I’m an Expat Too is a series of guest posts and interviews with other expats from around the globe who share their experience, tips and advice on moving to their adoptive country. Let me introduce Jesse and Lucy, the tagging team behind the Nomad Bears travel blog. They have one aim: to explore the entire world. In the meantime, they have chosen to teach ESL in Taipei and have agreed to share their story with us. Without further ado…
Hello, we’re Nomad Bears and we recently took the leap and decided to travel to teach ESL in Taipei. We went through the TEFL course in Toronto, Canada and felt that Taipei would be the best place to teach. It has been about a month now and we are loving the experience so far. Here is a little about why we decided to teach, why Taiwan and what makes Taiwan special.
Why we decided to Teach?
At Nomad Bears, we love to travel and our goal is to continue to travel. However, we realized after a number of trips to Europe and South America, that travelling for two weeks doesn’t allow us to fully experience the culture. We wanted to immerse ourselves in a new culture and learn the language. Our minds were already set on East Asia because we’d never been there before. After much deliberation, we decided to try teaching English. We’d both done some degree of tutoring or teaching while in university and knew we enjoyed it.
Since we first stepped into the TESL classroom six months ago, our love of teaching has only grown. We spent three weekends in July learning how to teach. The course itself is a fantastic way to help decide whether to teach or not. I know that a number of the people who attended our course did not end up teaching in the end. That’s okay because teaching is not for everyone, especially teaching little kids.
We’d been warned ahead of time, that by choosing Taiwan we’d be teaching kids. Taiwanese parents want their children to learn English from a very early age, especially from a foreign teacher. Taiwan was an easy choice for us since we’d already decided on East Asia. Our goals for this trip is to save money, learn a new language and immerse ourselves, yet not overwhelm ourselves. Teaching ESL in Taipei fit the bill perfectly.
Taipei’s cost of living is much lower than most Western cities and even many East Asian cities. Places like Japan, Korea and 1st tier Chinese cities are as expensive, if not more than Western cities. We knew we wanted to cut out costs so Taiwan worked for us. Secondly, we wanted to learn a new language, Mandarin was preferred. In Taipei, there are courses offered at discount rates from the major universities to learn Chinese here. As well the people of Taiwan are willing to help us out.
Lastly, we didn’t want to be too overwhelmed while living abroad. What appealed to us about Taipei, is that there are only 10 million people living here. Compared to Tokyo which has more people than our entire country, we felt comfortable in Taiwan. Also in Taipei, signs are always in both Chinese and English, often time Korean or Japanese as well. Restaurants are mainly Chinese but the people are always willing to help and some will offer English menus. Our experience so far has shown us that Taipei is the perfect halfway point between the East and the West.
Our Experience so Far
We were lucky enough to get a position before leaving Canada teaching at a cram school. On arrival, we entered as tourists and the school has sponsored our residency. More often than not foreigners find jobs by coming to Taipei and interviewing in person. There is no shortage of ESL teaching jobs in Taipei, however, foreigners need to be qualified. For Taiwan, this means possessing a Bachelors degree, a native English speaking passport, a clean background check and a TEFL certificate.
Teaching English here has so far been extremely rewarding. Even though we’ve just started out, we’ve already met many like-minded people and shared great experiences. In Taiwan, English is mainly an after-school program taught through private institutions. Laws are currently being modified to increase the English programs in the public system as well as making English an official language. We are currently only teaching children at the elementary and junior high school levels. The kids here are great and they genuinely enjoy the opportunity to learn.
In terms of workload, we have roughly 20 hours of class time each week, for which we are paid. Each class tends to have another 30 minutes of prep and grading time before and after. Some are more and some are less depending on the levels of the students. We do have teaching assistants and there often is someone sitting in the class to ensure that the children behave. Overall the experience has been fantastic and we’d highly recommend coming to Taipei to teach abroad.
Nomad Bears love to travel and are trying to increase the accessibility of travel for everyone. Their goal is to inspire other through storytelling, advice and adventures. If you liked hearing about their experience teaching ESL in Taipei, check out their site at www.nomadbears.com. You can follow them on social media with the @nomadbears handle or #nomadbears.
So? Could Taipei be your next expat destination?
If you’re an expat anywhere in the world, we’d love to hear your story too. Contact us anytime