A common myth surrounding the overseas teaching industry is ‘WORK”. Many people read stories online about how teaching jobs in Asia are nothing more than babysitting jobs and/or a great way to get paid while traveling. We would like to warn you in advance: If you’re expecting to play games and hand out cross word puzzles all day then you WILL FACE PROBLEMS WITH YOUR SCHOOL! If you really think an overseas employer is going to pay for your flight over, cover your apartment costs for a year, and pay you a competitive salary in the process, only to watch you play games all day then you’re in for an unfortunate surprise.
Teachers get released from their contracts because they don’t take the job seriously, and then wonder why they were let go. It’s important for all western graduates to know: it’s a legitimate job and YOUR SCHOOL WILL EXPECT YOU TO APPLY YOUR ABILITIES.
Similar to teaching jobs in the West, there will be other job related duties outside of the classroom environment. Class preparation, staff meetings, student evaluations, etc. are just some of the responsibilities that schools will expect from their staff. In the end it’s like teaching anywhere else in the world – please consider these factors before committing yourself to an opportunity. Note: Overtime is only paid for hours that exceed ‘in-class teaching hours’ that have been stipulated in the contract.
Be prepared to commit yourself to a full year in Korea
Rarely do schools let the teachers go home for important events. As a teacher you will have set vacation schedules which are predetermined by your employer. You’re more than welcome to leave Korea during your vacation periods, however, it’s very rare that a school will let you request additional vacation breaks or altered vacation schedules during your 12 month contract period. It’s best to understand these terms before going abroad because expecting additional time off for a best friends’ wedding, family reunion, etc. isn’t likely.
The only circumstances in which schools provide a leave of absence are for deaths in the family. The public school education boards allow a maximum of 7 days and the private schools usually offer 5 – 10 days. We apologize if this information is discouraging, unfortunately this is how things are done in Korea and you and your recruiter have no control in the matter.
Take pride in your work and enjoy your time as a teacher!
Watching your students learn and progress over the months can be quite gratifying so take pride in your accomplishments as a teacher. Remember that teachers in Korea are highly regarded and it is your obligation, as an educator, to fulfill your end of the commitment.
Stay focused and try to keep a positive attitude!
You will have lots of free time for entertainment, sports, nightlife, etc. during weekends and non-working hours as a teacher in Korea. Therefore it’s important to apply yourself for the limited time spent in the classroom each day.
Prepare yourself in advance!
Teaching English as a second language is not rocket science! Anyone with a positive attitude, a willingness to succeed and the ability to communicate can be an excellent ESL instructor. The hardest part of the job is not what you are teaching, but how you implement lessons in order to keep your students interested and involved with your classes. Before departing try to do some research on ESL teaching methods, lesson planning, interactive games, etc. It doesn’t take long to read through a few websites and doing so will greatly help with the transition into your work.
English teaching certification courses (TEFL & TESOL courses)
Completing an ESL certification course is an easy way to prepare for teaching in Korea. TEFL certifications are not mandatory for every job, they are for many though, ements but certified candidates often have a slight edge over other candidates with zero credentials or certifications – 100hr programs may even increase your monthly salary!
Gone2Korea recommends the TEFL Source site for certification courses. It’s a TEFL comparison site with lots of accredited courses to choose from.
Korean schools will let you go before your contract is over, if…
If your school’s receiving complaints (from parents or students) on a regular basis then there’s a strong possibility that the school will need to terminate your contract. Yes you have a signed contract but people really need to put this into perspective: If your school’s losing clients (parents taking their kids out of the school) and money (tuition rates) because of your work then management really has no choice but to let you go. Any business, in any country or sector, would also do the same. If parents stop enrolling their children at the school because of a certain instructor then the instructor will most likely be released from their contract.