Teaching English and Living in Taiwan

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All About Kainan University 開南大學

International Honors Program / IHP

An-Pang Kao 高安邦
An-Pang Kao 高安邦

The International Honors Program, Kainan University's unique all-English undergraduate degree, is successfully recruiting students from all around the world.  University President An-Pang Kao 高安邦 has recently returned from Hungary and Australia on promotional visits.  Interest from Japan, America and China are leading to upcoming trips for the now globe-trotting university president and widely respected academic, who is also successfully making Kainan University the locus for academic conferences in Asia.

President Kao stresses giving Kainan professors more time to focus on academic research to further enhance the achievements and standards at Kainan University.  President Kao insists on the highest standing for all new faculty and the most well-known publishing achievements.

The IHP's focus is on the fields of International Logistics & Shipping and Business Management - fields which have shown sustained growth for decades and in teaching students how to both speak and read Chinese.  The strong presence of multi-national firms in Taiwan means that students & graduates of the IHP - with their business skills and language ability - gain an unprecedented advantage in the job market.  AT THE SAME TIME overseas students receive FULL scholarships.  That's right tuition, room & board.  You get your degree for FREE.

Learning business & Chinese, in classes taught entirely in English.  Plus, being in Taiwan which means that just beyond you and your classmates is an entire Chinese-speaking world waiting to practice Chinese with you - and offer you job opportunities for developing your own country's global marketplace. 

An-Pang Kao 高安邦 & Dr. Karl Chang 張康聰
An-Pang Kao 高安邦 & Dr. Karl Chang 張康聰

Most importantly, the IHP student body reflects the H in the program's name.  Thats H for honors: Kainan recruits the highest achieving students, which means you'll be going to class with the best & brightest from around the world.


International Cooperation

Kainan University continues to expand opportunities for IHP students.  In addition to the on-going cooperation with America's Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which allows Kainan students to attend MIT !at Kainan tuition rates!, Kainan University has also established relationships with Waseda University in Japan.  And, programs which will allow Kainan students to attend North Carolina State University in America and The University of Tasmania in Australia are under way.


The Graduate Institute of Teaching Chinese as a Second Language / TCSL

In addition to actively widening the reach of the IHP and successfully bringing academic conferfences to the campus President Kao's tenure has also seen the establishment of  The Graduate Institute of Teaching Chinese as a Second Language / TCSL.  The new institute will be offering Master's degree's to International and local students, enabling them to return to their home countries or travel abroad to secure lucrative positions in the widely expanding market for qualified teachers of Chinese.

Prof. Dennis Schilling
Prof. Dennis Schilling

Prof. Dennis Schilling (Ph.D, Sinology, Ludwig-Maximili an University, Munich, Germany) has been appointed to chair the new department.  With over 20 years of research in the field - and himself an expert non-native speaker of Chinese - Dr. Schilling is uniquely qualified to lead the new department.

A Masters Degree in Teaching Chinese as a Second Language is a sure path to a steady job.  For example, Dr. Schilling noted that in 2004 Germany's high schools made Chinese a formal elective class.  Since that time the number of high schools offering Chinese as an elective has increased by a factor of 10.  At the post-secondary level Dr. Schilling observed one Chinese class at a noted European university where seventy students signed up.  He expects this same pattern of rising interest in Chinese study to be repeated across the EUs strongest economies, ensuring that people with the ability to teach Chinese to non-native speakers can find a well-established full-time positions at universities, high schools, junior-high schools and even elementary around the world.  Kainan University's Masters Degree in Teaching Chinese as a Second Language can make that possible for you.

Kainan University 開南大學
Kainan University's Logo

Dr. Schilling describes one of his main goals as enabling graduates of the Teaching Chinese as a Second Language Masters Degree program to return to their home countries to successfully be able to compete in the job market.  In that effort students in the TCSL Masters Degree program get the opportunity to travel to the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich for a 72 hour teaching practicum to university students.  That means that when you graduate youll not just have a Masters Degree in teaching Chinese, but youll also have 72 hours of teaching Chinese to non-native speakers at the university level.  An unparalleled advantage when you apply for teaching positions after graduation.

