Teaching English, German and/or French

Hi everyone,

I’m thinking about moving to Taiwan in about two years, but I’m not sure if that’s even an option given my qualifications and the fact that I’m not an English native speaker. I’m a 27-year-old German and I’m currently teaching English, French and philosophy in a German high school. Last year, I went to Taiwan for the first time and since I really enjoyed it, I was wondering if it’s possible for me to find a teaching position there. That would be either a position as an English teacher and/or as a German or French teacher.

I guess theoretically my qualifications are pretty good because in addition to my current teaching position in Germany, I have taught German in France and in the US. I’ve also done an internship with the Goethe-Institut Tokyo organizing cultural events and doing public relations, so I already have some work experience when it comes to East Asia. My university grades were pretty good and I studied on a national scholarship. My mother tongue is German, but I speak English and French fluently as well as basic Japanese. My English is not perfect of course, but I speak with an American accent and often even Americans think I’m from the Midwest (even though I lived in California…I guess it’s because Midwestern American English is basically the standard American accent).

So in general, it would be no problem for me to work as an English teacher in Taiwan, especially if you consider the fact that I already teach students of all ages on an everyday basis and that includes everything from the basics to literature. However, I’m also aware that schools in Taiwan will probably always prefer native speakers even without any teaching qualifications because of their passport and their English skills. Maybe they also automatically assume that I’ve got a strong German accent or something like that. Anyway, I’m wondering if with this situation there might still be a chance for me to find an English teaching job or if it’s no use with all the native speakers around and the visa rules. What about teaching German or French? Now there are probably not too many teaching jobs for those languages, but maybe that would also be an option. What do you think? I’d be really glad to get some advice from more experienced teachers in Taiwan. Thanks in advance for every response.

Yes, there would be a major problem. You do not hold a passport from a country regarded as an English-speaking country, and you don’t seem to be married to anyone so as to have open work rights. Therefore, you cannot get a visa to teach English.

(Don’t worry, confusing competence with qualifications is a common error in Taiwan. :wink: )

You could theoretically teach German on a German passport, if you could find a job. That would be perhaps one or two language centers in major cities (and whether those would be full-time is another question, and whether the current teacher is leaving is an additional question) and some part-time lecturer jobs at universities and continuing ed programs. You only mention a university degree, so I’m assuming you have no MA or Ph.D, so full-time university teaching jobs are essentially out of the question.

It is not easy for someone without the right passport.

Funny thing. John de Jongh (Not sure about the first name) wrote the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for languages) and is probably not only a better teacher but better at English than most people, yet he can’t work here cause his Dutch.

You could try the Taipei European school also.

So that really means without the right passport there’s no chance to work as an English teacher even if a school offers me a job? I know that in Japan, it’s possible for non-native speakers of English to get a visa as an English teacher as long as a school offers them a job, which means the state basically doesn’t care about your passport.

By the way, my degree is called "state exam"and only exists in German as far as I know. It takes about 5-6 years and exists in different forms for a couple of state professions such as lawyers, teachers or doctors. It’s definitely a MA equivalent and enables you to do a PhD, so I guess my degree alone wouldn’t be a problem.

You must hold a passport from a country regarded as English-speaking by the Taiwanese authorities.

Judging from the original posts, the OP’s English is good enough to teach; legally is another question. But who are we kidding? The grey zone in Taiwan is huge.

His degree sounds like the equivalent of an M. A. What about university? Think he might be able to get one of those gigs? There are also technical colleges, as I think they’re called in English here. I think they’re somewhat like junior colleges, but I think that at least some of them have senior high school students as well.

Well, the visa issue sounds like a bummer, but I’ll double-check with the embassy in Munich to see if it’s really impossible for non-native speakers to teach English. It wouldn’t surprise me, because as far as I know, South Korea has the same policy. However, Japan does give visa to non-native speakers if they have already found a job, so maybe there’s some hope after all even though most of you guys said the opposite. Anyway, I guess the embassy has to know, so I’ll just give them a call.

My degree is basically an M.A. equivalent, but it’s more versatile and maybe also more extensive because it doesn’t only involve didactics, psychology and pedagogy, but also literature and linguistics. I actually often had courses together with M.A. students of these subjects and my thesis was 100 pages on “Buddhist influences on the work of Jack Kerouac”, which had nothing to with teaching and was basically an American studies or literature paper. Now German high school teachers have at least two subjects, so if you’re studying two foreign languages for example, that means you have to do the didactics, literature and linguistics parts in English and French in my case. On top of all that there was also the philosophy part and I guess having to do all these subjects explains why the degree takes ages compared to an American or British B.A. or even M.A. It usually involves a lot of explanations, but in the end, I guess my degree wouldn’t be a problem when it comes to finding a job in Taiwan.

Someone mentioned that there’s a huge grey zone of semi-legal or even illegal teaching in Taiwan. Not that that’s exactly my plan, but how does it work? Don’t you need to have some kind of legal visa to even enter the country?

Teachers teach philosophy in German high schools? Hulk smash!

As per your original post, you’ve got two years to land a Taiwanese wife, “to invest” a few million NT in the Taiwanese government, to enroll as a student in Taiwan and teach English illegally, or to earn citizenship in an Anglophone country. There may be some other options, but that exhausts the main ones.

Could you earn a Privatdozent in that much time, perhaps in something that you already teach in high school or that connects to your M.A. equivalent?

Do not misunderstand. This has nothing to do with whether or not you are a native speaker of English. For visa purposes, it is all simply about what passport you hold.