things to know about teaching in Korea

Things To Know About Working At A Hagwon Before You Come To Korea

Owing to last week’s post, I have been thinking about the multitude of native English teachers who come to Korea each year. For a majority of them, teaching in Korea is an easy way to make enough money to start paying off student loans and gain cross-cultural experiences.

Others view it as a chance to live in Asia and pay for their travel to more exotic places. ESL job in Korea is a dream come true for many recent graduates. The job not only offers a good salary but also other benefits like paid housing and airfare.

Things To Know About Working At A Hagwon Before You Come To KoreaIt’s not surprising that many seize the opportunity. But just like everything else in life, nothing is ever easy. Such is the case with teaching English in Korea as well.

Once the honeymoon period is over, the things that you found charming start to get on your nerves. The little nuances can get overwhelming. Many native teachers give up, pack their bags and are on the next flight out. Others start counting the days until the end of their contract while constantly complaining and being negative.

So at the expense of sounding like a broken record, in this post I will talk about a few things that I think any teacher considering working at a hagwon should read.

What is a Hagwon?

life of a hagwon teacherHagwon are private institutes in Korea offering a variety of subjects. English academies or Hagwons are very popular in Korea. Most parents sent their kids to English hagwons and spend millions of won on English education each year. You can practically find an English hagwon at ever corner. They are the countless mushrooms in the concrete jungle.

Hagwons are very different from public schools. The experience of working at a public school (EPIK jobs) and working at a Hagwon is like day and night!

Salary And Working Hours 

better salary/heavy workloadHagwons typically offer better salary than public schools. At a public school you can expect to make around 1.8 to 2.2 million won depending on your qualifications, experience etc.

In contrast, Hagwons offer anywhere from 2 to 2.5/3.0 million won depending on your experience, qualifications and the school you work for.

Sounds great right? But let’s compare the working hours.

Usual work hours at a public school are from 9 to 5. Public school English teachers often teach fewer classes each week. The typical public school contract usually requires teachers to teach 22 hours per week rather than the 30 hours most hagwon jobs require. Although it is common for public school teachers to work at two or three different locations each week, rotating between schools.

Work hours at a hagwon varies. Teachers are required to work 30 hours a week. Most kids go to the hagwons after school, so typical day of a hagwon teacher starts from 2 to 8 more or less. If you work at a hagwon that offer business English and adult classes than you can expect a split shift. Many hagwon owners are also notorious for changing schedules frequently and without prior notice.

In addition hagwon teachers are expected to devote one hour to an hour and a half every day at the institute for the lesson planning (class preparation). You may be required to do student evaluations or report cards, supervision of English events etc without any additional pay. Some hagwons also offer weekend classes. So be ready to teach on Saturdays. Although usually working on the weekend is counted as overtime.

Vacation Time And Training Time 

vacation timeHogwans commonly give 10 days of vacation a year. Whereas public schools offer anywhere from one to two months.

In recent years however, public schools are moving away from these extended vacations. Most public schools now require the native teachers to work at English camps during vacation. The English camps are normally two or three weeks during school breaks in the winter and summer. The teachers are paid overtime rates so it’s not too bad.

But even with the English camp and all the work involved, the vacation schedule is still significantly better than a hogwan job. Public schools usually have set vacation days unlike most hagwons where the vacation days depends solely on the boss’s decision.

Also I would recommend asking your potential employer if Korea’s public holidays are included in your 10 days of vacation. This is not a common practice but some hagwon owners have been known to get away with less than 10 vacation days by including public holidays. So check before you sign the contract.

Public school system provides orientation and 1 week comprehensive training for new teachers. On the other hand, most hagwons offer 1 week training, if at all. Common practice at most hagwons is to pair the new teacher with another native teacher/teachers. The new teacher is given a couple of days to learn the ropes by ‘shadowing’ the more experienced teachers. The ‘shadowing’ is suppose to help the new teacher learn about the curriculum, how the classes are conducted etc.

Curriculum And Classroom Management 

lesson planningYet another difference is the curriculum and teaching materials. Most public school curriculum is pre-determined. The native teacher is supposed to follow the curriculum and lesson plan provided by the school. In public schools the native teacher usually has a Korean English co-teacher, so at times you can get help from them.

However, in hagwons the native teacher is supposed to teach the class alone. Therefore when it comes to lesson planning, you have to do it cialis generique all by yourself. When you work for a hagwon it is considered your responsibility to familiarize yourself with all the relevant teaching materials at the School. You will also be required to prepare additional material to supplement the textbook.

classroom disciplineIn Korean public schools, the native teacher is usually paired up with a Korean co-teacher. This is to help the native teacher with any discipline problems that might arise. The Korean teacher also support the native teacher by explaining in Korean a word or concept that the students have problem understanding. Co-teachers can be a really valuable asset especially for the newly arrived native English teachers.

In comparison, working at a hagwon is more hardcore. You have no Korean teacher to help you in the classroom. You can step out of the classroom and ask a Korean teacher/manager for help, if you are having discipline problems. But basically you are on your own when it comes to class management and discipline.

These are a few major differences between the working environment at public schools and hagwons. This post is designed to give you a glimpse of what to expect. Hopefully this post can help you make the right choice!

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