What exactly is Taiwanese elementary school like?

I like my daughter’s public elementary school. However, we are definitely going private at junior and senior high level.

I agree that the workload is at the upper end of what I’d prefer at the moment, but it’s not onerous.

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An 8 year old shouldn’t be hit and humiliated for any reason.


I know there are after school programs that can encourage activeness and creativity. But my experience was all negative with them. My mom tried to get me into some prestigious art and music programs. They usually ask the kid to come for the day and see if they fit. I was rejected from all of them because I was to hyper and excited and tried to experiment with music and art instead of the things they wanted.

This is the kind of BS soul killing shit that destroys Taiwan. I’m lucky to go abroad but I can’t help how many kids like me just got beat down in the Taiwanese system.

The only negative I see in the US system is that it breeds mediocrity. But in Taiwan, you need to conform and it destroys many kids minds.

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Hitting is banned now (rightfully) but being scolded for affecting classmates in class is justified.

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Note that my account is highly anecdotal and pretty dated, but maybe it will still help.

I did 2nd and 3rd grade in Taiwanese public school. I had to have help at first to catch up since I did kindergarten and first grade in the states, but after a few months I was fine. I actually thought it was fun, although those long days felt really long. I also had to do additional work at home to keep up with the American English curriculum, since that obviously wasn’t being covered. Even so, it really wasn’t that bad.

But, that was 2nd and 3rd grade. I’m lucky I went back to America before it started to get really exhausting. Interestingly, when I did return, it quickly became clear that the Taiwanese system had ruined me for the American system. Since it’s more rigid and there was regular homework, it demanded more effort out of me and helped me develop discipline and study skills much earlier. In America, I ended up bored out of my gourd because I was never challenged enough anymore. I was also no longer afraid of and didn’t respect American teachers — teachers are scarier here, especially back then when it was still okay for them to whip us with rulers. So when I returned to the states to start 4th grade I was hell to have in class because I was reading at an 11th grade level and I answered to no gods nor masters (aside from my mother).

So! I think the public elementary school experience is a net positive for most kids. But junior high onward is a different story. I would honestly recommend against junior high and high school here as it becomes almost entirely test-focused and generally horrible. If going abroad is not an option at that point, private school is probably the way to go.

Odd detail but I always liked the lunches. American public schools barely served anything that could be called food in comparison.


That’s not what you posted though, is it.

Taiwans school lunch is not so good as well. I also got punished and hit if I didn’t eat everything. Luckily my mom began packing me lunch.

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I remember lunches being great, and that’s saying something because I was a picky eater when I was a kid. Maybe you had really shitty cooks at your school.

I believe most schools hire a 3rd party outside to bring the lunches. It wasn’t good. And I was too picky as a kid. Don’t get me started on the gross goat milk they get us to drink.

What I remember is they’d wheel the food directly to our classroom and we’d all get a tray and get in line and the teacher would assemble our lunches. There was basically always a meat and two veggies and rice and soup. Then when we were all back at our desks eating, they’d wheel the food down to the next classroom.

Except it was.

A lot of truth in that, the teachers expect way too much conformity, so the kids learn to keep their mouths shut and it reduces spontaneity.

My daughter has challenges to match the school environment here , being more of an independent spirit . Probably she would be better off overseas in a GOOD school .

At the same time I never had all these opportunities the kids have here. I never had any chance to do proper art classes or music . Just a few sports. My school was like a battleground at breaktime.:neutral_face: In fact some classes could be a battleground too .

Things could be much much worse . Lots of kids dont get any chance to follow their interests. For me a safe environment is the first requirement.

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Andrew posted that he was hit and humiliated in class. You asked if that was because he was bad. He replied yes. Then you said he deserved it.


Well he did deserve to be scolded if he was bad.

Scolded isn’t hit and humiliated.

