You probably never imagined that you would ever be a teacher, let alone teach in a foreign country where the kids or adults don’t really understand you.
But due to the fact that teaching English as a second language (ESL) is
fast becoming one of the best ways to travel and work in various countries
around the globe whilst earning good money, you may find yourself doing just that.
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Here are some of the great and not-so-great things about teaching at an English Village in Seoul, South Korea as opposed to teaching at a public of private school or Hagwon (English academy).
You can apply directly with the English Village.
It was relatively easy to find, apply and get this job by contacting the English Village directly. With most Korean teaching posts, you can find
available job openings on www.daveseslcafe.com. Many posts are from
recruitment agents, but I found a post directly from the village with a
website, photos and a little bit of information on the different teaching
Judging by some of the horror stories of bossy Korean assistants, extremely long hours, placement alone in the middle of nowhere and dodgy pay practices, I would suggest applying directly with an employer to ensure there’s less chance of getting done in.
You get accommodation at the village.
When teaching at an English village, you generally live on site. Just
so we’re clear an English Village is not a rural village like the one you’d
find in a remote corner of Kenya, but a little hub where school children come for English camps. There are buildings, teacher’s dorms, toilets and no cattle.
My village provided accommodation for all teachers and whilst I would’ve loved to sit and make meals over a campfire, this is not THAT kind of village. While the rooms were pretty small (unless you came in couples), you had your own space and there was no need to commute halfway across the bustling city to reach your classroom.
You get fed.
Due to the village being a ‘camp’ of sorts where kids usually stayed over for a night or more, all meals are provided for them and you as a teacher.
This is yet another way you can save your money and spend it elsewhere. I’m not saying you won’t get sick of it or pick up weight from the multiple forms of carbs served, but you won’t have to go out and search for it.
You are not alone.
Unlike my South African friend who was placed in the rural areas of Korea where not a soul spoke English, I was grateful for my plethora of foreigners lodging at the village to teach.
Whilst I long to immerse myself in the culture of a new city in far-flung corners around the world, a reality is that when you’re moving to another country, you do occasionally need some people who can say more than five English words and not just stare or point at you.
Many people, who were placed in rural areas where they were the only English-speaking person, soon begin to feel lonely and misunderstood and generally don’t finish their annual contracts. At the English Village you get to work with Korean teachers and foreign teachers, which make the transition of you relocation easier.
No textbooks, but situational-based learning.
I come from a dancing, theatre and singing background, so I was very excited when the job ad read that I would be able to teach those classes. The villages are situational based learning classes where role-play and dialogue are the main tools used to teach. If you are more creative in nature, then this is perhaps the best place for you to be. One day you could find yourself showing 4 year-olds how to hold a golf stick or playing lifeguard beside the pool in summer or the next day you could be showing them how to order fruit in a grocery store, deposit money at the bank or act in a play. There is also no lesson preparation, so once you are finished work, you are really finished work.
Reliable Pay Checks
In my experience, no one working at an English Village, gets underpaid or paid later than promised. This could be due to the fact that you live
on their property, so withholding salaries like some Hagwons have done may result in teacher taking back their own.
Students are there today, gone tomorrow.
Whilst some teachers saw this as a great way to avoid building relationships and actually take interest in the kids they taught, I found it quite a disadvantage as I didn’t get know any of the kids I taught.
Every week or bi-monthly we would get different kids of all ages; some from orphanages with behavioural issues, others with exceptional English from private schools. Without teaching the same class of kids consistently, they barely get time to learn to respect you, your boundaries in the classroom.
With each new school, you have to start over to re-introduce yourself, establish rules and hope they listen for as long as you have them.
Whilst I only got about 10-20 days of vacation a year, many of my friends working at public or private schools got entire summers off to travel South East Asia while still being paid.
Each contract will differ, but this is definitely something to keep in mind when signing on the dotted line. There were many days when I would’ve given my arm to have a month or of holiday away from the classroom and Korea.
The minimum you should ever get paid as a non-qualified teacher in Korea is 2 million Won, which is exactly what I got paid working at the village.
Non-qualified teachers working at teaching academies seemed to work
longer hours sometimes, but earned a few million won more than that. You will have to decide what’s more important to you; time or money.
A few years later, the village is still paying that same rate and they don’t factor experience into it. So for first-timers, this is a great option, but if you are a qualified or experienced teacher, I would look elsewhere for more cash for those years of hard grafting.
You could get bored quickly.
Due to the fact that you don’t use textbooks and just focus on dialogue in various situations such as a hotel, music class, airplane, bank or post office, you may long for more stimulation after a few months. The content requires no brain work on your part and other than new games; there are few ways you can mix it up for the kids as well as yourself as you talk about apples, carrots and pears yet again.
In a classroom, you move onto new content every week and as the kids English improves, so does your chances of having meaningful conversations and innovative lessons in the classroom. Boredom is never good for you as a teacher or the kids as you lose motivation and stop caring and the children don’t learn anything and lose interest just as quickly.