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Korean English Teachers Question - Page 3

post #31 of 42
FWIW I did teach ESL in Korea for about 3 years, and I'm glad to have gotten out of it. Pantisocrat is mostly right, considering it sounds like he's never stepped foot in Korea before. There are many factors you can combine to create a Korea ESL teaching experience, and there are that many different kinds of people doing just that. All of the guys who've responded in this thread who have taught ESL in Korea before have all mostly done different roles. There are small nuances that can make enormous changes to your paygrade and workload. For example... scenario 1 (fantasy level stuff) - you're charming as hell, and incredibly lucky, something gets you in the door - you step off a plane and get two-3 hours of work a day, teaching big-biz executives English one on one. You work from 8-9am, and then again at 7-8pm or so, and you make $150/hr per lesson. You might get comped a meal per, and oft times these people don't even really care to learn English, they're just bored old guys who need somebody to talk to, after they find themselves estranged from their families and friends, and are too shy to go out and make foreign friends at bars or something, and would rather do it by employing them. Scenario two (normal) - similar hours as above but split into two 3 or 4 hour shifts, one in the early morning and one in the evening, but you teach classrooms of young working people, college students, the general middle class populous, who each pay the school a pretty hefty amount of money and you in turn make between $3-6K/month. The school would house you and you are expected to while away the 4 or 5 hours in the middle of the day, everyday. Big names such as Pagoda, YBM Sisa, etc, do this. Keywords in a listing would be 'adult students' and 'split shift' Scenario three : You teach a specialized skill, like iBT/TOEFL/SAT-based cramming - you work afternoons, evenings into the nights; you start work at 3 or 4, might get off work at 11 or even 12. To do a job like this you need to have at least a good SAT English score (as in perfect) and also be able to teach that much to students paying to learn that. Materials may provided - these schools are specialized and bring in high tuitions, but expect to have high turnover as well. These places often offer $5K/month or sometimes more. Oft times, immigrant Korean-Americans or Korean international students excel at this job because they've had to test for English fluency as non native speakers themselves, and can speak both languages - enough Korean to bullshit the management who run the schools like a fast food joint, and speak enough English to sound 'native' to students. You would work alongside some pretty slick hustler types at these kinds of places. Scenario four - elementary and middle school English conversation, no secondary-level test focus. This is the glut of ESL jobs out there in Korea, and the job that most are likely to get stepping off a plane. There are jobs like this in the public schools as well as many more in the private schools, the former being a 9-5 and the latter being a 4-10 job, doing about the same thing, going through lightweight texts and doing reading comprehension. Pays above $2000/month with housing, but rarely pays above $3K with housing. Location in Korea rarely plays a factor in your overall take home pay as well, it's pretty standard whether in a great neighborhood of Seoul, or the sticks. Requires absolutely no special skills besides a college degree from an English-speaing country, and a reasonable command of English (notice that I don't say 'native speaker' specifically) You would work alongside drunk Canadians and Irish people at these kinds of places, many of whom consider it a serious job, but also still think they're in college, 10 years later. Scenario five - kindergarten - 9-1 job, pays $1K-1500/month - this one is probably the truest to it's description - 'kindergarten teacher' is about the same everywhere. Most of the kids can speak reasonable English and you're unlikely to teach them tons, it's babysitting. This is a popular second job for the people teaching in group 4 above, as you can stack the two paychecks if you're willing to work 14 hour days. Also popular for people who can't get visas, and for spinster Korean women who have studied extensively at school type 2, as above. Most of the above jobs, besides a public school, will work you year-round, with Lunar New Year and Korean thanksgiving off. You are highly likely to work on Christmas, real New Year's, and any other western or national Korean holiday. it sucks. Scenario 6 (the good stuff) - teaching at a college - you usually need a master's degree in English for this, to get a callback. Pays like the non-speciality teaching as above, but the classes are less boring, and you get tons of vacation time comparatively. Fewer know-nothing 'managers' above you to boss you around - most all of the other options above, minus the first one, are bound to have someone working below at least two or three people who were teachers last year and are bosses the next year - it's not fun if they're morons - see scenarios three and four for these types of people.
post #32 of 42
Also, I should say, any of these jobs - they're not really teaching in the sense that you go into a classroom and drop nuggets of knowledge on the unknowing; ESL teaching is a case of all your students having a reasonable command of English for their level/age, practicing it before you, and you as white guy/black guy/hispanic guy/etc or English-speaking Asian guy are there to merely instill faith in their skills - it is a face job.
post #33 of 42
I find it hard to understand how teaching English abroad is a viable option before applying for law school. Did he take his LSAT already? Does he have a plan to study for the LSAT if he didn't?

Did he graduate college in 4 years or did it take him longer? I don't mean to pry but kids that are 21-23 don't understand that taking a year ("gap year") to find yourself/experience life is not a good idea for the hyper-competitive environment that the U.S. has become.

If he is itching to travel, he can always take summer abroad courses while in law school. Summer courses are only one or two months and a much better way to see the world than by burning a year teaching English. My friend was able to go to England and Japan during his law school years and he still had time for an internship after his second year.
post #34 of 42
As a current TESL English teacher at a private language school in Thailand (who went to a prestigious university), I recommend the experience. My job is a good amount of work and the pay is not that great by American standards, but by Thai standards my salary is solidly middle to maybe even upper middle class. The cultural experience is also amazing. I have Thai friends and coworkers, I get a front row seat to a Thai election, and I get to experience the Thailand tourists don't see. I'm thinking about staying another year as a manager at my company and then going to business school when I come back to transition myself into the American workforce. I have another friend who did close to a year out here, learned Muay Thai well enough to win a fight by TKO and is now going to Vanderbilt Law. He loved his experience. Other friends either loved it or hated it depending on personality and where they worked. Just depends on attitude going in and what you expect out of the experience.
post #35 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord-Barrington View Post
Sounds like this guy will be sleeping in your basement in a few years.

