The motivations of foreign teachers in Taiwan’s private preschool institutions

2023 IJRSE – Volume 12 Issue 1

Available Online:  9 February 2023


Thomas, Bryn*
National Cheng-Chi University, Taiwan (

Chou, Chuing Prudence
National Cheng-Chi University, Taiwan (


The government of Taiwan seeks to create a population of “internationalized life-long learners” through English as a Second Language (ESL) education. To facilitate this education, the Taiwanese authorities permit the hiring of native English speaking teachers (NESTs) in public and private schools. Regulations forbidding the institutionalized teaching of English to children prior to the first year of elementary education conflict with the expectations of Taiwanese parents who agree with the ‘earlier is better’ theory of language learning. This gap between parental aspiration and government regulation is frequently filled by Buxibans which provide English education at the kindergarten and preschool levels. These institutions manifest themselves in numerous ways, are often licensed as ‘supplementary education’, and when recruiting NESTs, commonly do so regardless of their qualifications and the government regulations forbidding English learning at the preschool level. This paper explores why NESTs seek employment at the private preschool institutions in Taiwan despite legal prohibition, the threat of deportation, and endemic labor abuses. The research employed quantitative and qualitative sources triangulated through the theory of planned behavior. The study analyzed 10 interviews and 80 questionnaire responses. Findings suggested that NESTs perceive work in private preschools as rewarding because of the lifestyle it creates. Further, NESTs perceive the practice as commonplace, acceptable and having positive impacts on young children despite possible legal violation. The study concludes with some policy implications such as improving NESTs’ work conditions with more policy transparency and legal clarity.

Keywords: ESL, expatriate, shadow education, theory of planned behavior, Taiwan



Cite this article:
Thomas, B., & Chou, C. P. (2023). The motivations of foreign teachers in Taiwan’s private preschool institutions. International Journal of Research Studies in Education, 12(1), 41-56.