I used to be hardworking

Sorry folks, but I need to vent. :fume:

When I started teaching ESL in Taiwan, like most endeavors, I put my heart and soul into it. I’m driven by a serious work ethic, but I also believed my employer would acknowledge the effort and it would pay off in the end. :roflmao:

I spent lots of unpaid time prepping for classes. I typically arrived 45-60 minutes early for work and stayed another hour after to wrap-up. I spent an ENORMOUS amount of personal time searching the Internet for classroom games and activities to supplement the text. I spent hundreds of my own US$ on ESL activity books. I regularly helped out with school activities like English song, speech and writing competitions for no additional pay. I spent lunch hours voluntarily coaching students preparing for GEPT tests and university entrance interviews. Not a single parent complaint in 3 years. I registered a domain and created a blog with interactive features for my students to practice more English. I felt pretty good about my job. :thumbsup:

Then I was brought back to the reality of working in Taiwan: it’s all about money, the worker be d*mned. A week before the semester started, the school decided they no longer needed the foreign teachers to proctor exams or be around for school activities that preempt classes. They also decided it wasn’t necessary to pay us for national holidays like they used to. The bottom line is about a NT$6000/month cut in pay from what I’d made the previous school year. Adding insult to injury, they still expect us to spend our own unpaid time prepping classes, writing exams and calculating scores for each of our 18 different classes. This is the reward for hard work.

The real kick in the *ss is that I just don’t believe it would be any better anywhere else. There seems to be no value placed on hard work, dedication or performance here. Just get any foreign face for as cheap as possible.

My dilemma is the conflict between my personal work-ethic and my hatred of being taken advantage of. I don’t want my students to suffer because the admins at their school are a bunch of cheap bstrds.

And no, I don’t think a union would solve anything.

Can someone please pass the Vaseline?

Oh dear. It hurts the frst time. Then you get used to it, and then you’ll love it!


It’s not the first time I’ve gotten scrwd by an employer here. The first time was a cram school where I was filling in because a teacher left in mid-semester. It was temporary, so I was off the books. One day they got raided and I just made it out. The other 2 people there weren’t so lucky. Because the manager was a friend-of-a-friend, I stuck with them until the end of the semester, taking not only my class, but helping with the other two whose teachers got caught. A few weeks later, the owner started deducting 6% “tax”. She said it didn’t matter that I was off the books. “EVERYONE pays taxes…” At the end of the semester, she asked if I wanted to sign on full time. I cracked up and told her she had to be kidding. :noway:

This time feels worse because it’s after 3 years of hard work.

While I may get used to being treated like sh*t, I’ll never love it.

Sorry to hear that you have had a rough time. Unfortunately, rather than being some rare exception, it is the norm. Still, there are some good schools and decent bosses around; it just takes a bit of perseverance and good luck to find them.

I’m like you in that I was brought up with a strong work ethic, very much to the tune of “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.” I remember my first morning in Taiwan before starting work. I went out and bought an iron; I figured it would be rude to turn up to work (even though it was just a buxiban in the sticks) in wrinkled clothes. Now, I can’t be f@#ked; I grab a T-shirt of the clothes line and iron out the internal creases with a can of beer. The habit of polishing my shoes on a daily basis is but a distant memory, the only shine is to be found on my nose. Brought low by ESL in Taiwan. :beer:

Actually, although more slovenly, I still put a lot of unpaid time and effort into classes. Keep all the stuff you write up for classes - you might be able to use it later for a book or something else. I found that I was writing so much supplementary material for my classes (to make up for the utter crapness of the in-house books I had to use) that I could easily write a few books.

Unfortunately, I don’t see this shallow treatment of foreign teachers going away soon, and maybe never. If you’ve been in Taiwan long enough, you probably have a decent organizer filled with contacts and companies you’ve worked for in the past. If you need to stay here, you’ll probably always be able to get by. I don’t know if that helps…

I have been here 3 1/2 years. I’ve worked in a couple cram schools, but primarily full-time at this private jr/sr high school. My contacts outside the school are limited.

The bottom line, and what I find so depressing, is that you are exactly right. It’s not going to change, and it’s not likely to be better at any other school/company here.

