“I have just qualified as an English as a Foreign Language teacher. Is Taiwan a good place to have my first experience?”
This post was written by Peng Lin, a PhD student, and her father, a professor in Taiwan. It is written from the point of view of a student.
Yes, Taiwan can be a nice option for English teachers from abroad.
We take learning English seriously
Both parents and the government in Taiwan have been trying to put a lot of effort and resources into improving the average English level in Taiwan, especially in terms of pronunciation and the ability to have conversation in English. The target group starts from the young generation because now
the society is more international and open compared to before. Therefore, teachers with TEFL qualifications are more than welcome for us.
Taiwan is a very caring nation
The Taiwanese are interested in people coming from other countries, especially outside of Asia. We will help you, treat you kindly, and almost everybody in Taiwan can understand English, even if they are not able to speak fluently or they are too shy to speak. In this case, you can feel involved and at the same time experience our culture. In our opinion, to start teaching in another country is not easy and to have mental support along with a sense of belonging are also important. The salary may not be as high as working in, for example Switzerland. but in general, it will be more than enough to live well in Taiwan.
We are very shy
Most of the Taiwanese students are very very shy. So, at the beginning, the atmosphere in the classroom might be a bit frozen. For example, if you ask a question, maybe nobody replies to you. However, it is not because they don’t like you or they don’t know the answer. It is just because we don’t have confidence in ourselves, since English is a language quite different from Chinese. We are afraid of making mistakes even though it is normal during the process of learning.
We are good at writing and reading, not so good at listening and speaking
Taiwanese students are good at grammar, writing, reading, and taking exams but lacking the skills of listening and speaking. This is because we do not have an English speaking environment and we do not speak English in daily life. However, when you go abroad, sometimes listening and speaking might be more important than reading and writing because you use them in shops, in the airport, and directly in front of the person who is speaking with you. When we get nervous, we forget everything we learn from our English lesson at school.
Interesting fact: Word order in Chinese and English can be quite similar
Despite having totally different origins, different grammar etc, the two languages actually share many things in common with regard to the structure of sentences.
Like in many countries, we often adopt an English name for use in the English classroom. However, many Taiwanese have their English name not related to their original Chinese name. For example, I would not be called Peng but maybe something like Wendy or Kelly, which do not sound like my Chinese name at all.
Tian-Hsiang Lin is a professor of Chinese and literature from the Department of Creative Product Design at the University of I-Shou in Taiwan. His main academic interest is the literature and linguistics of the Sung dynasty. His main teaching subjects include arts and crafts aesthetics, modern poetry writing, and calligraphy.
Peng Lin is a PhD student at the University of Milan (Italy). She learned English primarily by taking mandatory English courses starting from elementary to senior high school. Her personal interests are outdoor activities, painting, and cooking.