Taiwan's new TET teacher exchange program

Updated at 6.25pm:
Lawmakers support the lifting of a ban on foreigners teaching English at state schools in Taiwan, a senior official said on Monday, paving the way for the government to recruit hundreds of native English speakers.
The government hopes to hire 1,000 foreign teachers for the school year beginning in August, said Vice-Education Minister Fang Shiun-Lui.

‘‘The foreign teachers could assist our teachers or help train them to have better teaching skills,’’ Mr Fang said.

Taiwanese students are generally proficient in English reading and writing. But few can speak the language well, and many blame it on teachers who do not speak English fluently.

Officials have long complained that Taiwanese lag behind their Asian rivals, such as Singapore and Hong Kong, in English proficiency, and this hinders the island from becoming a regional financial and transportation hub.

Foreigners are currently banned from teaching any subject in state schools, but Fang said lawmakers have reached a consensus to lift the ban for English language teachers. Legislation must be passed to lift the ban.

The teachers would be sent to 700 elementary schools and 300 junior high schools, mainly in small cities and remote areas where English teachers are in short supply, she said.

Remote schools will also be given computers to allow English teaching through the Internet, she said.

saw on the news they’re thinking $50,000 - $90,000 monthly salary.

Listen guys this is a farce waiting to happen. Let me tell you why and how it is going to happen.

Is anybody familiar with the Hsinchu JUICE debacle? Where after 6 months the teachers weren’t being paid and the powers that be wouldn’t cancel their ARC’s so they could get new jobs. How a gov’t program was run by an agency (probably linked to the DPP Mayor at the time) that took a considerable cut from the salaries of the foreign teachers. How they promised certified British teachers and then basically hired anybody with a pulse.

They’re going to run this through a F^$^*%^ agency. The Agency will make it a point to screw the foreigners and the schools. The foreigners will learn all about the negative points about Chinese culture except for a few delusional PC types, anybody in the teaching biz knows what I mean. As a result Taiwan will have yet another black mark against its international image.

This is also the Taiwanese Gov’t “modus operandi” – saying and actually doing something are two different things to them. Anyway, I have to question the motivation of such a program that sends foreigners to the remotest parts of Taiwan. Near Hualien would be cool, but some of these places are shitholes. Who will take care of them and give them their bearings in a place where they are the only foreigner and probably the only person who speaks English? Will this part be run by Taiwan’s notoriously helpful and informed bureaucrats?

This is idiocy waiting to happen. I have yet to read how or who is going to implement it, but past experience tells me that this isn’t a good deal for anyone.


Conspiracy theory #1

The Government Take Over

I think we all know that the business of teaching English in Taiwan is quite a little money spinner, so why not have the government take over and earn that money.
It starts with a merry band of 1000 foreign teachers entering the country. Followed by the school running after school classes (An ching ban) to save money for the parents who are sending their kids to expensive private cram schools (hey, they just want to keep the cash in the government schools - I think we all know that).
Next, they reduce the school start age to 5 years old - Kindergartens are therefore reduced to 2 years - perhaps one year of truely fruitful business. But Kindergartens are too expensive for parents in this downwward turned economy, right?:wink: And why would parents want to send their kids to an English Kindy anyway when the schools have foreign teachers too? :wink:
Finally, the government introduces English as Taiwans official second language and all the cram school and kindergarten English teachers are facing an economic crisis as parents start to believe that the government is taking care of things at the elementary school level. :wink:

Can you see the secret take over plan of the government education department? Get all that English money out there and look like they are being really helpful in this difficult economic time and improving education standards at the same time.

I agree with Okami. Don’t get too excited about this. It sounds good, but… What the government says and what the government does don’t necessarily coincide in Taiwan.

I think it would be great if Taiwan could introduce something like the JET program in Japan. So I hope this is not just hot air being blown around.

