Wednesday, June 08, 2005

No degree letters and Economic Migrants

...I think Scott Sommer's analyses of people coming here as economic migrants is definitely on target. I have noted a marked upswing in letters like this, to the tune of 2-3 a day:

Hello. My name is T. I saw your website a few weeks ago and it looks real awsome. Anyway I noticed that you said on your site that you can legally teach english in Taiwan on a student visa. Do you need to go to school for a certain amount of time? Also, one guy told me that teachers who go on the regular 60 day tourist visa (teachers with no degree) usually pick up a Taipei Times news paper and look for teaching jobs there. Which other ways do teachers use to find work? Is it really that easy to find a job with no university degree? And if so, how do they avoid getting caught? Do the cops only raid certain schools? Well anyway I hope you can answer my questions. thanks.

And this one too:

Hi my name is O_____
I from Quebec in Canada, .. here we have a different educational system, for us after the high-school it is the College where most of the students gets their diploma and then go for works... Just 20 % OF THOSE STUDENT GET TO UNIVERSITY, so for most of us, we have the professionnal or (collegial) diploma!!

So, for me , I'm a travel agent since 3 years but the idea to teach english and make money is very interesting.!! Do you think that I can be a foreigner and teaching english or french even if I don't have a University Diploma !?????

Bad English seems to be typical of such letters, but most typical is the idea of making money without a degree. Another typical marker is that they ask me questions already answered on my Taiwan website. Indeed, I recently upgraded my Index page so that there is a pointer right at the top to the page for people attempting to come here without degrees that addresses this question: Can I Teach Illegally in Taiwan?

Think they'll pay attention? Naw.


STOP_George said...


As much as I agree with enforced regulations for teachers in Taiwan, there is a definite shortage of English teachers in this country. Furthermore, a lot of the LEGAL Taiwanese English teachers who make their living in this profession are hardly qualified to do so, as well.

If Taiwan truly wants to become an English speaking nation in the near future (which I think is a noble goal -- considering the China situation), then Taiwan certainly needs:

1) Better trained (legal) Taiwanese English teachers

2) More English-speaking foreign teachers

3) Enforced regulations and testing on English speaking "cram-schools" and similar privately run institutions.

Frankly, I think it would be in Taiwan's best interest to drop the "degree" qualification for these "cram-schools". However, the instructor should have a TOESL or similar certificate and be tested on a regular basis in Taiwan. Currently, as much as I love Taiwan, there is really not a lot of motivation for someone with a degree (in Canada, anyway) to come to Taiwan and teach. The pay is good, but it's not much better than what it is in this country. Let's be frank here. City living in Taiwan is not exactly like living in Hawaii, so there has to be an economic benefit for these people to come here. If Taiwan wants to save some money, then scrub this "degree" qualification and regulate the schools more.

The other option, of course, is to pay these foreign degree teachers more. However, after seeing the native Taiwanese teachers bitch and complain about the English teaching foreigners getting more money (unjustifiably, IMHO) -- this may not be a practical solution.

Remember, Michael -- a person having a degree does not ensure they will teach English adequately.

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