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CCLC or Creative Children's Learning Center - Seoul
« on: April 08, 2019, 07:21:31 am »
Context: I have close to 10 years teaching experience, including 3 schools in 3 years in South Korea, and this is the first time I have ever felt compelled to write a school review.

Their address and phone number: 35-26 Samseong-dong, Seoul; +82 02-3444-6106.

What you should know about CCLC:

1. The most one-sided teaching contract I’ve ever seen.
2. They provided an old, run-down basement apartment. I had to buy a new bed and new furniture. When I paid a junkman to throw away the lumpy, stained mattress and the rest of the junk, the Principal got angry, because I didn't ask for permission. To see what my apartment looked like when I first moved in, just search YouTube for “CCLC Apartment”.

3. If you take their apartment, they will deduct about $550 from your paycheck as a security deposit.

4. Be in school by 9:10 am, or else. Your punishment for being so much as 1 minute late? You have to stay 30 minutes after school doing busy work.

5. They have many rules. And every Monday morning they add more to the list. Don’t break them, or else. Of course if the Principal likes you, feel free to ignore the rules.

6. If you like a Principal who is always angry about something, then this is the school for you. We often heard, "[Principal] is furious."

7. You are constantly being monitored via CCTV, and the Principal likes to come in on the weekends to review the CCTV footage.

8. Be prepared. The Principal likes to make spot inspections. With no prior warning and for no apparent reason, she will glare into your fishbowl classroom or audit your class. She will do this on a regular but unpredictable basis and with no feedback.

9. I once saw a fellow teacher crying her eyes out; later I found out it was because the Principal had given her a bad reference, sabotaging a job offer.

10. There are no breaks in the morning; no break for you or the kids from 9:10 to 12:45.

11. The kids are not allowed to play or draw in class. Forget this rule at your peril; I once made this grave mistake and within minutes, news of this scandal spread throughout the building. My punishment: (1) I was immediately demoted to a babysitting class and (2) I never heard the end of it. Remember, you are constantly being monitored via CCTV.

12. In class, you and your students must stay constantly busy. Are your kids tired, misbehaving, being difficult, refusing to listen? Are the girls finishing their pages in half the time it takes the boys? None of that matters. Keep them all busy with school work, or else. So always have busy work or unfinished homework available for the kids to do. Remember, no playing or drawing allowed.

13. Teachers have to do admin work/homework; e.g., read the first half of an assigned book and then write up 80 vocabulary definitions, 80 sample sentences, and 80 multiple choice questions.

14. There are two extremely important talent shows per year; you have to prepare the kids to do two songs and dances; expect a lot of stress and pressure.

15. Old, worn-down, uncomfortable no-tech classrooms with rickety furniture to match; the coldest building I’ve ever worked in; many teachers had to teach in their winter coats; every morning, the Principal plays loud, shrill music over the school's speakers; and there is no “Teachers Only” area.

16. Apparently the school is popular with parents with special needs kids. So expect one or two special needs kids in your class, for which you will receive no training.

17a. Their school year starts March 1st, and they only want contracts and extensions that end February 28th, because having to replace a teacher during the school year is far too inconvenient, or so they claim.

17b. So if you start with a contract that isn't scheduled to end on a February 28th, the Principal will eventually insist you sign a contract extension that ends the following February 28th. For example, if you sign a June 1, 2020 - May 31, 2021 contract, the Principal will eventually insist you sign a contract extension through February 28, 2022. So what you thought was going to be a 12-month commitment is now a 20-month commitment.

17c. If you decline the extension, you and your contract are now inconvenient to them, so you run the very real risk of being fired or “advised” to quit, meaning you can't/won't complete your contract. And because you didn't complete your contract, they will pay you zero severance; you will lose your entire security deposit; and you must repay any airfare and recruiter’s fee; saving them a lot of money; and costing you a lot of money.

17d. Of course they won’t tell you any of this during the interview. And the interview won’t be conducted by the Principal. You won't see or meet her until it's too late. 

18. Don’t make the same mistake I made. Negotiate; don’t immediately accept their first offer. Had I known then what I know now, I would have insisted on: A salary of 3.0 Million Won; pro-rated contract penalties, meaning for every month completed the airfare/recruiter's fee penalties are reduced by 1/12th; and a full return of the security deposit, whether the contract is completed or not.

