Rights for English Teachers

With all the debate shooting back and forth you people have got me confused as to what the “rights” of an English teacher are? The debate has gone more towards the slant of professionalism in teaching English than to the “rights” of an English teacher. There are a lot of statments I can agree and disagree with in this discussion but I just want to know…

What exactly are the RIGHTS that are asked of English teachers in Taiwan?

thanks cyfhsu,

It does seem this forum has gone off track a bit, thanks to those who’re presently ‘non-teachers’, but that’s ok, at least it’s all related.

I don’t know what the rights of English teachers in Taipei entail. That’s one reason I posted the poll. It’s funny how few have actually voted, but how many profess to have deep insight into the field.

I do know that teaching involves a great deal of learning. For one to sit back complacently and repeat the same patterns in their classrooms for years, unwilling to expand their horizons experientially, educationally, or theoretically, may implicate poor teaching practices.

For hundreds of years, skilled artisans have accepted apprentices, who willingly or not, have learned from their mentors the arts of blacksmithing, tailoring, printing, and wordsmithing. Usually the years spent under the tutelage of her mentor gave the apprentice enough knowledge and experience to become a journeyman. And after another stint practicing her chosen profession, and if financially astute enough, she would one day set up shop for herself. Then once herself an artisan, she would take on an apprentice–no teaching certification needed.

As adult native speakers we should, from our mothers’ tongues, and our years in grade school and college, have a strong command of English. We then, when first arriving here, are journeymen: We can speak, read and write English—if we come here without being able to do so, then we have no business teaching English in Taiwan. We are not yet teachers though. But after a few months practice and some on the ground training we will know what it takes to be a good language teacher, if not, then once again, we have no business being here; then once adept at passing on our knowledge, we can progress as teachers of our language, just as craftsmen teach their prot

Well, Ben Franklin’s day is long gone.

But the earlier post is right: What are the rights that are not being protected now for English teachers on Taiwan? There must have been something that made A start this, yes?

Contractual obligations mainly, seems to be a topic which comes up quite often.

Recent example: Mega bushiban denies employee two weeks of pay after said employee rushes back to home country for death of family member. This is referred to as ‘breaking the contract’, of which no revisions are made for such cases.
It would seem that breaking contracts should be clearly defined, and teachers rights should be protected in such matters. This teacher was not.

Perhaps this poll isn’t timely since most are counting down for the massive exodus during Lunar New Year, but we’ll leave it up a while longer.

This is a very interesting and worthwhile topic. I agree that the degree or certificate does not make the teacher. Please understand that I am not in Taiwan teaching yet, but one day soon, I hope to be there and I hope for a good job too. I am tired of school boards, legislators and the current President imposing rules to follow and hoops to jump through that seemingly have nothing to do with my teaching or what my students learn. Some people who have great packages and certificates make horrible teachers and vice versa, so I understand the frustration with ESL and TESOl programs. However, if you are talking about organizing a committee to discuss and hopefully advance the rights of foreign teachers in Taiwan, then maybe you should be prepared to treat teaching more like a profession.

While you lose some ground with having to jump the dreaded political hoops,what you gain is the ability to say, “Look, we are professionals here, you expect us to do a good job so as professionals please respect our needs and help us aquire what we need to be successful.”(example, good contract)

This committee also sounds borderline union so what it comes down to is politics. If you want to play that game then it is my opinion that if you ask for something better,you are prepared to say why. I’m sure for many schools this is purely business and “good teacher contracts” may not be financially important to them. Although, I do believe better contracts make better teachers and better schools. If you want something better, what are you willing to give for it? I am glad to be able to say I’m a professional and have a certificate because when the school board tries to make other unreasonable requests of me or any other teacher, I have credibility to argue, reguardless of the fact that the certificate doesn’t mean squat in the classroom.

For all those teaching. I wish everyone luck, and hope for better conditions. I’m eager to join you.
Oh, one more thing, for every teaching job that I have taken I was required to complete a health and drug exam, including testing for TB and hepatitis(sp?) Maybe it isn’t about discrimination, I really don’t know though.Good Luck!


