Would you advise a newbie to chase after Buxiban gigs?

Hi all, I’ve been a long term lurker of this forum for a number of months now. I suppose this is a thread asking for general life advice.

I will start by saying since early adulthood it’s been a dream of mine to live in Taiwan. I grew up in a moldy, terraced housing estate in a smaller Irish city. So Taiwan was like a breath of fresh air when I visited a friend who was studying here. I quickly fell in love with Taiwan to the point I started studying Chinese full time and made it my goal to move here after graduation.

I finally made the move earlier in the year and have been taking some online private translation work to keep bread on the table since then. I actually quite enjoy translation work but it’s not a road to living here long term, as online work won’t provide me with an ARC after my current year long working holiday visa expires.

So this brings me to Buxiban teaching which seems like the go to choice for most expats to nab an ARC and earn a living in Taiwan. Reading threads like Half of Taiwan's cram school teachers may lose their jobs | Taiwan News | in the best of times Buxiban teaching seems like a rather unstable field. It is confusing for me because I meet some foreigners that claim they are making the equivalent of 2k Euros a month here. Yet most Buxiban TEFL listings and Schools seem to offer wages in the 550-600hr range and barely above 10 work hours a week. Was this common pre-Covid? I don’t mind a bit of the craic but at 550 an hour I told the laoban I can’t accept that even with an ARC thrown in.

What would you do in my shoes? I feel Buxibans are a dead end road that is slowly disintegrating with Covid. I was looking into scholarships here but it seems that boat has sailed unless I apply for 2022 entry, and even then would have to leave the country to apply to a postgraduate program.

Buxibans are a great way to make money. It’s also super easy to get a job. Give it a try.

If I was you I would take just about any steady job right now. Obviously the cram school situation is a disaster at the moment.


Some people will lie/inflate, but some people certainly do quite well. I imagine people who legit make a lot of money are those who have been in the system for a while and have found a good base gig for their ARC to which they add other part time work (private tutoring, night teaching at another school, translation perhaps, I used to do IELTS testing one day a week which gave me a nice bump). Once you gain knowledge/experience and a good reputation, you should be able to make more money in TEFL.

As you mention, now is a bad time to get into this field in Taiwan; but, even thought it will never be what it was there will still be a market for teachers for years to come. You seem to have ruled out translation, study, or leaving; other than a buxiban what options do you have?

If you enjoy the work, and you have a bachelors degree, you might find yourself teaching in another Asian country. Being an English teacher is a transferable skill and although it was better getting into the field in the 1980s, I started in the early 2000s and now am doing quite well in Taiwan at a job I enjoy. I know a lot of people who started teaching English and returned to school to become qualified K12 school teachers which is an area that pays well and there are always job opportunities all over the world.

Obviously now is a terrible time to start hustling for buxiban gigs, but if you consider it a future it’s the ideal time to get some teaching qualifications. Then you’ll be able to hit the ground running once buxibans open up again.

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Just use the cram school as your ticket to an ARC. If it isn’t for you just find another job aka kindy (technically illegal) or public. It really depends on your personality and the situation you’ll be in. No one can tell you if it will be a good fit. You just have to go for it.

And the hours are definitely cut because covid

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Dia duit agus fáilte!

Back in the good old days, before this plague ravaged our land, you wouldn’t have had much chasing to do. The teaching jobs were growing on trees! They were falling from the sky! The streets were paved with teaching jobs! A young, freshly-graduated person of, er (hate to say this and I’m assuming,) fair complexion would have been awarded an honorary teaching job as a welcome upon arrival. It’s you they’d be a-chasin’!

Alas, nowadays its a whole different kettle of fish. The hungry children of English teachers ask their parents: “Mommy, what’s a job market?”

Being able to get translation work is actually a great feather to have in your cap. My advice would be to stick with that for the time being (visa permitting). You could look around for teaching positions in the meantime, but I’m not sure how much energy I would expend in that direction just now. If your visa is going to expire soon, then your options might be limited. But I believe they have extended some visas due to covid?

As “careers” go it’s perhaps not the most stable. But if your goal is to stay for the requisite few years to qualify for an APRC, then it is eminently doable.

Anything under $600 is a no no.

No one knows what will happen in the longer term. Will a bunch of teachers jump ship creating a surge in demand? Will a bunch of schools close leaving a glut of teachers? Hard to say, but I do believe that cram schools are a staple here in Taiwan. My guess is that as soon as everything opens up again things will get back to normal, give or take.

