The NT$100,000 question

I’ve heard anecdotal stories about earning NT$100,000 in Taiwan as an English teacher. My question is this:

What qualifications/experience are necessary to get such a job? I’ve been told that English teachers earn between NT$40,000 and NT$100,000 monthly. Obviously, I want something at the high end of the range.

Also, what are the type of companies that offer this type of salary? Do they advertise? How do I find them?

Finally, what is the value of obtaining a TEFL certificate in Thailand (other than spending a month in Thailand)? Do these certificates have weight in Taiwan?


Originally posted by ironlady: Add an MA and your hourly wage should rise too. Add a Ph.D. and you can usually sell ice to the Eskimos, if you can find any on this island.

But then, with the MA/MSc qualification, and of course, a PHd, you won’t have to do the crap hours at buxibans and tons of privates.
Other doors open, like Uni work (which isn’t necessarily that much better paid, but benefits are good, and long, paid holidays), publishing, editing, curriculum development and design, teacher training, materials development and writing, and TESOL management. These areas pay better on average.

If you want to make $100 grand sans graduate degrees, connexions, or loads of experience, you’ll need to slog through 40 hours a week at a very average $600/hour.
That means:
9am - 4 or 5pm buxiban (2 hour mid-day breaks)
(36 hours M-F)
6-8 or 9pm privates. And/or Saturday and Sunday work.

And, forget about working for an adult school because the hours aren’t necessarily block hours, like the kiddy schools. You’ll either have to run all over town, or work small blocks of hours at specific times of the day, unless, you happen to luck out on a good gig…(newer teachers don’t have that luxury, usually). And adult teaching work fluxuates with the economy. Also, very very few adult schools/business buxibans pay salaries (I can only think of two or three, and the salaries are lowish), so you’re up shits creek when there’s a typhoon, chinese new year, etc.

So yes, you CAN easily make $100,000/month teaching in Taiwan without much experience or qualifications, but you have to work LOTS of hours and have loads of energy.

University work is not all it is cracked up to be in Taiwan, due to requirements for publication, pressure to take night classes/extension classes, etc. The pay for the “extra” hours is not that great – indeed many buxibans may pay more, and privates certainly would, but you don’t really have a choice if you’re in a department.

It’s also difficult to get research money if you’re not Chinese – I don’t mean because of prejudice (have no info on that) but because it’s just hard to navigate the maze of application requirements, and without research you can’t publish, and without publications…you get hte picture.

What somebody needs to do is get into a university, get really famous, and then get into a real buxiban – I mean a cram school for high schoolers trying for college exams. That’s where the big bucks are, as far as I know, but I’ve never heard of any foreigners getting hold of them, outside of some hourly jobs at $1000 or $1500 per hour teaching TOEFL prep.


What do you mean? Please explain. Ta!

I have quite a few friends working in IELTS testing schools, and a couple in the TOEFL ones. From what I’ve heard, these schools are ‘branching out’ into other avenues (kids, corporate, etc.) as Uni testing and cramming is cyclical, and therefore, unsteady.
If you’re talking about opening a cram school, well, I wouldn’t open one to save my soul. Wouldn’t want the pressures that come along with licking arses…but that’s just me.
There are quite a few areas of interest in regards to Taiwan’s EFL market, that may be lucrative in the future, but are basically untapped at the present. I won’t give away insider info here, but I will say that Taiwan’s English education is in a period of transition and flux, and there may be a lot of opportunities for certain TEFL professionals in the coming years. Just think broadly, creatively, and internationally, and don’t limit yourselves to the quick (albeit hard-earned) buck in the buxiban system if you’re hoping for a long-term career.
And remember, native English speakers teaching here are a minority, by far…

I mean that the word on the street is (or was) that the people who make BIG bucks in the buxiban system as teachers are the famous high-school English teachers who then open up their own buxibans. Look for the names and faces you see on the bus ads. They’re not making 1,000 an hour – no way! Far more than that.

It’s a pity that somebody couldn’t get themselves into this kind of buxiban and teach REAL English, but then again what they want is techniques to score high on the Taiwan-ized English tests. Probably we native speakers just don’t have what it takes.


Well, I’ve got a few jobs available, one of which is about 90000 just in evenings. Message me for more information.


Originally posted by ironlady: It's a pity that somebody couldn't get themselves into this kind of buxiban and teach REAL English, but then again what they want is techniques to score high on the Taiwan-ized English tests.

That may be so now, but attitudes are changing. The communicative competence debate of the 1970s is finally taking hold here. Just watch and wait.

You vixen! Giving out 90k “teaching” jobs??
Hmmm…I’ve got evenings free now. What’s the catch?

It’s probably not a teaching job. Well, no English teaching at least …

By Bri

quote[quote] Well, I’ve got a few jobs available, one of which is about 90000 just in evenings. Message me for more information. [/quote]Even though it’d take me more than a 1000 slabs of VB to poach me from my gigs, I’m curious to here more about any job that could offer $NT90K for evenings


Attitudes aren’t changing that much in the circles where it really matters. It’s fine and dandy to say that they are changing, but while the MOE and the people on the committees who are overseeing The Tests and The Curriculum are still largely what they are today, things aren’t gonna change. I mean, fancy having the head of a major committee on Chinese language teaching in the US (if there were such a thing, and assuming Chinese was a big, important deal there) say, “Well, it might be nice to have Dr. X, a native speaking Ph.D. in the field, come to a meeting now and then, but we certainly don’t need him here every time.”

