Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Robert's American School

Tomorrow I meet with Robert, a foreigner who owns and runs "Robert's American School" here in Kaohsiung. I responded to his post on the Kaohsiung yahoo group about substitute-teaching for a week. I'll be teaching ESL, of course. That's what all the foreigners do here, pretty much, and that's what I came here to do.

Jobs are not hard to come by here. Robert wasn't the only one who I contacted about subbing, and he wasn't the only one who responded to my inquiries, either. There are lots of opportunities. A surprising number of teachers and schools solicit the local Kaohsiung yahoo group with posts: "English teachers needed", "sub needed soon!!", "Looking for part-time English teacher"... I lost track of how many I responded to after just fifteen minutes. Only hours later I had e-mails back from some of them offering me the job, asking me if I was still available to teach.

I actually have a long-term (not subbing) job teaching ESL already lined up for me, too. That starts in June. I had that job before I even got here. When I arrived, my cousin told me that a couple of her friends had job openings - did I want any of them? "If you want it, it's yours." Just like that. That's partly because my cousin has been here for six years and is familiar with many of the ESL teachers in the area, and partly because there are so many job openings.

I have never taught English in my life. I have taught ballet, jazz, tap and hip hop to young boys and girls. To start teaching ESL in Taiwan, all I have to do is show the school my college diploma, then they help me get a visa. It's really simple.

It's even easier to get a subbing job. Like I said, I just responded to a post on the local yahoo group. In Robert's first e-mail to me he said, "Cindy told me you were interested in taking those subbing hours. That's great. Come by the school so we can meet in person. Have you ever taught before?" The question about my teaching experience was more of an afterthought than anything else. When I called Robert this afternoon our conversation was extremely brief. "Have you taught before?"
"Uh, well no-"
"-OK, well you can sit on a class. Or two- the kids have a lot they have to cover the week you're subbing."
I couldn't believe it was that simple to get a job. I don't even have to present my diploma to sub, or have any experience at all. When I told my cousin she scowled, "Why two classes?" In the Taiwan ESL community sitting in on more than one class is newbie-preparation overkill.

I meet Robert tomorrow afternoon, after he finishes teaching for the day. The subbing job, assuming I do get it, starts on May 13th. You can expect to hear more about that later.


  1. Wow, that's crazy!!! I can't wait to here what your first day is like. What will you be making? How well are you doing learning the local dialect?

    OK, I'll stop.

    Your blog is making me want to get out and travel again!!!

  2. No, don't stop! I love you, Eric...

    It's 600NT an hour (a little over $18/hr). My first day is tomorrow, so you will hear very soon how that goes.

    They speak Chinese here, and I don't know much. "Thank you" = "Shyeh shyeh" and "Hello" = "Ni-hao". I'm picking up bits, slowly. My cousin knows a lot, so I always go to her for language help.