Best of luck!


Hello, Blackfoot. I’m a 27 year old fellow Irishman. I thought you may be interested in my story since I’ve been there and done it already. I left Ireland about 3 years ago and been in Taiwan ever since. Like you I came here to visit a friend (although I confess, I’d never heard of the country before aside from the odd McDonalds toy when I was a kid. ) Anyways, never left.

My first gig here was a buxiban job. I hadn’t a clue at the time whether a buxiban was a good job or not as I wasn’t too familiar with the various intricacies of the ESL industry at the time.

I’ll be honest: it’s requires next to no teaching ability. But it was a great way to get relatively easy money. Back then I was only getting about 48, 000 NTD (about 1500 euros or so) a month (before tax) which wasn’t great. The school was actually struggling but I didn’t know when I signed up and didn’t wanna be that guy who broke contract (silly me). I stuck at it for 8 months before a mate of mine hooked me up with a gig at his Uni. I got better hours there and paid summer leave and earned about 58, 000 NTD (1750 euros) a month before tax.

Mod edit: Illegal content removed

You can get a very nice and modern apartment outside of Taipei for 10 - 15 000 NTD a month. Food is cheap as chips and you can have a good quality of life here. Tinder is very convenient to use and can go on lots of dates and get around the whole country quiet easily. I’m lucky in that my school hasn’t cut my salary or classes at all. I just teach online which is maybe 3 or 4 thirty minute classes per day. Can even do it from home. So if you decide to wet your feet in the ESL game I’d say buxiban is a good place to start but not essential. You can get into private or international schools. Just walk around and pop your CV in.

They will be desperate for teachers post Covid. Now, is a good time to see how the various large chains are treating their teachers. It is easy to treat teachers well when the bounty is good, but find out which ones tried to help their teachers during the plague and which did not. A good way to judge a school. Not the small schools of course but the large ones. It is nice to see someone with a passion to come to Taiwan.:+1:t2:

I think this will be the case too. Alot of full time teachers are being moved to part time or laid off and will be considering leaving Taiwan, which will leave alot of part time openings.

Honestly part-time bushiban teaching is fun, easy, and gives you lots of free time.

The high paid teachers are probably doing an evening bushiban job and a second morning/afternoon job too - usually kindergarten. Maybe also working a third job on weekends. I would recommend just working one job at first and enjoying Taiwan.


Short answer, no.

There are lots of opportunitues here. Whatever you decide i would currently suggest opening your own company and going that route.

Hope you are right!

That’s a really good point. Some of those large chains must have people working round the clock to navigate all of the regulations. They would be a great source of information. When virtually none of their employees meet the “full-time” criteria you’d think they’d be on the case! They would obviously have more lobbying power than your average mom and pop cram school.

True dat.

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I think your point about working one part time job at first and enjoying Taiwan is a very good one. He is young so can relax in his first year here, enjoy the place. He can really buckle down to it when he knows the place well etc. Good luck to him.

Mmm… I’m not so sure.

This is a person who has been acclimatized to the country for less than a year, is a recent graduate (not flush with cash, trying to put “bread on the table”) and has (for all we know) zero business experience.

I’m not convinced that “going that route” is the best course of action.

With respect, what are your suggestions?


My point is aime more towards when aperson opens a business here (now you dot need super crazy capitol, just 1nt) you control your taxes, reciepts, expenses etc. Lets just sayyou want to teach. You open your ltd company and do your thing. All your gas, transport, food etc can be written off. If you want to teach out of your home, which many do just check fire laws, building capacity etc) you can write off much of your rent, electricity etc.

You can then have nearly open work.rights, as opposed toyou being stuck with your employers oppressive grip and your work visa in their hands.

Of course i dont think teaching.is bad, but its easy to become a slave to your boss. If a person is new here, start reading as there ar countless stories about terrible situations. So as aperson that has also gone through many good and bad situations, i would strongly suggest researching opening.a company and doing asub contract/consulting.type style which will give you tons more freedom and the only real stressor is that you must meet the income (tax) quota. Which i believe is gross, not.net, and understanding.you are your own.accountant and.reciept writer you can just sell more products to meet the quota. Its insanely easy now. Which is areal positive for taiwan these years.

posterity and all…