Gold Star TEFL Recruitment has been assisting teachers secure the very best teaching jobs in Asia since 2009 and has close connections with Asia’s leading schools. For details on teaching jobs at major language schools have a look through our website and submit an application today.
Read more interviews with teachers in Asia here.
An Interview with James at his language school in Taipei, Taiwan
GS: So, can you tell us a bit about how you first got into English teaching?
MJ: I started teaching English about 6 years ago, as a way to make money while living abroad. While living in Australia, there were numerous foreigners trying to learn English so I was able to tutor on almost a full-time basis. Later, I moved to France where there was even more of a demand for English teachers/tutors. Now, I have been in Taiwan for almost 2 years, teaching the 4th & 5th grade level students, and drama club students at our language school. While it is a lot more work, this has been my best experience as an English teacher, by far.
GS: What advice do you have for people about the recruitment and interview process when looking for jobs teaching in Taiwan?
MJ: Just get yourselves a nice shirt and tie, a nice pair of pants, and some nice shoes, and get out there to as many schools as possible before you decide on one. I personally made the decision to start looking when I got over here, because I feel more confident in getting a job when I can sit down across from someone and show them my confidence in teaching. Don’t be intimidated by the language barrier, as most people are. I didn’t speak a lick of Chinese and it was never a problem finding a job.
GS: You are teaching in Taipei at the moment, can you tell us about your impressions of the city? What do you like most about living there?
MJ: Taipei is a pretty unique city. There is a lot to do, eat, and see in all the little hidden nooks and crannies. The city has its own side of fun and excitement, but my most favorite thing about it is its proximity to the beautiful mountains and coastline that surround it. I like taking my scooter out on the weekends and taking off up Yanming Mountain to look at the view, or out to Keelung for some seafood by the ocean, or even just for a hike up Elephant Mountain.
GS: What do you like most about teaching English?
MJ: I enjoy most the reward of seeing my students grow and mature as a direct result of what I am doing. It’s a pretty amazing feeling.
GS: Can you tell us about your favourite class at the moment?
MJ: Well, as much as I like my 5th graders, I’d have to say my Drama class. Getting the kids to laugh and feel comfortable enough to express themselves in front of any one is a pretty magical thing. It is obviously less technical than the classroom stuff, and that’s what I like most about it.
GS: Talk us through a typical day teaching English in Taiwan.
MJ: Well, my days start at 12 noon and end around 8pm. I pick up kids from their Taiwanese schools in a taxi at first, come back and eat lunch. Then, depending on the day, there’s a variety of tasks that I’m responsible during the rest of the day. In short, it involves a mixture of tutoring kids who need extra help, numerous staff/department meetings, script writing for drama performances/skits, preparing for my night class, teaching my 2-hour elementary students, organizing and scheduling the weekly events of the drama department, as well as filming short skits performed by drama students for our unique TV episodes on YouTube.
GS: What are the teaching resources like there?
MJ: Everything you need to teach and more! They don’t only supply you with all the textbooks, workbooks, and classroom supplies, but you have your own computer workstation (sometimes shared), a brand new printer/copier, speakers for playing music in the classroom, an entire library of children’s books to use, you even get to check out a kindle to read for our weekly staff book club meetings.
Then there are the facilities: a rooftop artificial turf and wooden deck terrace with lounge couches and tables, a cafeteria serving lunch and dinner every day, a state-of-the-art, tropical, salt-water coral reef aquarium, a great tree house playground in the yard, a large carpeted basement, an upstairs playroom, and a recording studio for filming our English TV episodes with the kids. In addition, we just expanded into another building across the street with three brand new classrooms and a reception area, and are currently in the process of renovating a two-level space (also across the street) to open up an entry level program, which will also have three classrooms on one floor and a large play area on the other floor.
Aside from that, we put on an extravaganza for Halloween, transforming the entire school into a haunted house like you’ve never seen before. We throw three very elaborate drama performances for Christmas, Mother’s Day, and Graduation as well. We also have “Fun Days” twice a semester when we take all the elementary students somewhere fun. We have a stay-over camping trip near the beach once a year with all the elementary kids; multiple field trips throughout the year for the kindergarten classes; and big activities for every American holiday and kids’ birthday.
For fun stuff: we have several staff outings for dinner and drinks, a company-wide party right before Chinese New Year, and a 4-day staff trip usually to one of the beautiful islands off the coast of Taiwan, fully paid for by the school.
GS: How many teachers are there in your school?
MJ: We have over 25 (Taiwanese) support staff, including cooks, cleaners, drivers, secretaries, managers, assistants, and Chinese teachers; we have about 13 foreign/native-English teachers, and an American Director of Academics. In total, it’s hard to keep track of, but I think it’s around 35 to 40.
GS: Taiwan is full of surprises and unexpected adventures, tell us about one you have had recently.
MJ: I recently discovered a hidden beach on the Northeast coast, difficult to get to, down a steep path where signs indicate falling rocks. The beach is soft white sand, the water is turquoise blue, and surrounded by steep cliffs with the beach to myself. I won’t reveal the name or the location because it might the best kept secret in Taiwan. And that’s not the first time I’ve found beautiful spots like that.
With the staff at our language school, we have a lot of adventure seekers, and we often go on river traces in the summer time, where we hike upstream on top of the rocks scattered along crystal clear water and tropical jungle around us, before eventually arriving at a pristine cascading waterfall to jump from and swim in the pools below. Two years of exploring this island on my scooter every weekend and Taiwan has yet to cease to amaze me…
Read more interviews with teachers in Asia here.
Gold Star TEFL Recruitment has been assisting teachers secure the very best teaching jobs in China since 2009 and has close connections with China’s leading schools. For details on teaching jobs at major language schools have a look through our website and submit an application today.