I vote that the “People’s English Test” (quan2 min2 ying1wen2 whatever) or whatever it might be called in English be given first to ALL the university English professors, particularly those with a rank of full professor and especially anyone who fancies being on a committee. After that, we’ll see what happens. And let’s add a nice oral interview with a native speaker. No particular items, but if the native speaker has no freaking idea what the person is talking about after 10 minutes, s/he is off the committee and out of the university!

Methodology is never going to matter a rat’s behind while people are still forced to teach to the test. That’s why reasonably ungrammatical speakers of English can be very successful (=highly renumerated) teachers in the really big buxibans here (Meijia, etc.)…the tests are as screwed up as those who run the reviews for them, so everything works out juuuuusssst fine.

And I give notice: if I am given another test item to look at that contains the construction “could not but” in it, I will puke on the spot. Run for your lives.


Hi Terry,
Maybe you want to get ahold of Professor Johanna Katchen, Tsing Hua University, Xinzhu: She seems to be firmly entrenched in the ETA-ROC, and a few other international TESOL organizations. She wasn’t overly friendly to me, in my brief email contact with her, but then, I’m not a “peer”.

BTW, the test you mentioned is the GEPT, or General English Proficiency Test. And boy, DOES it have flaws, let me tell ya…

But, from what I have been hearing recently (and reading in the form of local research), a bit of a grassroots uprising is taking place in the education system at the moment, where many NNS Taiwanese English teachers are taking it upon themselves to upgrade their teaching methods and improve their English ability. I think this was bound to happen when half their students’(due to the buxiban system), are more proficient than they are, and have encountered teaching methods and approaches way beyond the realm of grammar-translation. There is definately a long way to go in Taiwan, a loooooooooooong way to go, but attend a few conferences and workshops and ask a few teachers in attendance their thoughts on the matter.

Get rid of these hypocritical bureaucrats before Taiwan is left as a “dreg outpost,” by virtue of the so-called educated few. I am referring to the educational decision makers here – just in case you have missed the point. I would use the following question as a Litmus test of these dudes’ confidenece in their own English education system:

“Where are your own kids learning English?”

One wouldn’t be too surprised if they are all quietly sending their kids to the United Kingdom (Lee Tung Hui, for one), or the United States. Meantime, the really smart kids are held back by these bureaucrats’ own incompetent policies!

Let’s consider returning American Born Chinese to Taiwan. The reason ABCs hate, or at the very least, look down upon foreign-educated English teachers is the fear that “natives” will become proficient in communicating in English. Thus, relegating the overseas-educated dude (or dudette) to “averageness” or even lower in their country of origin.

Even more laughable are the individuals who despise English teachers in Taiwan: the people who have gained the most from “English help,” while studying overseas in the United States or elsewhere.

The Blah-Blah-Blah graduate of tomorrow is perhaps the bushiban student of today. However, the returning ABC of today is generally the, “student-who-couldn’t-keep-up-with-the-smart Taiwanese-students-in-the-eighties,” – resulting in their mom-and-dad-enforced education overseas.

So what does your average “waigworen,” or returning “ABC” learn from all of this this in 2002? Rather than knock your local bushiban teacher, thank him or her for giving your “fellow people of Taiwan” access to English proficiency – or you may end up exposing yourself as being a daddy-supported no-brain. Now, we couldn’t have that could we?

I “interviewed” with a few chain schools last week and wasn’t too pleased with any of the offers, which came pretty much after I sat down in the chair: Pay rates under 550NT/hour (one place offered 400, ouch!), usually teaching pre-school and grade school kids from hours like 9-10 and 4-6 with a big gap in the middle of the day, none of them were clear on a schedule and how many schools I’d have to run between, how many classes I’d have to prepare for, etc. Doesn’t seem like I’d have enough time for privates, to make the real money. Besides a work-permit and ARC, what are the advantages of working for one of these schools?

Is it possible just to sign up for Chinese classes (student visa) and pick up privates, maybe teach a couple PT adult classes? Is that a hassle? Is it too risky? Somebody with experience, please share. Or send me an e-mail: Thanks!

No sooner had I signed up for a 55K/month job (100hrs) than I ran into a friend who is now working 33hrs/wk for 96K/month in buxibans and a high school. I didn’t have time to get the details, but I plan to.

500/hr does seem to be what a lot of people are offering. I’ve seen higher rates advertised but the average does seem to be depressingly low. I’ve taken mine simply because I don’t actually start full time until after CNY, so I’m getting a full salary for 14hrs a week. I found a gig within a company paying 1000/hr for 4 evening hrs per week and if I get more (appears possible!) I’d be tempted to give up the f/t position altogether.

But, as you said, there’s the ARC issue. Learning chinese doesn’t sound like such a bad idea. I know of ‘nominal’ courses for a few thousand a month, which is cheaper than paying tax in any case. I think I’d go for the genuine study option if it could be made to fit my timetable tho’.

NT$670 an hour. Not spectacular, but he’s getting the hours in. 33 hours classroom time is a fair old slog, though.

Bloody right! It’s mostly kids too, which I always find especially tiring. The better paid jobs also seem to be the ones that are more fun. I saw a student record sheet recently that listed ‘Scrabble’ as a lesson.

Some bastard actually got paid for playing scrabble with a very sexy teenage girl while someone else was wiping pre-school arses for a living. There is, thankfully, no justice in the world.

at my school, 26 hours a week, evenings and saturdays would see you making more than that high end figure. you’d have to speak at least decent chinese, be a native speaker of english, have a uni degree or an open work permit, and be willing to be trained. the catch, you wouldn’t be working that many hours overnight, it’ll take a while for parents to see you in action and sign up for your classes. you’d have to be thinking medium term.