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  • fishead
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1139

    • April 23, 2010, 07:58:05 am
    • Yangju Korea
Is working for a hogwan really that bad?
« on: January 31, 2019, 08:32:04 am »
 I have worked mostly at Public schools. I am thinking about making the switch. Is it really as bad as people make it out? Any success stories of people making a succesful transition?

Re: Is working for a hogwan really that bad?
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2019, 08:49:44 am »
As with public school it depends on your work. My first 2 yrs were at a hagwon that I found a bit difficult and overbearing at first but look back and think they taught me a lot and had a lot of good people around me. I think I was really lucky though. It sure was a lot of work though.

Totally depends on the place though, the workload is usually much higher in hagwons overall. They are much less accountable or at least till you push back. As I think everyone will say, gotta find the correct one. I have had many friends have to go to labor board and such things with their place over money, pension and all different things. Make sure all the ducks are in a row if you go with a hagwon. Check out its credibility.

  • APH
  • Adventurer

    • 63

    • November 17, 2018, 12:32:33 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Is working for a hogwan really that bad?
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2019, 09:16:20 pm »
The Hagwon Iíve been working at for the past 4 months is actually closing down at the end of next month and Iím currently in a bit of a situation with them being behind on my pay. The school is closing due to a lack of students, nothing dodgy. Itís a very small school so theyíve been struggling to make enough money to pay the staff.

Overall however, this may seem strange, but my Hagwon experience has actually been very good. Apart from the long hours I donít really have any complaints. The materials are all provided so any lesson planning is limited to any additional activities you want to do. I never have to take my work home. The class sizes are much much smaller than public school, which for me is great because you can really focus and build a connection with the students. I think Iíve been lucky with my Hagwon too, as you do hear about some awful Hagwon owners but my bosses have all been great to me since I arrived. Which makes my current situation even more difficult because Iím hoping I wonít have to take any legal action against them in order to get all the money Iím owed, because they are really nice people.

Some negatives about Hagwon work would be as I mentioned before the hours, this only really applies to a Kindergarten-Elementary Hagwon though. So we (the other foreign teacher and I) work 09:30am-7:30pm. Another thing would be working at a Hagwon, you get used to just kind of going with the flow as things can be slightly unorganised at times with schedule changes and things like that. Theyíre also terrified of the parents so youíre always told just to keep the students happy at all costs, even if it means having to deal with some unbelievably bratty behaviour from kids who desperately need to be brought down a peg or two.

Like MaximusPrime said though, it all just depends on the place. Much like with any job. Iíd say as long as you make sure to speak to the current foreign teacher before you sign anything you should be good.

Re: Is working for a hogwan really that bad?
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2019, 09:16:57 pm »
The thing with hagwons is they are a total crapshoot.

2 different teachers can have totally opposite experiences with the same hagwon.

Generally, they are a lot more work than PS, but then you can really teach....

sometimes.   A bad hagwon is no fun,  and  will make your life miserable.

A good hagwon can be a great experience.   I had only 2 out of 4 hagwon jobs where I was

paid in full as per contract, but that's just my own experience.

They always try and short change you on health ins, sick days and or holidays or the last months pay or
overcharge for utilities or find some other reason for keeping some of your pay.

There is a trade off, small class sizes are nice.   But if your boss is a micro-managing-mumblehead

it won't be worth it.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2019, 11:28:22 pm by some waygug-in »

Re: Is working for a hogwan really that bad?
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2019, 09:42:59 pm »
Yeah, I agree that they are kind of a crapshoot. I think it is fairly easy to check into things. One is comb through the contract, usually, there will be a few red flags if it is like one of the infamous ones you've heard of. Two, tracking the past teacher down on Facebook or through Facebook and inquiring about their experiences.