It’s the business culture. Dedication, hard-work and longevity will rarely, if not never, get rewarded. Employers get as much as possible for as little as possible. There’s always another foreign face to put in the window. Employees are not considered to be valuable assets, but expendable.

Normally, my reaction to learning my bosses don’t give a f*ck would be to go elsewhere. I could easily get another job in a cram school, but why bother? It’s not going to be any different!

So thus is the dilemma. I can just say f*ck-it, toss my work-ethic out the window and do the minimum necessary to get by, in which case the students suffer and I’ll feel irresponsible. Or, I can keep my work-ethic, continue to do my best and forget that my bosses are screwing me. The choice between feeling irresponsible or feeling used bothers me.

Well I think everyone knows the teaching jobs here in Taiwan suck…In fact my old roommate once said about jobs here “there are jobs that suck and jobs that really suck!”. The whole industry is ran completely on greed as well as even dishonesty.

So I guess we as foreigners have a few options to combat the industry and possibly make changes (IMO).
First is simply leaving Taiwan and I think more and more foreigners are doing this as more and more schools are looking for teachers it seems. A few schools I noticed also are giving teachers more incentives to teach. I saw this one school that always advertises for teachers and they said they would pay for the whole ARC process-I’ve never seen a school do that in TW.

Second option is open up your school and work to set a new trend for the ESL industry in Taiwan. I know and I think most of us foreign teachers know that we could run the schools much better than these rich laobans. I would go for this option if it was 10 years ago, but nowadays I think the industry is losing a lot of demand(low birthrates) so I’m not gonna pursue it.

Maybe other people have other strong ideas to make the job conditions better but these are mine. My point is to stop complaining and do something because ever since I’ve been here in TW nearly every person I’ve met has had a bad experience teaching here and something needs to change now.

I’m back to the US in November…YEAH:)

I think there’s still a middle ground to find here. I do my best to teach well in class and contribute something that has an impact on the kids. I emphasize the importance of speaking over writing, of correct verb tense usage over large vocabulary, etc. Or just teach them something practical about life. Things that will actually help them and/or make them sound reasonably intelligent should they end up actually having to use English in the future. I go in and perform in class, try to entertain the kids a bit, and that’s it. If I do prepare it’s only to make my job easier.

But aside from that I try to maintain a doctor’s philosophy of detachment, both with the schools and the kids. It’s been mentioned how the schools are, but the way the kids are raised here is also pretty aggravating to deal with. The truth is, many Taiwanese parents let their kids run all over them and use the schools as a kind of enhanced daycare to raise their kids, and then when they get in school they have no idea what discipline or respect is. That’s not all of the kids, but far more than there should be. These concepts are never explained to the kids by many parents…all they know is to behave when they’re smacked or punished in some way. I try to instill some sense of these qualities in my students, but often I’m reminded that it makes little difference because when they get home it’s back to their old ways.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had and have a lot of great kids I really care about, but my point is that really ‘trying’ here, in terms of raising the bar on either the school’s end or the kids’ (parents’) end is an uphill battle that isn’t worth the aggravation, at least for myself. I still sleep at night knowing I put an honest and responsible effort in when I’m in the classroom.

The only way to really shape things here somewhat is to open your own school and run it responsibly. Obviously almost all schools here fear that approach, instead feeding BS to the parents about how wonderful everything is with their little lazy, rude angel. But I have a friend in Taipei who opened his own school and runs a tight ship, and he’s doing well. If parents complain he tells them his philosophy and to screw off if they don’t like it. And they rarely leave. He’s also way too stressed (at least he seems it) having to constantly swim upstream though.

I know I strayed a bit off topic there, so I’ll just sum it up with this. Employees are any company’s greatest resource, all you have to do is look at the world’s most successful companies and you will see the correlation with how they treat their employees. Taiwan on the whole simply does not get this, it’s generally very short-sighted in business and in many cases businesses will say anything they can to get short-term results. I’ve both witnessed it and have heard stories from many industries here, not just the schools. And that’s why so many things here are so bone-chillingly mediocre.

