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  • Sagi Keun
  • Super Waygook

    • 385

    • May 10, 2018, 11:47:23 am
    • Los Angeles
The classic management mistake at academies?
« on: March 04, 2022, 03:08:43 pm »

What in your view is the main mismanagement issue at hogwons?
To me that's easy.

1. The middle manager. Most schools appoint a manager on the cheap, who must answer to the owner and get results. I know its a difficult position but almost invariably they are in it for theri own ego. This means they either bully or oppress the staff while having little or no management experience or ability.

2. Obsession with paperwork. Many Koreans think work = typing everything onto paper.. which nobody ever reads. Often poor managers make up for their lack of skills by resorting to excessive paperwork. They don't seem to get that writing lengthy lesson plans and daily reports every day is mostly unnecessary, exhausting and time wasting. Its simply the wrong focus for a school.

3.  A reliance on rules. Once again, a long list of rules does not make a good school. Teaching young people is a dynamic environment that needs flexibility and adaptibility. There is no one size fits all. Usually it is inexperienced and unskilled management that thinks a rules system is all they need.


  • Savant
  • The Legend

    • 3479

    • April 07, 2012, 11:35:31 pm
Re: The classic management mistake at academies?
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2022, 05:20:57 pm »
There are no mistakes in communism…um, I mean…communication.


  • VanIslander
  • Moderator LVL 1

    • 3850

    • June 02, 2011, 10:12:19 am
    • South Gyeongsang province for 13 years (with a 7-year Jeju interlude)
    more
Re: The classic management mistake at academies?
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2022, 05:33:47 pm »
... uh... uh... uh...

I have been teaching in only hagwons here since December 2002 and NONE of those 3 apply.

If you work in a smaller hagwon, there is no middle manager. There is a receptionist who also takes on office manager duties, but she (has always been a woman where I've worked) is a fountain of help, a real trooper in times of need. Paperwork? I never had to put ink on paper until my 15th year (other than the yearly contract), but this hagwon needs two-line prep and review notes, and coronovirus negative symptoms checks. Rules? ... I rule my classroom. No one has ever told me what to do or not do, other than finish on time (am sometimes late) and give - or don't give - homework (different hagwons have different such preferences).

I was told at my first hagwon on Day 1 to use the audio cassette and computer DVD (this was 2002) and I said flatly "Thanks but I'll only use the book" and acted out the scenes with myself and the more courageous students (as the only foreigner they had just paid to fly overseas, i knew i had leverage).

I visit every hagwon BEFORE accepting a job (except my first, which i interviewed on phone the previous foreigner, a famous ESL Cafe/book author who later went to China and supposedly fell off a building to his death). It is important to find a great match between employer and employee.

My beef with hagwons? ...   ... The dinner break is sometimes 10 minutes long. ... Can't think of anything else (based on my experience - i have had beers over horror stories, but in each case, the teacher has been a bit oblivious to the culture and added fuel rather than water to fire.
Life's to live! Live! Breathe. Relax. Enjoy. Animals teach us to focus on family, friends and avoid danger. Get what you need and get along with others. That said, some rock the boat, but they know capsizin' it means they're sunk. Some sink, let's swim! The sea's big, great, but has undercurrents.


  • Kyndo
  • Moderator LVL 1

    • I am a geek!!

    • March 02, 2027, 11:00:00 pm
    • Gyeongsangbuk-do
Re: The classic management mistake at academies?
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2022, 08:23:54 am »
What in your view is the main mismanagement issue at hogwons?
To me that's easy.

1. The middle manager. Most schools appoint a manager on the cheap, who must answer to the owner and get results. I know its a difficult position but almost invariably they are in it for theri own ego. This means they either bully or oppress the staff while having little or no management experience or ability.

2. Obsession with paperwork. Many Koreans think work = typing everything onto paper.. which nobody ever reads. Often poor managers make up for their lack of skills by resorting to excessive paperwork. They don't seem to get that writing lengthy lesson plans and daily reports every day is mostly unnecessary, exhausting and time wasting. Its simply the wrong focus for a school.

3.  A reliance on rules. Once again, a long list of rules does not make a good school. Teaching young people is a dynamic environment that needs flexibility and adaptibility. There is no one size fits all. Usually it is inexperienced and unskilled management that thinks a rules system is all they need.

These three issues brings to mind a situation that I somehow got wrapped up in while working for an eikaiwa in a resort town near Nagano.
These big corporations typically treat their branch school managers (who are invariably young women) like total crap. The manager at my school would, after phone calls from headquarters, be a mess for the rest of the day. Her job was brutal, so it wasn't a huge surprise when she left on zero notice (zero notice to upper management, that is: we'd spent a lot of time figuring out and completing the student visa application process to Aus lol).

