Tuesday, November 29, 2011


The UK is heading back into recession and will take a long time to recover, so we're told. Two more years of pain. A lost decade. Etc.

A good friend of mine was trying to persuade me that I should up sticks and leave the UK. It's the wrong place to be and will be for a long time. Be free. Not just George Osborne who is being pressured to come up with a Plan B then. Well, I'm not doing all this again from scratch in 5 years time. The UK is the only game in town, at least until we have established something worth coming back to.

Coming from where I am, it doesn't look so bad. I don't have any assets to downgrade, a mortgage to pay or a job to lose. Anything will be progress. When I get a job, it is likely to pay more than I've ever earned before - though not perhaps in purchasing power. Everything except beer and cheese was cheaper in Taiwan. No pay rise for a couple of years? I haven't had a pay rise in 10 years. In fact, English teaching in Taiwan has attracted approximately the same hourly rate of NT$600 for 20 years or more. In the early 1990s foreigners would find themselves literally dragged off the street by the over excited owners of cram schools and expected to teach English primarily on the grounds that they were white. Halcyon days.

The future is in China. At least as far as English teaching is concerned.


  1. If you're debt-free, and you don't have unsustainable demands for a lifestyle beyond your means, you're already in a better position than most of the UK. I think as an ex-ex-pat you also have a keener idea of what life is like on the other side, making the "in this together" belt-tightening of Cameron and his cretinous clique easier to bear.

    Stay. It's not only the right decision, it's the only game in town. The job will come, and as you rightly point out, teaching in Taiwan has been on the decline for a decade or more.

    Someone somewhere (Forumosa?) suggested doing a PGCE. Does that appeal?

  2. Not quite debt free - though half of it is with the student loans company, so it's not growing any faster than the inflation rate.

    I can live without a big screen TV and a car. The job will come, but it may take some creative thinking to use what we (Rosey and I) have in what is already an unconventional career.

  3. I want to hear why you think China is the only place with a future.

    Why has TEFL been on the decline?

    In both cases the reasons seem to be obvious. Would just like to hear it from the horse’s mouth!

  4. @Toby I want to hear why you think China is the only place with a future.

    @Taffy Why has TEFL been on the decline?

    In both cases the reasons seem to be obvious. Would just like to hear it from the horse’s mouth!

  5. TEFL has been on the decline for some time. Why do I say that? Personal experience and anecdotes from old timers, like the one above.

    Why do I think that happened? Taiwan opened up and its economy and the TEFL market matured. Lots of foreigners came to Taiwan and did themselves out of a job. More good teachers meant less work for jokers.

    I don't think China is the only place with a future. But right now, places like Shanghai and Shenzhen are the places that have more money than they know what to do with and the idea that knowing English is a panacea for trade and making money. Cue foreigners to take it out of their hands.

    Some reckon China's boom won't even last that long before it either implodes or goes the way of Japan.

  6. When I first taught in Taiwan, 24 years ago, the average pay was NT$300 per hour. It has - slowly - increased. I don't think TEFL is in decline, people all over the world are still learning English.

  7. Interesting. My knowledge of Taiwan 20 years ago is purely anecdotal. Some of those stories make it sound like there was something of a frontier spirit and the streets were paved with gold - foreigners were more exotic, the contrast between the authoritarian world inhabited by locals and the freedom enjoyed by foreigners was greater. But I wasn't there and my sample is small - probably 4 or 5 people.

    But certainly in the 9 years I was there, the standard rate for a regular buxiban or kindergarten didn't change from something between $600 and $700.

    I don't think TEFL itself is in decline. Just that I think it used to be easier to get a job and that there is a contrast between the booming major cities of China and where Taiwan is now.

  8. When I first arrived in Taiwan it was common to be approached on the street for teaching jobs. I think we were more exotic then. That has changed. There were only a couple of western style pubs, Caves was the only bookshop for English books etc.

    It used to be hard not to end up teaching. Now it's harder to find a job, I agree. The salaries have stagnated over the past 10 years or so. Maybe even declined a little over the last year.

    Yes, China is probably the future for easy TEFL jobs. The salary in China is still lower than in Taiwan on average though. The university salary there is really much lower than in Taiwan.


Follow by Email