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Teaching english in South Korea, SHOULD WE GO OR NOT? !

Teaching english in South Korea, SHOULD WE GO OR NOT? !

Old May 5th, 2004, 04:50 PM
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Teaching english in South Korea, SHOULD WE GO OR NOT? !

Hello, myself and my boyfriend have been offered positions in Seoul, teaching English. We've no idea what to do. What kind of a country is Korea, and what kind of a city is Seoul. Is it safe, is there much to do, is teaching english hard there??Please help, we need to decide in the next few weeks whether to go or not. How does South Korea compare to Japan or China, coz we were thinking of teaching there either....HELP!!!
caroline971 is offline  
Old May 5th, 2004, 06:28 PM
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korea is a country that is a bit on pins and needles...of course it has been that way for 50+ years....i found seoul to be quite boring but i was only there 3 days...there is fabulous shopping, however...
there are many americans there (military) so if you are from usa you will have plenty of company...

we did not care for the local food particularily, but it was not bad... seoul is not too big of a city and is very clean...i think personal safety is not a factor there....national safety is perhaps another question....

japan would be much more expensive, but totally safe and offers lots more to do and see....of course it depends where in japan you would be...

china is relatively cheap, but i would not want to be outside of one of the major cities, and some of them would not be at all acceptable to me...pollution is extremely high....
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Old May 5th, 2004, 09:40 PM
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Tokyo, Seoul & Beijing are all in the top 10 highest cost of living cities in the world. The demand for English teachers in Korea & China is huge. If you are native American and a degree holder you can get hired by any of them. I belive Japan is more selective in that they prefer you to have some sort of teaching credential. Most contracts are for 1 year and the school will pay your R/T airfare if you complete the entire year. You will most likely be required to share an apartment with one other teacher (also included in compensation).

Dave
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Old May 6th, 2004, 02:06 AM
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Id take it. I've read some ex-pat posts (thailand) where some people have bought fake degrees and have been offered fairly large paying jobs with roonm, airfare. teaching english in Saoul. they said teaching was easy enough...

I kind of like Saoul it is a non pretensious big city. the subway systom is vast so getting around is easy. it's a litle big cheaper then tokyo, and easer too get around... safety is not much of an issue.

I kind of got the impresion that saoul is a hard working town as opposed too a party city.

you should check the teaching english abroad web sites.
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Old May 6th, 2004, 06:54 AM
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Hi Caroline:
My husband and I also have recently accepted jobs where we will be teaching English as a foreign language. Our positions are in China however. I can't tell you whether you and your boyfriend will enjoy the experience as yet but there are those on the internet who can. You can find out lots of information on several different sites that are available. Check out www.eslcafe.com/joblist/ and go to the job discussion boards. Here people who are presently teaching overseas post questions and answers. You can read all the posted questions and answers but to ask questions you need to register with Dave who runs the website.
Good luck.
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Old May 6th, 2004, 11:00 AM
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A recent student of mine has had a Fulbright teaching fellowship in South Korea the past two years and she is so crazy about Korea that she plans to do her graduate work all the way to the Ph.D. on Korea. She says that she is underworked and overpaid. Her two assignments have been outside Seoul and she is not enthusiastic about Seoul because it is a big city, somewhat westernized. I cannot address your capability or experience in teaching English as a foreign language, although your message itself lends some doubt as to your suitability (sorry to be so school marmish, but "myself and my boyfriend" is not correct English and "coz" is not a word). I presume that your employer judges you competent, however. ZZ
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Old May 6th, 2004, 04:56 PM
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Can't help you with Korea, Caroline, but in regard to rhkkmk's comments about smaller cities in China - my two daughters in Anshan (Liaoning province) actually prefer their out-of-the-way corner of China to the bright lights of Beijing or Shanghai. Admittedly it hosts a large steelworks, and the first winter (for an Australian) came as a shock, but on the other hand they've been welcomed as friends rather than as "walking wallets", have experienced much hospitality, and with few other English-speakers in town they've been forced to master at least some basic Mandarin.

