Public School/Registered Private School Teaching in 2023

I’m facing the looming threat of a job change and I’m considering (under protest) to go into teaching again. I really don’t want to do cram schools again, so I’m considering the title. I have lots of questions and I’m wordy, so I’ll keep it short at the top and add an * if I have too much extra to add. Sorry if any of it’s confused or weird; I’m writing a little here and there over days. I’m trying to ask all potential questions in one thread to avoid annoying anyone with follow-up questions, so apologies for the length. I’ve read every thread on public/private school teaching for the past five years, so I’ll try to keep this to any information not covered and maybe it will help someone else in the future.

Me: American, APRC, 15 years cram school experience + 3.5 years planning and writing ESL material, BA History/Poli-Sci, minor in English, Masters in an unrelated vocational field*, substitute teaching license
No TEFL/TESOL certificate.*

  1. When is the right time to apply?
  • A small number of schools in TP/NTP are hiring now, but most are over an hour from where I live. I don’t want to wait too late, but I don’t want to take a less-good job if it’s too early.
  • Teach Taiwan recruits for public schools in NTP, but I’m having trouble finding information about looking for a job in Taipei other than at those schools that post their own ads. I thought Taipei had it’s own program, or do they recruit through the nationwide TFETP?
    I also found the link below which is where jobs are posted, but I don’t see any information about how to apply or if there are openings for foreign English teachers, just English teachers.
  • If I want to work in TP/NTP, is it better to apply directly to a school or through a program like Teach Taiwan, TFETP, or other?
  • Any tips on applying/interviewing?
  1. Public School and Registered Private Schools including international schools*
  • I’m lost on whether sub licenses are accepted post 2020 for public schools. It seems like sometimes they were, but now? In Taipei? Through the TFETP program? Only in the countryside?
  • Other threads have suggested that private schools are more stressful, but how? More pressure about how students perform? Too much oversight/micromanagement? Extra work/BS? Are they like cram school classes or like typical subject classes. I’ve seen some hiring for math, history, etc. Do you have to teach more than one subject?*
  • For public and private, I’ve seen that both may require teachers to oversee “clubs”. Some are said to be “extracurricular”. Does this mean they are after the end of the school day, 4 or 5pm? What sort of clubs are they and what are the teachers responsibilities?
  • How bad is the situation generally for after hours or weekend forced labor, either for PD, events, or other things? Do teachers have to do a lot of work at home?
  • What’s the difference in terms of time spent lesson planning, grading, or other admin? How much time do you have for planning/grading in public vs. private? @nz warned about some schools expecting you to be teaching or doing extra work 40hr/wk. I don’t fancy planning 24 classes per week at home.
  • I understand at some public schools there are shortish summer/winter programs and otherwise you sit in an empty room and sleep. Are private schools more likely to have them for the entire period, and for longer? Are the camps hard to plan for and/or basically shit? At every cram school, they were basically shit and I hated those classes the most.
  • For public schools or crappier private ones, what’s it like dealing with the administration if you need a day off or something? Usually someone somewhere speaks English?
  • Air-conditioning? Is this really a big problem, public and private? I sweat like a pig. It’s a serious problem, especially if I’m moving.
  1. Elementary vs. Middle vs. High School, which sucks least?
  • Almost all of my experience is with elementary kids, but I prefer teaching more advanced levels. Are middle/high school students either not very advanced or too undisciplined?
  • Are private elementary schools more common the middle and high schools? Seems odd that I find so many more of those.
  1. Dignity and Existential Angst
  • I don’t care if the staff ignores me, I don’t care if the students are checked out (or I do, but I can handle it). I just don’t want to be treated like a cram school teacher (DANCE, MONKEY!) ever again. One gets to an age where being told to dress like an elf makes one feel like a living joke. I get the impression public schools barely notice you, which is fine. Private schools, I’m not sure about.
  • Do public schools want to trot out the foreign oddball for special events? I get that private schools will.
  1. Contracts, bonuses, and airfare
  • After reading the other threads, I’m confused about the contract completion bonus. Some schools seem to want to hire on an 11 month contract*, but wanting you to sign another 11 month contract with a possible bonus, though going one month without pay. If it’s 11 months, would that mean no bonus? Is there anything else a school (likely private) might do to avoid paying a bonus. Do registered private schools even give bonuses like the public schools or is it up to them?
  • If I’m hired within Taiwan, do I get airfare? Do I actually have to go somewhere, or is it like a stipend? I haven’t left the country in 8 years, but I’ll go if it’s free to avoid losing the money. Is this something public schools do but private schools may not?
  • Are public and private schools required to pay into the national pension for you? I don’t mean any teacher-specific pension, but the one that the companies pay into for citizens and APRC holders, 3% of your salary.
  • Anything else to look out for in a contract, like penalties?
  1. English Village
  • Is this still a thing? I’ve heard it’s awful. There’s a school that is hiring for what looks like an all EV job which other schools take classes to, so I’m hoping individual schools don’t do it anymore.
  1. Kang Chiao, Xindian
  • I’ve read all the threads and online reviews. I know it has a bad reputation among teachers, but I’m willing to at least consider anything at this stage. Is it bad compared to other private schools, or just equally bad? Are their standards for teachers as high as they ask for? I might convince myself to take a job there if I could teach history or social studies, but not more cram school type classes. But my qualifications are as I said above.

