What Is A Buxiban?

If you’ve been thinking of teaching English in Taiwan or China, you’ve no doubt come across the term Buxiban. These schools are a huge part of English learning culture in Taiwan and China, and they also employ a huge number of English teachers. So, what is a Buxiban?

Brett Cleveland TeachingIn the most basic sense, Buxibans are a type of school.  They aren’t unique to Taiwan and China;  In South Korea, they are called Hagwons. Other countries call them cram schools or tutorial centers.  These schools grow out of the incredibly competitive nature of the educational culture.  In Taiwan, a student’s entire life can be determined by just a couple of test scores.  What university program they get into, whether they are eligible to study abroad, how good of a job they get, whether they are even eligible for a government job – all of this is tightly tied to their grades and test scores.  To keep up, students need to study subjects outside of their normal school hours.

What university program they get into, whether they are eligible to study abroad, how good of a job they get, whether they are even eligible for a government job – all of this is tightly tied to their grades and test scores.  To keep up, students need to study subjects outside of their normal school hours.

Enter the Buxiban, which literally translates as “supplemental learning class.”  These aren’t just for English education.  There are buxibans that teach math, science, music, art – but by far the most common ones teach English as a second language.  Students are often enrolled in multiple buxibans to supplement their regular education.

Buxibans may be schools, but they are drastically different from most other educational facilities.  They vary a lot in size, from small single schools with just a few employees to giant chains with hundreds of teachers and  branches all over the country.  One thing that they all have in common is that they are privately owned and are run as businesses first and foremost.  That being said, most of them take the students’ education seriously and have high standards as far as curriculum and teaching.  Business for Buxibans is highly competitive, and parents are in a position to be choosy about where they send their kids.  A Buxiban that doesn’t provide a quality education with real results won’t last very long.

That being said, most of them take the students’ education seriously and have high standards as far as curriculum and teaching.  Business for Buxibans is highly competitive, and parents are in a position to be choosy about where they send their kids.  A Buxiban that doesn’t provide a quality education with real results won’t last very long.

Teaching at a Buxiban can be a unique experience.  These classes are supplemental to the students’ normal school, and follow a much different structure and schedule than an ordinary school day.  Classes usually start in the late afternoon or evening, with students going straight to the buxiban after their normal school finishes for the day.

Most Buxibans will provide a curriculum for you.  Especially if you are teaching at a chain school, you’re likely to be using a standardized curriculum – there’s certainly room for creativity, but the majority of schools will have lessons pretty well planned out for you.  A lot of Buxibans offer training to their teachers as well though the level of training you receive varies a lot from school to school.

One more thing you’ll find at a lot of Buxibans is that classes tend to be more laid-back than at other schools, and lessons often include a lot of activities and games.  Classes usually start late in the day, and many of the students are tired and restless from sitting behind a desk for hours already.  Fun and games become an important part of class, and are a vital tool for keeping the students engaged, keeping them interested, and making language learning fun and intuitive.

You’ll still teach lessons, do worksheets, and give quizzes and tests to track progress.  But, especially with younger students, English classes in Buxibans tend to be more fun and light-hearted.

As long as you have some idea of what to expect, and some understanding of what a Buxiban is, teaching at one is a great experience, as well as a very rewarding and fun way to spend your time teaching abroad.

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