooms but I figure being able to converse with my superiors/co-workers will be indispensable, outside of everyday life. The need for Chinese mastery seems obligatory to me given this is a country with a generally homogenous population.

As for my credentials, while I do not have any experience teaching English, I am currently fluent and have about 2+ years of teaching experience in music and science, the latter requiring me to switch between two different languages (French, English). I am fluent in 3 languages, and working on Chinese. I do not plan on being TEFL/TESOL certified, and wish to teach junior high school/high school students/adults (this one is up for change, as I have read it is more difficult and overall less rewarding than teaching younger children). I am looking into either Kaohsiung or Tainan (in preferential order for the sake of living costs), however with air pollution issues in the former it might lead me to the latter.

Fellow Forumosans, as I assimilate myself better with you all, I ask — is it worth looking for a non-entry level, public school job assignment? Should I stick to buxiban, and work my English teaching experience from there? Are there considerations that would help for me to take as a Caribbean male during the process (if it helps, I am quite strong-willed and do not take much offense)?

I thank you kind souls in advance. 再見!

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You’re looking at the wrong island if you want motivated students. Pay for STEM / neuroscience will be 3x English teacher salary. Why bother?

Thanks for replying.

Pay is not as important as long as I have a decent wage that allows saving, anyway. I do not consider where I am now to be motivated so I believe I can deal, understanding that what I will offer has value. I assume I would be compensated commensurate with my exp. Forgive me I don’t know how comparatively easy/difficult it is to get a STEM job so I couldn’t relate them.

If you want motivated students, teach at an affluent area. There are good schools and bad schools. If your buxiban is near a good school and expensive neighborhood because of the school district. They are more likely to have parents that push them to do well.

Buxibans can be a hit or miss. I didn’t like teaching English grammer so I taught social studies and science in English for a buxiban which to me is sooooo much more enjoyable.

Which areas did you find to be the best? Is motivation this big of an issue?

Some buxibans are not so much a school, but more like a daycare. The bar can be very low for some of the them. Make sure you see how the kids are before you accept if that’s an issue. Some don’t mind baby sitting as you don’t really need to teach much. Others like myself wanted to teach when I did do that.

I don’t know where in kaoshung or Tainan are the good school areas.

Thanks a lot, I will do further research; though, if I am faced with little success I might have to consider the notoriously negatively-viewed non-teaching jobs…

for public school job, you need a teacher licence.

Sorry, is it the private sector that allows non-licensed professionals to teach? I may have mixed them up.

Regular school teachers should be licenced. To teach at a buxiban you don’t need a license.

Oh okay got it. So if I make my choice for a buxiban, does my experience potentially allow a higher starting salary?

Unlikely. Even experienced buxiban teachers are capped at a certain pay basically.

I have a feeling you’re a bit too optimistic about what buxiban teaching is like. A significant amount of is going to be soul crushing. Telling kids to be quiet and stop running around. I’m not sure it’s what you’ve imagined in your head.

Ah is that so? I suppose it is necessary to consider options, but I am fairly certain. It is still early!

I have been in charge of kids before. Low attention spans, hard to get to, all of it – in a wide range of [teaching] environments. I wholeheartedly have a passion for this kind of thing, and hope it is viable enough so that I don’t have to resort to STEM work, which apparently brings terrible treatment.

I hope you find the right buxiban. Some, like I said, are more like day care. I think you might be miserable at those kind where you’re more of a baby sitting foreigner clown than a teacher.

Thanks for the wishes, mate. I’m sure I will with the right guidance.

I suggest having enough cash when you arrive so you don’t feel like you need to rush into a job to get a paycheck in schools that you don’t like. Also come during hiring season not the middle of the school year.

Buxibans don’t generally pay salaries. You get an hourly rate which can be negotiated. Some buxibans pay extra to teachers who have relevant TEFL qualifications. The highest paying buxibans only employ teachers with 2 years post TEFL teaching experience.

Thank you. I think instead I will consider a multinational company with a Taiwan base to work from now on, judging by the responses and more reading.

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