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  • KoreaBoo
  • Expert Waygook

    • 698

    • May 25, 2014, 04:00:42 pm
    • Vancouver Island
Even from 2004...nothing has really changed...except..
« on: July 15, 2022, 06:24:08 am »
Korea is still far better than many countries out there. 

If you are looking to work in China as your solution, you really do need to think about an alternative option.

From 2004, but still very relevant today.  I see quite a bit of you in this article that has formed over the years of reading your posts.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/3325192/The-slavery-of-teaching-English.html


  • VanIslander
  • Moderator LVL 1

    • 3673

    • June 02, 2011, 10:12:19 am
    • South Gyeongsang province for 13 years (with a 7-year Jeju interlude)
    more
Re: Even from 2004...nothing has really changed...except..
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2022, 06:54:01 am »
The quoted link quotes this opinion: "... no one with a scrap of ambition" would choose to teach English as a foreign language...

I wanted to travel. I wanted to go to Japan. I wanted to go to China. I wanted to go to Thailand. Teaching English overseas has let me do that easily (though my 5th trip to Japan I lied to myself and said the insane cost wasn't worth returning, though that friggin' northern island with its winter festival is on my bucket list (you know the name). I also wanted to go to Australia (settled for a month in New Zealand: no regrets).

Why did I go overseas: The seed was planted by my first newspaper editor who advised me to travel the world to understand your country (he having been to Argentina, India, Turkey, France, Denmark, among others). I also was finishing a graduate school class when I saw a taped-on-the-wall piece of paper promoting Korea as a place to teach English and "see the world". That plus my editor's advice got the wheels turning. What the hell did i know about South Korea? The reporter in me was intrigued. I could do that for a year (expecting rural China or Vietnam conditions, sleeping on mats with mosquito nets, eating bugs sometimes, heck, i brought batteries on the plane!?! (In my defense: this was '02, when smartphones were non-existent and the Internet was a child.)
« Last Edit: July 15, 2022, 07:01:32 am by VanIslander »
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.


Re: Even from 2004...nothing has really changed...except..
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2022, 12:37:41 pm »
Hard to disagree with anything he said especially when the average salary hasn't gone up.


  • VanIslander
  • Moderator LVL 1

    • 3673

    • June 02, 2011, 10:12:19 am
    • South Gyeongsang province for 13 years (with a 7-year Jeju interlude)
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Re: Even from 2004...nothing has really changed...except..
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2022, 08:21:39 pm »
Hard to disagree with anything he said especially when the average salary hasn't gone up.
If you are all about the Benjamins, then teaching ain't your gig, unless tutoring is your thing.

One hopes doctors didn't go into medicine for the money and prestige, but it is easy to understand those who do; in contrast, one hopes one's teachers aren't punching clocks to make coin, as it makes less sense on both a financial and career-fit level.

« Last Edit: July 15, 2022, 08:25:59 pm by VanIslander »
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.


  • T_Rex
  • Super Waygook

    • 300

    • April 23, 2019, 08:10:20 am
Re: Even from 2004...nothing has really changed...except..
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2022, 04:39:41 am »
From the 2004 article:

"So while teaching English is fine if you want to spend a year abroad, and great for meeting pretty foreign girls, considered as a career that might offer some degree of professional fulfilment, it fails on every count. No one with a scrap of ambition can possibly consider it. As the philosopher Alain de Botton says: 'You become a TEFL teacher when your life has gone wrong.'

"The most objectionable aspect of this industry is not, however, the misery of those who work in it, but the posturing endemic to it. Typical of this is the pretence of professional credibility that surrounds the Mickey Mouse teaching certificate most teachers possess....

"Some TEFL slaves have been so thoroughly defeated that they don't even realise what has happened to them. I can sniff out the 'lifers' a mile off . . . scruffy figures, utterly out of synch with the modern world, any style or sex-appeal they once possessed squeezed out of them by years of drudgery, exploitation and poverty....

"After the age of 40, English teachers are burnt-out, skill-less and unemployable, their working lives a wasteland, their future oblivion. Suicide attempts are not unheard of. A former colleague of mine, a charming and talented but fatally lazy Scotsman who was well on his way to drinking himself to death, was recently found in a pool of blood, having tried to finish himself off by slashing his wrists."

Teaching ESL is best for young people who want a gap year experience or older people retired from a successful first career. Spending your prime working years teaching ESL is not a good idea.