Less important, self-indulgent ramblings:
*Me: The masters is maybe classified as vocational. It’s from a regionally accredited uni and was enough to get me a work permit for a non-teaching job that required either a masters or 2 years experience, which I didn’t have.
I’ve seen schools give higher pay to those with a masters. I’m hoping this will do the job as the salary for a BA alone may not be worth it.
A TEFL certificate seems easy to get online, a CELTA equivalent, but one requirement for non-certified teachers is that it be not fully online and from an accredited university.

*1. I’m not very confident about getting a job and wondering if I should just stick on a clown suit and go back to cram school if a non-teaching job doesn’t open up in time. I’ve haven’t not been offered any job I’ve gotten an interview at for over ten years, but this is all new and I feel I have lesser qualifications than many. I don’t see any cram school jobs offering full-time work at a salary that comes close to what I make now.

Any guess what my odds are to get a public school job in TP or NTP near TP with or without a sub-license, but with a masters (though not in English or Education)? Public FET jobs seem mostly to be in small cities or the country. I don’t love TP, but I’ve got too much stuff to move and a good and low rent apartment. And I don’t want to live in the country.
I think I’d like to teach a subject like history or social studies in a CLIL type environment. But how much control do you have over the lesson? I hated cram school classes that were too rigid or used crappy material for this type of lesson.
*5. I have an open work permit, so the length of the contract isn’t an issue in that sense.

If you read this far, wow, you were bored. I’m sure no one has all the answers, but at this point, filling in a few blanks would help a lot with making the right decision. This isn’t something I would likely consider, but with my current job becoming unstable and my family growing, I need both a job and more money. Even if another job in the same or similar industry came open in time, it will pay less as much or less. Looking at how much money teaching make, especially in public schools, it might be worth the headaches and extra work.

You asked a lot of questions and tagged me, but I don’t have time to answer them one by one right now.

I know the FET program (public school foreign teacher program) hasn’t started signing contracts with current FETs, so I would imagine you can apply right now. They lowered their standards so you don’t need any teaching license at all, it sounds like, just teaching experience. FET has clear work hours. I’m pretty sure it’s 18 classes/week for junior and senior high, 23 classes/week elementary (45-50 min vs 40 min classes), 7:45-4:45 or 8-5 w/1.5 hours for lunch.

You have excellent points about what to think about otherwise, public or private school employment wise. I recommend (it is very much in your best interest to!!!) make sure EVERYTHING is in writing. Arrival time, leave time, clubs, types of clubs, funding for clubs, assistants for clubs, weekend work expectations, how/when to prep, etc. and all the other things you just asked about. Assume that if it’s not in writing, you will be screwed over when it comes to that. Flight reimbursements too — make sure you know if there’s a limit to the amount and if there’s something stupid on the front end (FETs were screwed out of flight reimbursements because they didn’t leave tw during COVID, so some didn’t get return flights either). Just whatever you think of (your list is pretty comprehensive), get everything in writing. Assume nothing.

