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  • VanIslander
  • Moderator LVL 1

    • 2422

    • June 02, 2011, 10:12:19 am
    • Seogwipo, Jeju Island
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Re: Does teaching English in Korea make you feel like a loser?
« Reply #60 on: June 11, 2015, 08:11:55 am »
Only when I visit discussion boards. :rolleyes:


Re: Does teaching English in Korea make you feel like a loser?
« Reply #61 on: June 11, 2015, 09:36:34 am »
I voted "sometimes," but the truth is, I don't anymore. When I finished my first round of teaching English and came back to the States, for the first months I struggled to find a FT job, I DID feel like a loser. Maybe I was un-employable. Maybe I should've stayed in the States longer after graduation and invested in work that would've given me "hard skills."

But then I got a job, two jobs, then my FT dream job, with benefits. And when I came back to Korea again, it was voluntary. So, no, I don't feel like a loser anymore.

But I do worry about people--specifically men or main income-earners-- who think they can stay here long term. It's all well and good to have a $3,000/month salary on a yearly contract, an F6 visa, and a few privates on the side. What happens when Koreans (ie your client base) suddenly think you to be old, past your prime? Not energetic enough to teach kids? Or, for company ESL, too far out of the game to keep up with current business English? Although I don't know for certain, I'd guess that your job prospects go down. Teaching English here, or in most any country, as a contract worker, has no job security.
I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes-- until I met a man with no feet.


Re: Does teaching English in Korea make you feel like a loser?
« Reply #62 on: June 11, 2015, 09:47:58 am »
Quote
Teaching English here, or in most any country, as a contract worker, has no job security.


Maybe if you're talking about long term job security with specific institutions, but I'd say the field as a whole is pretty secure. I've never met an unemployed person who told me their field was TEFL and they'd been looking for a job for 6 months + . This can happen a lot in specific fields back home. Also job security as a whole is becoming less and less common. My brother, who's in the financial services industry back home, has been made redundant far more often than I have for example. The key to succeeding in TEFL is to gain some speciality through experience or qualifications which lifts you out of the main job market that solely relies on youth, gender, looks, race, enthusiasm etc..


  • yfb
  • Expert Waygook

    • 864

    • July 05, 2010, 11:50:12 am
Re: Does teaching English in Korea make you feel like a loser?
« Reply #63 on: June 11, 2015, 10:02:04 am »
I voted "sometimes," but the truth is, I don't anymore. When I finished my first round of teaching English and came back to the States, for the first months I struggled to find a FT job, I DID feel like a loser. Maybe I was un-employable. Maybe I should've stayed in the States longer after graduation and invested in work that would've given me "hard skills."

But then I got a job, two jobs, then my FT dream job, with benefits. And when I came back to Korea again, it was voluntary. So, no, I don't feel like a loser anymore.

But I do worry about people--specifically men or main income-earners-- who think they can stay here long term. It's all well and good to have a $3,000/month salary on a yearly contract, an F6 visa, and a few privates on the side. What happens when Koreans (ie your client base) suddenly think you to be old, past your prime? Not energetic enough to teach kids? Or, for company ESL, too far out of the game to keep up with current business English? Although I don't know for certain, I'd guess that your job prospects go down. Teaching English here, or in most any country, as a contract worker, has no job security.

You pretty much nailed it.

In 2011, I went back to the States. I had no contacts in the US as they had all moved on with their own careers. After months of fruitless searching and attending job coaching seminars, I took a job doing support desk work for a major IT corporation. For $12.55 an hour I was on the phone for 9 hours a day with zero benefits aside from the pay. I lived with the parents. I did feel like a loser then. It was a miserable experience and not one I'm happy to repeat. So I decided to go back to Korea to find out what I wanted to do.

Currently I have one of the easiest PS jobs in the country. Great apartment, fantastic kids and co-workers, and plenty of materials, and a pretty chill principal. I'm at the top end of the PS pay scale. This is pretty much as good as it gets.

