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Are hagwons a bad choice for 1st year applicants?
« on: December 23, 2012, 01:30:47 pm »
Hi, I've been thinking of applying to hagwons because I don't like the idea of having a co-teacher etc and I want to do the teaching on my own if possible.  I would hate to have a co-teacher to tell me what to do etc and make me teach their own way.

Hagwons are they really that bad in terms of job security etc? Can they kick you out if the students' grades are good enough? Has anyone worked in hagwons and public schools? which is better and why?


Re: Are hagwons a bad choice for 1st year applicants?
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2012, 03:09:17 pm »
Hi, I've been thinking of applying to hagwons because I don't like the idea of having a co-teacher etc and I want to do the teaching on my own if possible.  I would hate to have a co-teacher to tell me what to do etc and make me teach their own way.

Hagwons are they really that bad in terms of job security etc? Can they kick you out if the students' grades are good enough? Has anyone worked in hagwons and public schools? which is better and why?

I have not worked in both.

There appears to be enormous variation in the quality of hagwons.  I worked for a hagwon
and I enjoyed having the freedom to control my lessons.  In my hagwon the textbooks and homework books provided some structure but there was always lesson time to supplement these lessons with your own material.   Whether there was sufficient preparation time was another issue.

Yes, some hagwons can be bad in terms of job security.  I think it mainly depends on the quality of their leadership.  Academy  *** can be poor in one city and excellent in another.








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Re: Are hagwons a bad choice for 1st year applicants?
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2012, 05:30:19 pm »
I've never worked for public schools, only hagwons.

First off, both of the places I've worked at I've had coteachers. They aren't in the classroom with me, but they tell me what to teach and are in charge of dealing with the parents. They sort of dictate how to manage the classroom, and what I "do" in the classroom to some extent. In my situation I work with a lot of different Korean teachers and they all have different styles. Some are quite laid back and leave things to me while others are often telling me what I can and can't do.

Some hagwons have a lot of freedom in what you teach, others have very little freedom. Both of the schools I've been at have a very structured curriculum where i am told what books to teach. At my current school I have to ask permission to do any sort of fun activities that arent part of the curriculum. Once I get through the material I don't really have much time to do anything else before the bell rings, other than maybe a 3 or 4 minute game. I know some schools can be completely different so I'm not speaking for all hagwons. I like knowing whats expected of me, and with the very small amount of prep time, I like not having to worry too much about making all my own lessons.

If parents complain or students are getting low scores, you'll normally hear about it but my job has never been threatened. It is quite stressful having to keep all the parents happy but most of the time that burden is left with the Korean teachers.

I have had two different hagwon jobs in Korea and both have served me very well. If you do your homework and check out the school you're going to work at you should be fine. Working at a hagwon doesn't have to be the end of the world.

Good luck in your search! 


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Re: Are hagwons a bad choice for 1st year applicants?
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2012, 05:38:04 pm »
I did hagwon first then public. I agree that having a co-teacher is the pits, but you have a better chance of having a positive co-teacher situation than a positive hagwon situation.

With CTs you can have the "ghost you never see", or the "tired lazy sleepy" ones, or the "could care less of your existence", or the "has no idea what they are doing" or the "frail scared timid ones that are easy to get your way from"...ones. Many potential positive outcomes. ( you could get the nice understanding fluent CT....).

with hagwons...oh lordy, the chances you will hate your life are astronomical.  Just so you know, from my hagwon experiences I was told what to teach, and in some cases how much time to spend on very specific things. Like 5 minutes on this, and so forth.

Quote
Hagwons are they really that bad in terms of job security etc?

you already know the answer to this. You wont get a response from anyone on here that a simple google search can't do for you. Its not like people are going to be any more or less honest with you then other netizens from the past.

Quote
Can they kick you out if ... [insert any excuse here]

yes. If they want you gone, they will make it happen.

Quote
which is better and why?

you will only get opinions. there is no correct answer, if there was nobody would choose the other. with that said, Public school is the obvious correct answer (from my experience). But I haven't had CT problems that I couldn't deal with on my own. My class is my class, and I make sure the school understands. It's why I can't do hagwons, its way too structured, and by structured I mean on Monday do pages 22 and 23, on Tuesday do pages 24 and 25. ...annnd thats it for an entire year. I need more, I need to teach, and so I choose public.

Neither option is a 100% guarantee. There will forever and always be the chance that you get placed in a bad situation. There are those who will soon reply that they had the opposite experience from me. That public was boring and hagwon is more fulfilling. It's what you make of it really, I just think that public allows you a better opportunity to make something of it.


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Re: Are hagwons a bad choice for 1st year applicants?
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2012, 05:44:53 pm »
I don't like the idea of having a co-teacher etc and I want to do the teaching on my own if possible.  I would hate to have a co-teacher to tell me what to do etc and make me teach their own way.
That is one the best reasons to work at a hagwon: most of them THROW YOU INTO THE CLASSROOM and leave you alone to fend for yourself! For some of us, this is very liberating however scary, and we thrive! I am ruler of my classroom.

Hagwons are they really that bad in terms of job security etc? Can they kick you out if the students' grades are good enough?
Given a hagwon has paid for your airfare, they are invested in you (especially the smaller hagwons) and so you have about six months of job security (nine to ten months at most if it's a bad place which fires late in the year to avoid paying the end-of-contract bonus).

The most important thing about hagwons is keeping the parents happy: in a farming town it's easy, just keep the kids engaged and interested; in a more competitive urban setting, especially if it's a hagwon that charged more and touts itself elite, there's pressure by parents to see more homework, more updates (Korean teachers have to give weekly or monthly phone calls for progress reports, etcetera.

