ESL jobs in Taiwan in an Era of Demographic Change

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.


English Teaching Degree Program

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!


Spotlight on DELTA courses around the world

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!


Russia: Teach English Abroad Without a Degree

Eager to make up for its Cold War isolationism (and flush with cash from its booming oil and natural gas industries) Russians are more interested in learning English than ever before. Such high demand is matched by government policy designed to attract as many English teachers as possible and, as a result, in Russia you can teach English with no degree. Indeed, most major language schools in Moscow and St. Petersburg are more than happy to accept candidates with TEFL certifications only.

That having been said, a degree – especially in a related field such as Education or English – is of course preferable. After all, the high demand for teachers has, of late, been matched (thanks to the Global Recession) with a higher than average supply of would-be instructors. So even if schools in Russia do not explicitly require a degree, the flood of qualified applicants means that find the chance to teach English with no degree is not as easy to come by as it once was.

Those with the patience to make themselves and their applications as attractive as possible will be amply rewarded. For example, if you want to teach English without a degree in Russia, you should get the best TEFL certificate you can.

If necessary, you can get enroll in an online certification program – every little bit helps – but you will see the biggest return on investment if you can go straight to a classroom-based TEFL course. Better yet, look into a CELTA program. Even without a degree the CELTA reputation speaks volumes.

So, too, does experience. There are plenty of opportunities in your home country to get experience – even if only as a volunteer – in teaching English as a Second Language. Such experience will not only stand out on your resume but also put you head and shoulders above the competition.

Such preparation means you Russia could be the just the place you to get your foot in the door of this booming industry. Who knows? Your next job in Moscow or Minsk could be the start of an entirely new career!


Changing Face of ESL Schools in China

The number – and type – of ESL schools in China is rising to meet seemingly insatiable demand for English language education. In 2010 there were more than 30,000 companies offering private English classes in China but such a number out of context fails to convey the incredible growth the industry is experiencing: in the last five years alone the market for ESL schools in China has doubled and is now worth more $3 billion dollars annually. Nor is this surge in demand abating – some analysts predict growth in excess of 12% to 15% over the next few years (putting the industry’s growth rate on track to outpace the country’s own astronomical growth in GDP).

This rise in demand is driven by the convergence of high regard the country has for English proficiency and the rising economic prowess of China’s ever-more prosperous middle class, a great deal of the country’s new wealth is being reinvested in educating the next generation. As a result, ESL schools in China are experiencing an unprecedented level of specialization and segmentation. Unsatisfied with the six years of government funded English-language education provided in public schools, more and more parents in the Middle Kingdom are investing in private education programs to give their children a head start on the path to success – and many are starting earlier than ever before.

While after school programs and exam preparation cram courses continue to be popular among many, parents are increasingly eager to start their students on the path to success earlier than ever. As Disney English, a subsidiary of the American media giant, has discovered, classes aimed at toddlers and preschoolers are one of the biggest areas of growth. Because of this the demand for qualified and experienced English teachers is likewise unparalleled. Thus, for those interested in teaching English in China the changing dynamics of the industry represent an unprecedented opportunity.


Do I need an English teaching degree?

The allure of an international teaching career is stronger than ever. Plus, in our jet-set, web-savvy world it is more obtainable than ever before, too. As a result, more and more students are deciding as early as high school that they want to be international educators. Still, with their sights set the path from dream to reality – and the college majors necessary to achieve success – can initially appear daunting. It does not need to be, however. Instead, use the following guidelines to help you reach your goal.

If you’re interested in teaching a subject other than English, you do not need an English teaching degree. Instead, major in the subject you wish to teach and, if possible, minor in education. You do not need to major in education to get a teacher certification but a background in the discipline certainly helps. If your university does not offer an education minor, do not lose heart. You can take courses and do supervised teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate level to get that extra experience.

If you wish to teach English as a Second Language – and demand for qualified candidates is higher than ever – an English teaching degree might be just what the doctor ordered. More and more universities are offering undergraduate programs in Teaching English as a Second Language and more still offer minors and certifications. Recipients naturally have a leg up in the hiring process but do not worry if your school does not have a formal English teaching degree program. English, Linguistics, and General Education majors – all of which are available at any large liberal arts school – provide a perfect background for candidates interested in teaching English abroad. Not that you need to be an English major to earn a TESOL certificate – being a native English speaker is enough.

As you can see, then, the world is your oyster and the path ahead yours to blaze. The only thing that is missing is you!


CELTA course for Young Learners

In recent years the CELTA qualification has become the one of the most widely recognized (and highly regarded) teaching qualifications in the world. Part of the reason for this surge in popularity is, of course, the fact that its creator, the world famous University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations department, is itself synonymous with excellence. While the caliber of the Cambridge name may be rooted in the past, however, its Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages it focused squarely on the future.

Part of the evidence of this comes from the recent introduction of a CELTA course for Young Learners. Formally known as the Young Learner Extension to CELTA, the Young Learner module is, as the name suggests, an extension of the traditional CELTA course designed to provide would-be teachers with the unique skills necessary to teach children and teenagers English as a Second Language. A traditional CELTA course, complete with 120 hours of instruction and a minimum of 6 hours of actual teaching practice, is therefore augmented by focusing on the unique needs of young learners. This is particularly vital for the child-focused ESL industry of many public school systems around the world today.