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I just saw a post on one of the Facebook groups about Teach Taiwan hiring for thirty some schools in New Taipei City. Not sure where they are located though.

Teach Taiwan recruits for the TFETP in New Taipei City and Taoyuan. RenHe recruits for New Taipei City’s own program. I know it’s a little confusing but the programs are different and we do have different contracts. (I could be wrong about who is recruiting. Around this time every year New Taipei City puts out a bid for different agency’s to do the recruiting. I haven’t been notified of any changes though.)

For elementary schools in New Taipei City they only hire through recruiters. I’m not sure about middle and high schools. Taipei City I rarely see any ads for, but when I do it seems to be apply to the school.

Subs license is fine.

This probably depends on the school. In New Taipei City the contract working hours are form 8-5 with a 1 hour lunch break. Some schools might make deals with you that you sacrifice some of your lunch time tutor or train students for a contest and in exchange you can leave earlier. I’ve never been asked to teach anything after 4 though. I do have a club class, but that is during school time and counted towards my weekly teaching hours.

For public school every semester has at least 1 day you will have to stay late and that’s for parent teacher conferences. More than likely you will get compensation time off for it. Each semester you will also have to work one Saturday. One is your schools anniversary festival, the other is a sports day. You get the following Monday off as compensation.

In public schools this all depends on the school and what subjects you are teaching. In New Taipei City the max classes per week is 20, and the rest of the time you spend in the office planning or discussing with your coteachers.

In New Taipei City if you are in their own program then you will have 3 days for winter camp and 1 week for summer camp. You work in a team with 8-9 other teachers to plan classes. In total you might only teach 2 or 3 classes that week but you still have to be there for support. In TFETP I have heard that the foreign teacher has to plan a camp just for their school and teach it by themselves.

Usually your supervisor in the school will speak English. Getting off might depend on the school. But I have never had an issue taking off when I don’t have classes. When I do have classes is still generally not an issue, but you may have to reschedule your class, to make up for it. Depends on your coteacher and your school.

In public school the rule is the temperature has to be over 29 to turn it on. In classrooms it’s up to the students and homeroom teacher. I believe the students parents have to pay for it or something. In offices it’s up to the director of that office to turn it on. When the AC is off there are lots of fans to keep the place cool and usually with the doors open there will be windy.

I only have experience with elementary. It’s probably the same in all the schools though. In each class a 1-5 advance students, maybe 10 that are okay and can grasp the material, the other half are terrible.

Depends on the school. I have been asked to dress as Santa once for 10 minutes to pass out candy. It really wasn’t that bad. During Halloween I also dress up every day and take the students trick or treating in my classes. I think this is fun as the students generally love my costumes.

I think TFETP is 11 months with a 1 month completion bonus. New Taipei City’s program is 12 months with a 1 month completion bonus.

You would get an exit flight at the end of your contract. You might get one for coming to Taiwan it depends on when you last entered.

Isn’t it 5% or 6%? But yes public schools do pay it.

As far as I know New Taipei City has removed contract breaking penalties from their contract.

You are correct.


Hi, I was hoping you might stop by. I’ve read your posts in other treads and I didn’t know if you’d have anything to add because you’ve posted a lot on the subject. I just tagged you because I was referencing one of your comments.
Yeah, I probably overdid it with the questions and some people will skip it, but I thought this was better than starting a lot of similar.

Funding? I hadn’t considered that. Do some teachers buy their own supplies?

No, but, as far as I can tell, there are other requirements I don’t meet in terms of education and experience. If I recall, without a teaching certificate, you need a degree in English or Education and/or public school teaching experience. Unless you mean for Taipei City only, in which case I don’t know how to apply. I only know the TFETP.

I’m also concerned that, not having a full license or school experience outside of cram school, if I go in to a public school with a list of demands for the contract, they’ll decide I’m difficult and look elsewhere. I don’t think I would have gotten any job if I had done that. Contracts seem pretty standard.

