Teaching in Taiwan: What it's Really Like
In the current climate of the US, many other countries that are moving to a more liberal culture are becoming more attractive. One does not become a teacher for the money, but for the experience of working with young people or new learners. It is quite a rewarding career if one is open to trying new things, not being rich, and able to adapt to new situations. There is a lot to consider when leaving one’s home country for another to teach. The idea of leaving behind everything for a new place can be scary. In researching teaching in Taiwan, there are several things one needs to consider such as the language and the culture of Taiwan.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate erik s. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
The official language of Taiwan is Mandarin.
To be a successful language teacher, one must be aware of the home language and how it is used. Mandarin’s sentence structure is very similar to English, but it could be a problem teaching questions and verb tense. In Mandarin, the question is stated like a statement with the interrogative word in place of the answer. This can be very challenging for a new teacher to understand and be able to address properly. Once one has an understanding of this structure, it can make addressing it easier. Another issue is the use of verbs. English is a complicated language when it comes to verb tense. Many Americans do not even know how to use some verb tenses correctly. This may be the most challenging issue because most new language students translate the new language about their language, hence the need for further lessons on verbs. Most lessons should have a verb tense component to them to keep up the practice, drive home the usage, and allow students the chance to make mistakes.
The other issue is the culture of Taiwan.
It is very Western, but it also has some very conservative ideas and behaviors. One should be aware of these things and be prepared to explore the new. If one is not willing to experience being uncomfortable, it leads to a very isolated experience in Taiwan. It is hard to get out of one’s comfort level and try something new. Taiwan is growing in its infrastructure so getting around should be easier and more convenient. The language barrier can be inhibited when one is alone and exploring, and that can lead to isolation or absolute refusal to join in the Taiwanese culture. One needs to be adventurous. Success in a country is like Taiwan is based on the teacher’s skill, but also the teacher’s relatability. Teachers who can reference pop references of their students or more familiar local experiences will show one’s students the application of the language in everyday life and the “buy-in” of the students will make teaching a lot easier with a more enthusiastic group.
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One should be aware of the language issues and cultural differences in Taiwan before taking a job there. English is a desired skill, but teaching it to Mandarin speakers can be very challenging. Allowing one to experience, learn, and grow with a new culture can be scary, but necessary for success.
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