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Korean Hagwon Teaching?
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You are currently reading a thread in /trv/ - Travel

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Hey /trv/,

Any of you have any experiences to share involving Hagwon TEFL teaching? I know they work more, I know they get less vacation. I did my research and made sure the school wasn't too sleazy. I'll be leaving in February.

How was your first few weeks there? Did you date any Koreans? Any tips for a naive gullible white American looking to have the best possible time over in Changwon?
Hi anon,

I depart at the end of december for a hagwon in Seoul. I chose hagwon over public cause I don't want a korean co-teacher in my class every minute; fucking with my style. Basically people in public will always say public is better than private - when most of them have never worked for a hagwon. I've got some teaching expereince under my belt and I really want to have control over my class/lesson plans. Do you know where you will be living?
Gig really depends on place, but I'd say private academy (hagwon) is better than public school since smaller classes and it's your own show. The amount work work really depends on the place. Good way to save money anyway.
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Hey thanks for the comment. The constant co-teacher was something I was against as well.

My location is in the Uichang-gu district of Changwon City.
I was thinking the same thing regarding the class sizes for sure, 8-12 kids seems to be much easier to manage and have less stress.

I've been volunteering at a first grade class with 30 students and they're all so hyper active and rowdy so I'm hoping to get the nerves out of the way doing it now.

I'll be working full time but as you probably know I'm going for the excitement factor in living in a new country. The financial benefit being a bonus.

I'm lucky in the fact that I have a friend that is has been teaching for a few months now and he's been enjoying it teaching at a hagwon in a very rural location. I'm glad I kept in contact.
Depends on the hours and location. If you work a 9-7 kindy gig you'll probably be miserable. If you're out in the sticks, it might be boring also.

I got a 30 hours per week gig in Incheon (only about 20 hours actual teaching) and it was really nice. It was just within commuting distance to Seoul. One of the best years of my life.

I don't imagine there's much nightlife in Changwon so you might want to try online dating or Tinder to get your pussy fix.
Britbong in Busan here. Public school is a million times better in every way, but hagwon can still be fine.

Having a Korean co-teacher is a great thing - this talk about 'cramping my style" is bollocks. You're deluding yourself to make yourself feel better. Students are better behaved and more attentive with a Korean teacher in the room, and the Korean teacher plans half the lessons so you do half the work.

If you're doing kindergarten full time you'll struggle to fulfil your contract without going insane, especially if you have to teach them alone.

Changwon isn't too bad, small but pleasant, a fair few foreigners live there and it's only 40 minute bus to Busan.
Thanks for the insight. Do either of you speak from personal experience on the kindergarten hagwons? That's exactly what I'm doing 9-6. There will be 8-12 kids per class.
How did you find your jobs in hagwons? It seems like it could be difficult to find a good one without actually knowing much about the country.
This is me.
I decided to not accept the position and will looking for a job closer to 3pm-9pm hours with a better contract. Thank you for sharing your experiences guys.
Daves ESL cafe is where I look. There is a lot of awful contracts though so you have to know what you're looking for. Hagwons can be sleazy.
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I'm the Britbong in Busan. I'm at public school but I teach kindergarten level one lesson a week - it's by far the most intensive and draining age group to teach, very stressful if you have to it for any considerable length of time.

Good luck brother.
dude have you ever tried to teach kids that young? when was the last time you hung out with kindergarten children? they have no desire to be there, are going to be fucking around the entire time, and will speak literally no english. they barely know their own language. they just want to be at home with their parents doing fuck all, they have no idea how to behave in a school setting. whenever i tell people i teach teenagers they always think its the worst age but i would pick a group of hormonal 11 year old assholes over a group of "cute" 5 year olds anyday of the week. Teaching kindergarten full time is a living hell, i can barely stand it part time. at least some times the teens can connect the idea of learning english to their future and will be enthusiastic, the small children seriously have zero fucks to give, even the "good" ones
ah just saw that. smart choice, anyone reading stay far away from kindergarten FT. the older the better in my opinion. you can really see how quickly kids begin to mature when you work with them. each year makes a huge difference
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Interesting thread. I am hoping to teach english in South Korea also.

My plan is to travel SE Asia (June-August) and then teach english in South Korea from September onwards.

A few questions:

1) How did you guys find the TEFL course? Challenging?

- How soon should I start the TEFL course?

2) Where would be the best location in South Korea to live in terms of qts?

3) What sort of salary would be good and how much can you realistically live off? I want to save about £5,000 over the course of a year and travel the states or India after.

4) Do the local girls dig white British lads?

5) What is the drinking culture like?

Anything below middle school is really tiring, even if you have a local teacher to play the "bad teacher" that bans any fun and you can play the "good teacher" with fun and games.

If they can string together more than 3 sentences, it will get much better.
I teach at a hawgon also have only 1 hour a week with the 'kindie' kids and it's similarly harder than the rest of my week put together.
I'd say 9-11 years old is perfect. They're old enough to know how to act, but not too old that they're either burned out by the korean school system, or to have decided they are never going to learn English anyway and thus tuned totally out.

Middle school kids tend to be either really good (the ones who are well on the way to good English) or really bad (the ones who still can hardly speak a word, yet are pushed into material they can't hope to handle).