As a result, the module is designed to ensure that potential educators have the opportunity to practice the skills they will need in that unique classroom environment over the course of a short (two to three week) session. Because the Young Learner certification recognizes the substantial differences in understanding and motivation between adult and child language learners, it allows those who have completed a CELTA course to transfer and adapt to the different learning and teaching styles required at the young learner level. Further subdivided among three age ranges (from 5–10, 8–13, or 11–16) candidates are awarded certificates of completion endorsed with the specific age range of their course. Through such careful focus Cambridge ESOL is continuing its efforts to prepare the next generation of teachers for success.


Many faces of TESOL Certifications

The market for English as a Second Language instructors has blossomed over the last few decades and so too has the number of TESOL Certifications options. Would-be international educators that are wondering how to teach English abroad are now confronted with a veritable alphabet soup of competing acronyms like TESOL [Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages], ELT [English Language Teaching], and TEFL [Teaching English as a Foreign Language].

Fortunately, however, the astounding number letter combinations that have popped up in recent years are largely interchangeable. The acronyms, born out of competition among certifying institutions, are not globally standardized and are frequently seen as equivalent. Thus an employer will typically consider a TESOL certification to be the same as a TEFL certification and vice versa.

That is not to say, however, that all programs are created equal: while a given ELT certification may be seen as equivalent to a TEFL certification, the pedigree of the certification is becoming increasingly important. Thus the letters matter less than where they came from. Every employer is different but, generally speaking, an online TEFL program is less-well respected than an intensive on-site one – but a generic on-site one is itself less prestigious than one which also features classroom experience. Of course, the CELTA [Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults] in general and the DELTA [Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults] in particular remain the gold standard of ESL education. The DELTA, for example, the professional qualification in English language teaching backed by the University of Cambridge, is widely respected throughout the world.

At the same time, however, it is important to remember that ESL positions are like snowflakes – each one is unique. As a result there is still considerable appeal to even the simplest of online certifications. Applicants and employers alike know that it may well be just the first step in a long time of TESOL certification and ESL success.


Market Profile: ESL schools in Taiwan

English language education usually comes in one of two forms: public or private. Major ESL centers like South Korea, Japan, and even China follow this model and, for the jobseeker, this means opportunity comes in two forms as well: employment through government-run schools or for-profit providers. As we at ESL Directory have often noted before, however, there are advantages and disadvantages to each. Despite being consistently voted one of the most lucrative (and popular) places to teach English as a Second Language, the Taiwanese ESL market is different. Indeed, unlike many of the other popular destinations in East Asia the vast preponderance of ESL schools in Taiwan are privately run. This can have dramatic implications for those seeking to teach English in Taiwan.

English education, driven by its high regard and the economic strength of Taiwanese parents, starts early. Very early. The bulk of private ESL schools in Taiwan are designed to cater to children and preadolescents from 6 to 12 years of age and usually come in the form of buxiban or “cram schools”. Because most of their clients are enrolled during the day in school (be it public or private) classes rarely begin before 3 or 4pm. Of course there are many teenagers and working professionals also interested in improving their English proficiency but the sheer number of children enrolled in such programs means that almost any buxiban position will entail at least some classes catered towards children.

Thus, if teaching children – or edu-taining in general – isn’t for you, you may want to look carefully before you apply to any ESL school in Taiwan. At the same time, if you enjoy children then a position in Taiwan may be the perfect fit for you. After all, many people believe that the well-earned reward of a child’s smile is the most satisfying thing in the world – and the same might be true, too.


Latin America: How to Teach English Abroad Without a Degree

Although many Southeast Asian countries will allow native English speakers to teach English abroad without a degree, far more doors are open to those with a TEFL certification. In fact, a number of would-be travel destinations in South America could be the site of your new career – and life – teaching English as a Second Language.

Mexico, thanks to its proximity to the United States and burgeoning economy is a perfect example. The demand for English teachers – driven by the demand for English-speaking citizens – is at an all-time high and rising. Across the length and breadth of the country, from school children and businessmen, almost everyone sees English as the pathway to prosperity. Due to this seemingly insatiable demand, the Mexican government allows native English speakers without a degree but with formal TEFL certifications to work in the country. That makes places like Mexico City, one of the largest and most cosmopolitan cities on the planet, and even quiet Oaxaca some of the easiest places to teach English abroad without a degree.

Costa Rica
is similarly opening its doors to native speakers of all stripes. Long known for its tranquil lifestyle and scenic beauty, the country is also home to a number of the region’s most tech-savvy companies. Companies like Intel, Acer, and Microsoft have opened facilities in the country and actively pursue English-speaking employees. This, coupled with the English-speaking demands of Costa Rica’s famous ecotourism, mean that more and more people are pursuing English proficiency.

Argentina, too, has schools throughout the country that are actively seeking TEFL certified instructors to educate its citizens. With no formal degree requirements in place from Buenos Aires to Patagonia, Argentina presents a variety of locations to teach English abroad without a degree. Whether you are interested in working with school children or working professionals, opportunities abound in this South American nation.

If you are interested in finding schools in Mexico or South America, check out our ESL Directory that offers local English language programs.