This meant that my branch was effectively without a manager, and seeing as I was the only teacher there, it was also without a native Japanese speaker.
I basically showed up to work as usual, got a set of keys from the mall security, and taught lessons until closing time, when I looked it up behind me.
When students had to renew, I had their parents help me figure out which papers they had to get, and let them sort it out with the regional HQ while I just kinda rubber stamped everything. Needless to say, for those months, the parents of renewing students probably gave themselves some seriously sweet deals.
  I "did" crap tonnes of paperwork -- soooo much paperwork! -- none of which I understood or even could read, all with the help of various parents (who were all awesome, all seemed to know each other, and all did things together outside of the school, including, probably, colluding to rip off the franchise during that period lol).

  It was a surreal bunch of months, for which I got paid a lot of money for doing all sorts of things that I did not and still don't understand.
  But yeah, paperwork, excessive regulations, and poorly treated lower management.



  • Augustiner
  • Expert Waygook

    • 539

    • December 06, 2021, 01:18:06 pm
    • Anyang
Re: The classic management mistake at academies?
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2022, 11:21:18 am »
This was accidentally deleted.  Surely, mods can't just delete posts because they don't like being contradicted.  We follow the T.O.S., correct? 



Re: The classic management mistake at academies?
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2022, 12:11:11 pm »
Why the hell was that deleted?


  • Augustiner
  • Expert Waygook

    • 539

    • December 06, 2021, 01:18:06 pm
    • Anyang
Re: The classic management mistake at academies?
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2022, 12:16:21 pm »
Why the hell was that deleted?

I'm sure it was just a glitch or technical malfunction.  I'll go with benefit of the doubt here.  I'm sure no one could be so sensitive as to delete posts just because they argue against their own posts.  If that's now against the T.O.S. there are whole threads that are going to get wiped out. 


  • Kyndo
  • Moderator LVL 1

    • I am a geek!!

    • March 02, 2027, 11:00:00 pm
    • Gyeongsangbuk-do
Re: The classic management mistake at academies?
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2022, 12:18:17 pm »
Because "hakwan". Hurts the eyes, it does.


NB: I'm not being serious. I don't know the answer.


  • Augustiner
  • Expert Waygook

    • 539

    • December 06, 2021, 01:18:06 pm
    • Anyang
Re: The classic management mistake at academies?
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2022, 12:36:29 pm »
Because "hakwan". Hurts the eyes, it does.


NB: I'm not being serious. I don't know the answer.

Off topic, but on a related note, this being brought up again for the 473rd time in a Korean ESL Forum is even more painful.  Hakwan, hagwan, hogwon...The only people that care are those foreigners you tend to duck from when you spot them because they want to tell about how much of the Korean language they've mastered.  You know, the ones that when someone says Latte Mart they pretend they mean a coffee shop so that they act surprised when they "get" that you mean Lotte Mart.  That literally happened to me in my second year.  This tool kept trying to pretend he didn't know where I was talking about so I just pointed to the Lotte Mart across the street and he was like "Ohhh, Lotte Mart."  Needless to say I made no attempt to hang out with that douche. 


  • Kyndo
  • Moderator LVL 1

    • I am a geek!!

    • March 02, 2027, 11:00:00 pm
    • Gyeongsangbuk-do
Re: The classic management mistake at academies?
« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2022, 12:43:04 pm »
Yeah, hahah, what a douche! *nervous laughter*


  • Augustiner
  • Expert Waygook

    • 539

    • December 06, 2021, 01:18:06 pm
    • Anyang
Re: The classic management mistake at academies?
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2022, 12:55:53 pm »
Yeah, hahah, what a douche! *nervous laughter*

HaHa, I knew you sounded familiar.  Anyways, now that I've moved up in the world I do all my grocery shopping in the food basements at ShinShingay Deparment Stores so you won't catch me out again. 


Re: The classic management mistake at academies?
« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2022, 01:24:56 pm »
... uh... uh... uh...

I have been teaching in only hagwons here since December 2002 and NONE of those 3 apply.

If you work in a smaller hagwon, there is no middle manager. There is a receptionist who also takes on office manager duties, but she (has always been a woman where I've worked) is a fountain of help, a real trooper in times of need. Paperwork? I never had to put ink on paper until my 15th year (other than the yearly contract), but this hagwon needs two-line prep and review notes, and coronovirus negative symptoms checks. Rules? ... I rule my classroom. No one has ever told me what to do or not do, other than finish on time (am sometimes late) and give - or don't give - homework (different hagwons have different such preferences).

