Work in Taiwan Information
Do you need to speak Chinese to work in Taiwan?
Well, it really depends what kind of work in Taiwan we're talking about. This section is about teaching English in Taiwan, so that's what I'm going to talk about.
Do you have to speak Chinese to teach ESL in Taiwan?
The official language of Taiwan is Mandarin Chinese. The official language of English schools in Taiwan is English. To teach in Taiwan, knowledge of Chinese is absolutely not necessary. In fact, speaking Chinese in class is strictly prohibited and doing so in class will probably get you in trouble with your superiors.
Honestly, not really, but yes
To live in Taiwan is a bit of a different story, but the conclusion is the same - you don't really need to know Chinese. Many expatriates have been living in Taiwan for several years and cannot or do not use Chinese much if ever in their daily life. Most Taiwanese people can speak at least a bit of English, and the small but welcoming and vibrant expatriate community will ensure that you are never a lone English speaker. Also, it's surprising how much one can accomplish through Neanderthal-like communication skills such as grunting, pointing and of course shouting.
Check out Teach English in Taiwan: The Official Survival Guide
for more info about working in Taiwan.
You may feel like kind of an idiot after grunting, pointing and shouting all the time, and you may not. Learning a few basic Chinese expressions is highly recommended as it will make your daily life more interesting and decidedly less frustrating. Picking up a Chinese phrasebook and working through the basics of "how are you?", "where is the bathroom?" "I'd like two tickets to Taichung", "are you free for coffee this Saturday?", "are you single?" and the like will make a big difference.
Helping your teaching
Learning a bit of Chinese will also help your ability to work with English students, especially but not exclusively adults. Because Chinese and English vary greatly in their grammatical structures, students make several common errors based on essentially literally translating Chinese grammar into English. Being able to recognize this will save you a lot of time and prevent you from being utterly dumbfounded about why nearly every student says "I not have see" instead of "I haven't seen it." (Hint: it's because that's how it would work in Chinese.)
Need more info about work in Taiwan?
Moving to Taiwan to work is a complicated affair - no doubt about that! If you still have some questions about life in Taiwan, work in Taiwan, visas, TESOL / TEFL jobs, apartments, transportation, work permits, or anything else, make sure to visit this page where you'll find the best resource on the Internet about teaching English and living in Taiwan.
My guide contains everything you need to know about working in Taiwan as an English teacher, and building yourself a comfortable life on Formosa.
The eBook also lists more than 500 English schools in Taiwan where you can find ESL work. Some of the cities listed are: Taipei, Taichung, Kaohsiung, Tainan, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Miaoli, Chiayi (Jiayi), Changhua, Pingtung (Pingdong), Hualien, and Taitung (Taidong). You can learn more about Teach English in Taiwan: The Official Survival Guide here.
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