Questions about public schools and recruiters

I am considering applying to teach at a public school and have a few questions/concerns. I’m kind of leaning towards teaching middle school students, but I’m open to elementary and high school students as well.

  1. Is going through a recruiter the only way to get a public school job? If so, what recruiters should I contact and what recruiters should I avoid?

  2. I’m worried about the amount of time I might have to spend planning lessons if I teach at a public school. I taught high school students at a private school in China and I spent A LOT of time outside normal working hours making PowerPoints and planning lessons. This is not something I want to repeat. When I first arrived at the school, they basically handed me the book each grade used and said go teach! Do public schools in Taiwan have rough lesson plans for teachers to use?

  3. How many teaching hours per week should I expect?

  4. When I taught at the private school, they divided the English classes into two—so I taught half the class and the other foreign teacher taught the other half. I usually taught about 12 students at a time. What kind of class sizes can I expect at public schools? I’m a little worried about large classes because that limits the kinds of activities you can do in class.

  5. How negotiable is the salary?

  6. Is there anything else I should be aware of?

Thanks everyone!

Are you a certified teacher or substitute in your country?

Mostly yes. But some schools hire by word of mouth or their PTA does it. In the end, everyone needs to apply through the government to get in though.

That is a huge part of being a teacher. Planning lessons, preparing things for your students, etc. Are you sure you want to be a teacher?

Generally, no. They hand you the texts and a syllabus and expect you to know how to teach.

About 20 to 24

Depends on the school size, but generally class sizes are between 25 to 35 students.

Work around class size. Do station work so you can have activities with smaller groups etc.

There is a pay scale based on the level of your education, how long you have been teaching, etc. Public schools do not have that much wiggle room for negotiating salary. Private schools have way more room to negotiate.

You most likely will be teaching one grade. There are typically 6 to 10 classes per grade. You will end up teaching the same lesson all week to the different classes. To some, this is monotonous and to others this is ideal.

Yes, I am aware of the requirements to teach at public schools.

Thank you SuiGeneris for taking the time to respond with a lot of good information. I actually like planning lessons, I just don’t want to do it in the evenings and on the weekends when I should be doing stuff that isn’t work related. At the private school I taught at, I had 25 teaching hours per week and taught 3 different classes. Each class was a different grade and I taught each class 5 times a week (senior 1: 2 hours per day, senior 2: 2 hours per day, and senior 3: 1 hour per day), so I had to constantly plan lessons and it was impossible to do everything in 40 hours every week. It’s nice to know that if I decide to teach at a public school in Taiwan, I will have many different classes in the same grade and will be able to reuse my lessons plans. I like making improvements to my lesson plans and being able to do them again because I put in a lot of time and effort into making them.

I’m a teacher in the FET (Foreign English Teacher) program in Taitung County. I’ve been in the program for 12 years now.

  1. No. You can also go through the Ministry of Education’s FET Program. I would avoid most recruiters. Recruiters usually equal lower pay and less than adequate working conditions.

  2. It would depend on the school. You will probably have planning time between lessons, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to spend all of that time looking busy. It varies from school to school, and also reflects the degree of faith/trust a school puts in its foreign teachers. There is “wiggle room” in the contract in this regard.

  3. According to next year’s contract, the maximum classes per week for junior high is 20. These classes will be 45 minutes long. There may be other activities you have to deal with.

  4. Can’t answer this because I don’t know what county/area you’re looking at. More rural areas generally mean less students. In my elementary school most classes consist of 28 students, though junior high would probably be slightly more. I’ve heard of schools in the mountains who have as few as one student per class per grade level. Splitting classes would depend on a school’s approach to teaching English. Maybe they want that, maybe they don’t.

  5. Probably not negotiable. In the FET program we’re on a rigid pay schedule that depends on degree and number of years in the program. I can’t say about recruiters.

  6. KNOW WHERE YOU WANT TO LIVE. This is the biggest reason people leave. Be clear about what living situations you’ll accept if given a choice. Also, teaching at one big school is usually better (and more stable) than teaching at several small schools.

