Wednesday, December 10, 2008

NOW I understand...

It's always been a mystery to me why 90% of the Korean English teachers I've worked with in the past have been such poor English speakers. I thought it was amusing how they were entrusted with teaching people how to speak English, when they weren't even sure how to themselves. How did they get hired? Now it's all clear.

My husband has been looking for work in the ESL field. Since we're having a baby soon, he wants something stable, with less hours. His English skills are top notch and he enjoys teaching, so why not?

So far, he's gone for around seven or eight interviews at hakwons (private institutes or academies). The conditions of these jobs are insulting to say the least. Most require a 6 day work week (full eight hour days) and offer laughable salaries.

His most recent interview was the funniest yet. It was at Jung Chul English, one of the biggest hakwon chains in Korea (I worked there around 6 years ago actually). They told him to prepare a teaching demonstration: a listening lesson based on a CNN video clip. So, husband spent this afternoon prepping for the interview. He arrived to find out there was no Internet available, so he could not use the clip or his lesson. He was told, "Ah, just forget about it." Instead, he was handed "The Frog Prince" and told to teach. Sure, CNN news clip on the economic recession in America and "The Frog Prince" -- can totally see the connection...

Next came the details.

Interviewer: We have positions at the Gangnam, Yangjae, and Jongno campuses.

SJ: Jongno would be best for me.

Interviewer: Well, that's out of our control. There are two shifts - morning and evening. That's out of our control, too.

SJ: What are the hours and salary?

Interviewer: Eight hours, five days a week. 1.5 million won per month. But if you bring in more students, you'll get bonuses.

SJ: (...)

SJ: My wife and I are expecting a baby very soon. If she has the baby during working hours, will it be OK if I leave work to go to her?

Interviewer: No, you have to stay.

Sounds like a great position, huh?

About the leaving work for baby thing: I recently heard that it's law in Korea for men to get three days off to be with their wives if they have a baby (not much, but at least it's something). I have to look into that and see if it's official. But if a huge chain like Jung Chul isn't honoring that rule, I can't imagine too many others are.

So anyway, I have finally solved the mystery! Koreans who actually speak English well don't accept these positions! They move on to something better or do their own thing.

We have a lot of thinking to do.


Mama Seoul said...

Well, at least you've ruled out some places. Positive job vibes. Let the won flow in!

Sarah said...


1.5 million won/month just doesn't flow enough for me, y'know?

Why can't he have the baby and I keep working? That would be much easier.....

Mama Seoul said...

You are full term today! Congratulations!

Sarah said...

Thanks! I didn't even realize it 'til now. Time is going so quickly!