I think some kind of organization that supports English teachers would be benefitial. Addressing work rights and contracts are just part of the picture. In general, I’d like to see some group where English teachers can go to to get relevant information about both local issues (work permits, etc.) and general teaching issues (certification, etc). But basically, a group to help dedicated teachers connect and work together to improve the quality of English teaching here in Taiwan and perhaps even in the larger TSL community.

Certainly there are groups in Taiwan addressing teacher issues, but they often are limited to local public school issues and materials. And they don’t target foreign teachers. For example, how many foreign teachers know that there’s a TESOL chapter in Taiwan? As well as an Association of English teachers?

I also wonder about the Chinese bushiban English teachers and who they’ve got behind them. They’re not really considered professional, either, are they? They’ve go no specific qualifications and face many of the same issues as the foreigners except they’ve got nowhere to go to if it doesn’t work out.

It would take lots of time and effort, however, to organize such a group, and it’s incredibly difficult to maintain such a group over time with the high turnover of English bushiban teachers.

There are some Taiwan-specific websites with helpful resources for teachers, but they are pretty much just one-way references and relatively static.

Perhaps the first step is just finding a group of concerned teachers here in this forum who really want to see something happen. I, for one, am very interested in getting more involved in the larger English teaching issues, not just day-to-day classroom teaching.


In terms of the “human rights” issues involved in teaching, which includes the drafting of fair and equitable contracts, and their enforcement, the end of arbitrary firing or other breaches of contract, etc., etc. I stress that you do not have to have a large group of people to get moving forward.

A small group of people, or even two or three people, who are dedicated, can get the ball rolling.

There is most certainly a need for this, but as Richard has pointed out two or three dedicated people is all you need. Any more than that may end up just being a social event. I personal would love to help, but unfortunately right now I don’t have the time, but I would definately support such a committee!


“Gotta Look From Both Points of View”

I tend to disagree with the “22 years spent immersed in English is qualification enough to pass on the ability to speak, read, and write it”(wsmith) quote. If that were correct then how come people who were born and raised in English speaking countries can still get bad grades in English classes in their home countries? I’ve even had English teacher friends ask me questions about English I would figure they ought to know!

I do halfway agree that “‘a piece of paper’ makes one qualified to teach” is wrong. BUT I do think that some kind of standard testing by the bushibans should be used to filter out the random native English speaking people who cannot really teach, from the ones who have ability(innate or trained, not necessarily certified ) to teach English. If you think about it, the bosses who just open bushibans for the buck and not the quality teachings could care less about losing another teacher when there are so many others who wouldn’t mind filling those hours. Now if they were forced by some sort of universal regulation /quality standard in Taiwan for English teachers, then it would also make more sense that the teachers could negotiate for better rights since those that passed the test are the only ones who can be hired legally.

Man I wanted to put in so many Graemlins, but the computer I am logged onto now doesn’t permit it… >.<

Recent example: Mega bushiban denies employee two weeks of pay after said employee rushes back to home country for death of family member. This is referred to as ‘breaking the contract’, of which no revisions are made for such cases.
It would seem that breaking contracts should be clearly defined, and teachers rights should be protected in such matters. This teacher was not.

What is asked in a teachers contract? I thought any contract would include a bereavement leave, health leaves, holidays permitted per year. I know that it takes more than a couple days to go back to Canada but, how about the unpaid personal leave that allows an employee to take a leave for a maximum of 14 days a year. This is based on the ROC Labor Standard Laws. I think the labor laws in Taiwan are pretty fair for both the employee an a company. If these could be adapted for teachers I think it would be great! There are many advantages and ifs… Watch out for what you are signing… dont get yourself all tied up…


Not to be the fly in the ointment, but be honest: how many of you know or have been personally involved in breaking your contract? Unless the world has changed significantly, most teachers I knew cared about their contracts about as much as if they were written on toilet paper. Trying to be objective, perhaps it would be nice to hear from the schools on their contract woes and the “dedication” of foreigner teachers.

