Teaching Indigenous Students in Taiwan vs Teaching Indigenous Students in Canada

Throughout my thirteen and a half years of being a teacher, I have only spent 2 years teaching in Canada. Both these years I worked in Canada were for an Indigenous school board on an Indigenous reservation. My experience working there was a pretty tough one because I dealt with a lot of kids who had a lot of issues. Some of them are born brain damaged, some of them are not identified with any problems but have a lack of discipline to the point of being extremely disrespectful. It was so bad that I gave the worst behaving students the lowest grades. Several of them come from homes where there is a lot of alcohol abuse, several of them come from homes in which parents are involved in buying and selling drugs, and some come from homes where there is a lot of bad parenting because some of these kids were born to mothers who were as young as 15, and did not have the proper maturity to be parents. But I cannot generalize on that because I know one young woman there who worked as an Educational Assistant who has three children, the oldest being 10, and she is 25. I had one student in first grade who told me that her father is incarcerated, and two girls who are now in grade 3 who never knew their father because he was deported to Trinidad and Tobago. All these various problems that several of these kids on the reserve have are just so immense that it made my job hard. That particular community was a very hard place to work. Some Indigenous reservations may be easier to work in, but there are others that are worse than where I used to work.

My experience teaching Indigenous kids was still not new. Before I taught in Canada, I worked in Taiwan 10 years ago. I had the experience dealing with a few Indigenous students at the schools where I taught at in Miaoli and in Taichung. I am now back in Taiwan, and yes, there are a few Indigenous kids I teach. But my question is this, are there any NET’s who currently teach in a bilingual or EFL program for a predominantly Indigenous school in Taiwan? I
I was talking with an Indigenous Taiwanese friend of mine about the various socio-economic problems effecting Indigenous people in Canada and Indigenous people in Taiwan. And from what he told me, the problems and challenges that Indigenous Taiwanese face is not as bad as what I have seen with Indigenous people in Canada. Issues such as suicide. Indigenous people make of 1.5% of the Canadian population, but suicide rates among Indigenous Canadian youth aged 13 to 25 remains one of the highest in Canada, but not so in Taiwan. Indigenous girls and women who are murdered and missing, that is a big problem in Canada, but not so much here in Taiwan. For both Indigenous groups, alcoholism is a problem and it effects their young people, but drugs are a bigger problem for Indigenous Canadians than Indigenous Taiwanese. Economic disparity, same thing. It effects both Taiwanese and Canadian Indigenous groups.
Generally, the socio-economic problems of Indigenous Taiwanese is not as bad as in Canada, but what I have noticed is that some Indigenous Taiwanese students in Taiwan’s public schools usually have academic struggles after I looked at their scores in certain subjects, but I could only relate to EFL in particular. But what I need to know is this: How is teaching Taiwanese Indigenous kids as opposed to teaching Indigenous Canadian kids? Is it easier to teach Indigenous Taiwanese given the lesser socio-economic problems they have?


In the teaching game, gigs teaching kids on the res used to be pretty notorious for being tough going.

Suicide rate for male Aboriginal youth is 3.5 times higher than the average Taiwanese.

The average life expectancy in Taiwan is 79.82, but for Aboriginals that number is just 71.6, a total of 8.2 years. For Aboriginals not living on the plains, that number further goes down to 69.6


Remember that while North America has done a shit job of looking after their native people, Taiwan has done an even shittier job. Any stats you have on aboriginal Taiwanese should be taken with a grain of salt. Taiwanese history textbooks and museums still imply that aboriginal people moved up into the mountains by choice.

People I meet in Taiwan (male and female) who say they are aboriginal always follow that up with “I’m really good at drinking”, as though being an alcoholic is something to be proud of. I don’t know how reliable suicide stats are either, as it’s a lot easier to cover those things up when the community actively wants to keep that hushed up, which is a lot different than people on native reservations in NA who try to be heard.


How about dealing with Indigenous Taiwanese students?

I would say some differences are that Taiwan is much smaller, so there’s less isolation of Aborigines. Before, there were fewer programmes for Aborigines, but also much lower unemployment, and again, shorter distances made for easier access to work, especially in construction (for males).

Let’s elaborate more about the Indigenous Taiwanese kids. What are some other things I am missing out on that you have noticed about the Indigenous kids integrated with the Han-Chinese majority kids in public schools, and the Indigenous kids that go to school within their own cultural environments?

