Teaching at Taiwan Universities

Postings are starting to appear about teaching at universities in Taiwan. Most of what you will see will be negative. Some of them will be factually inaccurate, perhaps even based on heresy, rather than the authours personal experience teaching. The university teaching situation in Taiwan is complex and full of difficulties, but it is certainly not without hope.

Most positions for English teachers in Taiwan are offered by private universities. Some of these schools are quite poor and lack adequate resources to support classes. These schools are generally, but not exclusively, found outside Taipei. Many of these rural schools have never employed foreign teachers before, and, as a result, don’t know how to manage them adequately.

Another problem is that of your employment status at the school. Teachers in Taiwan can be either staff or faculty teachers. Faculty teachers have been certified by the Ministry of Education (MOE) as qualified to teach in the ROC. While faculty conditions vary from school to school, contracts are generally based on the model that the Ministry uses to employ teachers in the national university system. Staff positions are usually filled with local instructors, and if you end up in one of these, you get what you get.

Many of the positions that you will see being called ‘university teaching’ are not faculty positions. Some of them are not even staff positions. Some universities use agents to find teachers for their classes. These would be the worst positions in terms of quality, support and compensation.

While you will hear talk that schools want PhDs, this is not completely correct – a master’s level degree is often sufficient for the positiosn available at private universities. To qualify for a full-time faculty position, you must be certified by the MOE. You must hold a master’s level degree that was earned in residence at an accredited university. There are many high quality distance degrees available these days. Such degrees are not recognized by the Ministry of Education in Taiwan.

Your master’s degree can be in any discipline to qualify for MOE certification, but don’t let talk about how the subject of your study doesn’t matter. It is a significant advantage to have an MA in TESOL, education or another related discipline when applying for positions.

There are many high quality schools that employ MA holders as full-time faculty. Some postings appear in the English newspapers. You can find others posted on ESLResearcher and the Chronicle of Higher Education. I continue to hold the belief that the best employer of foreign faculty in Taiwan is Ming Chuan University in Taipei. I am biased, of course, since that’s where I teach. Other schools that employ foreign teachers are Kaohsiung Medical University, Chung Tai University of Technology and Shih Chien University.

This must be something to do with the Taiwanese tolerance and religious heterodoxy which we have been hearing about.

My smart-arse spelling corrections aside, I find your post useful and informative.

[Edit: and I find this post to be my 500th! Wahey!]

“hearsay”…“hearsay” is what I meant to write. You know, that thing you get when you have no actual experience with something, but use others experiences and opinions pretending that its yours.

Yeah, I know, sorry Scott. Just my silly sense of humour.

You can find mroe information about teaching at Taiwanese universities on my Web site at

“more”…that’s “more information” at

You won’t catch me making that mistake twice!

[quote=“ScottSommers”]“more”…that’s “more information” at

You won’t catch me making that mistake twice![/quote]
Hey Scott; I must just apologise again. I am really not one of these spelling and grammar pedants - I think everybody understands that posting on a BBS is a quite different form than writing stuff at work, for example.
I’m sure I make loads of mistakes and you or anyone else is very welcome to point them out - especially if they are entertaining. That’s the only reason I picked out ‘heresy’ because I thought it was quite amusing.
By the way, the only reason I don’t have even more mistakes in my posts is that I frequently use the ‘edit post’ button which is at the top right of any posts I make.

Back on topic - I’ve kept an eye on your blog since you started it, and always find it useful and thought-provoking.

No problem.

I was just joking anyway, as I am the king of bad proofreading. It took me a second to get it, but actually, it was a funny joke. The last thing I what is to end up being one of those guys posting regularly who take themselves so seriously they don’t have time for a joke.

Thanks for the comments, and thanks for keeping me on my toes.

You’ve got a nice page there, Scott. I also like Michael Turton’s page on teaching at universities:


Because of all the terrible problmes I had with my previous service provider, I have moved my Weblog to

If you want into a national university as faculty, then a PhD is pretty much the single best route to go . . . however, most of those also have language centers which will hire with a MA.

