Meet Vadim Rubin, An American Teacher in Taipei, Taiwan
Introducing Vadim Rubin, an amazing guy who flew back to Taiwan in September 2015 after being here previously for studies. Read on to find out about his active lifestyle on this beautiful island, how he has adjusted to teaching, and how much he enjoys his lifestyle here.
1. Please tell us a little about yourself.
Originally born in Minsk, Belarus my family and I moved to the United States when I was 1-year-old. For a majority of my life in the States I lived in Maryland; Montgomery County, specifically. I graduated from the University of Maryland Baltimore County with a B.A. in History and Asian Studies and got the opportunity to study in Taiwan for the summer of 2012.
When I first arrived in Taiwan back in May I was both enamored and terrified; both taken in by the beauty of Taiwan and petrified to speak Chinese, even though I studied for two semesters in university.
By the end of my three months, I would meet so many new friends through MTC, volleyball, the gym, teaching, and nights out. On my last day I visited Taipei 101 for the first time with a Taiwanese friend and was only using Mandarin. Taiwan would leave a lasting impression on me for years to come.
The following summer I traveled to Nanjing, China for three months to study Chinese at Nanjing Normal University and to get some exposure to teaching English in Asia. China was definitely a different beast from Taiwan, but that’s a story for another day.
When I returned from China I began teaching novice level Chinese at The New Century School — a pre-K – 5th grade Montessori school in Baltimore, MD. The chance to speak Chinese with young students gave me the opportunity to shape and tone my Chinese language abilities.
After working at my school for two years I knew I wanted to work in language education with a focus on Chinese and English, but the only way that I could get my Chinese to a proper working level and get more experience teaching English was to live and work in Asia; guess what country came to mind…Taiwan! I’ve been teaching here since September 2015.
2. How have you enjoyed teaching in Taiwan to date?
I have been teaching in Taiwan for just under two months and absolutely love it. I am so fortunate to have the class and age group I do. I currently teach a class of five-year-olds that has eight students from Monday – Friday.
As someone who was teaching twenty 3-5-year-olds, this class is a blessing. I am also really happy that I have the same consistent class every day so I can see their growth and progression on a daily basis. Also, the most beautiful part about teaching children in this age group is that they love unconditionally.
My school has also been nothing but helpful and have really helped me transition into teaching in Taiwan.
3. What advice can you give to new teachers interested in teaching in Taiwan?
They’re small children so naturally they will need discipline and redirection, but no matter what they will still love you. It’s important to understand this fact and not take advantage of the love they give you. If there was one piece of advice I could give to every language teacher it is that patience is the number one key.
We all have to remember that these students do not understand what we are saying a majority of the time (unless, of course, they are advanced students). We need to be patient when they do not understand and provide as many different ways of explaining a concept because each child learns differently.
Regardless of age and proficiency level, one of the most important things I have found when starting any class is to write a set of rules down and put it somewhere in the classroom so students can see it always.
Teachers should also keep the rules vague such as “Be Respectful” or “Be Safe” since a lot of different rules can fall under this umbrella. After the rules are written down make sure to stick by them and be diligent!
4. Can you tell us about a particularly powerful moment in your classroom?
As I mentioned before my class is made of eight five-year-olds who are at quite an advanced level for their age. I can have full simple conversations with them using vocabulary I know they are familiar with; however, there is one girl, Sunny, who is new to the class. Her English is not as good as the other students and so she relied on Chinese quite a lot.
In just two months, Sunny has gone from speaking mostly Chinese in class to always speaking English. She even tells other students to speak English when she catches those students speaking Chinese!
5. What are the positive and negative aspects of living in Taiwan?
Since teaching will not take up all your time here in Taiwan it is so beneficial to explore the area you’re living in. One of the best things about Taiwan is the ease in which you can travel around the island. Click To TweetAlthough Taiwan may be small, there is so much to see and do! Taking some time to explore will make your experience more beneficial.
Another great perk to Taiwan is the food! There are SO many amazing places to eat and such a great variety. Whether you want Western food or Eastern Food, expensive food or cheap food, spicy or mild, sweet or sour, the list can go on and on. The people in Taiwan are also incredibly friendly. They are always willing to help with any endeavor.
Of course, like every place, there are some drawbacks. The biggest and maybe hardest to cope with is being away from home: family, friends, routines, hot spots, work.
There definitely is a lot that you will leave behind, but in place of what you left you will receive so much if you let it in. Being open-minded, courteous, friendly, and an all-around good person will take you a long way in Taiwan.
6. Have you had the opportunity to travel much in Taiwan or in Asia?
In the summer of 2012 I came to Taiwan for 3 months to study. Since I spent most of my weekdays in class and studying I did not have much time travel around Asia. I made weekend trips to places such as Yangmingshan, Fulong, and Taizhong.
In the summer of 2013 a friend and I traveled to Nanjing, China to study and work, but actually had more time there to travel around. We went to Shanghai, Beijing, Zhengzhou, and the Shaolin Temple.
We planned to make a HUGE China trip and travel all over the country, but it turns out that booking train tickets on a tight schedule to the other side of the country is a lot harder than we anticipated.
Additionally, each time I travel to and from countries in Asia I take a few days layover in Japan. I have been to Tokyo about four times and each time I go I discover more and more to do. If I were to live and work in a country other than Taiwan, Japan would definitely be the one.
7. Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about?
I am a serious volleyball junkie! I have been playing volleyball for over 12 years and have been coaching for over six. I am always looking for new people to play volleyball and to introduce into the Taiwan volleyball community.
When I studied here in 2012 I was fortunate enough to meet some really awesome people that helped me find places and people to play volleyball. Now that I am back I still play with these people and they are helping me get immersed into the community again.
I have also just recently started doing Jiu Jitsu so if anyone is looking for some places to train, let me know!
8. Do you have any favorite blogs or websites about Taiwan that you’d like to share with our readers?
The Reach to Teach blogs are actually fantastic for finding out plenty of information about Taiwan. Furthermore, there are some fantastic YouTube channels that talk about life in Taiwan. TheTbroc and Anytime for Taiwan are two of my favorite channels for videos about Taiwan.