Prof. Dennis Schilling
Prof. Dennis Schilling

As this program expands to other universities across Europe and in Australia and Japan students who are from these countries - or who want to GO to these countries - can enter the burgeoning field of teaching Chinese to non-native speakers with the same opportunity: a Master's degree and university-level teaching experience IN that country.  If you want to go home ahead of the game, or start a NEW life in the West, this is an OUTSTANDING career chance.

Describing the current roster of students Professor Schilling says they range from those who have experience teaching Chinese to non-native speakers to those who have some experience teaching Chinese and some with no experience at all.

For Schilling the staff at Kainan university's Graduate Institute of Teaching Chinese as a Second Language / TCSL is another strong asset.  A combination of experienced former department heads and emerging scholars providing the balance between the traditional and the latest methodologies and technologies.  The department continues to grow as the program continues to provide more and more students the chance at a new career as more school and universities add Chinese to their elective classes every day.


Dr. Jonathan Butler

Dr. Jonathan Butler
Dr. Jonathan Butler

Dr. Jonathan Butler was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. He holds a BA in English Literature & Philosophy from the Memorial University of Newfoundland and an M.A. & Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Toronto.

After 5 years of teaching in Canada, Dr. Butler began to consider multiple offers from overseas universities, including Taiwan, Korea and the Middle-East. Originally having decided to join a classmate from his bachelor’s degree days who was teaching at a Middle-Eastern university, an unexpected delay in the promised position led Butler to re-evaluate campuses in Asia. As he began to focus on Taiwan he approached the topic with the same scholarly precision as his work—investigating the culture and background of Taiwan. Feeling satisfied with the results, Dr. Butler and his wife told themselves they would give Taiwan "a one-year try." 

Three years going and today Dr. Butler remains at Kainan University in Taiwan teaching in the Department of Applied English. Among the many reasons that have led the Butlers to stay on in Taiwan Dr. Butler cites the friendliness of the people and the serene social atmosphere.

Describing teaching to non-native speakers, Dr. Butler outlined his ideas:

"In a north American classroom you walk in you lecture for 3 hours and people take notes and you can be certain everyone's absorbed what you've said—at least on one level. Here, because it's a language you are teaching as well as a subject, you need to constantly be checking…to know if what you're saying is getting through. So, there's a little more work to do when you're actually in the teaching classroom in terms of monitoring the students and how much they’re absorbing. When you're teaching in your native culture you can assume transparency of communication—that everything you say will at least be understood in terms of the language…" 

Considering differences in classroom culture, Butler notes that while North American students are quick to volunteer an answer to an question posed to the class at large, among Taiwanese students, few are

"interested in being the first to put up their hand to answer a question…so the simple solution is to target individuals, to just start picking people at random….In terms of being a professor, it's a simple technical adjustment in my teaching strategy that has worked out as well as I had hoped.…"


Dr. Jonathan Butler
Dr. Jonathan Butler

Aside from strictly academic issues for local students, Dr. Butler has found that, after the mechanics of the English language itself, his other mission is to help increase students’ confidence to speak in front of a group. For international students, he counsels steady work in their new environment and encourages students to look and listen. “Then, be patient. Learn from the people with whom you share your life here.”

Regarding Kainan University:

"In terms of dealing with fellow colleagues here—it’s been nothing short of an absolute pleasure…I mean people are very friendly and helpful and if you have questions they are willing to take time to answer them. It has been relatively easy to adjust to both the collegial life here as well as the workload."

As for Taiwan itself, Dr. Butler enjoys the varied geography the island has to offer, coining the term “ the beautiful dangers of the island.” He has played golf in the mountains of Miaoli and considers the vistas he viewed there to be among the most beautiful he has seen in his travels around the globe. He has also been to the mountains near the east cost city of Taitung, waking up with the sun to see it rise out of the ocean spanning the horizon behind Green Island, the sunlight shimmering on the sea and seeming close enough to touch.