I wrote to both the TFETP and a school listing a job in Taipei last week. Neither have replied, which could mean that they aren’t interested enough to bother with me, aren’t hiring now, or just slow.

School directors talk to each other. I’ve had public and private school gigs through word of mouth from one director to the next. Drop by the school nearest you with a business card and hope for word to get out?

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Last I saw it was one listing in NTC. In any case, that’s a big city.

No no no NO! That’s Happy Marian! You can’t imagine what I’ve been through with them. I saw a listing by them a week ago. I was under the impression they had their own private grade schools.
Looking again, they are recruiting on their FB page, but the last post was January. Am I too early or too late?

I can live with that. I’ve put up with worse in cram schools. I remember now some of cram school students wouldn’t show up for a day because they were off after having had a sports day.
I really think a public school is preferable. I just don’t know if it’s achievable. I’ve read some private schools require as many as 10 Saturdays.

I could be wrong, but I thought companies paid in 3%.

It’s working hours, so I’ll assume that’s how busy teachers are. Thanks, that was really helpful. I need to find out more about getting a public school job in Taipei. NTC jobs all appear to be on the opposite side from me.

I might email them. I don’t think I’d get past the guard gate. There’s an elementary school near my home, but I wouldn’t have a clue how to get to the director.

Ya, I guess my first foot in the door was the teacher mafia. My own business is mostly teacher’s kids.

I never bought my own supplies, but I had plenty of talks with directors and such that wanted me to have a club that required a bunch of stuff, then told me that none of the things we needed “could be bought by the school”. There’s always the budget for things, but sometimes you end up requiring the students to prepare their own materials because the school wouldn’t pay for them, which means much more headache as people bring the wrong things or forget or whatever other frustrating things that would be easily solved by the school just providing the materials.

It’s practically impossible to negotiate the public school contract. People tell me they have, but I assume they have some sort of Jedi powers over the people putting the contracts together. If you’re doing a public school gig, make sure whatever you talk about in conversation gets put into the contract. For example, “don’t worry, we have the budget for your club” should he followed up with “please put the days of the week, the times, and where the funding for the materials will come from into the contract”. A lot of FETs get screwed over into extra (unpaid) classes each week because “clubs don’t count as classes”. Don’t even get me started on the shit private schools will pull if you don’t make sure an explicit outline of how many total contact hours you have is drawn up. Think about it as “everything we talk about is in writing” more than “am I being a pain for asking for so many things?” You’re being hired for a job. In order for you to do your job (or decide if you even want the job in the first place), you need to know you’ll have the tools you need. If they can’t provide the tools you need, you might need a different job. Remember that you’re interviewing them just as much as they’re interviewing you!

Would you mind giving some examples of clubs? My own school didn’t have any and I can’t imagine many.

In public schools do this? How many extra club hours might they make you work each week?

It sounds worse than cram schools, but I think as with cram schools, they would more likely look for more docile candidates. That’s fine if I had a lot of options, but I have a narrow window of time and, as I keep saying, no experience at K-12 with barely the qualifications. I haven’t looked for a teaching job for years and I don’t know what the job market is going to look like in a couple of months.

Is there something wrong with Happy Marian? I think there are only 1 or 2 people on the RenHe side. Anyways you shouldn’t need to interact with them too much. After your hired and sign the contract, they will check up on you once a month if you or your schools have any questions or problems. Or if you prefer more interaction they can help you do things, such as apply for ARC, taxes, sit with you in the ER, etc.

I don’t think they posted new openings yet. They did a survey 1.5 months asking who is staying or leaving.

Not all schools will require clubs. At mine they do, it’s counted towards my weekly teaching hours. Originally I started it as a board game club, but switched it this year to crafts as no one really cared for board games. For the board games I pretty much just made my own using the printer in my office. Didn’t spend any of my own money. For crafts, I just spend part of my semester budget on it.

Other club subjects at my school are sports, music, games, reading, gardening, IT, and movies.

