Taipei or Tainan

I’ll be back (!) in Taiwan in January after finishing my sentence of self-imposed exile in the Land of the Rising Tax. Do I go to Taipei (the old stomping ground in which I spent four extraordinary years), or do I go to Tainan, where I think I might have a bit more disposable income for my first year or two back in Taiwan ? What schools are there there - specifically - for teaching adults / teenagers ? What are the rents for an apartment (I’m married) ? Is it spirit crushingly boring ? My wife and I both speak Chinese - so lack of contact with English speakers is not a problem… Are the foreign affairs police there particularly officious like they used to be in certain parts of Taipei County years ago ? At half a million strong, is the city well served with cafes, bookshops, pleasant places to hang out, or is it like Milton Keynes ? In living beyond the Pale of Greater Taipei will I have to resign myself to living like a frontiersman, foraging for nuts and berries by moonlight, or is it just a smaller version of Taipei where no one speaks Mandarin and crash helmets are still optional ? In short - is it like Taipei ten years ago ?

I would say it would depend on what you’re looking for.

If you want to get ahead in the profession, I’d recommend Taipei.
If you prefer a small town, less-competitive lifestyle, then Tainan may be better for you.

Well that to a certain extent is the crux of the matter.

I have left Taiwan three or four times in a search for a “better than teaching” job in the UK, and in HK/China, but never really felt that the benefits of alternative work were sufficient. I worked in a securities firm for a while in Taipei, and it was fun, but I was getting payed NT40k for very long hours, and really at my age I should have left behind the intern “work for peanuts” mentality far far behind. Also, I don’t want to be a kids entertainer. I worked at Joy (with Mark0938!) and actually enjoyed it - but there was actual teaching going on there as well as larking about. Having taught a few kindy classes badly, and seen it done well, I know I can’t do it. I am not one of those people who goes “aww look at the cute little baby” and wee bairns never cease to annoy me (!)

The ELSIs of old (2,1, and 4) that I taught at impress me more now than they did then, with the range of materials, and the generally supportive attitude of teachers and trainers. Back then I couldn’t believe I had to prepare a lesson as well as teach it, and now I kind of see how the prep is the actual work, and the classroom time is a breeze if you’ve thought it all through beforehand. I was most impressed with LADO (do I remember hearing you say you worked there?) - in terms of taking a professional approach, and to be honest a lot of it went over my head at the time. I wasn’t teaching there long (because I didn’t have a work permit and I wasn’t up to scratch anyway - although I did get to go to Andy’s wedding!). Now I think I really need to be teaching adolescents/adults to be able to get any job satisfaction and to be able to gain useful experience in terms of developing a career. Anyone of course who knew me and was reading this would assume I’m drunk, but I have kind of decided to move back to Taiwan for good, and notwithstanding the cavalier and money-orientated attitude of the bushibans and government, I feel I have to take some sort of a more “professional” attitude to teaching in Taiwan. And like I say, I’ve spent enough time in Taiwan to know where I am on the scale from naive fool to cynical malcontent.

So, I guess it’s Taipei for me. If I can cobble together the pennies for the initial starvation period before the first enormous paycheck comes rolling in. I also like Taipei. Even if they have laws now.

One thing about your post does interest me though, Alien. What do you mean “the profession” ? I know there are some foreign teachers with recognised training, but is there anyone actually all that interested in developing curriculums which refect modern teaching styles and methodologies, and if so are ss willing to pay for them ? Is there not a barrier of misunderstanding between “professional” teachers and their employers ? Surely they are saying “Oh the Lexical Approach and Task Based Learning, are all well and good but they don’t get bums on seats, do they?” - which were my immediate thoughts when I thought of how it would all be relevant to me in Taiwan. (Notice no-one’s running CELTAs in Taiwan, but strangely you can do it in China)

Hi hex,

Tip: Rumors that the B. Council will reopen soon (not sure when, but perhaps soon after your arrival). You may want forge contacts with someone there. Tim Conway, perhaps.

You have a CELTA now, which can come in handy if you want to do some Cambridge testing, IELTS, BULATS, etc.
Contact member Soddom for more info on that.

There are more opportunities in Taipei in any profession. In the south, I reckon you could teach in a Uni or something if you’re qualified, but you’d more likely end up in a buxiban.
Nothing against buxibans, btw. Some of the most creative, communicative language skills Taiwan students ever have access to are found in buxibans. Never knock a buxiban teacher who is truly committed.

I have not worked for Lado for a while, but contact Maoman for info there. If you need Andy’s email, let me know.
The IELTS training school, ELLC, is doing quite well. You sound qualified, contact Big Babou for details.
Contact ckvw about LTTC.
You’re at the ‘need to make contacts’ stage, hexuan.
REmember that you’ll be arriving when work is slow and you may not find anything steady until the spring or early summer…


I work part time at a school where all the teachers have some form of certification (3 are on Masters programs). It also pays top dollar and has excellent resources/support. A mixture of adults (big IELTS program) and junior high. Some elementary also if that’s your thing. As Alien pointed out, the Cambridge examination scene is good to get into, both profesionally and financially. Let me know if you’re interested.

Thanks guys and gals. I’ll pm you Sod, once I’ve had my morning coffee after (and only after!) which I mraculously transform into a human being…!

Yes the Cambridge bandwagon does seem to be a good one to get on. I can imagine the poor suckers getting off the plane to queue ten deep to get into Cambridge Toilet of Technology…

If you are considering moving to Tainan to teach adults and teenagers, you might want to reconsider. Only a handful of language schools have adult classes (Davids, GVC, Cambridge, Cosmos). The job market is fairly competitive in Tainan, so don’t expect to get a great job right away. Most teachers I know in Tainan teach children and have to go to several different schools to make ends meet.

Try this page for a list of schools in Tainan:

Thanks for the info.

The top spot for foreigners in the whole of Taiwan, apart from Taipei, is Taichung. Tainan is great, has great food and great people, but I think Taichung beats them all.
I know you didn’t ask about Taichung but you may want to consider it.
If it really is a coin toss between Taipei and Tainan, go for Tainan. Taipei is just too … ahh you know anyway.

I moved to taichung after almost 3 years in Taipei and never looked back (pillars of salt etc).

Tainan is just a tad too sleepy for my taste. Taichung is definitely the place to be. Don’t take my word for it - ask any other Taichung ren out there.