How to plan some sort of agenda for applying to buxibans pre-arrival

Hello community,

I’m moving to Taipei in late December, and have already booked an AirBnb in the Zhongzheng district for 2 weeks with my primary intention being that I find a job teaching job. Financially I’m not too worried if it takes longer than 2 weeks, yet it seems that finding a job should be the top priority so that I could apply for an ARC and provide proof of work when renting out a room/apartment.

With that being said, how can I preplan some sort of agenda to apply to respectable schools in person? I saw there’s a list of schools NOT to go to, but haven’t seen a list of schools that have been “approved” per say. Is it suggested that I reach out to buxibans before traveling to the school and asking for a hiring manager? I’ve been checking TeaLit frequently to get a sense of listings, but that’s truly been my only source of specific job opportunities other than the large chain organizations-which I intend to stay away from unless I’m desperate. Any guidance would be much appreciated; I’m not the aimless type of person when it comes to big moves like this, and would love to here your recommended plan of attack with the experience y’all have.


1 Like

What’s wrong with the large chain organisations?

1 Like

TeaLit hasn’t been relevant in years. I’d check out the Facebook ESL teaching groups for Taipei, as a lot of employers go directly there to advertise positions nowadays. You also occasionally see (good and bad) jobs advertised on this very forum, so keep an eye out for that as well.

Don’t take this the wrong way… but if it’s your first teaching job then don’t act like you’re too good to take a teaching gig with one of the big chains. In fact, they’ll probably treat you better than a small independent buxiban that has no oversight, proper training or standardized contracts. Thanks to declining birth rates and an increasingly crowded and competitive ESL environment, the current job market isn’t easy for new teachers here nowadays. A lot struggle to find full-time contracts that enable them to get a sponsored work visa. So keep an open mind, because you might find you have no choice but to entertain offers from mega-chains like Hess. You can always try for something bigger and better after a year or two under your belt. Most do. Well… those that stick around anyway.


Okay cool, I’ll definitely keep eyes peeled on more of the Facebook groups.

Thanks Drew I appreciate your honesty! It’s not necessarily that I think I’m “too good,” because I do understand that although I have an English BA, TEFL certificate, and substitute teaching/tutoring experience, it still doesn’t really count as teaching experience. It almost seems like a rite of passage to be in a cram school that overworks you and underpays you because of your lack of experiential qualifications, however, I’d like to avoid a job where I feel like I’m being manipulated and under appreciated at all costs. This is where the chain schools seem to get the notoriously bad rep, and I’m not against them all, I’m just trying to gravitate toward opportunities where I’ll feel encouraged to be the best teacher I can be and utilize the compassion I feel toward teaching English-rather than being subjugated to a life sucking job that leaves me hesitant to commit any further.

1 Like

@jacklink you seem serious about your future teaching career and I’m sure it’ll be a good one. But yes, there is a bit of a “rite of passage” in every career when starting out. I didn’t start as a uni professor. I cut my teeth on cramschool gigs when I first started teaching over a decade ago. And things were easier back then as well. I don’t know if you’ll have better luck with smaller cram schools than you will with the large chains. In fact, the smaller ones might be more likely to screw you since they don’t have to answer to any head office. If you’re really dead-set against it, you could try applying with elementary schools or high schools, but to be honest that might also be hard with a lack of practical experience. The cramschool route is probably unavoidable for now, but there’s many great schools and great branches out there as well. We just hear about the horror stories more often. You seem smart and very driven. I’m sure you’ll land on your feet here and find an acceptable job. And if you are unlucky and don’t get a place you’re happy with, you push through the first year and use that as a springboard to better opportunities.

Do you currently have a valid substitute teaching license? If so you might be qualified to work in the public schools, which could be a more positive experience like you’re looking for.

I don’t have much advice for the cram schools, sorry–although I do have friends who work for Shane and they are fairly happy with it!


Fortunately, and Unfortunately, NY state hasn’t required me to obtain a substitute certificate with my BA in English to substitute teach, so I’ve put that off. However, I do have the proof I’ve been subbing for nearly 6 months total if that’s any consolation.

