Thursday, December 27, 2012

Teaching in Korea

There are so many things I have to say on this matter (and I haven’t blogged in a really long time) so I’m going to try to keep this as focused as possible.  My apologies in advance for the many tangents that I am going to have on this one.

First and foremost, teaching in Korea is in no way comparable to teaching in America for a million reasons. First, the majority of us are teaching at hagwons (after school academies – think Sylvan Learning Centers for the upper middle class). These in no way compare to the intensity of public school teaching in America. They aren’t supposed to.  Also, we are hired more as cultural representatives/well-behaved local celebrities than English grammar teachers.  I don’t know anyone that teaches grammar actually.  Most of us teach speaking and/or writing.  Why do we teach these subjects?  Because it encourages (read:forces) our students to talk to us and practice/learn proper pronunciation and conversational English. We are hired to be entertainers, encouragers and paradigm shifters with a bit of experience in crowd control. We are hired to be the face of the cultures that they only read about in books and see on TV. We are the all singing, all dancing teachers of Korea.  But we are teachers and have the opportunity to be amazing ones within this construct.  If you embrace that, you will love your job.  If you don’t, best of luck to you. It’s gonna be a rough year.