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The Right Perspective

Securing a teaching job overseas – Things to consider

When securing a teaching job from overseas, it can be quite nerve-racking, especially if it is your first time. I know it well, as I was in your shoes.

Here are a few tips I have learned through my work as a teacher and recruiter for many years. These should help put your mind at ease.

1. Read blogs – Try to stay away from forums

When I first started in this business people blogging wasn’t that popular, but forums were. That was the only way you could research a school and often a location was through forums like Dave’s ESL café. The problem with that is that is that people have a tendency to vent online. Rarely does someone feel inclined to post a complimentary post simply because they are happy.

* If you do decide to read through forum threads, keep in mind that comments do not get removed so check the date of post… and try to be objective!

2. Contracts

contracts have come along way since the early days of ESL in Korea. However, there is a difference in culture to be aware of. In western cultures, we scrutinize the contract and some follow it verbatim. However, in Korea things are less rigid and sometimes teachers are just expected to do what is necessary, despite what is written in the contract. This not universal however, as the ESL industry grows and as Korea becomes more in tune with western work standards, the writing of the contracts has gotten much better, and teachers normally never feel exploited or taken advantage of. It’s never happened to any of my teachers.

3. Speak to a foreign teacher at your school

This is key, and is more valuable than the wording on your contract, and comments on online forums. Talk to someone works there. They can tell you about the school and the location, and help you feel comfortable about things despite being so far away.

4. Locations

These days, all urban locations in Korea are quite similar. Cities in Korea suffer from a bit of an identify crisis, in that they are hard to tell apart. They all look, and feel like Korea. The good news is that you will likely have to have the same things available to you in any urban location. There are also large foreign teacher communities everywhere. You will find it easy to make friends not only with your co-workers, but with foreign teachers in your area.

5. If you work with a recruiter,

Choose one who will be more of a consultant, and less of a salesperson. This comes down to the character and professionalism of the individual. If you do apply to a school directly, be sure to ask them how long the school has been in business, and again, speak to a teacher there. In addition, carefully look over your contract and make sure it includes a full package.

What is a full package:

- 25-30 teaching hrs per week (Mon ~Fri)

- Salary range: $2,1m – $2,3m won/mth (standard salary for a 1st year teacher)

- One-month severance bonus at end of 1-year contract

- Pension bonus upon completion of 1-year contract

- Fully furnished single studio or housing stipend (furnished by employer)

- Air ticket (furnished by employer)

6. Chains vs independent schools

The reason I mention this here is that all chains seem to get a bad rap if you research them online. The reason being that given how many branches there are, literally 1000’s of teachers have come and gone over the years, and most definitely, there are going to be some teachers who did not have a positive experience. The same can be said for school directors.

There is no difference between chains or independent schools, save that the chains have an established curriculum supplied by head office, and in the eyes of Korean parents, are more established and reputable.

7. Don’t overthink things

Many positions and locations can be quite similar. After the basics are covered, my advice is just dive in. Secure the position and begin your visa process.

Be reasonable. Remember that schools are taking a chance on you too. There are questionable business people and there are questionable teachers. I have seen more of the latter in time in this business.

if you have any questions, feel free to email me. I’ll do my best to answer them for you.