INCREDIBLY monotonous. That’s one thing I really don’t miss about teaching junior high. I had 16 7th grade classes a week. Repeat ad infinitum. Shit made me crazy.

Thank you for the information, TimesThree.

I’ve been thinking about what size city I’d like to live in the past few days. I’m more of a medium to small city kind of guy, but I haven’t done any research yet on specific places. Any recommendations?

dang… I thought doing the same lesson 5 times with grade 5 was monotonous.

I have been told only public schools in Taipei/New Taipei City have AC in the classrooms.
Even if they do have AC in the classrooms, you probably won’t be able to use it all the time.

I teach in Zhongli and there is no AC units in the classrooms (just fans everywhere), apparently when they rebuild the school it will have AC (paid by someone else with political ties) but the school won’t run them a lot, it costs too much.

A teacher we observed in Taoyuan City has AC in his class and he had it on for his class we observed. At the end during the Q&A he told us he gets 200 points a month to use on AC and that 50 min class used 100 points.

I have never taught in Taipei/New Taipei City government schools but I think it would be the best in terms of comfort for the summer months.

A few of the junior high schools in Taitung have AC, but they do that thing where all the students in a class need to put money on individual cards.

One thing I miss about the buxiban, cranking up that AC until the students complain then making it 1 degree hotter lol.

I[quote=“SeaWater, post:8, topic:180469”]
I’ve been thinking about what size city I’d like to live in the past few days. I’m more of a medium to small city kind of guy, but I haven’t done any research yet on specific places. Any recommendations?
[/quote]

If you told me North, South, East, Central or Outlying Islands I’d have a better idea. Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung can be a blast, but I think in terms of daily life/saving $$$ the small to medium sized cities are a good move.

Speaking only from personal preference, I like Jia Yi City in the south/central area, and living on the outskirts of Tainan isn’t bad. If I were you I’d avoid anywhere in Yunlin. Jhu Dong in Hsinchu could be good, as could Sanxia in New Taipei City. Keelung can be weird and interesting. I dislike the rain in Yilan County, and anything close to Hualien City isn’t much better. I can’t recommend any cities/towns in Taitung at the present time, because as I understand it we’ve reached our maximum in terms of FETs.

I’ve never been there, but I’ve heard people say good things about Jinmen/Kinmen.

BTW - I asked my coworker, who wrote the contract for the FET program, about recruiters. He said that (as far as he knows) Taipei City, New Taipei City, Hsinchu, Miaoli County and Taichung City are using them. According to him what usually happens is the city or county government applies directly to the Ministry of Education for foreign teachers, and if that doesn’t work they use other funds to employ recruiters. In some cities/counties both approaches are used.

It sounds like most of your questions have been answered. I just wanted to introduce myself because I work for the agency Teach Taiwan and we help place people in the public schools. As others have said you don’t have to use a recruiter, you can definitely just go directly through the MOE. However, if you do think that you might want the assistance of a recruiter, or if you just want to ask questions about what we provide, please feel free to direct message me. Our services are free. Good luck!

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Good to know. Thanks for the heads up. I will definitely ask about this during the interview so I know what I’m getting into.

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I just got done looking at the application form for the FET program and it says “Qualified applicants must submit the following document package no later than April 30, 2019 to be eligible for the selection process.” I’m going to call them today and see if it’s not too late to apply and ask them a few other questions.

The FET program requires a lot of documents, such as 3 reference letters in “sealed” envelopes, a 5-minute teaching video, a one page “statement of purpose”, and proof of teaching experience that must be “signed” by former/current employers. All this will take time to get/do. Are they super strict about all this? Plus, I don’t have a valid passport to send them a scan of at this time. My passport is expired and I’m currently reading about how to renew it.

Is the FET program the only way to teach at public schools or is it just a special program to help rural areas? Is there another way to teach at public schools?