Your Guide to the Taiwan Government Program for Public School Teachers

By Geddy Gee

FET: The Foreign English Teachers In Taiwan Program

If you’ve been looking to start your teaching career in Asia, I’m sure you’ve heard about the EPIK program in Korea and the JET program in Japan, but did you know Taiwan has its own government program for foreign English teachers. It’s called the FET program, and stands for Foreign English Teachers In Taiwan. The Ministry of Education is now offering teachers like yourself to work in public schools (k-9). All positions are well paid and have great benefits such as round trip tickets and health care. So it’s a great opportunity for those of you that want to travel and teach in Taiwan.

Why Teach English In Taiwan

Taiwan promises great wages, keen students and has the appeal of tropical island life. Many people are drawn to teaching English in Taiwan for these reasons. Taiwan is the perfect destination for those who want to experience both modernity and traditional living. Teachers can enjoy nightlife in Taipei or Taichung, yet also feel at ease due to the island’s Buddhist roots. As of 2021 there are approximately 250 international schools across Taiwan; this number continues to rise as more Taiwanese students seek education abroad. The Taiwanese love integrating foreigners into their lives which means you’ll find many English teachers out here having more friends than fellow expats in other countries.

The Taiwanese are friendly and proud people, which is great for new English teachers who might be nervous about being away from home. Your colleagues will want to make you feel welcome by inviting you to all of their social gatherings! The largest language school in Taiwan that hires on a contractual basis is Hess. If you want to get out on your TEFL adventure as fast as possible, Taiwan is a great place to teach English. You can be picked up from the airport and sorted for three weeks until receiving payment within only one month of applying! In Taiwan your options will be to work at a public government school, private language academy, international school, or ‘Bushiban’, which is a cram school where you can easily find a job. 

At a ‘Bushiban’ you only get paid for the hours you work so additional time spent on preparation and grading papers is unaccounted for. The classes are quite big with around 100-200 students on average so it can be quite tiring. If you are new to teaching it is a good way to gain some experience but if you have more qualifications and experience, working at a public school is your best bet in Taiwan. At public schools you will work around 15 hours a week but you need to be at school for the full day from around 8:30 AM to 5 PM. The job is much more secure and also has lots of great benefits, but these jobs have more requirements that you will need to fulfil.

Requirements for the FET government program in Taiwan

In order to be considered eligible for this program, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • A native speaker of English from the United States, Canada, England, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Ireland, or other countries where English is an official language.
  • A certified K-12 teacher with a state-issued teaching license/credential.
  • A bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university, with the exception of degrees having half or more of the courses completed online or through distance learning/correspondence.
  • Committed to abiding by the laws and regulations of Taiwan.
  • Competent in interpersonal communication skills.
  • Understanding of, and respectful toward the local culture.
  • Willing to teach in suburban and rural areas.

An important thing to note is that on the FET program you will not be able to teach in any of these popular cities: Taipei, New Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung, Tainan, Kaohsiung. The program focuses on more rural areas, but Taiwan is a beautiful country and you can travel around very easily via rail, bus or air.

The degree you use to apply for the program needs to be recognized by the Education Ministry of China (Taiwan) and the full list of eligible universities. Also note that a TEFL/TESOL university degree or a TEFL/TESOL certificate is not considered a state issued teaching licensee.

Application process for the FET government program in Taiwan

The first step will be to apply for the program and it needs to be before April 30. They will then set up an interview with you before May. You will then be notified if you have been selected before June. Before July you will apply for your work permit and once you have that you will apply for your Resident Visa. Around the middle of August you will hop on a flight to Taiwan, attend an orientation, sign your contract and then it’s to the classroom. The contract lasts for 1 academic year until July the following year, about 11 months. Contracts can be renewed depending on agreements between the school and the teacher.

Salary and benefits teachers earn on the FET government program in Taiwan

The salary you earn depends on your education and experience. Education is measured by degree level such as Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral Degree. While experience is measured in years but only counting years spent teaching at public schools or registered private schools in the R.O.C. So here are the salaries offered:

  • Doctoral degrees: NT$ 73,025~91,420
  • Master’s degrees: NT$ 69,965~86,820
  • Bachelor’s degrees: NT$ 62,720~78,045

There is also a performance bonus at the end of your contract. If you receive an A you will get a full month’s salary extra and if you receive a B you will get half a month’s salary extra.  Other benefits include overtime pay, leave, holidays and vacations.

Is the FET government program in Taiwan worth it?

Taiwan is a great place to work because of the great environment and low cost of living, especially in the more rural areas. You will earn a very comfortable living and have a great experience. This is what some teachers have to say about the program:

Lauren – “This trip to Taiwan was a great learning experience for me! I realized how much about Taiwanese culture, and even myself. It’s also my guess that the people in this program learned something new from American cultures as well as English language skills.”

James – “Overall, I like my experience teaching abroad. It can be difficult to work with the administration and cultural differences sometimes but it’s made up for by how much fun my students are because they genuinely love coming to class and learning English!”

So if you are a qualified teacher, this is a program you don’t want to miss! For those of you who aren’t there are tons of opportunities to teach English in Taiwan at different schools and you can always pick up the qualifications if you want to change over to the program.

Written by Geddy Gee for TEFL.net October 2021
Ex-teacher, unvaccinated traveler and amateur writer

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