Thanks for the insight Hannah; I couldn’t help but notice from one of your other posts that you work directly with Teach Taiwan, and I’d definitely be curious to hear more about the guidance you could offer in regards to the direction I’m trying to go.

So sorry I didn’t reply sooner, I missed this somehow! I do work for Teach Taiwan. I can send you a PM :slight_smile:

Amen Brother…
Pick a big school like Hess. (I hear it’s not the same as when I worked there twenty years ago. But it’s only a year commitment, how bad can it be?).
The school will have set rules, policies and maybe a head foreign teacher to help smooth things out.
Plus, if they write their own material, maybe you could join their creative staff. (That was the Hess Model).
They’ll help you get housing and you can spend your time getting acculturated.
Spend the your first year surveying your opportunities and making friends and contacts.
I left the major chain and fell into a three year nightmare.
Three years of boss trying to embezzle my tax money. Scheduling problems and general BS.
Why did I stay? Family reasons. There were no jobs less than an hour a way at the time. Plus, I had the power of a business savy girlfriend/wife and family to put the pressure on the boss. Finally liberated by an open work permit. Seriously, a couple of foreigners a year went running from this boss.
You can have great bosses and bad bosses. Pick a nice stable chain for your first year.
That said, I’m still a hillbilly living in and teaching in the country. I’m not sure the what it’s like for newcomers now.

Was the bosses name Stephen (pronounced Steven)?

No, but, he’s probably the same. My bad experience was almost twenty years ago. I’ve found several people with simlar stories.
Back then cash was king. No one direct deposited. We got paid in cash.
My girlfriend was in my face about getting a hand written paystubs detailing my gross and take hone pay along with my pay envelope.
Come tax time, he wasn’t producing my equivalent of the US W2 forms.
He said…“Don’t worry, we’ll take care of your taxes for you.”
Girlfriend said “Impossible.”
I had tantrum got my W2 form. It said I owed no taxes.
Why? Same reason it would happen in the US. I didn’t make enough to be taxed.
But, that cannot be. A foreigner with a work permit must make a minimum amount of money and that is in the taxable range.
I was going for the immigration track, here. Any shenanigans involving taxes and work permits could have gotten my butt deported or made me ineligible for the other visas (family etc.)
So, I got angry and ripped up the W2 in front of him, showed him his paystubs and demanded a corrected form.
My refund was ten thousand NT.
These were before cell phones and cameras.
I should have photographed or copied the form and hold it over him forever. But to snap shot everything and perpetually bring it up was not the mindset of the times.
2nd… Borrowing my salary…
To open a cram school or any business, you have to put down a sizable deposit in a bank CD as collateral. you get it back after you close your business.
Anyway my beloved boss wanted to open another branch and instead of borrowing from his relatives which is what you usually do, on payday he said he wants to give me half my pay because he needed the money to for the deposit open the branch.
I demanded to use the phone. I called my girlfriend.
Let’s say I had to hold the phone away from my ear. I gave the phone to my boss. She made it clear that I get my full pay or we were going to the authorities.
I actually had to March him to the Village post office ATM to take all the money out of his account and collect the rest the next day in his office in the other town.
Needless to say, I believe my other local co-workers got much less money because he did it to everybody.
I don’t think I was popular that month.
These are just some of the things you get when you go to a small place with no track record.
Oh yeah, the boss drove a BMW. Wanted to borrow my money did he?

1 Like

Other things to watch out for. Being sent to another branch or a location that is not specifically on your work permit.
If you are caught working at a different location other than what is stated on your work permit, even if it’s a different branch of the same school, it is grounds for deportation. Occasionally there were raids and people I knew got busted.
Things are better now because you can have multiple work permits.
But if you got a boss like mine, you’d probably just get told to go. Kindergartens are forbidden.
I no longer have to worry about that stuff being a permanent resident, but it was Scarry.

I never owe taxes and always get a refund. Is this a problem? I thought we pay out our taxes monthly with the 5%/18%? No?

Sorry, I should have been more clear.
You got a refund. You paid your money through your withholding. The form should list that.
Mine just had my salary, and zero for all the other fields.
My boss did NOT withold anything, yet I had a stack of handwritten pay stubs saying he did.
Mr the.shoemaker, anything wrong?
Like I said, my refund that year was 10,000.