Sunday, August 17, 2008

This Week's Thoughts

So I am enjoying my Sunday here at home without BK, because it is visit Grandpa day for him. And while I am cleaning up and organizing on the back of my mind has been some thoughts about my future. I have been trying to figure how to go about finding another teaching job for after my current contract ends.

Now I know it is pretty darn early and there is a lot of time till I truly have to face what to do with myself after my year here is up. The fact is I do feel like I want to continue living here after one year, mostly because I love BK and don't want to be in a long distance relationship and two I feel that if I work hard enough I can find a job where the hours aren't so intense.

With that said I know there are several options before me to live and work in South Korea.
  • Teach at another YBM school. (Familiarity, possibility to chose better schedule and location)
  • Teach at a public school. (Set schedule, higher salary, longer vacation)
  • Dream job at a University (Need certifications or a Master's degree...)
Right now I am leaning towards a public school gig, mostly because I don't like the way a private academy is run. For example, our schedules shift throughout the season.

What I know is that no matter which one I end up I am still going to have to deal with Korean management, meaning that your own personal feelings and worth DO NOT come first.

Some other basic concerns for my second year are:
  • Nice living and hospitable space
  • Nice area to live around (more residential - family like, or more cute and cafe - type)
  • Rent free living
  • Higher salary
  • Still live in Seoul
  • Standard schedule (perhaps 8am to 5pm, basically not till 8pm at night)
Now, my plans are to take advantage of the free airfare home and to visit family in the states, after my current contract ends. In the meantime I could gather myself for another year in Seoul. Also I get a chunk of cash at the end of this contract, which would help me with the traveling.

So I have been starting to do some research with public school programs such as EPIK and SMOE. Also I am asking around to other teachers out there who work at a public school or any other system just how they got the job and whether they like it or not.

If you happen to come upon my blog then please answer these questions about your experience :)
  • How did you get your position at where you work here in South Korea?
  • Do you find your job good or bad? (both maybe?)
  • Would you consider a hagwon or a public school to be better?
  • If you know of any web forums out there where the school's themselves post job openings - -- Please Share!
Well thanks and I hope my mind doesn't get wrapped up in this, I know that there is no perfect job, but I know with enough research you can at least find an ideal situation.


    The very best thing you can do for your sanity is switch to a regular school, be it public or private. In essence, there's very little difference between the two. Although nepotism is higher in the private ones, there's also a bit more stability because the teaching staff doesn't have to rotate out. Anyway, I worked at a private school and didn't work any intensives or camps - it depends more on the individual school than the type.
    Although uni jobs seem to offer some advantages in terms of salary, etc. I think that overall public school jobs are much better. Here's why: many universities run their conversational English programs exactly like hagwons. You won't necessarily be teaching only (or even primarily) adult university classes, nor normal university hours. Public/private schools operate the most like sane, normal workplaces.

  2. Thanks Gomushin girl! ;) I really love the feedback and opinion. I don't want to ditch my workplace now so in the meantime I am doing my best to find out what will work in the future. ACtually I am confused whether the school I work at is a hagwon or a private school?

    Is there a difference??

  3. lol, of course you should finish the contract, but in the future . . .
    The terminology is a little confusing, mostly because the meaning of public and private school is so different to we Yanks.
    Hagwon's are privately run supplemental institutions - I personally like the term "institute" because it doesn't conjure quite the same educational image as, say, "academy" They're all privately run, with various levels of accredidation. Most of them are designed as short term supplemental courses, and they work on a business rather than educational model.
    As mentioned, there's very little difference between public and private elementary, middle, and high schools in Korea. There's a nationally mandated curriculum (although private schools often have their own requirements - I taught at a Christian school for a year that made all the students attend chapel and bible study, which they loved because they could safely nap through services), both require tuition, uniforms, etc. Public schools however have a policy where teachers and some of the administrative staff can only serve at a particular school for a set period of time, usually about 4 years, before they rotate to another school. In essence though, from a native-speaker teacher's perspective, there's not much difference between them. In terms of jobs, from what I've seen they offer a bit more stability and security than a university or hagwon job, and better hours, but are a slight dip in pay and benefits. I'd still go with a school if only because they're probably less likely to jerk you around than a hagwon.

  4. In your musings Joy....have you thought about a graduate asian art history program at a Korean University?
    Maybe somewhere that you could get an assistantship to teach studio art??
    It would be exciting to get a Master's Degree in Korea/Asia - maybe a program from a US university??

    ..........would that require having exceptional ability w/Korean language?

  5. I've heard Private school really depends on the manager. . . but there are good positions to be had. I've never done it myself. I'd usually say put your ear to the ground, ask around with your friends who LIKE their school, and think it's a good atmosphere, and see if you can fill in one of the vacancies there when it opens up: references are the best way to go.

    Universities (university institutes -- not credit courses) are doable even without a Masters' if you have any or all of the following: A. a foot in the door (connection/worker there who can reference you) B. several years teaching in country C. a very professional bearing that does well in an interview D. experience teaching adults, and E. TESL or actual education credentials/certifications from your university time. I'm doing UNI right now -- just started, and it's not a bad gig, but the bar is set pretty high for professionalism, and it's a bit competitive -- people get fired every semeseter.

    Have you thought about teaching adults?


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