Originally posted by wolf_reinhold: most teachers I knew cared about their contracts about as much as if they were written on toilet paper.

That’s certainly true, but how much of that is because of the poor treatment English teachers receive? Typically no paid vacations, no bonuses, little respect for professionalism…

Loyalty to an emlpoyer or employee is not automatic. It’s earned and is based on mutual respect and profitability. Equitable contracts might help promote mutual respect by holding teachers and their employers to higher standards.


I have been working for a couple of companies from where I had signed a contract. Both contracts are slightly different but contain basic information:

Position: Mentioning your job description and all the responsibility you have to cover during the time you work.

Salary: How much you get per month and per year. The working schedule you have. The bonuses and meal allowances, how much is paid for the health ensurance, other fees…

Commencement of work: The day you your contract begins.

Termination of Contract: The date where your contract ends (usually a year). But in this one, you have the option of leaving the company if you dont like it after the first three month probational period. The company will should give you proper training for the first month and when your third month of work comes, they give you a report card. Its like the grades you get in elementary school . You get grades like, Outstanding, Satisfactory, Needs improvement for what is you job description. If you do not pass, the company can fire you or cut off your salary. But if you prove to be better then they can give you a higher one.

Working hours: The working schedule you have, the months you work, the holidays there are per year. The amount you get if you work over time. etc.

Benefits: ARC, Health Insurance, Labor Insurance, Accidental & medical insurance, etc.

Company regulations: Includes all regulations. Holidays, leaves permitted, bereavement leave, as mentioned on my last post, vacations.

Code of Conduct: Dress code, sexual harrasment.

Miscellaneous: Any amendment you wish to add for the contract.

Physical Examination: Company makes sure you have good health.

So, I guess that the mate Alien mentioned before did not sign a contract similar to this one or else he could have used the bereavement leave. I am not a teacher but I find that this contract is quite convenient and beneficial for both the employee and employer. So, I was wondering what kind of contracts do teachers usually sign. I guess it some of these may not be applied to a foreigner, but shouldnt these be applied and changed to suit a foreign teacher? anyways,you are in taiwan and these are the labor regulations according to the law of ROC. Signing contracts like this would prevent schools from mistreating their teachers or absteining them from certain benefits a employee should have and there would be more commited and professional teachers instead of the “image” one. Like, if you are the reason they make so much money, why shouldnt you receive at least the same benefits any professional has?

Why arent language schools dedicated to their teachers? Some teachers are lazy basterds. Like, an example, your chinese teacher who has a MA, her english is quite good but she gets less than half your salary and works the double time you do. She spends more time with the kids and teaches them,cleans them,etc. some teachers just stand there for an hour or two and dont give a damn while a chinese teacher has to do all the hard job. So, maybe a boss thinks you are a lazy basterd that doesnt do anything, but is the reason the school gets money, so… they have to make sure you dont leave. But apart from that, they dont care about anything else, believe me. They think you dont need the same benefits a normal employee, citizen would have. one, because you dont know what rules, two, you dont do anything about it either, so… why would they give a damn? But its unfair for those teachers who are dedicated and consider teaching a profession.

Maybe a foreigner can not use a bereavement leave because of the fact that it would be too far for them to go back home. But rules can be changed and adapted for different cases. So, you are allowed to have X number of leaves per year. You can use them when ever you want, exept for…mm… Christmas and September, because these are the busiest months, but in order to take a leave, you should provide the school with a substitute teacher and inform the school in a reasonable time in advance or something. I believe a teacher should have the right to ask for any clarifications for the contract they are signing or have the right to change and add an amendment for those that are not applicable in their case.

