Returning to Taiwan with 14 & 12 year olds

My husband & I are looking at relocating back to Taiwan next year for career development, as well as giving our children an opportunity to experience life in Taiwan and improve their chinese skills.

We are all dual citizens from South Africa & Taiwan. My husband and I are fluent in chinese however our children are not so fluent & have minimal conversation skills. They can sort of understand chinese but will respond in English.

Our biggest struggle is to find a school that our children would be able to fit in comfortably. They will be 12years old & 14 years old next year, grade 8 & 7.

I have looked at the international schools however the fees are too expensive. We can afford between 200 000 Ntd to 300 000 ntd per child, per year on school fees.

I’m looking for advise from anyone who had a similar experience that has managed to find a good accommodating middle school, or any schools that may have experience with middle school kids with minimal chinese skills that have returned from studying abroad?

We are looking at ideally enrolling our children to a school in Taipei.

Your advise and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

If you can do some home education (i.e. math, science, English), then enroll them in the nearest public school. When I arrived in Taiwan my kids were 11 and 13 and we enrolled them in public schools. Their Chinese quickly improved to native level. The teachers even spent extra effort bringing them up-to-speed with Chinese reading and writing.


That certainly does not sound age-appropriate :grin:


Spell checker didn’t pick up that typo :grin:


Wow, May I ask which year you enrolled them? and if you don’t mind could you send me the name of their school. Thanks :pray:t3: please also advise what was the level of your children’s chinese when you returned to Taiwan, as well as your children’s personality are they more outgoing ? Are they boys or girls ?

Just be aware that they may be subject to conscription and at a certain age will not be able to leave Taiwan without permission until they serve in the military.


You don’t even know if they’re boys.

Secondly. This is common knowledge. I am sure OP is fully aware of this.


Wow, May I ask which year you enrolled them?

Youngest was in year 5. Oldest was in first year of junior high.

and if you don’t mind could you send me the name of their school.

I’ll send you a message.

please also advise what was the level of your children’s chinese when you returned to Taiwan

To be honest it wasn’t that good. They’d only ever spoken Chinese at home with their mother, and sometimes with grandparents. They could not read or write Chinese.

as well as your children’s personality are they more outgoing ? Are they boys or girls ?

The youngest is introverted, but he quickly made friends. There was one extremely outgoing boy that made friends with him.
The elder son is outgoing. He made friends easily. The girls at his school were a bit distracted for the first couple months. They were peeking through the classroom window just to get a look. I don’t think they’d ever had a foreign kid at that school.

1 Like

OP would be wise to get some understanding of this situation before arriving. Having a 2nd nationality will not prevent them from being conscripted regardless of how they entered Taiwan.
Military Service in Taiwan - American Institute in Taiwan (

Laws on the books seem to apply to boys from the age of 15 upwards. His eldest is already 14.

Due to mandatory military service for men, travel restrictions are placed on male citizens from the age of 15 until they have completed their military service. When a passport is issued to a such citizen, a stamp with the following words will be shown on the remarks page, and a sticker which describes the regulation will be attached to the back cover of the passport.[19]
In Traditional Chinese:

Translation: The bearer needs a permission to travel abroad and has not yet completed his military service.

Hope this is not an impediment ot OP’s plans. The actual MOJ laws are worded in typical legalese, but probably worth reading. Might be a good idea for OP to touch base with others in the same situation.


I got dinged by the mods for bringing this up.

Military conscription is like IRS obligations. If you’re a citizen, you must do it no matter what other nationality or citizenship you have. I believe there is some rule about how long you may stay before you’re required to serve if you have other nationality though.

I don’t know what it’s like now, but it was certainly a rite of passage. Also you can’t renounce Taiwanese citizenship unless you finished your service.

There have been other useful threads on this topic including this contemporary one.

Here are a couple of other good ones.

  1. ‘Forest’ or ‘Mountain’ schools in Taipei

  2. Mountain schools?

But be sure to ask if you have more questions and we may be able to help.

My understanding is that men only have to do military service if they have household registration but you should check with a legal professional or at least the conscription service.

NWOHR don’t have to do military, but they don’t have much rights to reside in Taiwan either… if their passport has an ID number, they’re citizens and must do military service.

See OP’s first post.

If the decision is not taken yet, I think you should reconsider.
If you think that children in Taiwan have a lot of time to talk while in school, you are mistaken.
If you think the teachers will help them in any special way or change something because some half-foreigners, you are mistaken again.
It will be very hard for them. Think twice before taking this decision. Specially because your kids are not in elementary school anymore.
Taiwan is not ready for foreign children in middle or high school.


Thank you for the insight.

And yet I know families going that route and enjoying it…


It can be done, sure. If they are lucky with the teacher and the classmates. But the system is not ready. That’s what I’ve seen.


I get the impression that the OP wants to send them to an international school, which might have different dynamics. They are more expensive though.

1 Like

Similar thread for more info:

Where’s your children’s school located?
Probably not in Taipei if classmates never seen a foreigner.