And yet I don't feel fulfilled. I'm doing the same thing day in and day out spinning my wheels in the mud going nowhere. Like you said before, there is no job security and this position could be axed at the end of the year with the ongoing cuts. GEPIK cut funding for the cities, they cut rural MS and HS, and now they're going to cut rural ES any year now. Our input is neither valued nor acted on. There are no signs any of the PS English textbooks took foreigners' opinions into consideration. We are outside the system.

If I'm here still teaching EFL at 60, just shoot me now. The last thing I want is to die on this peninsula an embittered F-visa lifer.


  • Piggydee
  • The Legend

    • 2716

    • October 15, 2013, 07:32:43 am
    • South Korea
Re: Does teaching English in Korea make you feel like a loser?
« Reply #64 on: June 11, 2015, 10:13:22 am »
I think I have a little check list that you can take to let you know if you are a loser or not here in Korea.

1. Did you come here for the girls/guys?
2. Did you watch a program like K-drama or watch K-pop and thought it was a mirror image of the countries people?
3. Do you have no interest in learning or improving the Korean you know?
4. Do you actually care about the kids you teach?
5. Do you show up hung over to work more than twice in a school year? (It's okay we've all been there but we feel shameful about it and NEVER DO IT AGAIN)
6. Do you just throw a deck of UNO or pop on a youtube vid and tell your kids "자유 시간" while you go back to your desk and look at waygook.org or facebook?  (or YOUR SMARTPHONE)
7. Do you complain CONTANTLY about the people here?
8. Do you get wasted most weekends?
 
If you answer YES to 6 or more of these questions, than you might be a redne....I mean loser.  LOL ^^
« Last Edit: June 11, 2015, 10:16:08 am by Piggydee »


Re: Does teaching English in Korea make you feel like a loser?
« Reply #65 on: June 11, 2015, 10:23:13 am »
Quote
Teaching English here, or in most any country, as a contract worker, has no job security.


Maybe if you're talking about long term job security with specific institutions, but I'd say the field as a whole is pretty secure. I've never met an unemployed person who told me their field was TEFL and they'd been looking for a job for 6 months + . This can happen a lot in specific fields back home. Also job security as a whole is becoming less and less common. My brother, who's in the financial services industry back home, has been made redundant far more often than I have for example. The key to succeeding in TEFL is to gain some speciality through experience or qualifications which lifts you out of the main job market that solely relies on youth, gender, looks, race, enthusiasm etc..

Agreed. I think you're right in saying it's important to get qualifications (on paper) and experience at reputable institutions/companies. Someone above mentioned something about four years Ding Ding Dong hagwon singing hokey-pokey for four years, lol--this type of experience doesn't count for much past a certain point.

But I'm also thinking about the unstated income cap. In Korea, they have those celebrity, star teachers with star incomes. But how do you get past, say, the 4million won/month gap, with your career alone? Success and not being a loser isn't based on income, but it would make me feel crappy earning the 3million won max salary at a hagwon 20 or 30 years down the road... what about retirement? Are you supposed to rely on other investments? A great number of tutoring clients? There are only so many hours in the day.

Versus a stable job (*stable relative to life's craziness) in a specific field that gives you incremental raises over time.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2015, 10:24:48 am by purpleradish »
I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes-- until I met a man with no feet.


Re: Does teaching English in Korea make you feel like a loser?
« Reply #66 on: June 11, 2015, 10:41:02 am »
I think there is a perception among Koreans that foreigners who teach English here do it because they are unemployable in their home countries. Or maybe they couldn't find girlfriend in their home countries. Or they might even have history of drug use or criminal behavior.

I've noticed that Koreans often act very unimpressed when I tell them what I do here. I had one ajossi in a bar tell me, "I don't like male ESL teachers. I like female ESL teachers." A few years ago I joined a dating website. In one profile, a Korean girl said that ESL teachers should not even bother sending her a message because she wasn't interested in dating losers.

I've taught English in other countries, but Korea is the only place where I've felt that teaching English is something to be ashamed about.

Well, in the last decade, a lot of Koreans were racist and stuck up.  I think the bad economy the last few years has made  a lot of them eat their humble pie. 

