Department of Asian Studies
Department of Asian Studies

UT/Asian Studies alum Kelly Daniels offers brown bag on teaching English in Taiwan

Thu, March 13, 2014

UT/Asian Studies alum Kelly Daniels paid us a visit last month when she hosted a Brown Bag lunch on teaching English in Taiwan. A 2012 graduate, Kelly has been living abroad in Taiwan the past year and teaching for the HESS International Educational Group, an organization that provides instruction in English for individuals age 2 to 92. 

Kelly began her presentation by pointing out there are many ways to experience life in Asia, but a tried-and-true one is to teach English. It’s fairly easy to find a job, as there is high demand for native English speakers to teach in Asia. The only credential needed is a college degree although some schools will also require a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate. Those schools are usually bilingual private elementary schools.

Like most westerners teaching in Taiwan, Kelly works for a buxiban, also known as a “cram school.” These schools offer supplementary education to students beyond what’s taught in their regular schools. The schools typically provide training (one is not expected to already know how to teach) and will assist with finding insurance, housing, and documentation. They also tend to pay well (around $15 - $20 an hour) relative to the price of living in Taiwan.

English teachers are not expected to speak Chinese, but if one wants to interact with others outside the school, it’s helpful to be able to speak at least some Chinese. Especially if one wants to make friends with the locals or eat on the cheap at food stands. Speaking the language also makes it less stressful to travel, which is easier and cheaper than in the States. The schools do not object to teachers taking time off as long as they find responsible substitutes and don’t take too many vacations. Experienced teachers usually take three to four vacations: one month-long vacation with weeks or weekends off to go to places like Thailand, Singapore, Boracay, or Malaysia.

Kelly cautioned her audience to expect long hours as teaching takes time to master and initially, one should expect to spend a lot of time preparing for class and grading homework. It does get easier as one gains more experience. Teachers are also expected to stay late for special events. The parents especially like to see their children perform, so teaching can also include dance lessons and the like. Kelly taught her charges the “Macarena” which they performed to the great delight of their parents.

Kelly ended her talk with the caution that one should really like children if they plan to teach in Taiwan. “Not many people go to Taiwan expecting to see cute kids everyday. I didn’t know I would be seeing twenty 4-year olds for 8 hours every day. Or that I’d later see first- through Junior-high school kids at night. You may have between 150-200 students, so expect to be surrounded by kids every day.” 

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