Okami: The program is going to be run by the Ministry of Education and is modeled after similar programs in Japan and Korea. There will have to be public hearings on the regulations underpinning the program, so this will be an opportunity for English teachers to voice their concern about agencies. I can see other issues that should be raised immediately:

–access to Mandarin classes outside Taipei, Taichung, and Kaohsiung

–removing the artificial age limit (45) currently being proposed

–how much time must be spent in training programs during vacations

–some kind of ombudsman for disputes between individual teachers and the schools to whioch they are assigned

I rather suspect that the MOE will want to run this one themselves.

The China Times reported yesterday that salaries will be 60~90K, but that the upper end of the spectrum will be reserved for more senior instructors. There is likeyl to be significant opposition and resentment among local teachers, and there are significant budget issues as well. I suspect that this was a trial balloon. The final program will probably look very different.

Actually, this sounds like a great opportunity for teachers who are already here to get good paying jobs with proper benefits.

Could this be a good thing? I mean being the salary is so good maybe the buxibans will have no choice but to become more honest? Maybe even put a few of them out of business?

There are three articles in today’s China Times with more details:

  1. Foreign teachers will play a “supporting role”–in other words local teachers will not lose jobs

  2. The MOE has commissioned the University of Maryland to plan the program

  3. There will be four grades of salaries: US$22K, US$25K, US$35, and US$38K. Less experienced foreign teachers will assist local teachers in the class room while experienced teachers and teachers with “guidance teacher” credentials will train local teachers.

  4. Vice-Minister Fan explained that the “Foreign Legion” of English teachers will support local teachers in the classroom, help local teachers improve their English, and generally contribute to internationlization.

  5. Foreign teachers will not have formal status as teachers

  6. Local teachers who feel that their English is not inferior to that of foreign teachers have questionsed the fairness of the pay scale.

  7. In the first experimental phase, the University of Maryland will send thirty teachers to Taiwan this summer.

  8. The Council of Labor Affairs says that public schools that currently employ foreign teachers are in violation of the Employment Services Act unless they employ the foreign teacher in cooperatin with a Buxiban. The Council also says that under the Employment Services Law, the employment of foreign teachers would be illegal but that since the MOE issues work permits for foreign teachers, the Council would have to examine the nature of the work permitted before ruling on the legality of such work permits.

[editorial comment by Lin Zhaozhen]

  1. If the MOE brings in foreign teachers to teach children after they have a solid foundation in Chinese, it should crack down on the currently widespread practice of “premature” English instruction (ie. before the third grade).

  2. The principle of language equality and a system of certification for teachers need to be set up so that English and English teachers do not become dominant.

  3. Mildy interesting review of history of [official] English instruction in China and Taiwan.

[Second commentary by Chen Rongyu]

  1. Argues that Taiwan’s “special conditions” make wholesale importation of Japanese or Korean models questionable.

  2. Expresses dpubts about the qulifications of the teachers who would be attracted. Cites the low standard of Buxibans.

  3. States that MOE’s plan calls for Universities in the US, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa to do the recruiting for the MOE.

  4. Notes that the MOE’s 2003 budget does not include funding for the program.

What good salary? 50K-90K. You can work 25 hrs a week at a kindergarten and make 60K and you won’t be living out in the boonies. You can add hours up to 40 a week and make 100K. Doesn’t sound like teaching public school will be a good deal, as they are almost certain to make it strictly fulltime, no extra hours elsewhere, and the minimum qualifications are (according to today’s Taipei Times) a degree in a linguistics related field and basic Chinese ability.


Foreign “teachers” will not be eligible for any benefits. I wonder if the University of Maryland has a policy that excludes foreign professors from receiving pension benefits! :unamused:

Therefore we have higher pay rates than the local teachers - It is fair then??!!

Not being treated equally seems to be a trend in Taiwan for foreigners - so damn it - if we get paid more, what about it, treat us equally with the same benefits… Nah, that means that you’d have to stick around way past your expiry date.

Take the money and run:wink:

I’d be willing to bet they do all the recruiting overseas and don’t hire anyone locally.

There are a few related articles in today’s Taipei Times and Taiwan News. See the links below.