I was told at my first hagwon on Day 1 to use the audio cassette and computer DVD (this was 2002) and I said flatly "Thanks but I'll only use the book" and acted out the scenes with myself and the more courageous students (as the only foreigner they had just paid to fly overseas, i knew i had leverage).

I visit every hagwon BEFORE accepting a job (except my first, which i interviewed on phone the previous foreigner, a famous ESL Cafe/book author who later went to China and supposedly fell off a building to his death). It is important to find a great match between employer and employee.

My beef with hagwons? ...   ... The dinner break is sometimes 10 minutes long. ... Can't think of anything else (based on my experience - i have had beers over horror stories, but in each case, the teacher has been a bit oblivious to the culture and added fuel rather than water to fire.

You lie to my face! My very face! My very hairy, scary face! How dare you!

Your happy-go-lucky attitude doesn't quite add up. We know. The deletions give you away. They wore you down, and no matter how many times you put on this happy face, you know deep down we are the same, you and I. We got in daily. Oh boy, did we ever get it. How they laughed as we cried. In your case you had a Korando, but I had no such luck. At first it was the woods, where only the small animals heard my yelps. Then it was my shoebox. It muffled my cries, but the neighbors heard. Did they help? Were they concerned? Of course not. They merely turned up the volume of the tv, so the people on screen eating food only munched louder. I cried and they ate. They ate so much. Now I'm almost back in the woods. But at least there I'm away from the ears of the people who never listened. They heard. They heard much. Never listening, though.

Keywords: Korando, Hagwon.

Come at me, bros.

  8)


  • Kayos
  • The Legend

    • 2402

    • March 31, 2016, 07:13:57 pm
    • NZ
Re: The classic management mistake at academies?
« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2022, 02:00:14 pm »
Off topic, but on a related note, this being brought up again for the 473rd time in a Korean ESL Forum is even more painful.  Hakwan, hagwan, hogwon...The only people that care are those foreigners you tend to duck from when you spot them because they want to tell about how much of the Korean language they've mastered.  You know, the ones that when someone says Latte Mart they pretend they mean a coffee shop so that they act surprised when they "get" that you mean Lotte Mart.  That literally happened to me in my second year.  This tool kept trying to pretend he didn't know where I was talking about so I just pointed to the Lotte Mart across the street and he was like "Ohhh, Lotte Mart."  Needless to say I made no attempt to hang out with that douche.

In my second year in Korea, I went to Myeongdong in Seoul, and there was a 50 something year foreigner walking around a busy area, and he'd go up to other foreigners asking why they are in Korea, if they stated living here, he'd ask if they teach English, if they confirmed it, he started screaming and berating them and would follow them screaming until they ignored him enough, then he'd go back to the area and look for the next foreigner.

On topic: My experience with a hagwon-like place, was management being extremely greedy and screwing over teachers. They bait and switched contracts for people coming in overseas. I think, out of all the people in my training group, only 2 people stayed past the orientation, everyone else walked out on the last day after they gave us the terrible contracts that cut out the things we negotiated. Of the 2 people who stayed, 1 person left after a year, the other done multiple years - she was clinically diagnosed with depression and couldn't get public school work and was finding hagwon work hard to find, and her boyfriend, now husband, was a native to the country. But yeah, the revised contract gave no sick days, you had to pay the company if you were sick and missed work, you had to rent their teaching materials to use in class - you weren't allowed to make and use your own and had to use the rented materials, the pay was reduced by about 20% compared to what they sent in the email / on their job ad, vacation was slashed, was like 2 days summer and winter, and they scheduled them on your weekend


  • T_Rex
  • Super Waygook

    • 311

    • April 23, 2019, 08:10:20 am
Re: The classic management mistake at academies?
« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2022, 05:29:46 am »
I visit every hagwon BEFORE accepting a job (except my first, which i interviewed on phone the previous foreigner, a famous ESL Cafe/book author who later went to China and supposedly fell off a building to his death).
I remember hearing about a teacher who jumped off a building. I think he had been cyberbullied by other teachers.


  • Renma
  • Super Waygook

    • 350

    • September 01, 2014, 06:09:42 am
Re: The classic management mistake at academies?
« Reply #14 on: March 08, 2022, 09:34:46 am »
I'm sure it was just a glitch or technical malfunction.  I'll go with benefit of the doubt here.  I'm sure no one could be so sensitive as to delete posts just because they argue against their own posts.  If that's now against the T.O.S. there are whole threads that are going to get wiped out. 

Classic Van

  8)

 :shocked:


Re: The classic management mistake at academies?
« Reply #15 on: March 08, 2022, 01:35:31 pm »
What in your view is the main mismanagement issue at hogwons?
To me that's easy.

1. The middle manager. Most schools appoint a manager on the cheap, who must answer to the owner and get results. I know its a difficult position but almost invariably they are in it for theri own ego. This means they either bully or oppress the staff while having little or no management experience or ability.