For 20 hours' classroom teaching a week, pay seems to range between say US$490-730 per month, plus accommodation and air fares. There are usually ample freelance opportunities on the side. The money may not seem great but remember that a regular Chinese schoolteacher may earn only $150 a month, so while you won't save a fortune you'll live very well by local standards. It's a good idea to pay close attention to your contract to ensure that there are no misunderstandings about what will be expected, especially if working for someone with little prior experience of employing non-Chinese staff.

I believe that Korean pay rates are much better but don't know how they stack up in terms of purchasing power. I imagine you could save more money in Korea. And you'd be able to take vacations in both Japan and China, a short plane or ferry ride away.
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Old May 6th, 2004, 07:13 PM
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my comments were based on two seperate friends who did not last the year in remote chinese areas....one got sick and the other hated it....
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Old May 7th, 2004, 12:48 AM
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rhkkmk - fair enough. There's no telling how anyone will cope with a different part of the world, and I certainly wouldn't recommend a place on the basis of someone else's experience, family or anyone else. My point was just that the out-of-the-way places may have their pluses too.

Caroline, the only thing about your enquiry that worries me is your concern about safety: that does make me wonder whether you are ready to live in another country. (While sloppy English bugs me, I'm not especially fussed about the use of 'coz', annoying as such usages are - I know that email breeds its own shorthand.)

I'm assuming that you've taken the time to consult some serious reference sources - I don't count this site, as excellent as it may be for ad hoc travel enquiries. If this is the case I don't know why you're asking the question. I have the impression that neither of you are as well informed about other parts of the world as you should be. Korea is widely known as a safe destination, short of their mates to the north dropping the Big One (chances: low).

Paradoxically, all this suggests to me that you'd be mad to pass up the opportunity to spend a year in another culture. If you're young, as you seem to be, do it. You might find that you get a whole new view of the world. My very best wishes.



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Old May 8th, 2004, 06:29 PM
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Caroline, I should have said that a better source of info on this subject would be www.lonelyplanet.com - follow the link to "Thorn Tree Forums". In their NE Asia forum there's a further link to Dave's ESL Cafe(http://eslcafe.com), which looks useful.

A further thought on grammatical correctness: what zambezi means is that using "myself and my boyfriend" as the subject of your sentence is a no-no; the preferred usage would have been "My boyfriend and I have been offered positions". To work out what's appropriate, try deleting the "my boyfriend" bit - would you then say "Myself has been offered...."?

HOWEVER .... don't be intimidated by grammatical pedantry. If that's the worst mistake your Asian students pick up from you they'll still be several country miles ahead of where they'd have been if taught by an English-speaking local. That's why native English speakers like you get paid (relative) big bucks. And some usages that I learned as hard-and-fast rules (like "don't end a sentence with a preposition" and "never split an infinitive") have been exposed as humbug anyway.

It's worth investing in a couple of simple guides to English grammar, though, as your students will probably throw some tricky questions your way.
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Old May 13th, 2004, 10:52 AM
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I've taught in Seoul in 1986, and it was one of the most memorable experiences I can recall. I taught "Conversational English" to a group of students planning to work as Tour Guides in the city. I was paid $800 per month for teaching 20 hours per week. I am told that the pay is about $1800 per month now for teaching about the same amount of hours. Where you can make the real money, however, is through tutoring local grade-school students. The going rate for that is $120 per hour.

Seoul is a wonderful city full of modern, educated workforce. Korea is the 13th largest economy in the world, and ranks only behind Japan in Asia as the biggest producer of computer and electronic products. It is the biggest ship builder in the world, responsible for producing over 60% the ships. Is Korea safe? Korea has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. Guns, for example, are illegal unlike here in the U.S. so fatality from a gunshot wound is non-existent. Korea is a homogeneous country where 99% of the populace is composed of Koreans. For that reason, there's a uniform code of conduct based on common cultural ties, which includes showing respect to elders, behaving properly in public, and working and studying hard. Tourists don't choose Korea to party. Most of the foreigners that travel to Korea are mostly business people. This is quite evident since 95% of the visas granted to travel to Korea are business-related.