What if you suddenly suffer of a seizure of any type caused by some natural case. It happens at 6 o clock when all the parents come pick their children up and you give a bad impression to them parents. Taiwanese people are so hypochondriac, that your boss calls you the next day telling you you are fired. If you had a proper contract signed, then you should be able to use your accidental and medical insurance. They can not fire you because you have had a health test before starting your work and have prooved to be healthy. So, it is the company whom should at least pay you an extra amound if they really want you to leave, cause it would be them breaking a contract, plus you should be have at least a reasonable time before you leave.

What if you got recruited by a language school and signed up a contract. But after you got to Taiwan, you didnt like the school and wish to leave, but you are somewhat tied up because you can be in a black list, you havent done anything bad, its just that the school is unfair and the rates are lower in comparison to other schools. Thats when you can use the three month probational period from your contract. OK, maybe you can not break the contract because the school payed for your airplane ticket, but as I said before, rules are made and can be adapted to different cases. So, you should be able to come up with something. Perhaps provide the school with a substitute and work for at least the 3 months. Give the school a prior notice, etc…

Wow! You’ve all said so much. It’s great. I’m a new reader. Thanks. Now on the topic of ‘Teacher’s Rights’. Did you know that there is a Bushiban committee in each city? These schools (Bushibans) get together and discuss our rights and how better to manipulate us. If we want some kind of say, it would seem to me that we should be able to sit in on these so called meetings.I know I would love to be the proverbial fly on the wall. Just a Thought.

An unenforceable contract is not worth the paper it is written on.

I am amazed and delighted to hear of teachers taking schools to court and winning. The problem appears to be that litigation is too difficult or expensive. This is what a teachers’ “union” or organisation should focus on. Assisting teachers with litigation. Once breaches of contracts (or unfair contracts) start hitting bushiban laobans in the pocket they may pay more attention than mere lip service to what they are obliged by law to put in their contracts.

This would also prevent “freeloaders” from benefitting from legislative improvements pressed for by a few which benefit all. If you pay your dues we help you sue, if not, well…


OH BOY. I have never read this column before, but I see a number of serious problems here and for sound reasons.

“Conversation teachers” aren’t teachers, per se.

Someone has to start somewhere, but the lack of standards is an international problem due to the lack of US leadership in education. I blame the domestic politics of the “English-only versus bilingual” teachers in America for this problem of TESOL.

TESOL, Inc. is a tool of the politically-correct domestic teachers in the USA. It is a feud over budgets effecting the rest of the world, too.

American educators are not key innovators that they think they are, in general, because of their geopolitical vanity and ignorant bliss.

TESOL, Inc is a defacto tool of the National Education Association, the largest teacher union in the USA.

Read any non-US trade publication on TESOL, and they are rational, innovative, and competent. Read TESOL stuff and the bottom line is their politically correctness is lowering the standards for the rest of us Americans and fellow native speakers. Or they are constantly making those reasonable accomodations for the evolution of standards impossible.

For rationale standards and innovations, I would suggest looking to Australia’s ESL programs for comparable standards. Not only are they similiar to the USA, but they are streamlined, policy prioritized, and are just light years ahead of those bluddering leadership roles of TESOL, Inc. There are “alternatives” to TESOL, but they are ineffectual in the USA.

The ESLI USA Corporation used to be the leader in the field of innovation for TESOL, INC, but they were bought out in a corporate merger.

“Sylvan Schools” had a public offering in the last few years, but they spent it on acquiring Spanish-speaking universities in Spain.

Englishtown.com is a unique program but they are business linked to the “One China” lobby and such friends of China. They don’t see beyond the myth of 1 billion “Internet users” and they are very indiffent to Taiwanese interests and education.

The Taiwanese bushibans are indifferent to any CALL innovations as I have specifically promoted certain programs in Taiwan.

It got so bad that I had to look to France for a franchise to open in the Far East with acceptable standards. Some respected experts and coworkers of mine in Taiwan have long felt it was the best program ever made available. Hogwash. I spent two days in Las Vegas sifting this wheat from the chaff at the Paris Casino. Mostly chaff under the French snobbery.