Non-native English Teacher from Europe Preparing for Taiwan

Hi there.

Though English is not my primary language, it is a language I have used quite often in many different settings for a long time, including professional or formal settings, and I often use English more than my native language: one may as well call it in my case almost a primary language or near-native. In fact, though I might have my own accent, it comes close to an American one (and to some extent I can imitate accents and dialects). I have also investigated to certain extents different schools and other Asian countries, that stickied blacklist, threads on reddit, Visa information, corona virus measures, amounts of money to bring, et cetera. But even if this is so, and even though people (for example in my own country) have often commented very positively on my CV, I too have read about that so-called discrimination occurring in certain parts of Asia, including Taiwan. (Overall, I still thought and think that Taiwan is probably the best option if it ever comes down to it.)

I am from a European country, and at first I do not look white. I suppose this might be a problem. I have seen many a post on this here forum, have read things on many internet sites, and you name it, but now I finally come here to see what you people more experienced in these matters will write.

Disregarding of course for the moment the corona virus and its negative influence, how much of a problem might it be these days if a non-native English speaker would apply to a school where they require at least a Bachelor’s Degree (possibly with a TEFL certificate), while I at least have one and a TEFL certificate? (Some of the information I found is old. From what I can tell by distance and by reasoning, the situation concerning race and hiring is probably better, but still not what it is supposed to be.)

I have been eyeing and thinking about a few schools that I might approach, simply not caring about their preference that the teacher be a native from one of the typically respected countries (and presumably white), because I know that my qualities and personality are more important. But if some director has no care for this at all, then what?

What a fatiguing process it has been to traverse all that information so far, and to have been very serious about getting the TEFL certificate before that, only to discover that Asia is so discriminatory! What a fatiguing thing it has been to make preparations, and to have to suddenly think about matters of race, which I never or hardly did before.

Ugh, now that I’m here writing, why not complain about some of the things I read? Ugh, some of the reports I saw from people who had gotten messed up somehow by idiots, aggressors, discriminators, deceivers, people who suddenly changed into mad loonies. Are many Taiwanese schools truly that messed up?

Thanks in advance for your responses and stay safe.

In order to teach EFL in Taiwan your country will need to have English as an official language, or you will need open work rights.

  1. You can get a visa teaching English if you hold a passport from the UK or Ireland where English is an official language.

  2. You can get a visa studying Mandarin and apply for a work permit after 1 year and then legally teach English.

  3. You can teach illegally and risk being deported, provided a school will hire you under the table.


Ah yes Malta as well. Yes for Holland though, English is an official language.

Only of its colonies.


Your command of English is better than many of the native speakers on this very forum. Unfortunately, most employers are only looking to check off a box when it comes to country of origin. Good luck, but you do have a built-in disadvantage.


Even native English peakers face a lot of discrimination (their accent, origin, looks and not only race, age, sex). It’s a business. If you look handsome or pretty and young you’ll have a higher change of getting hired. Lots of energy. Pop pop pop. You are crying about discrimination and you haven’t even landed here. But the nature of the English teaching business is built on discriminating between who they hire in the first place.


What do you mean? Judging by this phrasing, you may find that it is not something which registers with people here.

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Are you a non native English teacher with a passport from one of UK, Ireland, or Malta?

If not, you cannot get a work permit to teach English.


Thank you all for your responses and compliments. I appreciate it all.

It seems I have greatly erred somewhere, for I thought that the Taiwanese government would allow me to have a work permit to teach English, and I was under the impression that schools were simply preferring certain countries (and looks, etc.). (Will they ever do away with that stupid policy?)

  1. @BiggusDickus, what do you mean by open work rights, and how do I obtain them, if at all possible?

  2. @tempogain, maybe I should have communicated more clearly. I simply do not look white, and my skin color is I suppose light brown or so, and am of very mixed ethnicity (I mean the kind that is from almost every continent). It is also true that ethnically I am part white or European. So if one would ask me where I’m from ethnically, then, aside from me possibly shrugging off his unnecessary and superficial question, I might answer it and one would discover I am indeed part white, though I do not look like it.

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I. Marry a Taiwanese citizen or reside in Taiwan for 5 years paying taxes. You are then allowed to work most jobs.


Thanks for your answer. I appreciate it.

Well, that seems to prevent me from coming to Taiwan at all to teach English, or I must find a Taiwanese partner while there is a crisis going on. The government certainly knows how to attract people like me, and they certainly help prevent attracting dirty sons of guns who might just stick their dingus everywhere.

Just a reminder…after Hk the CCP is heading to Taiwan so if you are thinking long term you should now reconsider carefully for your sake and to avoid disappointments later.

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Yes, thank you for the reminder. I did think of it in my calculations, and thought I would take the risk anyway. But seeing that I made a grave error already and probably will not be in Taiwan to teach English, that political issue won’t matter to me.

But as I reply, the following thought occurs to me: maybe I should just go to Taiwan as soon as entry is permitted, marry a Taiwanese citizen, and just do it all. It would be good for me find a partner anyway, even in this corona virus crisis.

My suggestion is you should try other southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, Thailand, etc.


Vietnam is the place to be.


This doesn’t sound like a very good motive for getting married.


@Dr_Milker, I realize it comes off as a bad motive, but there is a larger picture, as both my spouse and I would obviously benefit. I would not do it only for myself and perhaps act like a piece of trash, but it is pragmatic and well intended. In fact, it would allow me to live there and do all sorts of good things for my fellow man, which is also what I intended (even if entry was already permitted). But maybe you are right. Maybe you would like to explain in more detail?

@mokkie and @BiggusDickus, yes, it at least seems that a country in SEA might just fit the bill as the next option, if Taiwan won’t be for me.

My top three list was this:

  1. Taiwan;
  2. Japan;
  3. South Korea.

South Korea was my favorite before, but quickly went down. I am actually considering Japan once more (even though books I already ordered for learning Mandarin are coming in). I still have a certain school I am considering, but if their government also discriminates like Taiwan’s if it concerns teaching English… So far I have the impression they do not: I have not seen any sign of it.

Back to SEA:
Concerning Vietnam, I was under the impression it is somewhat messy or disorganized and concerning politics and government not as far as or as good as Taiwan’s. This did not sit well with me. I seriously considered Malaysia, but they do not seem to require English teachers that much.

Vietnam is more hungry and less picky when it comes to English teachers. They are more willing to hire non-Caucasian nationalities such as Filipinos, thereby saving you from marrying some poor Taiwanese woman (I’m still laughing about you considering marrying a native here just to teach). Your money will go a lot farther in Vietnam. If the shit hits the fan here, you can bet we are skedaddling straight to HCMC.