Among the other attractive aspects for Dr. Butler is the proximity of all points in Taiwan to the ocean. It means more beautiful dangers: driving to Kenting, where he has surfed on Jialeshui beach佳樂水—the steady waves and the friendly surfers riding them making it a perfect time, the best place in the world he has surfed so far—better than Waikiki!

Dr. Butler and his wife have found that Taiwanese people invite you into their lives—taking time with overseas folks. Meeting people socially they have found themselves welcome guests to a panoply of social events and gatherings at private homes.

Staying each year in Taiwan for 10 months and then returning to Canada during the summer where he reconnects with family and makes great use of the research libraries in Toronto, Dr. Butler has found a long-term working-home in Taiwan and at Kainan University.

Dr. Ian Clarke

Dr. Ian Clarke
Dr. Ian Clarke

Dr. Ian Clarke comes from New Zealand.  He studied at the University of Tsukuba, Japan where he received his B.A. in Anthropology and his M.A. in Anthropology & Area Studies, focusing on S.E. Asia, specifically Malaysia.  Clarke received his Ph.D. from in Anthropology from the University of Otago, New Zealand.  He teaches Cross-Cultural Communication, English Composition & Reading Comprehension at Kainan University.  Dr. Clarke has been in Asia over ten years. Three and a half years teaching at Kainan University and 7 years in Japan.

Describing the society in Taiwan the terms Dr. Clarke uses are Energy, Vitality & Dynamism.  He notes that there is always something interesting going on.  Unlike other countries, where new elections can often mean just the same policies rehashed by a different party, in Taiwan Clarke finds that " get the sense that something is happening; people can make a difference."  This he believes is the source of the country's energy.

Describing the learning environment in Taiwan Dr. Clarke touched on numerous points.  Specifically at Kainan University he noted that here, instead of vast impersonal lecture halls, he has "a lot more personal connection with the teaching here and I really enjoy that with my students.

At a macro level he noted Taiwans Test Culture - where students study madly just to find a means or method to successfully pass an unceasing hierarchy of entrance exams.  This he decried and pointed out that revision of this practice would require a re-thinking of the society's concept of what learning means.

Dr. Ian Clarke
Dr. Ian Clarke

Describing the specific issues many local students find themselves facing Dr. Clarke turned to the topic of learning English.  His goal is to get students to take an active role in learning the language.  Beyond merely learning about English he pushes his students to try and see, particularly with the language, that it can be used more; to actually practice using it rather than seeing it as abstract knowledge.  His methodology

"Even if they are just watching movies, reading novels - encourage students to do this as much as possible, just so they can see the language is alive and useful to them.  Language in particular you have to practice a lot.  What we can do in a classroom with language is very limited.  We have to show the students how to learn and they have to do a lot themselves.  So, push them and make them understand that it can be interesting and fun.  See it as a living language, as a useful body of knowledge so they can use it more."

For international students Dr. Clarke described many advantages of studying at Kainan University.  Kainan's superior International Honors Program offers students the opportunity to combine a business major with learning Chinese, putting overseas students at the frontier of the vast Greater China market and at the nexus of all the established Fortune 500 companies located in Taiwan. 

Further, Dr. Clarke said that international students will find Taiwan to be a very open culture and strongly recommended it to anyone considering attending university overseas.  "It's really easy to get on here.  There are other places you go overseas to study and its hard to connect to the local culture."  In Taiwan

"...people are always trying to make connections with you, so its a good place for a foreign student to study.  You can learn practical things: you can learn Chinese; you learn about Taiwan - its a fascinating place but, you can have this sort of cross cultural experience and more so than in many other places because its very different, but at the same time very open very accessible for foreign students here."



