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  • rosemarie
  • Newgookin

    • 3

    • October 15, 2012, 03:20:03 pm
    • Gapyeong, Gyeonggido
I love the country, but the job...
« on: January 31, 2013, 01:40:58 am »
I realize that my feelings are most likely the result of culture shock, but I need some advice.  I really love living in Korea. It's really exciting for me, but I find that I really hate teaching. I feel like I am constantly messing up and that I am just a waste of my school's money.  The first 5 months that I was here, I pretty much had to create all of the lesson plans on my own. I didn't have a single co-teacher. I had to work with all the homeroom teachers, but most of the time they were too busy with their own work to help me. As someone who has never taught before in her life and did not major in Education, or English for that matter, I found this extremely daunting. The entire 5 months I was not getting any guidance. About 3 months in, my supervisor said that the teachers were dissatisfied with my teaching style. That's when I really started using Waygook, and it seemed like they were happier.

Just before the winter camp my supervisor sent me what I felt to be a rude and unprofessional letter.  It would have been less insulting had she written to me about my teaching methods and what I should change (which I gladly would), but she wrote about personal issues.  She mentioned about how much I get paid and how I spend my money.  She also brought up issues about the foreign teachers taking jobs away from Koreans.  I realize that many foreigners are here only for the money, but I am not here for that. I have wanted to come to Korea to teach English since high school.  Not to mention that I would make double the amount back home.  I volunteer at an orphanage every chance I get just to try to show my appreciation to this wonderful country.

I understand that it may be this single teacher, or even many Korean teachers may feel like this, but is it really acceptable for them to vent their frustrations on us?  I was really excited for the upcoming year because this teacher was supposed to become the permanent Korean co-teacher, but now she's going abroad (she wants to show that Korean teachers are capable of doing a better job at teaching English than Natives).  I was thinking about leaving early, but I'm with GEPIK and there are so many penalties for leaving early (I refuse to do a midnight run).  With this teacher going abroad for the next 6 months, I figured that I should just wait and see how this temporary teacher is before I make any decisions.  I finally made another foreigner friend who has really helped me out so far. If it wasn't for her, I probably would have handed in my resignation letter.

I'm sorry about the long post, but I am really curious about how other people handled this kind of situation.  This isn't really about whether or not I should leave, because I really don't want to leave, but I want to know if there are other options or advice.  I am so anxious about going back to work next week, I am starting to get physically ill from it.  Thank you!


  • money55
  • Super Waygook

    • 277

    • July 05, 2011, 02:12:38 pm
    • south korea
Re: I love the country, but the job...
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2013, 05:37:20 am »
They always complain.  Don't take it personally (I know it's hard).  We're not taking jobs away from Koreans.  First off, you have to have an E-2 visa from the seven countries. We didn't make up that rule, they did.  Look, I don't know why you have to show your appreciation in this county, you're a paid employee. 

Next time she brings up the issue of how much you get paid, ask her if she does her job for free.  She doesn't.  Tell her never to bring up the issue of how much you get paid again.  No, her behavior is not acceptable. Her behavior is rude.  Also bring this issue up to the VP. 
« Last Edit: January 31, 2013, 05:46:06 am by money55 »


  • Hongsam
  • Super Waygook

    • 418

    • August 17, 2011, 12:24:57 pm
    • Ansan
Re: I love the country, but the job...
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2013, 07:09:54 am »
I'd usually say ignore it, but your supervisor crossed the line with that letter. You should show it to your VP, tell him/her how insulted you are and calmly demand an apology from the supervisor.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2013, 07:13:33 am by Hongsam »


  • nongle
  • Adventurer

    • 72

    • January 04, 2012, 10:10:05 am
Re: I love the country, but the job...
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2013, 07:25:02 am »
I wouldn't get the VP involved. That's like telling tales. You should just talk to the person who wrote the letter. That's better. Ask them how they think they have the right to say all that to you. Many complain. Like the previous post, don't take it personally. Some people are closed minded and ignorant. You can't help that. Just do your job well and don't say bad things about that person. Anyhow, don't snitch to the VP. You'll lose respect. I would confront the person, then no wires get crossed. In schools, in my opinion, everybody twists things, hears what they want to hear, so just confront the person. You will feel better too and may find her opinion may have changed.


