I have just about 2 minutes in between classes to mention a few things. I just finished teaching Kindergarten and I am heading into my 4th grade class. If you plan on working abroad as a teacher, you should always try working at an International School or an American School. They get summer’s off and one month of paid vacation during the school year on top of the normal holidays. Also, they get a bit more money.
This post talks about my experiences in Taiwan, my recommendations and advice for people wanting to come to teach to teach in Taiwan.
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If you are a teacher in Taiwan, for elementary and junior high school, you will not pay any income tax! That makes a big difference. If you are working in a bushiban, a cram school, you will make less money than in the private sector or in a state school.
To work in a state school, you need a BA in Education and you have to be a certified teacher. If you want to work in a private school, like me, you only need a college degree. Having a masters is not necessary, or being a certified teacher. Be sure to bring your original documents, letters of reference and diplomas. Don’t be like me and wait to be in the country in order to do this. Also, make sure that you apply to have a 2 month tourist visa which can be transformed into an ARC. Most passport holders of western countries can get a 30 day visa without having to apply for one once you arrive here. But this visa can not be turned into an ARC. You will have to leave Taiwan and apply for the ARC outside of the country or do a visa run to get your tourist visa later on.
The school will take care of the ARC, your work permit and also your National Health Insurance Card. Most visits to the doctor or the dentist cost 150 NT$, which is about 3USD. It doesn’t matter if you take prescriptions or not, you only pay this fee. Otherwise, you will pay the full amount, which can be quite expensive. Health care and doctors are good here, most have been educated in the USA or Canada.
Knowing Mandarin is a plus, but not really necessary. You will find that getting around without a scooter very hard, unless you are in Taipei, which has a subway system. One crazy thing is that getting a cab is easy enough, but telling the cab where to go is another matter. I found that in the beginning, I would have other people write out the Mandarin address and then just show the paper to the cab driver. Because even if pinyin is used widely, most people will not understand you if you talk or show them pinyin. After two months and with my aptitude for languages, I am able to pronounce some road names correctly. But it isn’t easy; Mandarin has 4 tones. Cantonese has 9 tones. It’s the tones that kill you. They are different ways of pronouncing the same words. See the wikipedia for information on tonal languages.
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Driving in Asia in something else. Especially on a scooter. I have personally seen whole families, up to 4 people, on scooters. Some of the little kids don’t even wear helmets. Outside of Taipei, it’s the easiest way to get around. Most teachers or foreigners who come here get one for their time here. They are convenient, pretty fast and very cheap to own.
Once you get an ARC, your international driver’s license is no longer valid. You can get a Taiwanese license with your driving license from your country with 4 passport pictures and 250 NT$ (a little less than 9USD). But most foreigners don’t do that. They just drive. If you get stopped, don’t show any ID, just say that you are a tourist and don’t speak Mandarin. Other driving licenses are also available, for example for bigger motorcycles, like 500-1000ccs. I have read and heard that the tests are quite hard, but once you pass them you get your license. All tests are available in English. I don’t recommend getting a car, because one of the things I heard is that:
To own a car in Taiwan is to know worry.
Worry about hitting a scooter or being hit by a scooter.
Scooters aren’t that safe. After having had 2 accidents, I saw some dangers. Since I’m planning on getting a motorcycle here, a Kawasaki Z1000 or Z750S, I will equip myself with complete gear to protect myself.
I am also tutoring French. Tutoring is the way to go. Smart people will come to Taiwan without any contracts or agents and will find tutoring jobs and/or part-time teaching jobs. This way, they will probably make over 100000NT$ a month. With 20 students, teaching each 1.5 hours a week, you will make around 84000-100000NT$ per month depending on your hourly rate. You have zero marking, zero problems. But you come without having a secured job. You come without any security and the first few months will be tough. You will be paying income tax. My wife and I make about 10000NT$ per month out of tutoring, and this is only after two months. That is enough to cover everything except our rent, which is 15000NT$ per month.
Ok, time to get back to teaching. I hear the kids at their music class singing away. They also dance every week during their break, the whole school does it. It’s fun to watch.
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