Koreans are also very hospitable people. But they don't have much patience for America's tendency for egocentricity. For this reason, when they are hospitable, remember to reciprocate with the same level of respect and gratitude. If you remember this, your time there will be much rewarded.

Good luck to you and your boyfriend.
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Old Aug 4th, 2004, 07:26 AM
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My references may be a bit old, but I think they still hold true today. My wife and I taught in Korea from 1969 till 1975 and needless to say we loved it. I was like you when we went there knowing very little of Korea other than there was a war there. Although my initial support was from the Peace Corps, we did stay on for another 3 years beyond our initial 3 years of service. The Korean people are some of the warmest and friendly people we have meet traveling and living around the world. Our two oldest daughters were born there and lived there till they were 4 and 1 years old. It is a chance to go out into the world and see things beyond "great places to shop". The food is strange at first, but remember, millions of people have grown up eating Korean food and do very well. Our friends in Korea at the time could not stand to smell cheese because it was foreign to them. I say as long as you have your eyes open and are willing to see things in a different way, go do it. I think China would be an even better experience as it is now just about where Korea was at the time we were there. A word of caution is only that if they are paying airfare, your wages will be lower than others who have been there longer and are on their own.

Gary
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Old Aug 4th, 2004, 11:49 AM
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Even though the OP is likely long gone (to Korea? Japan? China?)....

The ESL Cafe referrals are good advice for anyone considering teaching abroad - anywhere. If you're American, the US Embassy in Seoul has some words of wisdom for would-be Korea TEFLers in particular:

http://usembassy.state.gov/seoul/wwwh3550.html

Japan is the most established/least tumultuous teaching market of the three mentioned. Savings potential in Japan and Korea is roughly the same. In Korea, schools usually pay for or reimburse your airfare and almost always provide and pay for your (maybe shared) apartment. In Japan, airfare is seldom paid and apartments, while often provided, are usually deducted from your pay.

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Old Aug 4th, 2004, 05:09 PM
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tesolguy, how critical are formal quailfications in Korea? Would a year's experience teaching English (albeit in China) outweigh the lack of academic credentials?
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Old Aug 6th, 2004, 12:15 PM
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Your experience would undoubtedly be appreciated by any prospective employer, but without a degree they cannot *legally* hire you. Teachers do get hired in Korea without degrees BUT it is a huge risk for teacher and school. My advice: Forget Korea until you get a degree.

Have you considered Japan? Canadians without degrees can teach there legally if they are between the ages of 18 - 30 and qualify for a Working Holiday Visa. I'm not sure if the same is true for Aussies, but I've got a feeling it is.
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Old Aug 6th, 2004, 05:58 PM
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Thanks heaps. I was asking on behalf of someone else, but your points are well taken. Yes, Australians also qualify for the scheme you mentioned - my son (who has a degree, albeit not in a related field) checked it out lately but as he's over 30 it seems he'll need to find a sponsor.
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Old Aug 27th, 2004, 08:16 PM
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Caroline971

What did you ever decide to do?
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Old Apr 27th, 2005, 05:25 PM
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I feel bad for you as your Korean students will constantly remind you how poor your grammar is. I guess if you teach young kids, it won't be an issue. If you teach high school and up, you have a problem. Japan is very expensive. China is not as comfortable. Korea seems like middle of the road.
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Old Apr 28th, 2005, 06:47 AM
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Oy. I do not recall this forum being a classroom for critiquing English. Lighten up. If Caroline chooses to use slang (I know I do off the job), it's no indication that she's any less competent. This ain't training day, ya'll, it's the web. If you corrected a stranger or friends English after they asked you a question, it would be considered rude. The same applies here also.
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Old Apr 28th, 2005, 02:21 PM
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I'm Korean, and I don't mean to be rude. Sorry if I offended anyone, but I really wish Korean students will get quality education for their money. A lot of Koreans pay premium for American teachers, thinking that all Americans are superior English teachers, and I see many who are really not qualified. It's just upsetting. My advice still stands. Many of my friends went to Korea to teach English and they told me how often the students corrected them.
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