Re: I love the country, but the job...
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2013, 07:49:59 am »
The first year teaching is always difficult, no matter where you are or what you are teaching. Your feelings of inadequacy are not different from most professionals I have known.  So, follow the curriculum as best you can and try to get in a 15 minute block everyday of something of value, something that will make you and your kids happy-and hopefully the CT or supervisor as well.  A classroom of giggling kids will do wonders for your self esteem and confidence.

I have found that Koreans are extremely mercurial.  I have found two of my CT's  hysterically crying at their desks on multiple occasions-I have no idea why, nor do I ask.
Trying to make them "happy" is transient at best. Stick with building relationships with students instead.

Try to do your best, and remember no one is the world's greatest teacher. We are all trying, but really it is mostly fumbling around and hoping. nothing works everyday, with every class, every time.  Don't resign-get your experience in, try new things, consider future lessons, experiment. You are learning too-don't beat yourself up.


  • taewon
  • Super Waygook

    • 406

    • July 04, 2012, 12:00:38 pm
    • Seoul
Re: I love the country, but the job...
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2013, 08:15:36 am »
I realize that my feelings are most likely the result of culture shock, but I need some advice.  I really love living in Korea. It's really exciting for me, but I find that I really hate teaching. I feel like I am constantly messing up and that I am just a waste of my school's money.   The first 5 months that I was here, I pretty much had to create all of the lesson plans on my own. I didn't have a single co-teacher. I had to work with all the homeroom teachers, but most of the time they were too busy with their own work to help me. As someone who has never taught before in her life and did not major in Education, or English for that matter, I found this extremely daunting. The entire 5 months I was not getting any guidance. About 3 months in, my supervisor said that the teachers were dissatisfied with my teaching style. That's when I really started using Waygook, and it seemed like they were happier.

Just before the winter camp my supervisor sent me what I felt to be a rude and unprofessional letter.  It would have been less insulting had she written to me about my teaching methods and what I should change (which I gladly would), but she wrote about personal issues.  She mentioned about how much I get paid and how I spend my money.  She also brought up issues about the foreign teachers taking jobs away from Koreans.  I realize that many foreigners are here only for the money, but I am not here for that. I have wanted to come to Korea to teach English since high school.  Not to mention that I would make double the amount back home.  I volunteer at an orphanage every chance I get just to try to show my appreciation to this wonderful country.

I understand that it may be this single teacher, or even many Korean teachers may feel like this, but is it really acceptable for them to vent their frustrations on us?  I was really excited for the upcoming year because this teacher was supposed to become the permanent Korean co-teacher, but now she's going abroad (she wants to show that Korean teachers are capable of doing a better job at teaching English than Natives).  I was thinking about leaving early, but I'm with GEPIK and there are so many penalties for leaving early (I refuse to do a midnight run).  With this teacher going abroad for the next 6 months, I figured that I should just wait and see how this temporary teacher is before I make any decisions.  I finally made another foreigner friend who has really helped me out so far. If it wasn't for her, I probably would have handed in my resignation letter.

I'm sorry about the long post, but I am really curious about how other people handled this kind of situation.  This isn't really about whether or not I should leave, because I really don't want to leave, but I want to know if there are other options or advice.  I am so anxious about going back to work next week, I am starting to get physically ill from it.  Thank you!
You are a paid instructor! on another note how many Korean immigrants have moved to California?-working for scraps taking jobs from americans? Do you think Korea would ever let so many immigrants from other places-NO We have to keep our blood line pure and away from the toxic others How much financial aid/military aid has been provided over the years from the U.S? Would she even have a job without the last 60 years of International support? Don't quit and don't take any crap!
"One year they asked me to be poster boy - for birth control."
Rodney Dangerfield


  • JL5205
  • Super Waygook

    • 325

    • March 05, 2012, 11:02:50 am
Re: I love the country, but the job...
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2013, 10:17:21 am »
The next time she brings up that crap about you getting more money than her, just ask her whose government it was that hired you.  You accepted a job - you didn't barge your way in and force Korea to pay you for a salaried position.  In the end it's us who are getting the last laugh by taking advantage of a job that refuses to utilize us and rather pays us to do a bunch of busy work that amounts to nothing.

