This probably has been asked before...sorry - teaching in S Korea
Replies: 6 - Last Post: Nov 11, 2012 3:57 AM Last Post By: happynomadman
Oct 22, 2012 3:48 PM
This probably has been asked before...sorry - teaching in S KoreaI have heard that sometimes degreed candidates going to S Korea to teach English end up in some sketchy programs that give you a hard time with pay, living accommodations, etc. I just want to know who has taught there and actually had good experiences? Most importantly, which programs did you go through in particular? Which are well-known and well-regarded???
Oct 22, 2012 8:55 PM
1Going to a forum for EFL teachers in Korea is your best bet. I suggest waygook.org; there's also eslcafe.com. You'll get more folks there who are able to answer your questions.
I teach EFL in Korea.
There's not really "programs." You work for an employer such as a public school, private school, after-school academy, kindergarten, adult academy or university.
Generally, pubic schools are the safer bet. There are three "programs" that do recruitment/hiring, placement and some oversight, but you work for an individual school. These programs are all run by the government and vary depending on location. SMOE does Seoul, GEPIK does Gyeonggi province (around Seoul) and EPIK does the rest of Korea. But you can also be hired directly by schools. It all varies.
The kindergartens and academies are riskier, as they're profit-driven enterprises that often operate on the fringes of the law.
I'm still not quite sure what your question is about 'programs,' but you'll get more hits if you read through and ask at the forums listed above.
Best of luck!
Oct 23, 2012 5:03 PM
2I've been teaching here 6 years and I've had lots of good experience.
I avoid public school jobs like the plague as it is entirely down to luck where you will be placed, who your co-teacher will be, whether your principal will be a power meglamaniac etc. Heck, you can't even choose which age group you will teach.
With private schools you can check the school out first. Google the school name and then google it with blacklist. Before accepting any job speak to other teachers at the school, and make sure you do this when they are out of school ie away from the director. You can ask to see pictures of your apartment too.
Oct 24, 2012 8:49 PM
3I have to disagree with krazykatie on a few points. (DISCLAIMER: I'm assuming she means 'hagwons' when she refers to 'private schools' and not the occasional real private school, such as one with a religious affiliation, that takes the place of public schools).
I've worked in Korea 4 years, both at a hagwon and a public school.
It is true that you don't know where you'll be placed if you go with EPIK or GEPIK (though you know you'd by in Gyeonggi-do). If you're qualified enough, you may be able to get into SMOE (though it's hard in the first year).
However, EPIK/GEPIK/SMOE is not the only way to get a public school job. Lots of public schools (more than people seem to realize) do direct hiring. I was hired directly by my school. So I knew exactly where I'd be and what I'd teach.
It is true that there's bad public schools, bad co-teachers etc. But, the worst hagwon is much worse than the worst public school. I've never heard of pay troubles, getting kicked out of apartments, getting fired on the 11th month, having pension/tax/insurance stolen rather than being paid towards the governing agency, etc. from someone in a public school. I've experienced or known personally folks who have gone through all those things in hagwons.
The other thing about hagwons, even if you talk to the foreign teacher, you can be misled. It happened to me. I asked all the right questions, but was given lies as answers. I wound up in a bad situation, and there's nothing I could have done previously to prevent it.
And I'm not alone.
Hagwons CAN be ok. I'd go as far as to say that the best hagwon is better than the best public school. But I don't think that's a gamble a new teacher would want to take. IF you're already in Korea, and have made connections, then it's a bit different. You could take over the job of a friend who you can trust when he/she leaves. But no amount of investigative work without your feet on the ground here and with connections will be sufficient to avoid a bad hagwon.
Nov 4, 2012 9:00 PM
4I've lived in Korea for 9 of the last 15 years and agree with Hanguk (whose moniker translates into "Korea"). The public school jobs have been pretty standardized; pay is assured as is maximum working hours (22) and vacation (varies a bit with province, but generally about 4 weeks between summer and winter). You also tend to get extra days here and there when the school has days off. . . some people don't have to show up for exam weeks, for example.
I've been fortunate to only have the plumb University jobs, where the hours are short (9 to 16 a week, with 3 to 4 day work weeks) and 5 months vacation between summer and winter. These jobs generally require a master's degree and teaching experience.
Private schools (aka academies, hagwons. . .) are hit and miss. Everyone I know who left early or didn't get paid worked for one of these. Hours tend to be longer, usually at least 30 a week, but often 35 or more (and usually later shifts, from 1 or 2 to 8 or 9, sometimes even later) . . .and contact hours are energy zapping! Owners can be great. . . or not so much. . . their motive is generally making money over education, and you are an investment that they want to see results from.
For private schools and public schools (including programs like EPIK or GEPIK) you can apply yourself or use a recruiter (who can also be hit or miss). Going to forums for teachers is a good idea. Dave's ESL Cafe is a great place to look for jobs and compare them, but beware the forums which can be full of hate and negativity. The newer forums tend to be friendlier and more helpful!
Nov 5, 2012 8:51 PM
5Just to add most public schools now only offer 20 days vacation, the rest of the time you will probably be sat alone in an empty school required to go in when other teachers are at home. Some schools won't make you do this but a lot of it is luck or finding a vacancy direct with one of the local offices of education that offer different contracts to the national EPIK one.
Nov 11, 2012 3:57 AM
6I have to disagree with KrazyKatie aswell with some points. Yes it is a gamble with public schools as to what co teacher and principal you will get but generaly the work conditions are better. You do actually get to choose what age group you teach. You can choose to be placed in an elementary, middle or high school.
GEPIK, EPIK are the main government programs dealing with public schools.
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