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One important thing to note is most Taiwanese schools in general are extremely underdeveloped (read: not developed at all) in the special education department. So if you come to find your child has a learning disability, is on the autism spectrum, has ADD/ADHD, or has other special needs that significantly affect their learning experience (or their classmates’ learning experience), I think it is extremely unproductive/verges on irresponsible to keep them in this school system. Taiwanese schools make no effort whatsoever to accommodate for or even really recognize special needs children.

Of course, parents are often no help in this regard because so many of them are themselves in utter denial of their child’s disability. But that’s another topic entirely.


I am a full-time elementary school teacher here in Tainan and my 6th year in this program.
I’ll just add to what @owleyes already mentioned.

  • What time do kids start and finish elementary school?
    Kids arrive around 7:10-7:30 AM and finish around 4 PM, but this depends on any extracurricular activities they attend.

  • How many kids per class?
    Typically 20 to 25 but this all depends on where the school is. My current school has only 6 kids per class because it is situated in the countryside.

  • How many subjects are taught per day, and per week?
    This changes per grade. 1st and 2nd graders have fewer subjects, and they gradually increase as they age. Subjects are (This isn’t absolute, just common schools)Chinese, Lifestyle, Art, Music, Math, Taiwanese, Social Studies, English, P.E., Computer Science, General Understanding (? Zhong-He?), and specialty classes.

  • Is there a national curriculum that all schools follow?

  • Do kids have assemblies?

  • Do kids have recess/break times?
    10 min in between classes, and lunch break/nap time. 20 to 30 min breaks from 10 to 10:30, but this is different in every school.

  • What’s the typical teaching method?
    Just like Owleyes has said, a very typical, boring class where teachers lecture and kids listen.

  • I hear kids get a lot of homework - what does this homework consist of?
    Pretty much covered, but I’ll add that my kids get theirs done in an anchin-ban (afternoon cram school style of class) to get homework done. Another teacher will be there to assist the homework.

  • Do kids do art and drama?
    Lots of art, and not much drama. This just really depends on the teacher.

I must add, that a homeroom teacher (HRT) plays a huge role in how kids experience the class. HRT can make the class wonderful in a terrible school, but an incompetent one can make a classroom non-functional in a said elite school. This is the caveat that the Taiwanese elementary schools face in every classroom.

The size or reputation is important, as kids have access to resources, but HRT can make or break that. So this has to be investigated by a parent like yourself. HRT will also change every 2 years, so even if you had a wonderful teacher a classroom will disintegrate in days after a terrible teacher. I’ve personally witnessed this and is disheartening. But the opposite also happens, so it’s a mixed bag.

Just chiming in my .02. Good luck.


I suspect that the system here also destroys quite a few people’s desire to read books that have any substantial value. I rarely see or hear about people reading for pleasure.
I’ve observed that children seem to love reading but all of that goes away later for some reason.

What do you think?

Thanks for all your detailed answers everyone. It’s been very enlightening.

Seems breaktime is only just enough to change classes. A proper recess should be about playing or general socializing, and is a good way of burning energy after sitting for 1-2 hours.
It’s suprising that Taiwanese schools don’t have this.

Hmmm. In Europe the teacher will introduce a concept, get a group discussion going on the subject if appropriate (kids put up their hands to talk). Then the teacher will hand out work to do in class, usually individually but you’re encouraged to discuss it with nearby classmates. During the working period, the teacher will talk around the class and help students who are stuck.

I don’t remember ever having a teacher just lecture for 50 minutes. Honestly sounds terrible, and I’m worried how or if my son will make the transition (he’s currently in a montessori kindergarten)

So to be clear. In Taiwan elementary school, do kids have a different teacher for every subject, or does their homeroom teacher teach all subjects?

Don’t need to change classes. Students stay in the same classroom for the vast majority of the time.

It’s not 50 minutes. It’s 40 minutes. 50 is high school.

Homeroom teacher would teach Chinese and math. The rest depends on the school. Most of the time science and social studies there would be a different teacher.