An excellent resource for information about new positions in higher education as well as Calls for Papers and the like is Ken Dickson’s Hwakang Journal yahoogroup at groups.yahoo.com/group/HwakangJournal - you don’t need a Yahoo ID to subscribe but you will want one if you want to take a look at the message archives with past posts. Job openings are frequently posted there and the place does have the odd discussion every now and again related to English teaching in Taiwan. Odd being a relative term.

BTW, if you find any misspellings or strange grammar constructs in any of my posts . . . let’s just assume they are clever quirky thingamajigs placed there purposefully or that I’m just tired after many hours of teaching or writing or playing on the PS2 and that they don’t actually reflect on my real mastery of the English language. :slight_smile:

Dr. Phillips is correct in that if you want to teach at a national university in a department it is necessary to have a Ph.D. This does NOT mean that it will be impossible for you you to get a job of similar or equal quality with less than a Ph.D. As has been pointed out on several other posts, many universities have language centers that hire masters-level instructors at similar or equal levels of compensation (at least so far) to those teaching in departments. Numerically, the majority of these universities are private schools located in Taiwan. There are still many jobs available in the north of Taiwan.

Bingo . . . what he said. :slight_smile:

Many of the language centers affiliated with universities are also moving toward part time teachers for their core classes as well so the full time positions will become a bit less plentiful (at least that has been the recent trend - that could change, I know the system at NCCU will be undergoing huge changes within the next year but it’s not completely certain which way the axe will fall) . . . albeit, this is happening in one one hand while in the other hand more schools have started recruiting foreign teachers as English goes through a bit of an expansion in the local market thanks to the government’s recent push towards improving language education to meet growing demand in business and research sectors.

This is true, although less so at private schools, where the pressure is not financial, but rather through regulation from the MOE. In fact, at Ming Chuan, we recently got rid of a large number of PT teachers because it was affecting our ability to guarantee the quality of instruction that we want. NCCU has been fortunate in being able to locate a reliable, high quality out-source of instruction. Many other schools attempting the PT solution have not been so lucky.

I suppose that I also add that language centre positions almost always entail remedial instruction. Many of our teachers also teach in the Department of Applied English, but they generally teach the most unpopular or ‘communication-oriented’ classes (such as composition or oral conversation). One would have to be extremely talented or lucky to be hired by a language centre, but permitted to teach anything other than remedial English or content courses aimed at EFL students.

Scott Sommers, M.A.
Instructor and Test Co-ordinator,
English Language Centre (ELC) Ming Chuan University

NCCU seems to currently have two minds on this and so the forces of negotiation, change, diplomacy, and conflict are all at work . . . right now . . . there are those who prefer to outsource to part-time instructors for basic language teaching through the language center and those who prefer to go the full time route. Within the next year, a lot of decisons will be made that will affect how things are done in the future. We’re actually in for big changes either way as there may be a huge reorganization of how things are done very soon.

All I can say is if more and more schools choose to hire EFL teachers on a part-time basis, pay them s**t, and give them large basic classes of EFL, standards in language centers will go THROUGH THE FLOOR as the best and brightest EFL practitioners will avoid anything but the best of such positions.

More than likely, the best and brightest will continue to do what they have always done with regard to teaching in academic positions in Taiwan and teach in other more financially rewarding positions/countries/professions, such as private schools/Hkg/Literature fields.

In short, the Language centers will all become glorified bushibans (no insultintended at all) but LC will find themselves academically on the outside of the faculty, and become pure ‘profit’ centers as they are in Korea. I for one would regret that change, since languages are an essential part of the University curriculum. Moreover, what happens to English, could aslo happen to Japanese, etc. Also, the missions of such organisations are somewhat different, indeed. A bushiban is to cram, but a University is to provide enlightenment and instruction, to shape the individual amongst other socially important things.

Given the economics of instruction operating here, I am NOT optimistic.






Ken, thanks for posting the link to Scott’s article.

Mr. Sommers is right to note that the state of English teaching in Taiwan is in crisis. Nevertheless, Mr. Scott Sommer