High-school kids in Korean don't do English with foreign teachers because high school is 100% about cramming for exams. They only want the answers.
1. TEFL course is honestly really easy but it's really good for your resume and acquiring better jobs
2. Big cities like any other country. Seoul/Busan
3. 2.1-2.3 million Won is pretty standard. It's not hard to save half your paycheck per month if you aren't going crazy on spending.
4. Depends
5. They drink a lot.
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OP here.
Let me also say that I'm biased because I looked up all that shit on the internet and have no first hand experience in Korea. Take my answers with a grain of salt.
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i've been teaching in south korea for 3 years. i'm actually typing this out from my apartment in korea. my first year in korea was at a hagwon, my last 2 were at 2 different public schools.

let me make this simple: DO NOT work at a hagwon.

let me repeat, in case i wasn't clear enough. DO NOT EVER work at a hagwon.

i do not even know where to begin. i could write out a fucking essay listing all of the cons of working at a hagwon, and all of the pros of working at a public school. if you have questions, please by all means ask me. i want to save you from a huge mistake.

but first, let me address some things mentioned in this thread.

1. don't listen to >>929103, he hasn't even started working in korea yet. most co teachers are chill at public schools; i've had a handful, and they let me plan all of my own lessons. they're there mainly for class control, and if this is your first year teaching you will need that support. my very first class in a hagwon, i got dumped into a kindergarten room with 10 crying kids, no lesson plan, no direction, and no help. that is not a situation you want to be in.

2. hagwon hours are absolute shit, you will be worked like a dog and treated like one. you are a showpiece, a prop to be paraded around by the boss to parents (customers) to convince them his business is legit ("look, we have a white person, our school is the real deal!")

3. inversely, in my public school i work from 8:30 to 4:30. all of my classes finish before lunch, and after lunch i hang out in my private office planning out lessons for the next day. when i worked at the hagwon i was there from 10am to 7pm, and i would teach 10 classes a day. no time to lesson plan, barely any time to sit down for that matter. half of my classes were with kindergartens, and without a co-teacher to support me and instruct them in korean, those little animals ate me alive.

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4. in a public school, the government pays you. there are no shenanigans. come the 17th of each month, you get a cool 2 million won deposited into your bank account. in a hagwon, an individual pays you. worse, that individual is a business man. hagwons are not schools, they are private businesses meant to generate profit. if making a profit means cutting corners, the boss will. and since you're the fresh meat all alone in a new country with no idea what's going on, that cut corner will probably be you. this isn't a dig against koreans; this is just how businesses are run over here. i had several terrible experiences with my hagwon boss where i caught him trying to sneak money out of my paycheck (cancelled health insurance, missing pension).

5. a TEFL course will greatly increase your standing here in korea. you'll get better job opprotunities, you can get more money, you'll have a much better understanding of how to actually do your job, and people here will generally respect you more, and not think you're another dirty foreigner who's here to date korean chicks.

6. on that note it is very easy to date korean girls here, if you are decently attractive and white. i've done it and so can you. live in seoul for the most open minded and attractive qts.
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in summation the biggest reason i prefer public schools to hagwons is because at the hagwon i felt like a whore. hagwons are for cramming; it doesn't matter if the kids learn, what matters to the parents and the boss is how much english you can get them to parrot.
meanwhile at my public school, i feel like i'm really making a difference. thanks to my TEFL, my co-teachers trust me to plan out all of the details of my lessons and let me do what i want. i also enjoy being part of a real school culture. school festivals, field trips, concerts, all those things are so much fun and help break up the daily grind of classwork.
>tfw teach EFL to adults in a university
Pretty much the best there is. They want to be there (usually), they're mature, I'm slightly older than them but still close enough that it's easy to have a friendly rapport. I don't have to watch my occasional potty mouth, we can discuss potentially anything (news or current events, etymology, history, politics, travel, culture, sometimes sex), and they get jokes. I can actually reach real lessons, and don't have to rely solely on childish games. I also get paid a handsome regular paycheck, get about a month of paid vacation per year, and professional development workshops/conferences are paid for me to attend.

Teaching kids, especially younger than 10 or so, and especially in Asia, is not a whole lot more than babysitting. The kids aren't going to learn much, and it's not doing much for YOUR professional development. As a way to live abroad, OK fine. I wouldn't expect much from it long-term though. You are being exploited.
ow did you get that gig? are you happy with that for the rest of your life? do you see it as a career?
So I'm young (19), and want to try teaching in Korea, where should I start and plan for? I know I need a degree (does it matter what?), what are the best resources? I'm lost
Hagwon's vary a lot. You had a very bad experience obviously, since you didn't know what to look for. But The largest benefit is that you can be in and out in 6-7 hours a day, while a public school will hold you for at least 8 whether you have anything to do or not.
Trust me you dodged a bullet by not taking a kindy job. Yes I'm speaking from 4 years of ESL experience.

Generally speaking: the older the kids, the easier your life is. I taught adults too, which was quite nice.
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All your shit is easy to google.

Degree doesn't matter.
Get a teaching/TEFL certificate matters. Make sure it has enough hours.
Near Seoul/Busan are probably going to be the must fun if you want to go out and drink/party.
I had an MA (was required for the job), and a bit of luck.

I like the job, and I could see it as a long-term career. My current employer (university) doesn't give out long-term contracts, period. But when my time is up here after 3 years (another 1.5 to go), I could probably shop around and find something permanent. TBH, however, I probably won't do this for the rest of my life, I could see it getting very old after several years...
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