  • gogators!
  • Waygook Lord

    • 5988

    • March 16, 2016, 04:35:48 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Even from 2004...nothing has really changed...except..
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2022, 06:12:47 am »
From the 2004 article:

"So while teaching English is fine if you want to spend a year abroad, and great for meeting pretty foreign girls, considered as a career that might offer some degree of professional fulfilment, it fails on every count. No one with a scrap of ambition can possibly consider it. As the philosopher Alain de Botton says: 'You become a TEFL teacher when your life has gone wrong.'

"The most objectionable aspect of this industry is not, however, the misery of those who work in it, but the posturing endemic to it. Typical of this is the pretence of professional credibility that surrounds the Mickey Mouse teaching certificate most teachers possess....

"Some TEFL slaves have been so thoroughly defeated that they don't even realise what has happened to them. I can sniff out the 'lifers' a mile off . . . scruffy figures, utterly out of synch with the modern world, any style or sex-appeal they once possessed squeezed out of them by years of drudgery, exploitation and poverty....

"After the age of 40, English teachers are burnt-out, skill-less and unemployable, their working lives a wasteland, their future oblivion. Suicide attempts are not unheard of. A former colleague of mine, a charming and talented but fatally lazy Scotsman who was well on his way to drinking himself to death, was recently found in a pool of blood, having tried to finish himself off by slashing his wrists."

Teaching ESL is best for young people who want a gap year experience or older people retired from a successful first career. Spending your prime working years teaching ESL is not a good idea.


Although teaching at a uni in SK and doing pretty much any and all extra work that was offered me worked out financially for me (thank you, Vanguard), ESL is pretty much a deadend job. And it's such an undemanding profession that it's easy to get stuck in it, substituting travel and hobbies (If I had 100 won for every English teacher I met in Korea who was learning to play guitar...) for starting a family, working toward financial security, etc.

Look at the threads on this forum--what TV show/movie are you watching, book you are reading, music you are listening to, food you miss, food you are cooking, etc. Look at martini, at the very least a well-read person, wasting his time writing screed after screed.

As for "being in it for the coin," why not? It's only reasonable for a professional to expect commensurate compensation. Now it can be argued that many teaching ESL are less than professional and are only tangentially qualified.


  • Rye
  • Expert Waygook

    • 651

    • March 20, 2022, 03:43:11 pm
    • A side street near Cheongju
Re: Even from 2004...nothing has really changed...except..
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2022, 09:18:28 am »
From the 2004 article:


Thank you T_Rex. I wasn't about to give my email away just so I could read the article.

I don't know. A couple of things ring true, but I'm not going to bite. The OP should have better things to do. All I'll say is; This industry has given me a lot of satisfaction over the years, and has provided myself and my family with a bit of financial security. Go figure!


  • SPQR
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1289

    • March 08, 2018, 07:04:54 pm
    • Sierra Leone
Re: Even from 2004...nothing has really changed...except..
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2022, 09:24:31 am »
If I was to go back in time there is no way I would come to Korea or
teach ESL again. There are just too many positives to living in Canada
and too many negatives to living in Korea and the ESL gig.

ESL has absolutely no room for advancement. The best you can do
is open your own business. This is what I did, but teaching ESL gets
onerous quickly.

South Korea has so many limitations both in its geography, culture and
laws. I like nature not garbage, barbed wire and cigarette butts. Women's
status here is primitive and appalling. Korea just ranked 102nd out
of 156 countries for gender parity. I have a daughter and a reality like
that is just bullshit. The laws here are myopic and depressing. Almost
everything fun is illegal.

All that being said I have had some fun here and bought a house at the
right time. I have a handful of years left in this place and then it is off
to Thailand for retirement. The Korean government has provided a pension
and I have other IT projects I do for companies in Korea. So, financially,
for me, it is not all terrible.

But the ESL gig is over. Please leave the ride and make your way to the exit.






  • Adel
  • The Legend

    • 2346

    • January 30, 2015, 12:50:26 am
    • The Abyss
    more
Re: Even from 2004...nothing has really changed...except..
« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2022, 09:25:52 am »
Thank you T_Rex. I wasn't about to give my email away just so I could read the article.

I don't know. A couple of things ring true, but I'm not going to bite. The OP should have better things to do. All I'll say is; This industry has given me a lot of satisfaction over the years, and has provided myself and my family with a bit of financial security. Go figure!

