It should come as little surprise that foreign teacher’s rights are often abused and their responsibilities exploited. People go on midnight runs from horrible situations, never to return to the country in fear of prosecution. This is not a tale of such terrible circumstances, but rather how to avoid them. If you’re thinking of teaching abroad, these are some things you should consider.
The first words anyone hoping to teach abroad will read. Everyone starts off by reading into the legal processes – that’s good, at least then you know how it’s supposed to be, what your responsibilities are.
Soon after you start looking for a job or start working you will hear horror stories about teachers hiding in closets as government inspectors come through, abusive teachers, and more.
Do your research into the schools to which you’re applying to find out if they’re on anyone’s blacklist and, if so, why. If you’re coming to Taiwan, Forumosa is your new best friend. Otherwise there are plenty of Facebook groups out there should you need advice (just search “foreigners in [country]” and you should be good to go).
No Rest for the Travelled
Time off is scarce. It is typical to have no more than a week or so of national holidays and only five days personal leave. This isn’t worst case scenario, it’s just how it often is here. Combine that with working the occasional weekend and it’s easy to find yourself overwhelmed and overworked.
Make sure you use your time off wisely. I’ve spent too many evenings and weekends just relaxing at home, rather than adding diversity to my life. But whenever I’ve pushed myself to go out and explore – no matter how much a solid recharge seemed to be in order – it has always been worth it.
Hourly or Salary?
This is a question that constantly comes up among foreign workers. While certainly not unique to Taiwan, these problems are often able to grow larger due to government oversights and loosely enforced policies.
Work hourly and you’ll find yourself able to have more time to yourself, but you’ll also find yourself doing the occasional unpaid overtime and lots of paperwork that cuts into your free time.
Work salary and you’ll find yourself with lower pay and more hours, but with a more easily accessible support system in place should you need any help with classes (which can be absolutely critical when you’re starting out).
Chances are you’re not going to find the perfect job for you on your first try. Whether you’ve got the job before arriving or plan to find one once you get here, you’re bound to run into things that you love and things that you hate.
The best advice I can give here is to stay strong and keep talking to other teachers, both at your workplace and elsewhere. It helps form a frame of reference for what is normal and is the best source of information for making hard decisions.