As strange as it may seem, the history of Taiwan has a profound effect on the availability of ESL jobs in Taiwan today. Indeed, in many ways the country is victim of its own success. Between 1900 and 2000 the population of Taiwan increased from 3.04 to 22.3 million. Since the mid-1980s, however, population growth has fallen below replacement levels [2.1%]. After a mid-century high of 3.68%, by 2010 Taiwan’s population growth was less than 0.2% – the lowest rate ever recorded in Taiwan.
Although this decline is doubtless attributable to the country’s economic successes – the decline in fertility begins at the same time its economy experienced its greatest growth – these trends have a profound implication for those who wish to teach English in Taiwan. According to government figures, in 1980 a little less a third of the population was below the age of 15 and less than 5% were over 64. It is exactly this youth bulge that led the high demand for English language education (and therefore abundant supply ESL jobs) in Taiwan.
Some 30 years later, in 2010, the implications of the low birth rate are clear: only 15% of the population is below the age of 15 and more than 10% above 64. This is a dramatic and precipitous decline; as recently as 2000 children and adolescents made up more than 21% of the population. At this rate the population of Taiwan is expected to begin to decline as early as 2020 and ESL jobs in Taiwan will never be the same. In fact, in the face of declining enrollment many schools are already being forced to cut back on their English language programs and will doubtless continue to do so. Even if these trends are slow they are important considerations for would-be English teachers. Teaching English in Taiwan is no longer as easy as it used to be.
For those interested in pursuing an English as a Second Language teaching career, the path to formal accreditation has long been the reserve of postgraduate degree programs. Indeed, both of the most widely regarded ESL certifications – the CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) and the MA in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) – are specifically designed to begin their focus on ESL education after the completion of postgraduate study. The reason for this is clear: until recently, few undergraduate English teaching degree programs existed. Interested undergraduate students were instead offered options like American’s Universities Combined Bachelor’s Degree and MA in TESOL, which specifically advises students to earn a Bachelor’s degree in any major prior to their MA in TESOL studies but itself requires a minimum of five and a half years to complete. Separate bachelor’s and master’s programs can take even longer.
Fortunately, however, the tide is slowly turning. More and more schools in the US and Canada are offering undergraduate English teaching degree programs. In fact, the official TESOL Association even maintains a list of schools that offer such programs. Prominent on this list is Brigham Young University–Hawaii, whose Department of English Language Teaching and Learning offers one of the widest varieties of programs in the industry. Indeed, not only does BYU-Hawaii offer a Bachelor’s degree in TESOL but it also one in TESOL education in particular. The distinction between the two lies in the language learner. The TESOL major, for example, is designed to allow candidates to teach privately (to businesses, the military, and other adult students) while the TESOL Education major is better suited for those interested in teaching young learners at public schools. In this way BYU-Hawaii provides specialized coursework for those interested in pursuing their ESL careers abroad and domestically regardless of their career interests. At the same time, BYU-Hawaii offers more chances for specialization through its minors in TESOL, linguistics, and – for international students – English as an International Language. Thus, if you are interested in an English teaching degree BYU-Hawaii might be the perfect place for you!
One of the perks of the Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (DELTA) certification is its flexibility. Whether enrolled in the a DELTA course full-time, part-time, or through distance learning at home or abroad, candidates are eligible to receive the same high quality certification that comes with the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations’ reputation. Indeed, because ESOL Examinations so closely monitors participating centers, the world truly is your oyster when it comes to selecting the DELTA course that works best for you.
Take International House New York. As one of the most famous of the 150 schools that make up the fifty country strong International House World Organization, its DELTA certification program is designed to give both full-time and part-time students the opportunity to advance their ESL careers in one of the world’s greatest cities. At the same time, International House Barcelona, which places its emphasis on an intensive, eight-week summer DELTA certification course targets those who are interested in apply their craft in a relatively quieter setting.
In nearby Madrid, for example, The British Language Centre also offers DELTA courses. Here, again, their focus is on flexibility – students can enroll in either full-time or part-time courses and, should they choose to, complete their modules in any order. It, too, rewards forward thinking teachers by offering significant discounts to those who register in advance and sizeable savings over more expensive cities.
Nor are North American and Europe the exclusive home of accredited DELTA courses. From Africa – with Cape Town, South Africa’s Cactus TEFL – to South America – with Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s Britannia English School – and beyond – with Colombo, Sri Lanka’s British Council, with a DELTA certification the possibilities are truly endless!