Michael A. Turton

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Teaching English in Taiwan

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Introduction Getting Hired
Pay and Benefits Where to Work
Schedules & Workload Getting Along in the System
Nursing students at a junior college struggle through a summer intensive English course.

Where to Work
There are two basic types of colleges, universities and junior colleges (now becoming universities). These may be either privately owned (by families, large construction companies, charitable foundations, religious organizations, etc) or publicly-owned. Almost all privately-owned colleges are for-profit. In the Taiwan system, the public colleges are considered the best. Any university with "National" in the title is a public school. A student orchestra practices with traditional Chinese instruments
The junior colleges (now upgrading to "Universities of Technology"), called chi su hsueh yuan in Chinese, offer 5 year vocational degrees and two year associate degrees. These can be very good places to work if you like being a big fish in a small pond. The older ones typically have firm financial situations, nice campuses with lots of trees, and well-developed facilities.  The graceful grounds of an older university in southern Taiwan.
However, many of the less reputable ones are poorly run and poor places to work. Further, while the 15-18 crowd is fun, they do not provide the kind of intellectual challenge grad students do. The tree-lined main avenue of National Chinyi Technology College in Taiping.
The universities vary. In general, private universities pay better; public ones hire on the strength of their reputation, and pay less. They have better retirement programs, however. Bright grad students at our university. 
"National" universities and colleges are publicly funded institutions with higher standards, better facilities, and better students. A shopping atrium near a local university. Like all universities everywhere, nearby populated areas will be filled with services catering to the students. 
Academic track universities (those without "technology" in the name) get the best students. The rote education system produces students who are generally terrible thinkers, and there is a perceptible difference between students in the academic and vocational systems. Since academic track schools will have grad programs, you may meet interesting and challenging students. Some vocational track schools have grad schools, however. An undergrad beams for the camera.
A campus bookstore.
The entrance to Hungkuang University on Tatu ("big belly") Mountain outside of Taichung. This older university has a beautiful campus and great restaurants. When you check out the university on the net, be sure to see whether it has always been a "university" and what the Chinese name was. Many former junior colleges have dropped the "of technology" from their names when they upgraded and now call themselves "____ University" as if they had always been an academic track institution. 
A temporary coffee stand caters to demand as a concert is being set up.  Read the history carefully to see if it was ever a vocational place, so you know what you are dealing with. If it had "technology" in its name, then it is not an academic track school and will usually have lower quality programs and students. Typically, though they may have a veneer of "university," at heart they will remain junior colleges, with a narrow-minded, timid, anti-quality conservatism that invariably exasperates foreigners. 
Students cramming before a midterm. Remember also that all universities must teach English, so jobs are available even at schools which may not have an AFL department, or which have a dedicated mission unrelated to English (medicine, hospitality, etc). At those universities apply to the General Education Center if you can't find the language department.
Amanda and Fiona, first years, ham it up for the camera.  An additional problem is that Taiwan's universities are proliferating. Scores of new schools have come on-line and they are desperate for faculty (hence the boom in opportunity), especially faculty with PhDs. Within the next five to ten years there is going to be a massive shakeout among the schools here, and probably 50-75% will fail. Be careful where you work. At a new school, ask some serious questions. Has it reached the break-even point? (almost all private schools are for-profit). Has it had any trouble paying salaries?  Who owns the school?

Introduction Getting Hired
Pay and Benefits Where to Work
Schedules & Workload Getting Along in the System
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