Q: Why Korea?
A: There’s a long list of reasons but here are the three most important.
1. I wanted to live abroad again.
2. I wanted to visit Asia, so why not move there?
3. Teaching is a great way to live abroad and make money. In college, I enjoyed doing ESL volunteer so work, so I had hoped that I would enjoy teaching.
I wanted to go, and I wanted to go now. Not February and not next August. I wanted to leave as soon as possible. Thankfully, applying for a teaching job in Korea is relatively simple and quick.
Korea is a small country which for me meant I was less intimidated. South Korea seems less scary than let’s say China. In one year, I can likely visit nearly all over the country. South Korea is only 39,000 square miles yet is home to more than 50 million people. That’s roughly the same size as the state of Indiana with the population of California and New York combined.
From my limited knowledge and research, each public and private school in Korea hires a native English speaker. Koreans have put a huge emphasis on education, especially English education, which means there is a huge need for native English speakers as English teachers. That’s where I come in.
Q: What do you need to be hired as an English teacher in Korea?
A: 1) Be a Native English Speaker
2) Hold a Bachelor’s Degree – doesn’t matter if you studied micro-biology as a once thought pre-med candidate or walked away with a four-year hangover and a liberal arts degree.
Q: How long are you going for?
A: One year. I signed a contract for October 2013 to October 2014.
Q: Can you get out of your contract?
A: Yes. there are a few ways to leave:
1) Midnight Run. This is exactly what it sounds like. Pack up your things quickly and quietly and leave. This will cost you – a plane ticket home and a poor reputation in Korea and the ESL community.
2) Your school breaks the contract; thus, they owe you a plane ticket home.
3) You break your contract, and you could owe them the cost of a round-trip ticket.
Good news is the school wants you to stay, and they want to enjoy the stay. It’s the school’s job as well as the recruiter’s job to help you and guide you. They want you to tell your native English speaking friends positive things about the school and the experience so they, too, want to teach English in Korea.
Q: What’s a recruiter?
A: A korean recruiter is similar to headhunter. It is their job to hire native English teachers. The recruiter conducts the initial communication (emails you to set up interview, conducts the interview, passes along your information to the school and sets up an interview with the school). Once a school wants to hire you, your recruiter will send you an official job offer from a school along with a job contract. You will conduct all communication with your recruiter – that’s their job.
I ended up using Solon ESL Networks
and I have only good things to say about my recruiter, MiHye. Feel free to contact me
if you have any specific questions.
Q: Did you get hired by a private or a public school?
A: A private academy. (Called a Hagwon in Korean).
Q: What’s the difference?
A: I am NO expert, but from what I understand, a public school is similar to what we call school in America and runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Public school jobs offer more days off with less pay, so depending on your priorities, a public school is a great option.
A private school/academy (Hagwon) is typically held in the afternoon/evening. My working hours will be 3:30-10:30 p.m. My students will go to school in the morning, and then come see me in the evening. The upside of a private academy is that they pay more while offering two weeks vacation. The internet and TESL blogs will warn you that Korean private academies are more likely to breach contract and possibly screw you over (they could not pay you the agreed amount, not pay you on time or fire you during the last 60 days to avoid paying for your return flight).
Q: Why would you accept a job at a private school after the warnings?
A: Back to what I said at the beginning, I wanted to go as soon as possible and private academies hire year-round. While public schools typically hire twice a year in August/September and again in February.
Secondly, not all hagwons are bad.
Q: But how do you know the school you choose will abide by their contract?
A: A high school friend was working at the school I was hired at. He had had a positive experience and recommended the academy. The school director is kind, they pay on time, and things are great, according to him.