19. When I was there, the schedule was 9:10-16:30/17:30, depending on your individual schedule. It's 17:30, ready to go home? Not until you put up all the chairs and empty out the garbage. CCLC has apparently since changed the schedule to 9:10-17:30 (M,W,F) and 9:10-18:30 (T,TH) for all teachers. So they now require more work for the same salary? If you want a physically and mentally exhausting teaching job, then definitely consider CCLC. 

20. There is one mandatory unpaid Saturday field trip per year.   

21. You will have a Korean co-teacher (“KCT”) helping you in class. The two I had were great. But the KCT can only help you so much, because, if you have a dozen-and-one things to do every day, she has 3 dozen-and-one things to do every day. But beware of temporary/substitute KCTs; I had one for one day and apparently she was there to evaluate me, behind my back of course. 

22. The Korean middle management, co-teachers, and staff were generally warm, friendly, and approachable. But they have practically no power to persuade or dissuade the Principal. If/when they convince her to do the right thing, consider it a minor miracle and thank them profusely.

23. When I was there, we were 9 male and 2 female foreigner teachers. I heard from two foreigner teachers that the school prefers to only hire male foreigner teachers. So if you’re female and they’re offering you a job, you’re most likely not their first choice.

24. You’re probably not going to like their apartment, so you should strongly consider taking the monthly stipend of about $500 and finding your own apartment. I put a lot of time, money, and effort into fixing up my apartment. Twice middle management asked me for pics of my apartment to show prospective teachers. So don’t be fooled by pics showing you their only nice apartment. Insist on pictures or, even better, a video of your apartment. To see what my apartment looked like when I first moved in, just search YouTube for “CCLC Apartment” or “CCLC Seoul Apartment”.

25a. After a school offers you a contract, they will probably offer you the email address of one of their current teachers. But keep in mind: It’s most likely a teacher making way more money and getting way longer vacations than you, because that’s how schools, especially bad schools, convince teachers to sign extensions. So don’t be surprised when he/she has nothing but great things to say/write about the school.

25b. Under South Korean law, if you say or write something “harmful” about a Korean person or business, you can be sued for defamation; the truth and opinion are no defense. Get sued, lose, and your Korean wages will be garnished and your Korean bank account frozen. So you can’t expect any teacher to tell you the truth about a Korean school unless he/she does so anonymously or has safely left the country.

Conclusion: If this the only offer you get, and you're just dying to work in Seoul, then accept their offer and hope for the best. But if you have other options and/or are willing to work in a different city, then why risk it?? According to the most recent estimate, there are about 70,000 hagwons in South Korea alone.

PS CCLC Management commented below, and then deleted the comment. But my response to their now-deleted comment remains the same:

"Don't want midnight runs or negative reviews? Then try treating *all* your teachers fairly, with dignity and respect. And honor your contracts, even the *inconvenient* ones. And don't worry about my immigration status. I know that because of CCLC I probably can't/won't ever work in Korea again, and I'm OK with that."
« Last Edit: July 12, 2019, 12:38:47 pm by HagwonLife »

  • Piggydee
  • The Legend

    • 2716

    • October 15, 2013, 07:32:43 am
    • South Korea
Re: CCLC or Creative Children's Learning Center - Seoul
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2019, 08:18:30 am »
Wow this school sounds just lovely.  Where do I sign up?  :rolleyes:

  • seantheman
  • Veteran

    • 148

    • June 25, 2013, 06:23:10 am
    • dublin Ireland
Re: CCLC or Creative Children's Learning Center - Seoul
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2019, 04:40:35 pm »
Was offered a position there, just did a quick search and luckily your review came up.
I will avoid , thanks :)

Re: CCLC or Creative Children's Learning Center - Seoul
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2019, 07:25:40 pm »
 ;D Congratulations, Sean. You did the right thing. Some of these schools are hoping you are so desperate to get to Seoul you won't care about how bad the job is.

  • SanderB
  • Super Waygook

    • 435

    • June 02, 2018, 06:25:54 pm
    • Burning Oil Be Best
Re: CCLC or Creative Children's Learning Center - Seoul
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2019, 01:44:06 pm »
I sincerely wonder what's so creative about their programme... after having seen that other school's Grapseed prog. I fear for the worst.
Fiat voluntas tua- What you want is allowed

  • HanSeoulO
  • Newgookin

    • 2

    • June 08, 2019, 03:10:48 am
    • A Galaxy Far Far Away
Re: CCLC or Creative Children's Learning Center - Seoul
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2019, 04:02:30 am »
What we need is a union, a Native English Teachers Union. Until then, these blacklists will have to do.