FAQs - Teaching

1. How many hours a week does a teacher teach?
At a hagwon (private school) you usually teach a max of 30 hours per week/120 hours a month.

At a public school you teach a max of 22 x 45-minute classes per week. However, public school requires more prep time for classes so the hours of effort come out pretty even.
2. What time do the teachers start each day?
At a public school you are on campus from 8:30-4:30 regardless of how many classes you teach that day.

Hagwons vary depending on the school. (Approximately 10am-6pm or 1pm-9pm.) Many schools let you leave campus when you are not teaching.
3. Does this mean I may be teaching 9 hours a day with no breaks?
No. First, there are always 5~10 minutes of break between each class.

These times merely reflect the span of time within which you'll be asked to teach. You might teach one class and then have a spare class before teaching three classes in a row. In a hagwon you might end your day at 6pm one night and 9pm on another.
4. What is overtime pay like?
Public school = 25,000/hr
Hagwon = 18,000 - 25,000/hr
5. Do I have the same schedule every day of the week?
From day to day, not usually, but from week to week, yes. Your schedule may change during summer and winter break and at start of a new semester.
6. What age group(s) might I teach?
You may teach.

Kindergarten (hagwon)
Elementary (public/hagwon)
Middle School (public/hagwon)
High School (public)

There are fewer jobs at the middle and high school levels because, at this age, the focus shifts towards grammar, which is taught by a Korean teacher. We think this is boring because it usually involved the teacher standing in front of the class recruiting complicated English grammar rules.

As of this spring, GEPIK no longer hires ESL teachers for middle and high school positions. Middle and high school students will now be exclusively taught by Korean English teachers.

Also, there is a strain on kindergarten hogwans as the Korean government is starting to offer free English classes to all Kindergarten age children. This is good news for poor Korean families who would otherwise not be able to provide English lessons to their children, but not so good news for ESL teachers who seek out these positions.

For your information:

Korean Education System (Govt. is mulling over revamping it, though)
Elementary School 6 years - Grades 1 through 6 (ages 6/7 to 11/12)
Middle School 3 years - Grades 1 through 3 (ages 12/13 to 14/15)
High School 3 years - Grades 1 through 3 (ages 15/16 to 17/18)
University 4 years - Grades 1 through 4 (ages 18/19 to 21/22)
Total: 16 years

7. But I have heard university jobs are the best in Korea so that's what I want to focus on.
For university jobs in Korea they want:

- At least a MA, or a degree in Education
- 2-3 years of experience, with at least 1 of those years being in Korea
- They hire 2 times each year, with teachers starting in late Aug, and late Feb
- They prefer to interview teachers in person
- Universities do all of their own hiring, so they don't use recruiters.
- They prefer to find these teachers, by introduction from their current teachers
- These jobs are under intense demand, since any teacher in Korea would love one of these jobs.
8. Where do ESL teachers come from?
We recruit for any native English speaker that comes from any of the native English speaking countries: USA, Canada, England, New Zealand, Ireland, Australia & South Africa.
9. Are there religious schools?
Yes, some schools are operated by or affiliated with religious institutions & usually of a Christian denomination.
10. What if I don't practice that religion or I am uncomfortable participant in/teaching on religious themes?
Then it is probably not the school for you.

With the exception of Samyook English Academy (which we often abbreviate SDA), most religious schools are adamant about the religious involvement of the staff. In our experience this can include teaching religious classes, regularly attending Sunday Mass, as well as regularly attending weekend school or community functions.

While we don't make blanket statements, because they never cover everyone, we have noted that these schools seem to prefer ESL teachers for whom religion is a cornerstone of their lives. (If you are such a person let us know!) Just going to church on Easter and Christmas doesn't count! :)
11. I'm married. Can a married couple work?
Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: Yes, but.

You cannot work at the same public school. Public schools have only one ESL teacher apiece. Couple jobs can be difficult to find in general since many schools will not consider hiring couples. Not impossible, but you will have better luck if you look for jobs in the same city as well as at the same school.

