Teaching in Taiwan
By Derick Lourens
The island of Formosa grabbed my attention 11 years ago when I came here for a holiday, visiting friends for ten days. I immediately fell in love with the country and its people.
So I went back to South Africa, quit my job at a law firm, and came to teach English in Taiwan. I have always wanted to be an English teacher. To date, I have been living here for 10+ years, and do not intend to ever leave, except for holidays.
What is so special about Taiwan that prompted such drastic changes in my life?
Much can be written about life here, and a lot can be learned about Taiwan and its culture, people, food, scenery, etc. just by watching the Discovery Channel on television, as well as the National Geographic and the Travel and Living Channel. Taiwan is famous baby!
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What grabbed my attention the most is the lack of crime here, the availability of jobs for EFL/ESL teachers, and the friendly people. There are also lots of societies and sports clubs run by foreigners, which makes it easier to settle in once you get here for the first time. Foreigners come from all the English speaking countries in the world, and if you are looking for assistance and help, just join a club.
Things have changed since I first came here, and the process for applying for a work permit and “green card” is more streamlined and transparent than a few years ago. You also get National Health Insurance and Labour and Pension Insurance, although you do not have to take the latter.
Taipei City runs 24/7. If you want to eat at 3am, no problem! The infrastructure is also super. You have a choice of travelling to work by train, bullet train, subway, taxi, bus, scooter, bicycle, or on foot. The cost of living here is affordable, and when you compare it to your income, it is even better. Big apartments are available to rent for cheap outside the city, where you can escape the sounds of traffic and breathe in fresh mountain air. You can travel to your school within 20 minutes. The technology and internet speed is amazing here. The price of a 24/7 fiber optics high speed internet connection is about US$ 33 per month!
The variety of jobs available is endless. Depending on your qualifications, you can teach any level from Beginners through to Senior High school and University. Most foreigners opt for the private franchise schools. The reason is that they will hire you without a teaching degree, as long as you have any other degree and a TESOL or TEFL diploma or certificate. Most schools offer a ready-made package of lesson plans and a syllabus.
Of course there are things in Taiwan that are not so good, but I have forgotten what they are, because they tend to pale in comparison when looking at the myriad of positive things on offer here. Coming here has been amazing, and I have made numerous friends, travelled Asia while earning money, and also found a safe place to raise my children.
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You can also learn to speak Chinese here, for free. Many universities offer free tuition to foreigners who want to study here. My friend completed his MBA degree in Taiwan, and worked part-time as well. The people of Taiwan are friendly and very helpful. Strangers will help you with anything, and they get things done in a flash.
So come on over and see for yourself. It’s an adventure!
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