Had a baseball team class of aborigines when I taught junior high in Taipei. They were pretty much isolated from the rest of the school with their daily baseball practices. They were all from Yilan and Hualian and lived in former classrooms above the gym that had been converted to dorms. Only had English class once every two weeks. They were fun and didn’t have any behavior issues, but couldn’t learn a thing given their limited time in my class. I do remember other teachers imitating their accents, but my Chinese wasn’t good enough at the time to hear the difference.

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Yeah, kids on elite baseball teams and denied a regular childhood don’t tend to have behavior issues, they have those later on in life.


You know there’s actually a research on why aboriginals are better at drinking. Turns out that there’s an enzyme for alcohol found in the aboriginals, but lacking in Han Asians. The same enzyme is also found in black and white people. So to be fair, Han Asians are the only people that suck at drinking.

So be careful, don’t judge them by the Han Taiwanese standard. But if you’re judging them by a foreign standard and you still think they drink too much, then yeah they might have problems…

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I’m judging them because they think their self-worth is based on their ability to drink. Any member of society that acts like they’re in a frat house on a Tuesday morning gets judged by me. Any society that values someone based on their ability to drink copious amounts of Kaoliang also gets judged by me. I can’t say how many school-sanctioned events I’ve been to where disgusting old men are preying on all the women to get them drunk for “status” reasons and the aborigines are always the ones who announce their drinking ability and show it off. We’re teachers on school property and you think the best thing to do to show your worth is drink until you physically can’t move anymore. I don’t care about enzymes and technical genetic superiority when it comes to drinking. I care about human safety and common sense among adults when on school property.


I don’t know how the heck you could come up with such a conclusion about enzymes in Indigenous people that helps them better take alcohol. Let me tell you something I used to live and work in South Korea for 7 years and I have seen a hell of a lot more drunkards there than I have here in Taiwan or on the reservation where I worked.

This is where I got the conclusion. It’s a well known medical fact. And if you use the correct key words you can also see the comparison between aborigines and Han Taiwanese. South Koreans also lack the genes for these enzymes. Probably why they get drunk more easily…

this doesn’t explain why people make it a habit to drink. It only explains that some people are more tolerant of alcohol. Thought it was a fun fact.

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As a person with a defective copy of the aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 gene, therefore lack the enzyme to break down alcohol, and suffer from Asian glow whenever I drink, I can say that the condition makes drinking in large quantities pretty unpleasant. Aside from turning bright red, and experience a flush pretty much after a couple of sips, I also get bloodshot eyes, and start to get rashes on my arms and torso. If you’ve experienced the effects a couple of times, they make the social bonding you get from drinking too much seem not worth the experience.

So, perhaps the “defect” evolved to combat alcoholism? Although, some people go through all the same conditions yet still routinely engage in over drinking anyway.

Also, alzheimer’s seems to be more prominent in the US and much less common in Taiwan. In Taiwan, 4.97% of elderly people over 65 have it. In the US it’s something like 10% of people over 65 have it. If having this gene defect is related to getting alzheimer’s why wouldn’t more Taiwanese people have alzheimer’s?

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ALDH2*2 causes uncomfortable results when you drink. more Han Taiwanese and Japanese have it, and less Korean have it, but almost no aboriginal taiwanese have it.

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Really? Thought Koreans have it too

Didn’t really read the Alzheimer part I was just using the drinking enzyme part to prove my point. But I’m guessing it has something to do with chinese characters ( this is just me and has no scientific evidence to back this up) because every time i have to write in Chinese i find it so freaking difficult. Never got 片 and 爿 right. Never.

Wouldn’t you also find telling p and q apart challenging then?

If p and q are only a small portion of a word so it doesn’t have the same effect, what about dob and bod?

Woah… I am getting a dizzy feeling like looking at an optical illusion.


No I don’t. P and q denote different pronunciations while 片 and 爿 don’t. There’s 版 牆 牌 牋 牒 all pronounced differently how am I supposed to know when to use which? Especially 版 牌 and 牆

I ended up just writing 片反 and 爿反 and erase the weird looking one. And still don’t always get them right :joy:

I’ve been looking at too many 片 and 爿 now they look weird…

and they look differently.

I should write desease desiese deseace diseace disease to get a right one.

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