My advice: Work hard, prepare well, engage the students, have them speak and write every class, and you will love it (the satisfaction of seeing progress, success, meaningful work) and thrive in a hagwon classroom. For ten years now I gladly go to work every day ready to meet new challenges. Teaching is an art, find your own way, don't fall into a rut or let yourself get bored, stay on your toes, interact intensely and persistently with students, get a good night sleep every night and don't take your work home with you (don't even THINK about work when away from it (the only reason I'm posting this now is I have a special weekend class of high level  high school students and this is my prep time).
« Last Edit: December 23, 2012, 05:49:28 pm by VanIslander »


Re: Are hagwons a bad choice for 1st year applicants?
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2012, 09:37:58 pm »
VanIslander gave you some really good advice which I very much agree with.  In my opinion, you will probably learn a lot more about how to teach EFL in Korea if you work in a hagwon first rather than a public school, where a Korean co-teacher will make most of the teaching decisions. 

I recommend How to Teach English by Jeremy Harmer and Learning Teaching by Jim Scrivener as very good how to teach books for newcomers.


Re: Are hagwons a bad choice for 1st year applicants?
« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2012, 11:32:38 am »
OP, you're getting great advice. 

Last year I was at a small hagwon in a small southern province city.  It wasn't always easy.  There was a lot of freedom, but you also have to remember that you'll have a pretty wide age span of students.  You'll get elementary school kids all the way up to middle school students.  I even had a few classes with university students thrown in by my Director.  They were my favorite.  My Director did try and pull a couple of iffy moves on me (tried to have me work for another hagwon without going through Immigration, I ultimately told her I wasn't comfortable with the set up and she backed down), but for the most part, I always got paid on time, which was what was most important to me. 

I'm currently at a public middle school and it's not at all what I hoped it would be.  I'm not very fond of the town.  The students are virtually impossible to connect with and my co-teachers drive me nuts, whereas at my hagwon I managed to form a few close bonds with students and worked with a wonderful teacher I am honored to still call a friend.  Working at the hagwon I did spend a lot of my own money on things like stickers, prizes, and food, but it helped my sanity just as much as it helped keep the students from going bananas. 

The best piece of advice you could get is to do your due diligence.  Talk to a former employee of the hagwon, if you can.  Or ask to speak to the person you will be replacing, if there is such a person.  Research the hagwon.  If you decide to take the plunge, be prepared to give it your all.  Be as organized and efficient as you can, but don't be surprised if you don't find the same standard coming at you from the other side of the bargain. 


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Re: Are hagwons a bad choice for 1st year applicants?
« Reply #7 on: December 24, 2012, 01:23:31 pm »
IMO to start..if you want to actually work chose a hagwon instead of a publich school where you do very little. If you want to be left alone choose a hagwon not public school. I'm bothered here more than my parents ever bothered me growing up!!

I have worked at two hagwons: one that was horrible and another that was great. The good one-- I had to keep the students happy but was free to do whatever as long as I finished their books by the assigned time. The parents were never happy though. I got along with the Korean teachers, boss and other foreign teachers. I liked the area and never had trouble getting paid. My hours were long (10 to 7) with one prep period a day on average..sometimes 3! I could come and go as I wanted for the bank or doctor appoints on prep time or lunch.

Now with my public school---well I have 22 hours of teaching time a week. Last semester I had 21 hours..This semester only 17..the rest of the time i am sitting at my desk doing nothing. Yes, nothing! I've had enough time early on to plan all lessons, two camps, etc.. About a month or so ago I used two days to whip up some lessons since my books were finished. Heck, I have even spent time making word searches, downloading videos and then redownloading or remaking worksheets! My co teachers are always in my business. They want me to "teach" them English in my free time.My co teachers take over my class or better yet I have some that carry on conversations with students while I am teaching..and they don't bother to discipline the kids! I'm lonely, I'm tired of being controlled, nit-picked, frustrated, forgotten, made to feel like I am stupid and not important. I have no issues with the vacation days or the paycheck being on time. That hasn't been a problem.

My thing is that I like doing what I am paid to do. At public school, my classes are cancelled for no reason and with no warning. Sometimes I go to class and the kids tell me the co-teacher has cancelled class just because. Or they let them watch a movie in MY class. I prefer hagwons because I actually teach, I have control in class, I don't just feel like I am doing something...I AM doing something!


Re: Are hagwons a bad choice for 1st year applicants?
« Reply #8 on: December 25, 2012, 07:32:59 am »
I have done both.

I agree with another poster who said that there is more variety in hagwons. Yes, the teaching is often better since there is no co-teacher to interfere. That simplifies your job.  The books are often better too. Some people may complain that hagwans are businesses - which could cause problems, but the thing is businesses are more progressive than governments and education systems.

Some people are concerned with the job security, but I don't think that's usually much of an issue. I have worked in private schools in Taiwan, Korea and China and I never had an employer go under or fail to pay me.

People have different experiences. In the end it depends on you and a bunch of other factors. Public schools are usually easier, but I personally don't think they're better. I wouldn't teach in a public school in Korea again. You can read this if you want to know more about the differences between hagwons and public schools.
« Last Edit: December 25, 2012, 11:21:32 am by ESLinsider »
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Re: Are hagwons a bad choice for 1st year applicants?
« Reply #9 on: December 25, 2012, 07:41:56 pm »
I would say if you cant deal with working in pressure cooker jobs that are comission based or force you to meet monthly quotas then youll have a rough time in hagwons.  The choice is yours but i think theres more job security in public schools.