I did 3 years at a public school, with a little part-time work at private hakwons. Made the full switch my 4th year. My hakwon was average I'd say, which sill involved a lot of BS. I survived because I walked a line between making the kids and the moms happy, and squeezing as much teaching in at the same time. You really have to walk a tight rope with the private companies. I saw a lot of good teachers, that were just focused on teaching, and weren't willing to play politics, and I saw a lot of teachers that just focused on making sure the kids were happy. It's pretty tricky trying to do both.

Yeah, I guessed I'd say they are as bad as they say generally speaking. The system is broken and corrupt, you just might get an adept friendly hakwon owner or coworkers and that makes all the difference often enough.

Oh, let me add. I found the most success, and I've heard of others having success by working two or more part time hakwon jobs. Alot of the BS is cut out if you dont sign a full time contract with a hakwon. You come in, you teach you, you leave. You can still get them to sponsor your visa and do insurance and what not as well.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2019, 04:56:07 am by thomwiley23 »
Co-creator of HSIP adult academy and halandstevenglish @

Re: Is working for a hogwan really that bad?
« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2019, 11:20:22 am »
As folks have pointed out, in different ways, one's experience at a hogwan is based on a roll of the dice (if that). 

Some actual dedicated folks have been badly burned in the system.  While at the same time, worthless drunks can easily slide by and be known as the best teacher.  It really can be a polarizing scenario. 

It really SEEMS like a simple concept...parents pay decent money for a specialized subject, such as English, for their urchins to learn.  Yet,often times, there is no accountability either from them or the director...all that matters is the the bank account. 

Yet, there are some rather decent hogwans out there, in the wild.  Most folks only hear about them, as if, it were a rumor.  Someone knows someone else that works for one...that type of scenario. 

The fact of the matter is, hogwan teachers are a brick in the education system as waiters are in the hospitality/culinary industry (except, if you are a rock star, you can earn much more as a waiter). 

  • oglop
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1846

    • August 25, 2011, 07:24:54 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Is working for a hogwan really that bad?
« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2019, 01:39:59 pm »
what's a 혹완?

Re: Is working for a hogwan really that bad?
« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2019, 03:15:02 pm »
They are a crapshoot. One person can enjoy their time at a hagwon, then another person at the same hagwon can find themselves pushed around by the manager, cheated on their pay, and eventually end up quitting or getting fired despite being a perfectly fine teacher.

First thing you need to do is stick up for yourself on your contract. If it's really vague about working hours and doesn't have an overtime clause, either don't sign the contract or ask to change it. Later in the year any time the owner tries to push you around on stuff like this, you have to learn to stand up for yourself without being obnoxious. If you generally do a good job and your students like you, the owner will probably not push you around much. If you let them push you around once, like making you teach an extra hour each day without extra pay, or adding classes during what used to be your breaks, once you let them do it once they'll keep doing it.

Second thing is to expect to get screwed on your pay and benefits, and be careful about letting it happen. If you are from a pension refund country, keep an eye on your monthly pension payments and make sure they are actually getting paid, and at the proper amount. Make sure your health insurance is actually being paid and that your insurance card is actually valid. Your taxes will probably get fiddled with.

If you can be careful about these two things, you might enjoy hagwon life more than public school life, assuming you aren't at some trashy hagwon full of feral children. You can live in any city you want unlike the rural EPIK crapshoot. You'll teach classes of about 4 to 10 students and just sit down while the kids do most of the work, unlike at public school where you often have to stand up yelling to 30 kids and keeping them entertained during the whole class. You probably won't have to do much preparation at all because you'll use book sets that have workbooks and videos and so on. It's not like public school where you spend 22 hours a week teaching and several more setting up bomb games etc.

Everyone likes to say that hagwon jobs suck, but so does getting sent to some completely random rural hellhole by EPIK. There's a reason so many people don't bother with public school jobs and choose to work at hagwons.
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  • fishead
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1139

    • April 23, 2010, 07:58:05 am
    • Yangju Korea
Re: Is working for a hogwan really that bad?
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2019, 08:55:04 am »
what's a 혹완?
I think the correct spelling is 학완  So it is actually Hakwan. It is a private afterschool that offers classes to paying parents.