2. Obsession with paperwork. Many Koreans think work = typing everything onto paper.. which nobody ever reads. Often poor managers make up for their lack of skills by resorting to excessive paperwork. They don't seem to get that writing lengthy lesson plans and daily reports every day is mostly unnecessary, exhausting and time wasting. Its simply the wrong focus for a school.

3.  A reliance on rules. Once again, a long list of rules does not make a good school. Teaching young people is a dynamic environment that needs flexibility and adaptibility. There is no one size fits all. Usually it is inexperienced and unskilled management that thinks a rules system is all they need.
Doesn't this describe pretty much any bureaucracy and most corporate structures? I don't think obsessive record keeping is unique to Korean academies.

"Why are they so obsessed with rules? Gets in the way."
"Why aren't they following the rules? It creates chaos!"

"Why are they having us keeping records of everything?"
"Why are there no records? Who is organizing things here?"

Middle management is indeed a problem, but you have to have someone in charge...


  • Mr C
  • The Legend

    • 3686

    • October 17, 2012, 03:00:40 pm
    • Seoul
Re: The classic management mistake at academies?
« Reply #16 on: March 08, 2022, 04:02:01 pm »
Doesn't this describe pretty much any bureaucracy and most corporate structures? I don't think obsessive record keeping is unique to Korean academies.

"Why are they so obsessed with rules? Gets in the way."
"Why aren't they following the rules? It creates chaos!"

"Why are they having us keeping records of everything?"
"Why are there no records? Who is organizing things here?"

Middle management is indeed a problem, but you have to have someone in charge...

Couple this with the Peter Principle and it explains a lot. 


  • 745sticky
  • The Legend

    • 2252

    • March 26, 2020, 01:52:57 pm
    • Korea
Re: The classic management mistake at academies?
« Reply #17 on: March 10, 2022, 09:40:51 am »
Doesn't this describe pretty much any bureaucracy and most corporate structures? I don't think obsessive record keeping is unique to Korean academies.

depends on the corporate structure, i guess. some of those silicon valley types like to get weird with it.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2022, 09:55:22 am by 745sticky »


  • hangook77
  • Waygook Lord

    • 5529

    • September 14, 2017, 09:10:12 am
    • Near Busan
Re: The classic management mistake at academies?
« Reply #18 on: March 14, 2022, 12:07:47 pm »
What in your view is the main mismanagement issue at hogwons?
To me that's easy.

1. The middle manager. Most schools appoint a manager on the cheap, who must answer to the owner and get results. I know its a difficult position but almost invariably they are in it for theri own ego. This means they either bully or oppress the staff while having little or no management experience or ability.

2. Obsession with paperwork. Many Koreans think work = typing everything onto paper.. which nobody ever reads. Often poor managers make up for their lack of skills by resorting to excessive paperwork. They don't seem to get that writing lengthy lesson plans and daily reports every day is mostly unnecessary, exhausting and time wasting. Its simply the wrong focus for a school.

3.  A reliance on rules. Once again, a long list of rules does not make a good school. Teaching young people is a dynamic environment that needs flexibility and adaptibility. There is no one size fits all. Usually it is inexperienced and unskilled management that thinks a rules system is all they need.

Well, that is why they are paying too low.  I remember my friend and his Korean wife had one years ago.  They had no manager.  They just had a Korean teacher and a foreign teacher.  They even paid a little more due to being in a small town.  The Korean teacher wrote some stuff down.  The Korean wife did some consultations with parents once in a while.  But except for a monthly lesson plan for the parents, I don't recall them doing too much.  The Korean and the foreigner had to prep some slightly extra material for class.  But they were paid a bit above average for the time and made a decant pay.  Owner still had plenty of profits.  I never understood a manager, receptionist , nor all these other ad ons.  No wonder they can't pay the teachers what they are worth.  Take the money saved and beef up the salaries. 
745sticky, Augustiner, Bakeacake, D.L.Orean, Lazio, Mithras, Renma, Rye are still blocked and I can't see them.


  • Kyndo
  • Moderator LVL 1

    • I am a geek!!

    • March 02, 2027, 11:00:00 pm
    • Gyeongsangbuk-do
Re: The classic management mistake at academies?
« Reply #19 on: March 14, 2022, 12:25:11 pm »
What with the new president's suggestion of scrapping the minimum wage and drastically increasing work-week hours, we can expect more low-ball slave job offers soon.
In three or four years we'll all be like "Remember back in the day when all the new ESL teachers were being paid 2.1 million? And for only 40 hours a week! Man, they just didn't know how good they had it!"
 :laugh: :sad: