English In Korea
|By Tim Meyers
I like adventure and travel. Iím just not as adventurous as some. For example,
Iím not comfortable throwing on a backpack and ďwinging it.Ē I donít
like not knowing where my next night will be spent, especially when in
a foreign land. I prefer a more structured and secure way to live overseas
and see the world. For example, I like to stay in one location for a long
time and have an established residence, so I can really get to know the
area. A little money coming in doesnít hurt either. So, how did I recently
reconcile my desires? I taught English in South Korea for two and a half
A job teaching
English in Korea is easy to get BEFORE you leave home, requires
no experience and pays pretty well. Itís a good deal and a wonderful way
to experience this relatively unknown, but interesting, country.
I had my own partially furnished apartment provided by my school, medical
insurance, a net salary of about $1,600 a month (a middle class income
in Korea), a less than 30-hour workweek, and from six to eight weeks
vacation per year. Not bad for a timid adventurer and expatriate. So how
can you do this?
allow yourself about eight weeks to find a job and secure your visa. Finding
a job is just a mouse click away. Several web sites list jobs such as tefl.com
But THE BEST site for jobs (as well as a lively and scathing
chat room) is eslcafe.com. Here you
will find dozens of job openings listed every day. I suggest you avoid
the brokers and employment agencies that make grand promises, and charge
a fee, and apply directly to schools. Now here is the great part Ė the
only qualification you need to become an English teacher is to be a native
English speaker from an English speaking country - any English speaking
country Ė Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Ireland or the
USA. If you have a college degree or teaching certificate then all the
requires slightly different documentation, but the standard application
copies of your passport and diploma. The school will send you a contract
to sign and return, to be followed by the visa paperwork that will give
you a one-year resident/work visa. Many schools pay for your roundtrip
airfare too. Thatís all there is to it. Be aware that most openings occur
in December/January for the start of the school year in March, or in June/July
before the second term beginning in August.
little background about the kinds of jobs available. Virtually all
types of schools, from elementary schools to Universities, employ English
teachers. Large schools may even employ a couple of dozen. Most new teachers
in Korea start out at private English institutes, or Hagwans. Frankly,
while there are excellent hagwans, hagwans in general have a poor reputation.
Hagwans are usually small family run businesses.
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the owners can be very unprofessional and insensitive (a politically
correct term) to your needs when their profit is at stake. You may
have to teach large classes of small children, work a split shift, work
weekends and holidays, and work more than the contracted number of hours.
But, hagwans have the highest demand for teachers, and the lowest standards.
Hagwan jobs are very easy to get. And once you have some experience, you
can move up the teaching food chain to the better jobs at public schools
and colleges. As you progress to the college level teaching hours decrease,
salary increases, and the size and quality of your apartment will improve.
like teaching English? Itís probably not what you think. You generally
donít teach grammar. Korean students learn grammar from Korean teachers
at school. You are there simply to talk to the students so they can hear
and model the language. You donít use textbooks, but rather picture books
that highlight topics for conversation Ė such as meeting people or ordering
a meal in a restaurant. Once the class gets going you will model a conversation
and then have students pair up and practice with each other.
Itís that simple.
Some schools have a set curriculum; others let you develop your own.
school should you choose? There are thousands of schools located throughout
Korea and each offers different working conditions and perks. Be sure to
ask these questions before signing on the dotted line: How many hours do
I work a week? Will I teach adults or children? How big will my apartment
be? Will I have a roommate? How near is my apartment to the school? Is
it within walking distance or do I have to commute? The best way to get
honest answers to your questions is to talk to one of the foreign teachers
on staff. They will be able to tell you exactly what to expect.
of your school is important too. If you are easily bored, by all means
stay away from small towns in the country. Choose a school in Seoul, the
national capital and a city with well over 10 million people. Seoul is
a wonderful city with no end of things to do and boasts one of the finest
subway systems in the
Or choose Busan or Daegu, the natixonís second and third largest cities,
respectively. If, on the other hand, you can make your own fun, and want
to experience more of the traditional Korea, choose a school in a small
city or town. This can be a very rewarding experience. As a foreigner in
a place less traveled you may even find that you will become a sort of
celebrity. Donít be surprised if every time you walk the streets people
stare at you or try and strike up a conversation. As an areaís sole foreigner
you may even end up being interviewed by the local press.
start class you might find that student discipline and participation can
sometimes be a problem. This is because Korean culture is very formal
when it comes to dealings with people and has very strict rules regarding
manners. But many Koreans have never seen, let alone interacted, with a
foreigner before and donít know how to apply their cultural rules to you.
They may sit in their seats, stare at you and never say a word, not wanting
to embarrass themselves Ė or you - by making a mistake. Conversely, many
children may completely ignore you since, as a foreigner, you donít fall
into their behavior system. But this is the exception. You will meet many
more people who will be interested in learning English and learning about
you and your life. I found teaching fun and Korea exciting. Maybe you will
Tim Click Here
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