Dr. Kai-Li Liu
Dr. Kai-Li Liu

Kainan University encourages IHP students to get a double major or a major minor to strengthen their professional opportunities.  The percentage of students with a double major or a minor major is almost 100%.  Most are focused on Commerce, Business Management or Logistic & Shipping, said Dr. Kai-Li Liu, Coordinator of the Office of International Programs and Services and Assistant Professor at Department of Applied English.

Dr. Kai-Li Liu also teaches Chinese for IHP students.  She indicated that her students are keenly aware of the opportunity knowing Chinese can offer their careers.  Being taught to both speak and READ & WRITE Chinese is a skill most non-native speakers never have the opportunity to learn.  This is in part because local students themselves learn only through years of repetition.  The IHP has taken the latest in technology to help overseas students vastly accelerate their Chinese character reading and writing, developing their own electronic writing program called the E-Pen.  Using their personal computers and the E-Pen the system allows students to condense years of practice into just semesters.

Dr. Kai-Li Liu designs her Chinese courses in diverse ways.  For example getting students to learn Chinese fairy tales.  She told the story of a Russian student who saw a Taiwanese movie titled "Secret 不能說的秘密" and made it the basis of a lesson.  Or another student who used the TV show "Miss No Good 不良校花" .  Or a third student who read a Taiwanese cookbook which was subsequently developed into a lesson as students used recipes from their own countries to help them learn about the words for food.

An international students once asked Dr. Liu "What's the fastest way to learn Chinese?  How did you learn Chinese in your childhood?"  Dr. Liu told the student "we wrote new words as homework and practiced every day."  Dr. Liu said the students told her his way to learn Chinese is to create a story for a new word and keep the impression in mind.  The method seemed a novel.  Dr. Liu her gave it to her to TCSL graduate students and suggested it as a research topic for a thesis.  Its this constant refinement & research that make Kainan among the best places in the world to learn Chinese both spoken & written.

Dr. Kai-Li Liu
Dr. Kai-Li Liu

To enrich campus life for International Students Kainan University has established 2 new clubs:

The International Students Association - to plan activities & coordinate with the school - and the International Culture Club where international and local students get together to understand and share cultures.  International students have visited orphanages in Pingtun and participate in numerous other activities to enrich their campus life and help increase their understanding of the local culture.  The school has held Country week and an International Fine Foods Festival. For the 2008 Christmas party children from orphanages were invited to join.  A concert is currently in the works since some international students enjoy playing the piano, saxophone and singing. 



International students at Kainan University

Trent Cunningham 林世平, America , 32 years old

Trent Cunningham 林世平
Trent Cunningham 林世平

Trent Cunningham of Bevier, Missouri in the U.S.A. first came to Taiwan during vacations from working at Wal-Mart in 2006, to visit his best friend from high school.  Little did he know that his 1st overseas vacation would see the start of a whole new world of opportunities for Cunningham.  Today, he is in his second semester of getting a Bachelor’s Degree with a Business major, learning to speak, read and write Chinese – and all of it with a FULL scholarship, INCLUDING housing, at Kainan University in Taoyuan, Taiwan.

What’s it like?  Cunningham described the coursework that ranges from Accounting to Chinese Characters.  What’s it like to be at Kainan University in Taoyuan, Taiwan?  He describes the smaller sized city of Taoyuan as the right choice, even though he was accepted by schools in the capital, Taipei.  “…the teachers…are really nice,…really helpful."  And the students? 

“You know everyone is away from their home, their families.  Everyone treats everyone else like family.  You know, I come from a small town - so everyone in the city is family.  So, its nice to be in a place that’s like that too.”

Cunningham described new friends who hail from Vietnam, and his international travel plans for the upcoming school holidays.  He has 3 roommates.  They are from Mongolia, Vietnam and Philippines.

When he’s not studying what is Cunningham doing?  Lazing around the campus?  Not him.  He travels to Jhongli to visit his back-home friend, or he goes camping or hiking in Taiwan’s nearby vast mountains with other members of the International Students Organization or the International Cultural Organization - something he’s gotten encouragement from professors to do: studying overseas means getting outside, into the culture and the countryside.  Not all books all the time.