MOE plans to recruit foreigners as English teachers in public schools – Taiwan News

Editorial: A lot to learn about teaching English – Taipei Times

MOE to snap up foreign teachers – Taipei Times

They might as well forget the “basic Chinese ability” requirement – unless they’re going to provide new recruits with a 3-month crash course in Chinese before they take up their teaching duties – because they’ll never find enough qualified teachers who can already speak even a smattering of Chinese.

When I read about this in yesterday’s Chinese papers, I was struck by the vehemence of opposition expressed by or on behalf of local teachers. They only look at the numbers for the proposed salary and think that it’s way too high compared with their 40k per month (though I’d have thought senior local teachers were earning a lot more than that, even without all the benefits). But it sounds like many of the foreign teachers, particularly those sent to more isolated locations, could find themselves having to contend with a lot of hostility from their “colleagues” and a very unpleasant working environment – especially hard to deal with if they’re new to the country and culture and not proficient in Chinese.

Good points Feiren, but this is Taiwan land of cheap knock offs and still the number 2 pirater of goods in the world.

I have some questions and some points to make:

-When and where are the public hearings? Are they going to be in both languages with translation? Will the people in the audience be able to ask questions and will they get clear answers? Is it just a lecture about the program or a real give/take of a discussion?

I don’t see this as such a great oppurtunity and my negative points are the following:

-No professional development
-who is in charge of the foreign teacher(how many masters)
-resentment and sabotage from embittered coworkers
-This is full time at a pathetic salary your talking about 35-60 hours a week for 60-90K. I make the upper end of this after visa runs, why would I want a paycut and embittered coworkers.
-I can see an infinite number of abusive policies being implemented around this, such as free tutoring sessions for the principal’s and his buddies’ kids

You raise a lot of good points, but do you think they will really be addressed? An independent ombudsman, if Chinese, will never side with a foreigner to avoid being seen as

Foreign “teachers” will not be eligible for any benefits. I wonder if the University of Maryland has a policy that excludes foreign professors from receiving pension benefits! :unamused:[/quote]

Why doesn’t this surprise me? Every school I have worked for has never given their teachers any benefits. What exactly is their definition of a teacher then?

Foreign “teachers” will not be eligible for any benefits. I wonder if the University of Maryland has a policy that excludes foreign professors from receiving pension benefits! :unamused:[/quote]

Why doesn’t this surprise me? Every school I have worked for has never given their teachers any benefits. What exactely is their definition of a teacher then? [/quote]

Yeah, I’m waiting to see if I will get a Chinese New Year bonus this year :unamused:

Now here is something interesting: Of these 1000 TET teachers (Taiwan Education Teachers) coming from overseas, how many of them will:

Later become fluent Chinese-speaking TV stars on local variety shows? My estimate: 18

Marry Taiwanese nationals and return overseas? My estimate: 423

Marry Taiwan nationals and remain in Taiwan? My estimate: 12

Later open up their own bushibans? My estimate: 252

Attend Spring Scream each year in Kenting? My estimate: 858

Write angry letters to the editors of local newspapers? My estimate: 666

Later become copyeditors at the three English newspapers here? My estimate: 10

Become new “friends of Taiwan”? My estimate: 799

Visit 45 and Spin on a regular basis? My estimate: 333

Write vivid bestselling books on their “YEAR IN TAIWAN” for English publishers overseas? My estimate: 3

Visit KTVs? My estimate: 186

and so on:

What are YOUR estimates?

And how many of them will become regular posters on Segue, and how many on Tealit?

I think you’re way off with your guesstimate for the number of them who will marry Taiwanese. Judging from all the foreigners I’ve ever known or heard about here, at least 90% of them will do so (irrespective of their marital status prior to arrival).

60k - 90k is not a bad salary if there is a Chinese New Year bonus of one month’s salary and three months holiday.

However, it is extremely likely that the schools would impose additional classes on teachers. They’d be sure to have a Saturday class and probably want to run classes over the summer vacation, too.