Your school cut your pay by 6k/month? Grow a pair and quit. I’ve had several different teaching gigs, all of variable quality, but none of them had the nerve to actually give me less money for the same amount of work after a year. Yeah, there are a lot of shitty schools out there, but there’s better than that.

You took the quote out of context a bit. My hourly pay is roughly the same but they cut hours, which resulted in the loss of pay. We are no longer scheduled to proctor exams or be there for events that pre-empt our classes. We also lost pay for national holidays. The overall “work” is the same, though, because what was taken from us were the easy hours.

My first instinct IS to quit, but I don’t believe any other company would be any less exploitative. Why leave one unappreciative employer for another? I’d take a step backward, as in starting new someplace, if I thought it meant more opportunity in the future. But that’s just it; it won’t. It will be the same crap, different location.

I didn’t come here to get rich, or party my socks off and work as a necessary evil. I came here with my partner who is from here. I would still like a job where hard work gets acknowledged instead of taken advantage of.

I am not naive enough to think that foreigners have a snowball’s chance in hell of neither combating nor changing anything in Taiwan. The best we can do is learn to live with it. There are a few examples of foreigners who have done all right for themselves, and my hat’s off to them. As far as I can tell is that it is those with the entrepreneurial spirit who start their own business. I may be a dedicated, hard-worker, but I acknowledge that I am not an entrepreneur.

It’s stupid, but all too human, to get worked up about it as you’ve done.

In a nutshell, you are selling your services in the market. Your current employer doesn’t have any obligation to you day-to-day. The best you can expect is that your employer will be true to their own self interest. So, if you suddenly don’t like the price your services are getting, you have two choices: recalibrate your services, i.e. spend less ‘off time’ in your current role and just accept that your employer wants to supply a lower-quality product or augment your skills entirely, perhaps even changing professions, or shop your current services around to a ‘higher bidder.’

It is quite straightforward, but requires CHANGE. Embrace the change, or it will embrace you.

Craig, I am so sorry to hear your work situation has changed for you. I remember on that old thread “Appallingly Low Salaries” (around summertime?) and you were saying how happy you were with your job here.

The grim reality is that there are very few places that would be any different. Taiwanese bosses fear praising their employees or acknowledging hard work, as they think that if they do, their employees will stop working/trying so hard. So they continually turn a blind eye to good, hard work in the hopes that employees will work even harder.

The thing is that your effort will have been noticed, and once you stop working as hard, however slightly, they will pounce on you.

If I can add a wider perspective; I’ve taught in four countries and what you describe is not unusual. Something very similar happened to me, working for a large British company. Here in the UK, I’m still chasing payment for work done for a public college, for work done three months ago. I don’t want to list all the reasons why you’ll never be respected for what you do, but there are ways to deal with it.

It’s corny, but do it yourself or for your students. Dignity in a job well done, etc. You can see on this board what the majority of furriners think of EFL teachers. Now imagine what Taiwanese who don’t know what’s involved, think? Put the extra that you do down to your personal interest and desire to help the students get where they want to. That little extra work now will also help you wing it competently in a couple of years when you need to get out.

Very sound advice there.

Just to expand on that: I think conscientious teachers such as Craig should start thinking now about the mid- and long-term uses of the teaching materials they produce.

In the mid-term, your work should be re-useable without too much hassle. We’d all love to spend an inordinate amount of time tailoring materials for each individual student (I’ve certainly done my fair share of this), but it makes more sense to spend most of your materials prep time on things you can easily adapt to different situations.

In the long-term, you need to think of what other potential uses the material you’ve produced might have. If presented nicely, it could well help you land decent teaching jobs here or elsewhere. But looking further than teaching itself, work you’ve done could well form part of a portfolio to demonstrate your organisational abilities, your writing skills, or even your design talents. It’s good to produce your materials now in such a way as to make them amenable to various different presentations in future.

I agree with you Craig that having your efforts shat upon is heart wrenching. I feel as you do. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. I put a piece of ice in my heart after my first shafting, then these lovely kids went and melted it. Well, the adults put a stop to that and had me fired for being too good. I put a lump of coal in my heart after that.
You have to help the kids for the kids sake. The adults are long since fucked and need to be ignored. Well, tempered at best.

