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Teaching English in Lukang, Taiwan: Alumni Q&A with Jennifer Wilson

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What is your citizenship?
United States

What city and state are you from?
Los Angeles, CA

How old are you?

What is your education level and background?
Bachelor's degree

Have you traveled abroad in the past?
Never left the country

What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?
I wanted to have an impact on the life of young people abroad and be able to travel and accumulate experiences that will last me a lifetime.

What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?
Some of my concerns were you never know what you are going to get when you leave your country! My typical concerns were "Is the contract going to be the same as the one I signed in the states?" or are they going to be cool? My main concern was are the people I am obligated to for a year going to be people I want to be obligated to for a year. Am I going to regret this decision. You know?

What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad?
Yes, my family and friends were very supportive. Some of them kept telling me to be safe, and I had to tell them that Taiwan is the 2nd safest country in the world, and they need to be safe lol sorry!

Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy?
I chose to get TEFL certified because I needed it to make good money. I chose ITA because they seemed very credible when I came across their website and were very professional. Also, the whole process was very easy and they were always there to talk if you needed help.

Which TEFL certification course did you take?
Online TEFL Course

How did you like the course?
I enjoyed the course. There were parts of the course that were a bit hard, but I understood why, because they want you to know what you are talking about when you get in that classroom. The course was very relevant to what I am doing today in the classroom, although I must tell you as far as lesson planning, the school tells me what to teach everyday, and I have to plan lessons around that. I rarely have to plan a lesson from scratch, BUT the ITA course prepares you to do so in the event that you would need to.

My Instructor for my online course was great; she was very responsive and helpful-it was like a university online class. In addition, the interface they use to host the class is easy to navigate. Most of the tasks did not take more than three hours to do; also you had a whole week to complete them which was great. Also, most of the weekly readings you could finish in one day, and you can read ahead and do HW for the coming weeks as well, which was cool, if you had the time to do that. The ITA online course is the best course to take if you have a very busy schedule.

The practicum (live practice teaching) was surprisingly not as daunting as I thought it was going to be either. What you do for the Practicum, and many of the HW assignments, you can use in interviews as well as mock lesson plans.

How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?
The TEFL training has helped me in my current teaching position because it got me mentally prepared for the type of job I was getting ready to do. It taught me what was important regarding teaching English. In a way, it over-prepares you, but like I said before, that is good. It is always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.

Which city and country did you decide to teach English in and why?
I decided to teach English in Taiwan in the city of Lukang in Changhua county. The town Lukang was the only position offered to me for the date I wanted to start teaching English and with the school I wanted to teach with-Neurolink, so I took the opportunity. I also would be able to save a lot more money living in a smaller town than a bigger city which made me decide on Lukang.

How long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay?
So far, I am only planning to stay for one year.

During which months does your school typically hire?
They hire year round, but I think their peak hiring periods are June and July. Talk to the school for a more concrete answer.

Did you secure this position in advance of arriving?

How did you interview for this position?
Skype/Phone Interview.

What kind of Visa did you enter on?
Tourist visa.

Teach English in Taiwan TEFL

Please explain the visa process that you went through.
I came in on a tourist visa, and when I met with a school representative the next day after I landed, she took me to go take pictures for my visa and ARC(Alien Resident Card). I also started the paperwork and paid for my visa, ARC, and health care right away. I received my ARC and health care card about three months after I arrived.

What are the qualifications that your school requires for teachers? Please check all that apply
- Bachelor's degree
- TEFL Certification

Some people have told me you do not have to have a BA, but all the teachers at my school have a Bachelors Degree.

Tell us about your English teaching job!
I work between 19-24 hours a week. Now that it is summer, our school is getting additional classes due to the kids being out of school, so it fluctuates now(July-August) more than any other time.

How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like? Do you have roommates?
I live alone, and the school helped me find an apartment. My manager showed me five apartments in one day, and I chose an apartment the same day.

Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, travel opportunities, etc...    

Cultural aspects: The language is Chinese and in my town, only a handful of people speak intermediate level English, and maybe two handfuls speak basic English. More people in Taiwan speak English in the bigger cities. Also there is a handful of gods they worship, very few Christians, but they are accepting of all religions. In Taiwan they do not bow, like in some other Asian countries.

Public transportation: There are only buses and taxis in Lukang. In the bigger cities, there is train transportation. The train is affordable and so is the bus. An app called "Taiwan Bus" is good to use. It cost $50 NTD ($1.65 USD) for a one way ride on the bus. Train prices depend where you go on the train.

Nightlife: All of the nightlife is in the bigger cities LOL.

Social activities: Many of the social activities are in the bigger cities LOL

Food: Chinese food and Taiwanese food are the main food served. There is also Thai and Vietnamese food available. Unless you are in the big cities, you can't get American food the way you know it in America. It may be similar but not the same. Carrefour is a great foreign supermarket to go to to stock up on stuff you might buy back in the states.

Expat community: The expat community is huge in Taipei, Taichung, and Kaohsiung.

Dating scene:  Complicated lol next... I mean the men in Taiwan are very shy, and the woman are not forward. This is what I have been told, so you can imagine the rest of that story. I would say don't come to Taiwan looking for a serious relationship.

Travel opportunities: TONS, you can travel to many other Asian countries for really cheap between $52 USD-$300 for roundtrip tickets,

What are your monthly expenses?
All prices below are in NTD-New Taiwan Dollar.

Rent/utilities: $7000 NTD($225 USD) a month.

Food: $4000 NTD ($130 USD) a month.

Social activities: Depends on what you do, but between $3000-6000 NTD ($100 - $200 USD) a month.

Transportation: Depends on if you use it everyday. I don't, so about $500 NTD ($16 USD) a month.

Phone/communication: $699 NTD ($22.75 USD) for 5GBs a month(internet data only). But you can receive texts and phone calls for FREE.

Travel: Depends where you go. Going to Taipei cost $425 NTD ($14 USD) for a roundtrip ticket on the train, and for the bus, it cost between $280-$350 NTD ($9 - $11 USD) roundtrip.

How would you describe your standard of living?
Very good. Just like America. Only difference is I have to take my trash downstairs and wait for the garbage truck and throw my trash in the truck myself. The truck blasts a song letting everyone know they are coming and to come downstairs if you have any trash to dump.

In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?
I believe they need to make at least $48,000 NTD  a month, which is $1,575 USD, to live comfortably and save money. In order to live comfortably and not save, you need at, least $30,000 NTD which is $984.64. If you live in a bigger city in Taiwan by yourself, your rent could be as high as $13,000 NTD which is $426.68 USD, but if you live in a small town, it could be as low as $5,500 NTD or $180.52 a month. It just depends where you live.

What advice would you give someone planning or considering teaching abroad? Would you recommend teaching in your country?
Yes I would recommend teaching English in Taiwan because the hospitality is AMAZING. I would say do a lot of research on the school and the country and where you want to live in that country. Also, talk to people from the school you are going to sign a contract with before you sign the contract.

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