Monday, October 5, 2009

teaching esl

It is illegal, sometimes, well, sort of, but I could be deported, or not, it's possible. Teaching kindergarten. Foreigners are not allowed to teach kindergarten. But that doesn't stop them. Nor does it stop people from hiring them.
This is a brief overview of the Taiwanese education system and how the market I'm trying to tap into breaks down.
Until a few years ago, Taiwanese children went to school 6 days a week, 48 official school hours. Now there are only 40 mandatory school hours. But, that is not the end for these students. Their parents demand more. Children then go to Bushibans. These are afterschool programs which specialize in one subject, Math, science, music, French, English or whatever the child's focus is. Parents pay to send their children to a bushiban for their focus of a particular subject. English bushibans are most prominent. Children go from school directly to Bushiban until about 9 o'clock at night. People that run these programs are usually local, usually have low level of English skill and maybe one native english speaker on staff. Bigger outfits have more english speakers on staff but it is not uncommon to meet a Swede or a Frenchmen or a German on the staff who speaks a passable english with s thick accent. The students here range from first grade up until highschool. There are also Adult centered bushibans and programs that focus on Business English.
The other and very large part of the market are the kindies. Many Bushibans have programs for older children, but in the morning they have classes for pre-k and K. Often the places that you work for will require you to work for the kindergarten as well as the older kids.
They pay is great. The hours are few. The island is full of foreigners vying for these jobs. And these jobs are sometimes not legal. Bills always come up to the legislature about this topic. Sometimes it is legal. Sometimes it is not. The Taiwanese police are very courteous and always call before an inspection. I have heard from many teachers how their schools all devise escape plans for their foreign teachers. A bell rings in a particular pattern and the foreign teacher run out onto the fire escape or the like.
No one really minds the law. They do what they want and work around it.

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