No, no, no! Don't discourage him.  We need this dated self-aggrandizing inflammatory crap now that Marti isn't around trying rile people up anymore.  :laugh:


Re: Even from 2004...nothing has really changed...except..
« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2022, 09:38:37 am »
There have always been people around who get a kick out of making others feel bad about their lives. Usually because there's some aspect of their own lives they're not satisfied with. These people always claim they do what they do for altruistic reasons, they want to help people see the truth. I don't think they fool many people, least of all themselves


  • Rye
  • Expert Waygook

    • 651

    • March 20, 2022, 03:43:11 pm
    • A side street near Cheongju
Re: Even from 2004...nothing has really changed...except..
« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2022, 09:47:16 am »




...But the ESL gig is over. Please leave the ride and make your way to the exit.


I'm also making exit plans out of the industry. I don't want to stop teaching completely but am looking to reduce to a 3 day week within the next 3 years.

I don't mind living here for the most part. I'd rather live in Korea than in NZ...just an extremely expensive country with an over-the-top PC culture, and an air of violence permeating certain sections of society. But yes, Korea still needs a bit of polish and some things are frustrating. My wife though takes 99% of the kind of shite out of my life. All's good!

To live here long-term, you just have to find a place that suits your needs, and we know where that is...so that's where we'll be heading. Also a lot of small-time opportunity around where we are hoping to see out our days. So, it's not bad.

No, no, no! Don't discourage him.  We need this dated self-aggrandizing inflammatory crap now that Marti isn't around trying rile people up anymore.  :laugh:

Haha! I was wondering who would fill the void(s)



« Last Edit: July 16, 2022, 09:52:35 am by Rye »


  • Rye
  • Expert Waygook

    • 651

    • March 20, 2022, 03:43:11 pm
    • A side street near Cheongju
Re: Even from 2004...nothing has really changed...except..
« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2022, 10:08:03 am »
There have always been people around who get a kick out of making others feel bad about their lives. Usually because there's some aspect of their own lives they're not satisfied with. These people always claim they do what they do for altruistic reasons, they want to help people see the truth. I don't think they fool many people, least of all themselves

You are right! Advice is great, but repeated it becomes pitiful. Not unlike a certain idiot currently on a sabbatical.


Re: Even from 2004...nothing has really changed...except..
« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2022, 11:27:02 am »
I have to confess something. I mainly joined this forum because I'm curious about the Korean ESL scene. Has pay really not gone up since the mid-2000s?


Re: Even from 2004...nothing has really changed...except..
« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2022, 11:45:59 am »
Pay for entry level hagwan and PS school jobs? No, it hasn't. They have relied on growing interest in Korean popular culture to keep a steady flow of fresh out of college applicants.


  • L I
  • Waygook Lord

    • 7684

    • October 03, 2011, 01:50:58 pm
Re: Even from 2004...nothing has really changed...except..
« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2022, 11:51:11 am »
Adjusted for inflation pay has gone down at all levels, including at universities.


Re: Even from 2004...nothing has really changed...except..
« Reply #15 on: July 16, 2022, 12:09:04 pm »
Pay for entry level hagwan and PS school jobs? No, it hasn't. They have relied on growing interest in Korean popular culture to keep a steady flow of fresh out of college applicants.

I've been in Asia for a while so I'm out of touch with North American youth culture. I remember I was considering Korea back in 2012 but gave up when I started dealing with recruiters. Is the Korean Wave really that strong?  :huh:


Re: Even from 2004...nothing has really changed...except..
« Reply #16 on: July 16, 2022, 12:24:18 pm »
I think it is in North America at any rate. I don't see much evidence of it in the UK or Ireland. I'm only going through what I've heard, though, I've never actually met any Westerners in Korea who were into that stuff.


Re: Even from 2004...nothing has really changed...except..
« Reply #17 on: July 16, 2022, 12:46:28 pm »
Don't people figure out pretty quickly that Korea in real life isn't anything like the dramas? I visited Seoul a few years ago and it was a total concrete jungle.


  • Rye
  • Expert Waygook

    • 651

    • March 20, 2022, 03:43:11 pm
    • A side street near Cheongju
Re: Even from 2004...nothing has really changed...except..
« Reply #18 on: July 16, 2022, 01:02:58 pm »
I've been to Seoul three times since 2000. Once for clothes, once to the consulate, and once for a 60th party at a restaurant. And yes, even the simplest have to eventually figure out that K.dramas do not reflect actual life in Korea...but...who would know!


Re: Even from 2004...nothing has really changed...except..
« Reply #19 on: July 16, 2022, 01:06:31 pm »
Alright. I guess life would have turned out quite differently if I had gone there to teach. Who knows?