I’ve been going back and forth on coming to Taiwan to teach English for a few months now. Largely because I wanted to be 100% sure about it and fully committed. I’ve finally got to that point, so now I’m trying to figure out what to do next. I have a 4-year degree, but no certification or teaching experience. I applied with Hess online, got an initial response asking for pictures, copy of my degree, etc., but shortly after sending them everything I got a response telling me I wasn’t selected for further consideration or something. If everything goes as planned, I should have between $4500-5000 (US) put back by mid-late November, so I figure I have two options…
Fly over, stay in a hostel or something, and look for a position when I’m actually there.
Use a good chunk of that money to get certified with a program that offers job placement assistance.
My preference would be option #1. If I do that, my plan would be teach for a year (or whatever the initial contract is) to see if it’s something I could see myself doing long-term, and if so, then I’d take a vacation to get certified. However, I’m worried that I’ll get over there and not be able to find a job before my visitor visa expires. Which brings me to my question: how difficult is it to find a legit position in Taipei? I’d be open to going to another city instead, but Taipei is the largest, so I figure that would be my best bet. If not, then where would be?
Bonus question: What in the world should I be putting on a TEFL resume? I know what to put on a “normal” resume, but without certification or teaching experience to list, I’m at a bit of a loss as to what I should be putting on a resume for a TEFL position.
OK so I’m not a teacher and take what I say with a grain of salt, but I am in an affiliated industry and here’s my observations.
To answer your question flat-out, it shouldn’t be too hard to find a legit job in under 30 days. Teaching in Taiwan is a very transient and fluid business. Just don’t have your hopes set too high.
I’m not saying you should get down on your knees and thank God that Hess didn’t accept you but… I’ve met at least a dozen Hess teachers and all except one said it is a hellish place to ply the trade, and the one guy who said he liked it was really sort of a dick and I thought, “Well, that makes sense. They belong together.”
Your number 1 option is the best (and maybe do a quick perusal of my posted replies – I say this to almost everyone and every question): Get over here and check it out. Sure, it’s good to establish some prior connections. Get familiar with TEALIT and maybe hook up with Reach to Teach or some other recruiter. You don’t have to take what they offer but they do give you a solid idea of what’s out there. The main thing is, Taiwan looks and feels a whole lot different on this side of the pond. Hell, you might get here and hate it (I doubt it but it’s possible). Come. Taiwan will take care of the rest.
Five K is good for about two months (the more frugal Forumosan would howl at that and say three months, minimum) of comfortable living. I would be hesitant to sink any of that into a certification that may or may not make a difference. From my observations, teaching in Taiwan is a whole lot of repetitious babysitting. The days of simply needing a pulse and a BA are over in Taiwan. Go to China if you want that lack of scrutiny – and not an awful idea if you’ve got the stones for mainland life. Anyway, I believe Robert Kelly or someone at Lonely Planet once wrote that the first thing that goes out the Taiwanese cram school window is the notion of being a good teacher. You’ll see for yourself…if you follow the advice in #3.
Your resume is not nearly important as your diploma and your (presumably) Western face. Just fill it up with the stuff you’ve done and be positive and energetic in every possible way.
If you only have 4-5K then I would pass on the CELTA. It will help you at a personal level of becoming a better teacher quicker but it won’t help you get a job. And it will easily eat up half of your savings. the cheapest are 1600USD, plus food/board (600-800), plus extra airfare to wherever, plus entertainment before/after the course. Pretty soon it ends being a 3K USD course. by the time that you land in Taiwan you could have nearly spent your 4K when you factor in your airfare.
And you will have several big expenses that if you have money it’s better to do sooner than later. You will need to rent an apt requiring a months rent and 2 months deposit (600-1000 easily) and you might want to get a scooter (or at least a bike). And scooters start at about 10K NT.
The job market isn’t great in Taiwan but if you’re white and under 35 you should find a job in a month.
Thanks for the responses so far. Can anyone confirm this:
That could be a huge factor in my decision, because if I pursue certification first, then I’d probably do the CELTA in Denver during January, which would work out perfectly from a timing stand point. It would be tough to wait another 3.5 months, but if things worked out right, I could have the best certification, almost as much money, and be arriving at a peak time for looking for teaching work.
The best time to come would be during July/August, and ready yourself for end of August start, as when that is when the jobs are most plentiful. During CNY is also a good time, but I would say not nearly as great as during the summer.
Legit positions are MUCH more difficult to find, from what I’ve seen. Don’t forget that it is ILLEGAL for you to teach in kindergartens and it is ILLEGAL for you work at a location other than the one listed on your ARC. These are two very, very common scams that both buxibans and recruiters run here. They will NEVER tell you that they are setting you up for fines and deportation, but that, nevertheless, is EXACTLY what they do. They prey on young people, exploiting the fact that many are inexperienced, naive and desperate.
I’ve met many people who had no real complaints about Hess, except that it’s a McDonald’s kind of environment. I did some adult teaching for them a million years ago and they were absolutely fine. There’s an outfit called Shane you could look at, they have a pretty good reputation. Most of us (myself included) had a less than wonderful initial experience teaching in Taiwan. It gets better as you learn the ropes.
Certification doesn’t count for much, except maybe to warn a potential employer that you may have ideas about teaching that are different from theirs. If you can cope with the cultural environment then actually learning about teaching might be helpful to you personally at a later date. I still know next to nothing about real teaching, so I can’t really advise.
There are always jobs. Be prepared to do some (illegal) subbing and/or part-time work until you find a steady gig, and factor a trip to HK to renew your visa into your budget. Note that few teachers in Taipei have just one steady job. Many of us have a mixed schedule of different p/t stuff. Keep away from the pub. No sense in drinking all your money away.
Yes, even though I have taken education classes and have read a lot about language acquisition it does me no good when I teach at a cram school. The only time that my 3.8 GPA has mattered is when getting hired to tutor some rich students from Taipei American School. Those parents are the only ones whom have ever been concerned about my As in Calculus I, II, and Prob and Stat. Not to mention all As or A-s in English.
Yes, even though I have taken education classes and have read a lot about language acquisition it does me no good when I teach at a cram school. The only time that my 3.8 GPA has mattered is when getting hired to teach some rich students from Taipei American school. Those parents are the only ones whom have ever been concerned about my As in Calculus I, II, and Prob and Stat. Not to mention all As or A-s in English.[/quote]
I’ve not come across GPA before. Is it some kind of standardized test?