ESL: Taiwan vs Korea vs Japan
Replies: 14 - Last Post: Apr 13, 2012 7:43 PM Last Post By: purpletreefrog
Mar 29, 2012 7:40 PM
Is it realistic to think of just landing there, touring a bit and looking for work on site, or is it advisable to have something before you arrive?
Also, where is it the easiest to integrate with the locals, especially for someone who's not interested in drinking culture?
Mar 31, 2012 12:13 AM
1Considering that Korea or Taiwan will pay for your flight and have accommodation for you, it doesn't make any sense to "show up" and look for work.
In terms of savings, while Japan doesn't pay for accommodation and usually give a travel reimbursement which does not equal the flight, with the drop in the Yen, you now make much more in Japan than the other countries. When i was there, the standard 250,000 Yen was only about $2,200. Even then i saved $12,000 in a year (and i travelled extensively) Now that same 250,000 Yen salary is over $3,000.
Mar 31, 2012 5:51 AM
2i taught in korea for a year and a half (still live here). before coming i was deciding between here and taiwan but i think the money was a little better here. taiwan has better weather but the language is more complicated to learn (the korean alphabet is easy to learn). not that you have to learn the native language to teach in an asian country - you don't. japan is just way too expensive so you won't save much money. in korea you should be able to save $1000 a month living a normal life, more if you don't go out much. don't come here looking for a job because you have to get the visa in your home country. get a job before you come and they pay for your flight anyway.
Mar 31, 2012 11:36 AM
3I've seen that number, $1000 a month savings, a number of times and somehow find it very impressive. As a Canadian high school teacher, I make about $55 000CAN, and I don't save anything close to that. Granted, I have a car, which is a real money sucking carbon-spewing drag, but where I live, I couldn't work without it, at least during the winter, so not having one would be no loss at all. I am wondering really if there's any disadvantage to teaching in Korea. I imagine there is, because most westerners seem to do it only for a few years.
Ohterwise... how is the work culture there? Canadian teachers are grossly overworked. It's a rare evening or week-end where I don't have any school work, either prep or marking...
Mar 31, 2012 12:16 PM
4Keep in mind. The majority of people saying they saved $XXX in a year overseas do not have a car, do not have a mortgage and generally have no financial commitments. So it's easier to save.
Also keep in mind, for most overseas teaching positions, there is either no tax or very little tax. So a job at $30,000 is worth an extra 15%. Rents are low, as it's easy to find a furnished place for $500 or less (even in Japan), not to mention many companies provide free accommodation. And, cost of living is lower. All things combined, mean you are able to save more than you can in Canada.
The big problem with Korea, perhaps more so than any other country, is there are endless fly-by-night English "schools". They treat teachers horribly. It is critical to research any place you that offers you a position before you get on a plane. It's much better to use teacher forums as opposed to a general traveller forum like ThornTree.
Apr 1, 2012 6:52 AM
5Between Taiwan and Korea is a bit of a toss-up for me. I spent about six years (two visits in two different cities) in Korea and about two years in Taiwan (Taipei).
Both countries have their ups and downs, both are wonderful places with beautiful back country away from the cities. I wasn't able to save as much in Taiwan, but that was partly because I lived in the financial district (by preference) on Min Sheng East Road.
I had a car the second time I lived in Korea, a motorcycle the first time. Used cars are very inexpensive and maintenance is cheap too. I don't know about car costs in Taiwan as I had a motorcycle when I lived there.
Overall I found Taiwan a friendlier place, but more expensive. Certainly better for people who prefer warmer weather.
If I had to go back to either place again, I'd probably choose Taiwan, but only because I have already spent so much time in Korea.
There are a few problematic schools in Korea, but most are quite decent. But in my view there are some problems everywhere - just like employment back home.
Apr 2, 2012 12:37 PM
6If Taiwan and Korea are really a toss-up, then I'd probably pick the warmer climate...
I'm pulled to Kaohsiung, Taiwan, which I heard is a great biking city. Fluffy Bunny you mention Taiwan paying for the flight, which sounds great. But wouldn't my bargaining power be greater if I was already there? I am actually thinking of flying to Japan and biking my way there. Also, is life there cheap enough that I could look for work without the stress that I imagine I would feel in Japan?
Edited by: christocycle
Apr 8, 2012 11:58 PM
7I am currently teaching in Taiwan at the public schools -- the job is great and fulfilling and I am saving over $1000 a month easily (without noticing) and I have a car. The job is not demanding and very self directed and you get a lot of support. You have to be a licensed teacher for these jobs -- but they really are wonderful. I love Taiwan and have been able to travel alot around Asia -- although not to Korea or Japan yet-- I would be happy to help...
Apr 9, 2012 5:35 AM
8Dramatrav did you find this ahead, or just showed up and looked locally? I am a certified high school teacher (Canadian), but don't have a TEFL certificate. I've been reading a lot on Taiwan and it seems like a beautiful place. From a few comments I've heard, it also seems to be a more relaxed working environement than either Korea or Japan. Is it so?
Apr 9, 2012 6:55 AM
9You don't need a tefl certificate, they just want certified teachers at public schools, all over the island. Check out here.. http://www.esldewey.com.tw/ I write all my own curriculum, which can be difficult, but challenging and fun as well, but there is a lot of support. The Taiwanese are incredibly generous and helpful, and very welcoming.I live in a small town about half an hour from a big city, and I am the only foreigner in my town.
Apr 9, 2012 6:56 AM
10Taiwan is incredible for biking too.. people bike everywhere
Apr 9, 2012 8:23 AM
11The biking culture is a huge plus for me :-) Being the only foreigner in town sounds like a great immersion experience. I would love that. But is it hard to make decent friends or to date? I would love to learn the language, but realistically, before I can communicate enough to develop a meaningful relationship with anyone, I'll have time to get pretty isolated... Are there enough people speaking some English that you can have a decent social life?
Also, did you find your job once you were already there?
Apr 9, 2012 10:41 AM
Regarding your question about whether it makes sense to get a job once you're there or not: I can only speak from experience in Korea, but they do not offer you additional compensation if you arrive there and look for a job, so it doesn't really increase your bargaining power. On an E2 visa, they are required to provide you with airfare and if you are already there, they will pocket this. This has been my experience with working there for two years, once having lined up a job before leaving and the second time, just showing up and interviewing in country. In addition, I'm not sure if the latter option is viable right now, as they tightened up the visa process quite a bit a few years ago, and I think you have to get your visa issued in your home country now.
Apr 9, 2012 10:30 PM
13Biking is incredible -- people bike everywhere -- and there are tons of biking clubs, if you like to bike up mountains -- you have your pick. I have lots of Taiwanese friends -- and they are always interested in meeting foreigners. Most people gravitate to bars or activity clubs to meet people outside the main cities, but it is really up to you. I did have my job before I came, I got it through Dewey -- I think they coordinate most of the public school jobs, and they are helpful. You can also look on Dave's ESL Cafe.... they are always desperate for certified teachers, so I think you won't have a problem. If you wanted to come first, that would work fine too, but you would still have to go through a group like Dewey. Either way, you will probably have to get a 60 day visa before arriving in Taiwan -- or just pay for it once you are here.
Apr 13, 2012 7:43 PM
14Obviously it depends what is most important to you but if you want to save money I'd say check out international schools since you're a qualified teacher. It's late in the hiring cycle but things do come up.
My observation (based on never having taught ESL but have made a lot of friends who do in a variety of countries) is that without experience you'll probably land a better job if you line it up before you go. Being on the spot doesn't really give you extra bargaining power, it makes you just one of a hundred other people on the spot.
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