Generally speaking you will find teaching in South Korea stress-free. Yes you will be nervous at first and taking on a new job just after arriving in a new country is a bit of a double whammy. It will be tough but will gradually get better and it is likely you will surprise yourself by your adaptability. You will, in fact, learn something about yourself.
It is in any good schools’ interests to make it easier for you to cope and to fit in. You should know your spelling but unless you are teaching at university senior level, you won’t have to delve too much into grammar; hopefully you know it but you won’t have to teach or explain it. You will follow a textbook and general syllabus.
Supplementary materials and everything you need will be provided. Your colleagues will give you tips and there is reams of advice and hints on the internet. Compared to at home, your teaching is not very regulated. You will be given some fairly vague guidelines regarding your methods and discipline procedures but they follow the dictums of common sense. Your employer will more than likely observe a class or two at the beginning to offer advice and perhaps occasionally later but in your classroom you’re the boss and left to your own devices and methods. There is very little paperwork and time spent with homework and prep is minimal.
TFA Private English Language Academy Jobs in South Korea
Most expats looking to teach in Korea will work, initially at least in a Hagwon (korean word for private academy). These are private schools generally for children up to the age of 12 or so. An average working day for a teacher at one of these Hagwons does vary from academy to academy, but a typical day starts around 10am and will finish early evening with breaks and free lunch.
However many expats are employed by private academies where you will typically teach from the afternoon into the evening. Your students will be varied; school kids who need extra tuition or adults taking it upon themselves to learn the language. The holidays are reasonable and the hours good if you are a night bird but conditions and wages vary too much to summarise them here. Best advice is read your contract carefully!
If you’re teaching Kindergarten level, you may find that your first day at school is also the first day for your 5 year old pupils so expect the unexpected. Your classes may appear to be chaotic at first – probably because they are, but don’t worry, it has happened to us all and things settle down. The classes are small – typically 10-12 kids and no more than 15. As well as basic English, depending on the Hagwon, you may find yourself teaching some art or perform some science experiments (God help us all!) and probably get out of the classroom to go on day-trips to local museums or parks.
Games and fun activities are encouraged. The kids are invariably adorable and often hilarious – even when they don’t mean to be. It’s almost a guarantee that you will get very attached to your kids.
Check out our selection of ESL teaching roles coming up this season in Seoul, Busan, Incheon and other cities across South Korea on our Jobs Board.
TFA Public School Jobs in South Korea
Public School teaching offers quite a different teaching experience from that of a hagwon teacher. The three types of Public School teaching jobs are at Elementary, Middle and High School level. They will invariably have bigger class sizes but you’ll work less hours, get more holidays and probably better wages. There may be up to 40 pupils in your class (this can vary) with teenage hormones everywhere but discipline isn’t a huge issue.
If you’re nervous about this kind of teaching, don’t worry too much. For each class your Korean co-teacher is there to help out and explain tricky or important stuff to the students. In fact, while it is reassuring to have a co-teacher, particularly at first, few teachers have much use for them once they have settled in. Second level is the hard part for Korean students as their overriding concern is getting into the best university where they can then network and thereby have beneficial friends for later life. All this means they have too much to lose by misbehaving here and causing you unnecessary problems, so don’t stress about that side of things too much. You can check out our selection of ESL Public School teaching roles coming up this season in Seoul, Busan, Incheon and other cities across South Korea on our Jobs Board.
Learn more about life as a teacher in South Korea
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