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My experience is with the branch offices. I think it works on a franchise model, so experiences vary. On the whole, they have a good academic program. I found their FB page and they are branded as a recruiter. It just confused me that their .org looks the same as their cram school page. From the ads, I thought they’re were Happy Marian branded elementary schools out there. Thanks for setting that straight. It actually sounds like a good option if any schools are nearby.
I have an APRC, but they’re welcome to do my taxes or pick up my groceries.

You were recruited through them? They do have an ad on 104, but I suspect a lot of companies don’t remove those. Or they could be collecting resumes for the next round of hiring.

You get to/have to make up your own clubs?

Yea, it was a couple years ago. They posted a Facebook ad and I sent them an email and got hired like a week later. I’m not quite sure how they are going to handle hiring this year. I also don’t see any posts about hiring for last year, even though I know they hired at least 15 teachers.

At my school I get to. I can pretty much do anything with the students. You don’t even have to teach. I know the movie club teacher just puts on a movie and does her grading, she’s a local teacher.

You can check the New Taipei City’s English Centers website for a list of schools in each program. I’m pretty sure some schools are missing from the list.

They have their own FB page and started posting regularly starting about this time last year, and increasingly desperate-sounding posts. I’ll keep an eye on that. They’ve had a 104 ad up since at least last month.

Brilliant! Maybe you can do an all-English movie club. But that’s mine if we happen to end up at the same school :slight_smile:

Thanks, I found that earlier. I didn’t know what to do with it, except maybe request to work at the nearest school to me.

Just a heads up, the agency for New Taipei City has changed for the new school year. It is now Teach Taiwan.

Thanks, but I thought they were already an agency for NTC. Or are they the only ones now?
They posted an ad recently, but it mentions they are only looking for teachers for drama, PE and something else. I don’t know if they just miscommunicated that and meant teachers had to do that as part of their duties.

I believe they shared it with RenHe. RenHe recruited for NTC own program and Teach Taiwan recruited for the government’s program. I guess RenHe lost the bid for NTC’s program for the upcoming year so everything will just be Teach Taiwan for the upcoming school year.

That is probably the subject the teacher will be teaching. In public schools you won’t be teaching English as a subject. Instead you will be teaching another subject using CLIL. The majority of the subjects in NTC are Integrated Activities, probably because no one cares about that subject, though there are some schools that have the foreign teacher teach a different one like science or PE.

What on earth is that? I googled it and came up with a variety of things.

I’d really like to teach history is social studies but I don’t suppose they do requests. I guess elementary science wouldn’t be hard. Drama, no experience, but maybe. I don’t know about PE. My teachers didn’t seem to put much effort into it, but I know nothing about sports. And it’s hot.

So I really thought FETs taught English as a subject, based on what everyone had said before. Do you know if that’s just a NTC thing?

Lol. No one knows what FETs do. The government just jumps on trends with zero thought about what needs to be done to prepare people (especially teachers and schools) to show any semblance of effort to be effective. So right now the trend is CLIL, which works not at all, because foreign teachers are supposed to teach subject content in English while 99.9% of their students don’t begin to have comprehension of what “what” vs. “who” vs. “why” mean (in context, because, to be fair, many of them are masters of reading written English out of context as that’s how they pass tests).

But the TW government has always believed Taiwanese children are smarter than “foreign” children, so they don’t need to know “this is an apple” + “What is this?” + “An apple”. It’s much faster to jump into “This is CKS. He was a dictator” + “what is a dictator?” in their social studies class. Except that kind of social studies education might work (comprehensible input. ish). Instead you have the foreign teacher (who may or may not know Chinese) handed the Chinese textbook and told to “teach stuff in English”

I think I could pull that off in higher grades. Though I doubt they wouldn’t likely let a foreigner teach Taiwan social studies.
Also, is that really what is in the books?

This is the English version of the general guidelines of the 12 year curriculum.

Page 22, Integrated Activities looks to be career planning, home economics, and life education. So in elementary school, that’s probably “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and cooking class. Like buxiban all over again. Though from your description, its much worse.
Really starting to wonder if this is going to work out. I was really interested in working in a public school. Private schools look like real teaching, but it also looks like they require a ton of extra work and Saturday activities.

I was wrong before. It’s STEM, Music/Fine arts, and PE. I hope it’s not one teacher for all three.