Public vs. Private Schools
Private Schools (Hogwan)
There are 3 basic types of Private School (Hogwan) jobs Korea. Within the type of job, the details, such as working hrs, and age of kids will be very similar.
- Kindergarten and elementary school - Your hours would be from about 10am, to about 6pm, with you teaching no more than 30 hours each week. You will always follow a series of textbooks, determined by your supervisor or director. You will focus on simple English conversation, vocabulary, pronunciation and to a lesser extent grammar. You will also use things like flash cards, simple songs and body language to help the students learn. Teaching younger students requires more energy, but is often considered the most fulfilling type of job, since it will be easy to see progress in your students very quickly, as they absorb your lessons. Teachers over 35 are not often hired to teach the younger kids in Korea.
- Elementary and middle school - Your work hours would be from about 1pm, to around 9pm. You will help students expand their vocabulary, showing them various ways to use the new words in sentences. You will always follow a set of textbooks for each class. In some schools you have a Korean co-teacher in class, while in others you will be solo. You might also help contribute more to the lesson plans, or reporting on students' development, which can add to the workload. Most of your classes would be with elementary aged students.
***Middle school or high school. Many people are not aware when they begin this process that there are very, very few jobs teaching this age group in Korea especially for your first year in Korea. The reason is this age of student in Korea focuses almost exclusively on English grammar, as they prepare for the university entrance exams. They teach this grammar using English speaking Korean teachers who explain the finer points in Korean. (It must be so boring!)
- Adult, or university aged students - These schools require a split shift, which means you work from 7 to 11am, (before work or school for the students) and then again from 5 to 9pm. You would teach a maximum of 30 classes a week. These jobs are not as common, simply because there aren't that many ESL schools, focusing on the older demographic. Many teachers enjoy these jobs, even with the split shift since the classes are always conversation based, where you do various exercises to help stimulate conversation amongst the students. Free talking is also very common, so you can learn lots about life in Korea. If you are someone who would use the break in the middle of the day for something like taking courses (towards a 2nd degree, or maybe learning Korean) or exercising this job could work for you.
With these jobs you are at school from 8:30am, until 4:30pm, even though you most likely finish your classes by 2pm. You will often teach less classes each week, with the normal public school contract having you teach 22 classes in a week. Your pay will be determined by a set pay structure, and all contracts are signed directly with the Korean government. You will be the only native teacher at your school, and if you teach away from Gyeong-gi do province, you will most likely teach at 3 locations each week. The jobs in Gyeong-gi do are becoming quite popular, and with good reason since you only teach at 1 school each week. It is common to get bonus holidays with these jobs, for special school activity days or test days. In the summer and winter you will likely need to teach extra classes, as the students actually study harder during vacation time! Please be aware that you will be the only native teacher at a public school, and since the school likely doesnt have as much experience dealing with native English teachers, the level of support might not be the same as you would find at private schools.
All things considered lower teaching hrs, Korean co-teacher in class, extra vacation time (usually), and government sponsored contracts make the public school jobs an attractive option.