The newbie thread


Greetings all!

First of all, coming from a potential first-time ESLer, I wanted to express my appreciation for what a treasured resource this forum is. Demystifying some the basic hurdles / reality of moving to a foreign country is immensely helpful to any newbie. We cannot thank you enough for taking the time to help us out.

I have recently made the decision that I would like to spend a couple of years teaching ESL in Taiwan, with an eye to seeing whether it’s the kind of thing I’d like to do for a career. I am a native English speaker with two BAs and an unrelated humanities PhD, plus several years of experience tutoring university students (in an unrelated field). I hope to have completed the basic TEFL course I am studying by May, with the intention of jetting over to Taiwan around July/August (from what I’ve read here, this seems to be the peak hiring season).

I’m wondering if anyone might be able to give advice for the following:

  1. For someone who is savings poor and new to ESL teaching, would it be best to try to secure a job (sight unseen) with one of the chain schools (eg. Shane, HESS etc.) before I arrive? Intuitively perhaps, this would seem like the far “safer” option - although I know it’s something of a lottery once you land and get a chance to look over the contract! On the other hand, I am from Aus, which like the US has a 90 day visa exemption status. So considering that I will have to bring enough to live on for the first month regardless, I wonder if it might be more advantageous to hunt for jobs on the ground, compare offers, etc. before making a decision. I should add this will be my first time experiencing a non-English country, so I fully expect to be dealing with a lot of culture shock.

  2. Is it difficult, for a first-time ESLer, to find employment that will sponsor an ARC / work permit that involves teaching adults instead of children? Is there much work teaching anything like “academic English” in Taiwan which doesn’t require a teaching cert from back home or an MA TESOL? I only ask because I have prior experience in universities. I am, however, open to new experiences and wouldn’t mind teaching children if the conditions are better.

  3. Where are most newbie-friendly cities / locations outside of Taipei? I must admit, Taipei doesn’t really appeal to me. Tianan looks very interesting in light of its history. Some of the more rural areas seem fascinating also but without speaking Mandarin, I wouldn’t want to move there for my first job.

  4. What kind of temporary accommodation arrangements are least expensive / most congenial for FOBs - and which have you used in the past? I understand that renting apartments requires a two-month deposit, so I wonder what kind of temporary living quarters most foreigners use when they first arrive. Judging from, 3-star hotels seem cheap relative to home (about half the price per month compared to renting a STUDIO in Sydney or Melbourne). But perhaps it would be better to find a foreigner-friendly hostel? Is that a safe / realistic option?

  5. How affordable / realistic is doing an MA TESOL in Taiwan down the line? Could one save for it over several years?

  6. Is the air pollution making day to day life difficult? Judging from the AQI at the moment (, most of Taiwan except maybe the east coast is getting close to par with many parts of China. I don’t really care if it’s only for a year or two… but as I may want to put down roots eventually, it’s something to consider.

Any expert advice / experiences you could relate would be appreciated!


Hello chaps.

I’m currently an English teacher in Korea. Apart from the pay and food, I would like to know how Taiwan compares to Korea as I would be interested in Teaching in Taiwan next year. Please be brutally honest, I would like to know the very worst aspects and best prospects in comparison to Korea.



You posted this in July, so perhaps you have things sussed out. But I’m in a position to answer. I used to work in Seoul (for 6 years), but now work in Kaohsiung ( fell in love with a Taiwanese woman and followed her here 6 months ago). I like both places a lot. I’m in different places in my life, so a direct comparison is hard if you want to know about social life. When I was in Korea I was in my 20’s and went out a lot. Now I’m domesticated, 34 and married and most of my weekends are spent at home with my wife. In terms of people, I have great experiences with both, but overall Taiwanese are a bit friendlier and open towards foreigners moreso than in Korea. There are exceptions, but generally. I had a Uni job in Seoul and I got a Uni job here (due to a combo of my masters and luck), so I’ve been lucky and haven’t dealt with any buxiban or hagwon nightmares. You should prob check out the cram school blacklist. My Uni job here just started and it seems good so far. Pay here does seem to be a bit lower than what I was used to in Korea, but then again living expenses is also lower (you can get lunch here for the equivalent of $2 USD). I’m not a huge fan of the scooter culture here, but I’m trying to adapt. Each place has its charm and I like each place. So if you want someone to dish dirt, I’m probably not the best person. I guess my biggest complaint is how effin’ bloody hot it is in the summer. Be prepared for brutal heat between May and August. But biggest advice is just be sure to properly research whatever cram school you’re applying for (if you are) to make sure it’s not a crap one. And try to make local friends and take some Chinese classes. Good luck!


Hey everyone. I am an American soon to be college grad hoping to return to Taiwan to teach English. I studied in Tainan over the summer three years ago, and really loved it. I major in East Asian studies.

I had a couple of questions I hoped you all might be able to help me with.

1-What are the big Buxiban for middle and high school students? Do they generally employ foreigners?

2-What companies outside of Taipei do SAT/GRE prep? I did pretty well on those(2040 on SAT, though I heard they have changed it since I took it in 2013. 62nd percentile in Math, 82nd in writing, and 98th in reading on GRE).

3-Can I work in schools or universities(obviously not as a professor)with my credentials?

4-What should I expect as a salary?

5-Any other things you might think I should know.



I’ll let someone else answer 1 and 2.

  1. Without a teaching license, you’re stuck in buxibanland.
  2. Peanut shells.
  3. Search Forumosa for hair-raising horror stories! :popcorn:


Hey all, I am an American currently searching for employment in Hanoi, Vietnam. Its a weird time here to find a job and there’s a plethora of expats searching for jobs. My visa is up in a couple weeks and I was thinking of making the jump to Taiwan to find work. I want to learn Chinese so I would not mind living outside Taipei in a smaller city or town. I was wondering if schools will still be hiring around late March? If I have a good chance of getting job? I have a B.A. and CELTA, I have already contacted HESS but I’m a little hesitant to take a job with them.