For married couples, if you're having a challenging time getting offers or even interviews, you may also want to consider having one person secure a job, and the 2nd person coming on a spousal visa. Then you can network while on the ground in Korea and find a school in the proper neighborhood.
12. We have a small child with us. One of us should take care of our baby. Can we still teach?
This is, to be frank, very difficult for a number of reasons:

There is practically no childcare industry in Korea. For most Korean families, either the mother is a homemaker or they ask parents, relatives or neighbors to help them look after their children. Some teachers do send their child(ren) to tae kwon do institutes or music/piano institutes, etc. without as much difficulty but instruction will be in Korean. Children as young as 3 years old can start kindergarten if you feel they are ready, but almost all classes will be in Korean.

Trying to get two different schools to coordinate your schedules so one of you is home with the child is practically impossible. Even if you are at the same school this will be difficult and your schedules might inevitably overlap. If your child is sick your school will likely not excuse you to tend to him/her. We had a school tell a couple that neither of them would be allowed to leave school if their child was sick.

With the ESL market in Korea full of applicants, most schools will pass on a couple with a child in favor of teachers who do not require these extra considerations. If one person is willing to be a stay-at-home parent and you can somehow arrange your own housing, it might be possible and may be the best option. On a personal note: We don't wish to discourage families from traveling and teaching, as it's something that has changed our lives (Dan & Aggie) forever. However, we also don't want to mislead anyone into thinking that it's easy. We faced many challenged during our time in Korea and our lives never seemed as easy and carefree as those of single teachers. On the other hand, our experience was enhanced due to the fact that we were there together and with our son. We felt that Koreans were eager to approach us and offer help, and we had someone to share all of the positive and negative experiences with. We also had a unique situation in that we had close friends already in Korea, who were able to help us at different stages. In order to make this experience happen for you, you must be very open minded, flexible, and accept that it might be very challenging at times.
13. I have a three-year bachelor's degree. Is it okay?
Yes, as long as it is a bachelor's degree from an accredited university. But a two or three-year "diploma" from a college (aka technical school or community college for the Americans) doesn't count.

Australia, New Zealand, Canada and England offer three year Bachelor's degrees, which are acceptable.
14. I don't have any experience in teaching. Can I still come and teach?
Absolutely! There's a first time for everything, right? Many ESL teachers in Korea are first-time teachers.

Also, many schools will provide you with a current ESL teacher to shadow or other training before you start teaching.

The most important thing here is your 'attitude.' How open you are to learning and working with co-workers and the administration.
15. Can I teach private lessons to make extra money?
No. This is directly against Korean law.

Teachers who teach or work outside their school, whether they receive benefits (monetary or non-monetary) or not, are violating Korean immigration laws, and can face some serious consequences, including deportation. The term 'benefits' also includes free-will gifts.

This being said, it is a bit common to teach a bit on the side, so beware of the risks. If you do it, don't even discuss it with your friends since it might get out to the wrong person.
16a. Do people do it anyway?
16b. Do they get caught?
Some do, some don't. We don't condone it, but you are free to make your own decisions.
17. Is there anything else that is related to teaching that the teachers are responsible for besides teaching from Monday through Friday?
It depends on your school. With some, you have to prepare your lesson materials and you have to prepare and grade your own tests.

Other responsibilities can include.

. Correcting writing journals, etc. for your Korean co-teachers.
. Phone calls to students
. Report cards
. Field trips and weekend excursions
. School festivals or performances
. After school programs
. Parent/teacher days
18. I have about 20 years experience of teaching in my country. Do you consider any merit in pay for experience?
If you work in a public school - yes.

If you work in a hagwon - maybe.

Even if you're paid the average 2,100,000/month you will still have plenty to live on and save. Another thing to note is that many schools actually prefer younger, recent university graduates, as the students they will teach are generally younger children and for some reason, younger students tend to like younger teachers better.

With more teachers in the market than available jobs, the supply and demand curve is being held from sliding on the scale much. In short, experience doesn't always count; only performance-how well you teach-does.
19. Do you have any videos available that would help teachers in teaching?
Currently, we do not but there are thousands of TEFL resources on-line. You'll find plenty of resources with a simple Google search.

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