Not likely and not just because I have no basement. I met him in college, but know through mutual friends that he grew up in an absurdly impoverished household. But he's one of the most well-read, well-spoken people I've ever met. We've never really spoken about it, but I assume his upbringing primed him to pursue travel and knowledge over material goods. He has his college degree and is intelligent enough that he could successfully pursue a vocation that would yield a high income. But he's genuinely more satisfied making a passable living, so long as he's able to see different places, read good books, and enjoy the company of friends and family. I sometimes envy that authentic lack of interest in material or monetary gain.
post #36 of 42
^ while I have described most of the jobs above with what I think is fairly accurate descriptions, living in Korea can be somewhat pleasant and so the experience is indeed worth it, even if it's just for getting out of town. Seoul is a very fast paced city where things happen all day, around the clock, and people are getting richer by the day and so the world is coming to them; America may have more on paper but it's spread across an enormous country, whereas Seoul is 20 million people in the space of like, I don't know, Portland. If you like people, it can be really fun and it's pretty easy to see why people come to work and live. ESL teaching though, that job is usually no fun, there's no regulation and you're at the mercy of people who have no mercy.
post #37 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord-Barrington View Post
If said person graduated from a prestigious university, why the hell would he/she be TESLing?

in my case, i was between college and grad school. i think that was the case for a few other folks. especially understandable if we're talking about law schools, which pays little attention to "relevant experiences".
some of my coworkers have been the artsy types--writers, designers, etc.
only a small number of those i've met were there for the long run and for the money.
while coming out of a top school blows the door wide open (comparatively) for a wide array of interesting/lucrative jobs, it goes without saying that one is hardly guaranteed such a job just because of the big H on your transcript. especially for those that never "found themselves". so some were just being 20-something, screwing around and making cash.
and it's serious cash, too. like i said, 10k/month in the summer months. i made nearly 85k, "after taxes", over a year, working mostly 6-8 hours a day. one of the people that hooked me up with tutoring gigs was an ophthalmologist in the US, and I'm sure he was making a LOT more than I was.
definitely not a career path I advise, and definitely a bad way to spend even a year for some folks. but it works for many others. and even if it may be an ill-advised decision to some, it's understandable why they'd take it.
post #38 of 42
^ Smart spam right here!
post #39 of 42
I did this right after college and your figures are bullshit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kxk View Post
Also, if the said person graduated from a "prestigious" university, he could make a lot more (under the table, on the side, etc) by teaching SSAT/SAT/GRE/GMAT and revising admissions essays. $10k/month during the summer is not unheard of.
post #40 of 42
10k/month? That's crazy; way more than I get tutoring pre-med kids in the UK
post #41 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pantisocrat View Post
I did this right after college and your figures are bullshit.
i did this right after college and i can assure you it is not. with a over-simplified 1000won:1USD exchange rate, the going rate for SAT tutoring was around $35-50/hr if you were teaching a class at a decent hagwon (academy/cram school). for a tutoring or "group tutoring" session (2:1, 3:1), you could get between $50-100/hr. if you had the wherewithal to find tutoring gigs on the side--through friends, connections, internet ads, etc--you could get much more. Kids straight out of HS (with good SAT scores and headed to elite US universities) could charge more than $50/hr. Having finished college, I was starting at $100/hr. I did one student for $85/hr as a favor to a family friend, but I generally hated tutoring, because it was a lot more work than it was really worth. One parent offered me $250/hr to teach SSAT to a 7th grader (price driven up because i kept refusing, mainly because i was too lazy), which I quit after a month because it was just too much pressure. Moreover, if you were a decent writer, you could get a lot more helping out with the admissions essays. The hagwon I worked for charged $600/page (so a 250 word essays were coming in at $300). For the work I got through them, I got a cut of about half. For ones I found outside the hagwon, I was charging at the rate of $500/page. It really doesn't take that much more work--an hour or so at the beginning to explain what goes into an essay + help brainstorming, a mid-point check up session, answer a few questions over email, and proofreading at the end. Of course to hit that 10k figure, you're working more than 8 hours a day, and more than just the classes that your hagwon assigns you. But in the summer, when students don't have school, there's always demand for more tutoring sessions. If you add in the essay prep, it gets even more lucrative, and can definitely be achieved without working insane hours.
post #42 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by billsayers View Post
I find it hard to understand how teaching English abroad is a viable option before applying for law school. Did he take his LSAT already? Does he have a plan to study for the LSAT if he didn't?

Did he graduate college in 4 years or did it take him longer? I don't mean to pry but kids that are 21-23 don't understand that taking a year ("gap year") to find yourself/experience life is not a good idea for the hyper-competitive environment that the U.S. has become.

If he is itching to travel, he can always take summer abroad courses while in law school. Summer courses are only one or two months and a much better way to see the world than by burning a year teaching English. My friend was able to go to England and Japan during his law school years and he still had time for an internship after his second year.

Unless things have dramatically changed since I went to school, law schools don't give a rat's ass what you did after college unless it involves conduct that will ding you on the moral fitness exam. I certainly don't care when reviewing associate resumes.

Two friends of mine taught in Japan for the JET program between college and law school. Both got into top law schools. One is now a partner at an Amlaw 100 firm, the other is an AUSA in one of the top offices in the country who could easily come out into a Biglaw partnership.
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