Alidarbac your advice is very harsh. Do you have a low quality of life? Or are you a marine soldier?

Indiana, you are so right. Just a few short weeks ago, I loved my job. I still do. I just hate my bosses. Overall, the students are great, my colleagues are friendly and supportive, the environment is comfortable and it’s close to where I live. The bosses gave, and still give me free reign in how I do my classes. The hourly pay is fair. Then, out of the blue, they cut out holiday pay and cut out exam days and special events from our schedule. That’s why it caught me off guard. Things were going great.

Paniolo, the labor market in Taiwan sucks. Like I said, aside from some self-employed entrepreneurs, there are precious few other foreigners I know who have personally and financially rewarding jobs. Most jobs I’ve seen posted on various web sites pay about the same or even less per hour than what I make now. I’d be willing to take a step back if there was some hope for future advancement, but after this recent experience, I just don’t believe there is, except for rare instances. On this subject, again I have to agree with Indiana. “The grim reality is that there are very few places that would be any different.” I am looking, though.

Buttercup, I hear what you’re saying and I think I said that was part of my dilemma. There is the question of dignity, knowing when you’ve done a good job, but it’s tough having the boss piss on that dignity. The only thing that has kept me from totally slacking off is my concern for my students.

joesax, the material I use is not written by me. It’s collected off the Internet and from the dozens of books I bought with my own money. I’d probably run into trouble marketing it myself. :stuck_out_tongue: Depending on how much traffic my student blog gets, though, there may be some potential there. You mention decent teaching jobs, but I’m just skeptical that any truly exist. The chance of getting one is about the same as winning the Lotto.

Mike, I agree: Help the kids for the kids sake. It brought back some song lyrics, though:

[quote]The best things in life are free
But you can keep them for the birds and bees
Give me money

Your lovin gives me a thrill
But your lovin don’t pay my bills
Give me money

Mr Craig…

Or as they say in various haunts, don’t let the bastards grind you down.

[quote=“CraigTPE”]joesax, the material I use is not written by me. It’s collected off the Internet and from the dozens of books I bought with my own money. I’d probably run into trouble marketing it myself. :stuck_out_tongue: Depending on how much traffic my student blog gets, though, there may be some potential there.[/quote]I see what you mean. I wasn’t really thinking of the commercial possibilities so much as just having something physical to show when you’re being interviewed for future jobs and they wonder what you did with your time. The blog could be good for that. And with a bit of work presumably you could convert that content into something printable.

[quote=“CraigTPE”]You mention decent teaching jobs, but I’m just skeptical that any truly exist. The chance of getting one is about the same as winning the Lotto.[/quote]It’s not easy to find a decent job. But there are some good ones here and there. What kind of thing are you looking for? As we’ve seen on previous threads, people have widely different definitions of what would constitute a decent job, from the achievable to the wildly unrealistic!

The prospect of interviewing for future jobs presupposes that there is anything out there that is any better than where I’m at, which unfortunately I doubt very much. The issue at hand is more about Taiwanese business culture, not location.

The point of the blog is not so much having instructional material that could be printed, as it is a collection of interactive things like videos, quizzes, podcasts, surveys and more where students can practice.

I kind of like what I’m doing now; teaching in a private junior/senior high school. The ideal gig would be 20-25 class periods per week, Mon - Fri. A salaried position would be wonderful, including holidays and vacations. And while I’m dreaming, how about an annual bonus.

The prospect of interviewing for future jobs presupposes that there is anything out there that is any better than where I’m at, which unfortunately I doubt very much. The issue at hand is more about Taiwanese business culture, not location.
Your attitude presupposes you have perfect knowledge of what is possible in Taiwan, in which case your frustration is deserved. I don’t disagree with your observations, but it seems to me that you have left no room for unusual possibilites. Someone has got a really great teaching position in Taiwan, why not you? There may not be one visible to you now, but if you were to follow Joesax’s advice, you’d be putting yourself in a position to capitalize on an opportunity should it arise. Luck favors the prepared and all that. You’ve worked hard for the favor of your bosses and yeah, that’s a fruitless endeavor, but that doesn’t mean that your hard work can’t reap a reward for you beyond the dignity of a job well done.