Also, you have to remember that most of us public school teachers are set up to fail by default.  Come on, do you really think the MOE, GEPIK, the POE, or your school cares about the quality of your lessons (or more importantly your students education)?  No, They don't. They put you in a classroom with questionable, rushed training and no guidance whatsoever.  You are being assigned meaningless tasks on a daily basis with no curriculum, no lesson goals, and no objective whatsoever.  Basically, you're trying your best given what's been expected of you - which is nothing. 

Tell her to take her complaints to the MOE if she feels that strongly about it.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2013, 10:19:14 am by JL5205 »


  • BonnieC
  • Waygookin

    • 17

    • September 19, 2012, 08:05:11 am
    • South Korea
Re: I love the country, but the job...
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2013, 10:30:41 am »
Reading this made me really upset for you... I can totally relate and sympathize! Chin up! I bet the kids still prefer you to their normal teachers, even if it is the novelty factor :) 


Re: I love the country, but the job...
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2013, 10:33:39 am »


Just before the winter camp my supervisor sent me what I felt to be a rude and unprofessional letter.  It would have been less insulting had she written to me about my teaching methods and what I should change (which I gladly would), but she wrote about personal issues.  She mentioned about how much I get paid and how I spend my money.  She also brought up issues about the foreign teachers taking jobs away from Koreans.  I realize that many foreigners are here only for the money, but I am not here for that. I have wanted to come to Korea to teach English since high school.  Not to mention that I would make double the amount back home.  I volunteer at an orphanage every chance I get just to try to show my appreciation to this wonderful country.



Taking jobs from Koreans?  I have yet to work with a co-teacher who can converse like a native speaker.  There is a reason why you are at your school.  I think that the main issue is that most public schools don't know how to use NETs effectively.  It takes a while to develop teaching skills if you haven't studied for it (and you are just thrown in front of students with only a bad book for help).  Keep trucking, you'll get it.


  • jaxije
  • Adventurer

    • 54

    • April 29, 2012, 02:32:31 pm
    • Busan
Re: I love the country, but the job...
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2013, 01:56:19 pm »
I ditto what taewon said.


  • marv3n
  • Waygookin

    • 13

    • November 25, 2010, 11:54:02 am
    • Korea
Re: I love the country, but the job...
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2013, 03:05:26 pm »
So she gave you a written letter? If she's your Korean co-teacher, I'm sure it has tons of grammatical errors. My suggestion is... make the corrections on the letter, hand it back to her and tell her, "This is why they hired me." That's what I would do if I was in your situation.


  • Jrong
  • The Legend

    • 2381

    • April 28, 2011, 12:52:32 pm
    more
Re: I love the country, but the job...
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2013, 03:17:30 pm »
I ditto what taewon said.
Yeah, put things in perspective for her. Not like it'll change her mind. But OP will feel vindicated.

"When in doubt...ask Troglodyte" ~0mnslnd


Re: I love the country, but the job...
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2013, 12:10:43 pm »
Answer absolutely everything she says from now on in the most complicated and quickest paced English you can muster. If she thinks you are a waste and you've taken a Korean's job, then she can just keep up with your native English from now on.

She's being petty. I have no idea why certain co-teachers think they have the right to corner the foreign teacher and abuse them, but they would never behave that way to another Korean coworkers. Don't go to the VP, because more than likely he/she doesn't want to be bothered with petty office politics, which is what this is, but DO invest as much effort as possible in tearfully showing the letter to as many coworkers as possible, explaining how you just don't understand what you've done wrong, and asking why she hates you so much. Your best weapon in this situation is peer pressure. Embarrass her.

Look -- they advertise these jobs as "assistant" teaching positions with little to no experience or qualifications. They have no right to be surprised when that's exactly what they get. You sound like you are trying your hardest, but obviously it's going to take you some time. I've seen Korean teachers come in straight from their prestigious exams and fall flat on their faces for nearly an entire year. I've also seen teachers who have been teaching for 20 years fail at all basic aspects of being a decent teacher. It has nothing to do with being a foreigner, and nothing to do with being a failure (the former, anyway). It just takes some time to get your sea legs, and as long as you are putting in your best effort, you have nothing to be ashamed of.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2013, 12:15:50 pm by deanitsin »