What are the people like in Taiwan?  Trent describes taking busses on the weekends.  Since he’s just begun to learn to read Chinese characters, it can be easy to get a bit mis-directed.  “Every time I’ve had problems I’ve been able to find someone to help me…and even if they don’t understand they will talk to someone and try to get me some help.”

Cunningham says that he really likes the diversity of his classmates.  Sharing classes, coursework and life with people from all around the world means you are really getting to “learn about other cultures & languages” first-hand.  Trent was spent his vacation in 2006 visiting his Missouri friend in Taiwan.  They traveled from Taipei to Kenting LINKS.  Now he’s back and living, learning and studying in Taiwan.


Hendrina (Ina) Schoeman 伊娜 , South Africa, 45 years old

Hendrina (Ina) Schoeman 伊娜
Hendrina (Ina) Schoeman 伊娜

The mother of two children she raised on her own Ina had spent most of her life thinking of the needs of other people.  Now that her children had reached the ages of 18 & 21 Ina decided it was time to do something for herself.  Having always loved to write now it was time to get that university degree she had delayed to raise her family.  And, she found a program that would give her not JUST a B.A., with a business major, but would also see that she could be taught to read, write and speak Chinese.  Plus, doing all that for FREE - Full Scholarship, through the Kainan University International Honors Program.

Ina followed her older sister and brother-in-law, who had come from South Africa to teach English in Taiwan – and stayed eight years!  She tried the same route, but found herself denied, due to lacking a degree.  Knowing Taiwan to be a pleasant enough place from her sister’s long sojourn, Ina resolved to turn around that situation AND stay in Taiwan – and she was accepted at Kainan.

How does she find Taiwan?  Like all of the students we spoke to the word, again & again, is “friendly”!  She talked about the many ways people have gone out of their way to help her, and she mentioned one unique point – feeling safe: no matter what types of people she meets, from farmboy to physician, neighbor to night market vendor she says she always feels comfortable.

How does she find living on campus in the dorms?  That part…she skipped.  With the help of the school she has been able to secure her own apartment adjacent to the university, for less than $180.00 per month!

Today, she finds herself working hard.  Challenged at having to approach classes that could daunt even the eighteen-est of eighteen year-olds, she spends her time studying – and learning. 

Despite the challenges some people might see in starting a degree program she says she is determined to make a success of it.


Daniel Radnai 戴尼爾, Hungary, 21 years old

Daniel Radnai 戴尼爾
Daniel Radnai 戴尼爾

From a single small ad in a local Hungarian newspaper, music enthusiast and avid bicycler Daniel Radnai 戴尼爾 of Veszprem, Hungary made his way across Europe and Asian and into the International Honors Program at Kainan University, Taiwan.

What motivated Radnai to make the move?  A sense of opportunity.  Since the school provides FULL scholarships for international students – with housing – and provides a 4-year business degree program that also ensures you’ll learn to read, write and speak Chinese, Radnai knew it was an unbeatable combination.  Returning to Europe able to speak Chinese and having a first-hand familiarity with the Greater Asia markets, Radnai feels confident of being able to secure a position of his choice.

What is Taiwan like?  Radnai says he finds the people only friendly, every time.  “Sometimes people can’t speak English, but they would still try to help you.”  Radnai also finds the time to get out into the off-campus culture by bicycle.  Plus he gets to attend the many cultural organizations and student groups.  He recently went hiking in the mountains of Miaoli

As an avid music fan, Radnai enjoys Taoyuan’s easy access to Taipei – an international city with the kind of clout to draw quality concerts, offering Radnai the chance to get away from his table full of books.

When he completes the International Honors Program Radnai feels certain he will have a very strong foundation at the frontier of growth in the 21st Century.  (A sentiment echoed by all the students we interviewed.)