Getting a Teaching License While Living in Taiwan (SA version)

I finally got one, without having to take a full year off to do it, and here’s how I did it.

If you’re thinking of getting a teaching license to expand your teaching options while in Taiwan, you’ve probably run into the difficulties of doing so. According to the Education Department, in order to qualify for public school positions that are funded by the department, you need a degree from another country and a teaching license from another country on the English speaking country list (US, UK, ZA, NZ, AUS, etc).

Tainan’s public elementary school program started hiring teachers in 2014 (when I joined) and did not require a teaching license from applicants with an APRC (my case) or JFRV. However, in 2018, the education department required Tainan to change that and require all teachers to have licenses. I like my job and needed to get a license.

Obstacles to getting the license

If you’re not willing (or unable) to go back to your home country, or somewhere else, to complete the teaching license full-time over a year, there are two main obstacles.

  1. Accumulating practical teaching practice time
  2. Doing coursework all online

It is possible to get a temporary license (or equivalent) from the US, for example, the MTEL, which you can get by submitting your degree certificate and taking two tests, but that license still requires you get practical time within five years to make it a full license.

Unfortunately, my South African BSc from the University of KwaZulu-Natal was NOT acceptable for the MTEL because it is a 3-year bachelors degree, which are quite unusual nowadays (I graduated in 2000) but still not acceptable as the equivalent of a US 4-year degree required by the MTEL certification people.

Here’s where my angst starts to come in.

After being in Taiwan for almost two decades, the slow speed and inefficiency of South African institutions doesn’t just drive me around the bend but actually makes any dealings on that end almost impossible. Non-replies to questions, slow replies, incoherent or illogical replies, and generally just a system that moves as slow as molasses at the best of times. Which is why the first option or UNISA was completely off limits for me as a dysfunctional, non-responsive entity where the standard application method is to “go sit in a long line”.

I tried multiple times to contact UNISA by email and never once received a response. At this point, I was quite desperate as my job would likely end if I didn’t get this done.

Cornerstone Institute

So, I googled and found Cornerstone Institute (based in Cape Town)

I emailed them, and got a reply… in 20 MINUTES!!!

From that point, the cost was a triviality and they had my business.

Additionally, my 3-year degree was fine.

Absolutely everything is online, and the staff are always helpful and will pass on any enquiries to the revelant person, and you’ll get a reply. Plus, they communicated well in email, which is pretty essential for international communication of this sort. The whole course is completed through their learning platform, and all assignments are submitted through there. Communication with their admin staff is all through email.

There are three teaching practicals for the course:

Prac A: 2 weeks (observation only)
Prac B: 2 weeks (10 hours total teaching)
Prac C: 4 weeks (20 hours total teaching)

All must be completed in South Africa, at different schools, and one of them must be done in a formerly disadvantaged school, i.e. non-white school, not model C. There are forms to complete and you need to go back to South Africa for these. I maxed out my paid and unpaid leave to get it done quick. For efficiency, you can do practicals A & B in consecutive fortnights. I did them all in schools very close to my parents’ house where I stayed when I went back.

I completed the entire course in a year and a half, less than the recommended minimum of two years. If you really hustle, I don’t see any issue with completing this in a single year, but expect late nights and dragging papers around with you to read at all times.

Costs (totals)

Tuition - ZAR60,000 (TWD150,000)
Books - ZAR8,000 (TWD20,000)
Flights - TWD100,000

The whole course was well worth it and although it was a squash at times I really surprised myself with how much I could get done when I have to. Although this is not an easy (or shortcut) way to get a teaching qualification, it was worth the effort, even though after 4.5 months my SACE certificate still hasn’t arrived (ohh, the inefficiency)

Which is it?


What about living costs such as food, petrol, rent (if your parents charge you) etc.

Your flights are very expensive, I would say you got ripped off big time if you paid 100K for economy.

If you qualify (2 teachable subjects at 2nd year level), you can do a PGCE at a university for much cheaper than R60,000 and it is a one year course.

I’ve changed the first line accordingly.

“without having to take a full year off to do it”

It was meant to express that I didn’t have to leave Taiwan for a full year to complete it, as I’ve seen others do.

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TWD100,000 is approximate for three flights for three practicals.

Stayed free with my folks, borrowed their car, just paid for food.

The only issue is that pretty much every university wants you there in person. I’m almost 40, have two kids, and a full-time job that I enjoy and want to keep. Convenience and efficiency, rather than price, were my greatest concerns.

Thank you for sharing this.