Re: I love the country, but the job...
« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2013, 01:52:21 pm »
I completely sympathize with this. I've been here less time than you and I definitely sometimes feel like I wasn't meant to be a teacher or that I don't know if I;m really teaching the kids anything but those are issues that every teacher deals with. We keep going because of small isolated events that makes us feel like it's worth it. I wasn't in Korea for the beginning of the semester and I was thrown right into the middle of everything. I was clueless in a lot of ways but I kept positive and was always really friendly with everyone and I learned a ton. Now I feel much more prepared for the second semester. I know there will be a lot of times that I feel like a failure but you can have your own consolation in knowing that you care and are trying. Ultimately the best thing you can do besides teach the kids a ton of English is give them a positive or enjoyable experience. Sometimes that's the only thing you can do. I wouldn't worry about the other teachers. They have a lot of opinions that change all the time.


  • macchiato
  • Adventurer

    • 67

    • October 25, 2011, 12:17:22 pm
    • Seoul
Re: I love the country, but the job...
« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2013, 01:57:18 pm »
So she gave you a written letter? If she's your Korean co-teacher, I'm sure it has tons of grammatical errors. My suggestion is... make the corrections on the letter, hand it back to her and tell her, "This is why they hired me." That's what I would do if I was in your situation.

This. Do. This.  ;D

Oh my gosh. Yes. This would be brilliant!


  • joker320
  • Waygookin

    • 14

    • September 13, 2012, 01:33:20 pm
    • South Korea, Gyeonggi Do
Re: I love the country, but the job...
« Reply #15 on: February 04, 2013, 02:48:42 pm »
I agree with most of what has been said so far.

I was in the same position as you in my first year, except I worked at a larger institution where there were 20+ foreign teachers. It had its ups and downs. On the one side there were people I could ask advice and learn from their teaching styles. On the other, they could see when I messed up in class.

The one thing I learned from it all was to make it exciting for the kids. Kids are more intuitive than we think and the can smell blood in the water better than great white sharks. Confidence goes a long way, even when you don't know what you're doing. I remember I had to teach English using history for kids on a Saturday morning. No kid in their right mind wants to study history on a Saturday morning when right outside the window there was a huge soccer field. So I just introduce the ball of truth to class: You could only answer or speak when you had the ball, that included me. It worked fine till I lobbed the ball to a kid and it got him in the eye, leaving him with a blood shot eye. Needless to say that was the end of the answer ball. But you get the picture.

As for co teachers and management, it's really the luck of the draw. My first job the teachers that I worked with were close to staging a military coup. But I am glad to say that VP at my current school is the coolest guy I've met in Korea. He genuinely is the warm OPPA of the school.

So I'd say tough it out. Don't let them get to you. You know how hard you've worked to get here and nobody should take that from you! 
Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most.


  • Nobbie Q
  • Veteran

    • 177

    • June 17, 2012, 05:15:58 pm
    • Seongnam, South Korea
Re: I love the country, but the job...
« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2013, 09:39:32 am »
I sympathize. Yeah i do all my lessons too, also a first time teacher. Co-teacher does disciplinary stuff but sometimes she just leaves the class altogether. In fact, my biggest detriment to being here is my co-teacher. She doesn't offer much input. SHe'll just yes yes everything I say about my lessons quickly and then sometimes criticize me afterwards negatively. She started to lay off in the second semester but I still disliked her bossing me around and just generally being useless in all issues concerning me. SHe's more concerned with herself, so any issues that pertain to me that affect her, she'll be on the game with. But things with pay, or docs regarding me, taxes...forget it. I could ask the admin staff, but my co-teacher is afraid of losing face so I'm stuck all the time.

I don't know what to really tell you...that letter is garbage. She's just jealous and probably hates foreigners. This is a big time insecure society..these people need therapists, not plastic surgeons. OKay i'm going off on a tangent. I'd agree with others about NOT going to the VP, or anyone higher up. THey'll talk to her about it and then she'll take her frustrations out on you, cuz you just skipped the hierarchy and made her look bad, even though she really is acting like an idiot.  If you wanna play this strategically, then I suggest threatening to do so, but just try to work it out with her and express your feelings in a controlled manner. It's ideal to be the yes-man (or woman in your case) but if you show you're not a pushover for crap, then they'll think twice.

I had to fight for some things. I made my feelings known with my co-teacher, which is the only reason why she's laying off. She also realized that I do have more power by complaining to higher ups. Yeah she cussed me out for doing so, but later on she was careful how to talk to me.
 


  • baekgom84
  • Waygookin

    • 24

    • December 21, 2010, 12:43:48 pm
    • Ilsan
Re: I love the country, but the job...
« Reply #17 on: February 05, 2013, 11:18:07 am »
Your co-teacher is a dud. It unfortunately happens quite a bit, and can really make or break the experience for people here. I share the sentiments that people have shared regarding her attitude, but I want to add something: be careful about taking the confrontational road. In Korea, you have to pick your battles wisely. Your co-teacher has clearly demonstrated her pettiness; if you confront her in a way that causes her to lose face, she may very well hold a grudge against you for the rest of your employment term and make things much worse, and if she wants to wage an office-politics war against you, she is almost certainly going to win hands-down.

My advice would be to respond in a way that's direct without being hostile. Try to reach some kind of mutual understanding; maybe try to convey to her that her letter upset you, without directly blaming her. It might seem like a weak approach to others, and to be fair it probably is, but a more aggressive approach can quickly lead to problems if you can't speak the language, don't fully understand all the nuances of the culture, and most importantly, don't necessarily have any workmates or other allies who can back you if the proverbial goes down.


Re: I love the country, but the job...
« Reply #18 on: February 05, 2013, 12:42:42 pm »
Try not to let it get to you. I understand it's hard, but she must be massively insecure and just spiteful to write something like that. We've all been invited here for a simple reason, to help them learn English. I suppose your co-teacher probably resents this for any number of reasons, but the the fact is they need English and we speak it.

I had a bitchy co-teacher for my first semester when I arrived and I honestly thought about quitting a few times because of it. I was amazed by some of the things she said to me. I would NEVER have spoken to a foreigner in my home country they way she spoke to me, but I guess that's the difference between us-I'm not an evil troll, she most certainly was :evil:  Luckily she left and it's been plain sailing ever since! Just don't let it get to you. She really isn't worth it.

You can carry on, ignore her and try your best to be a good teacher for your students. You could also try being super nice to her, she'll probably find that really annoying. I know I would  :P


Re: I love the country, but the job...
« Reply #19 on: February 06, 2013, 09:22:36 am »
As someone who has never taught before in her life and did not major in Education, or English for that matter, I found this extremely daunting. The entire 5 months I was not getting any guidance. About 3 months in, my supervisor said that the teachers were dissatisfied with my teaching style. That's when I really started using Waygook, and it seemed like they were happier.

It's tough here even if you have taught before because the system that you are working with is completely different than the one you were trained in and are familiar with.  I'll agree that finding more fun activities from Waygook is a lifesaver.

Quote
Just before the winter camp my supervisor sent me what I felt to be a rude and unprofessional letter.  It would have been less insulting had she written to me about my teaching methods and what I should change (which I gladly would), but she wrote about personal issues.  She mentioned about how much I get paid and how I spend my money.  She also brought up issues about the foreign teachers taking jobs away from Koreans.  I realize that many foreigners are here only for the money, but I am not here for that. I have wanted to come to Korea to teach English since high school.  Not to mention that I would make double the amount back home.  I volunteer at an orphanage every chance I get just to try to show my appreciation to this wonderful country.

I really empathize with you here.  Why do you think she said that to you?  Probably jealousy.  Why jealous?  Because she has anxieties about her own financial situation.  It's not really any different than people in America (just using that as an example since that's where I'm from) complaining about "China taking our jobs away".  It's the same type of complaint -- where we take out our own misfortunes and fears onto someone else even though it's entirely illogical.  Nobody is taking anything away from us -- I mean, seriously, the Korean government wants Native English teachers and that has NOTHING to do with taking jobs from Korean teachers.

One thing that I will say that I like about Korean culture is that its more culturally excepted to say how you feel in business situations.  This is not to say that co-worker you do this with it will go by smoothly (just as in any country), but it's worth a shot.  Just tell her how that made you feel and focus on how that hurt your feelings and made that feel unwanted.  Perhaps also pointing out that this made you feel like you can't trust her (Koreans seem to be pretty big on maintaining trust in relationships... and this is true, after all).

Of course I'm not saying that this method will work perfectly because it really depends upon the people involved and the situation at hand, but it's something to try... that is, if you haven't done anything just yet.

Good luck!