I was employable in myhome country, but my region was an economic wasteland.  So, I was unemployable in certain circumstances when it came to better paying jobs which were far and few between I guess.  As for not finding a girlfriend at home, quite a few girls were sad to see me leave and come over here.  As for a criminal record, I had to give an RCMP check when I got over here. 

As for the future, being debt free, having a very high credit rating, and high savings rate makes me better than anyone stuck up.  I have a country I can go back to with blue skies and clean air.  They don't.  So, eff them. 


Re: Does teaching English in Korea make you feel like a loser?
« Reply #67 on: June 11, 2015, 10:44:36 am »
Quote
But I'm also thinking about the unstated income cap. In Korea, they have those celebrity, star teachers with star incomes. But how do you get past, say, the 4million won/month gap, with your career alone? Success and not being a loser isn't based on income, but it would make me feel crappy earning the 3million won max salary at a hagwon 20 or 30 years down the road... what about retirement? Are you supposed to rely on other investments? A great number of tutoring clients? There are only so many hours in the day.

If you were earning 3 million won at a hagwan 20 or 30 years down the road then you wouldn't have made any effort to rise above the basic market in teaching as I mentioned before. Korean super teachers aside, you'll never get a really good salary just teaching English as there are too many people able and willing to do it and too many employers just looking for a cheap body to fill a space. You'd would need to specialize somehow. Lots of people I know have done this and are doing pretty well. There's the academic route, Masters PHD etc.. Which a lot of people aren't willing to put the hours in on, the management route, which gives you a lot of hassle, the training route, usually short contracts with les security than teaching but better paid. The materials development route. Getting your foot in the door is difficult but I did a course with a top text book writer recently who was getting paid 4 grand (pounds) for conducting a week's workshop. All these specialist jobs require a lot of extra work/study, networking,  skills developing etc..which the majority of teachers ( most of whom are pretty lazy, let's be honest, but nothing wrong with that)  are not prepared to put in. As with all jobs that's why they pay better.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2015, 10:46:47 am by eggieguffer »


Re: Does teaching English in Korea make you feel like a loser?
« Reply #68 on: June 11, 2015, 10:52:38 am »
Quote
But I'm also thinking about the unstated income cap. In Korea, they have those celebrity, star teachers with star incomes. But how do you get past, say, the 4million won/month gap, with your career alone? Success and not being a loser isn't based on income, but it would make me feel crappy earning the 3million won max salary at a hagwon 20 or 30 years down the road... what about retirement? Are you supposed to rely on other investments? A great number of tutoring clients? There are only so many hours in the day.

If you were earning 3 million won at a hagwan 20 or 30 years down the road then you wouldn't have made any effort to rise above the basic market in teaching as I mentioned before. Korean super teachers aside, you'll never get a really good salary just teaching English as there are too many people able and willing to do it and too many employers just looking for a cheap body to fill a space. You'd would need to specialize somehow. Lots of people I know have done this and are doing pretty well. There's the academic route, Masters PHD etc.. Which a lot of people aren't willing to put the hours in on, the management route, which gives you a lot of hassle, the training route, usually short contracts with les security than teaching but better paid. The materials development route. Getting your foot in the door is difficult but I did a course with a top text book writer recently who was getting paid 4 grand (pounds) for conducting a week's workshop. All these specialist jobs require a lot of extra work/study, networking,  skills developing etc..which the majority of teachers ( most of whom are pretty lazy, let's be honest, but nothing wrong with that)  are not prepared to put in. As with all jobs that's why they pay better.

Ah, with your detail, I see more of what you mean. Again, I agree! You've got to make the extra effort for the networking, higher degrees, skill certifications, etc.
I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes-- until I met a man with no feet.


Re: Does teaching English in Korea make you feel like a loser?
« Reply #69 on: June 11, 2015, 11:58:56 am »
This teaching "English" in Korea does have a stigma.

But what most Koreans don't know. For the majority of us, it's a transition period.

We get to travel, live, and save money at the same time just because we "speak" a language.

It's part jealousy/part justifiable.

Some foreigners do fit the stereotypes while most don't. Same can be said about the stereotypes we place on Koreans. It goes both ways.




Re: Does teaching English in Korea make you feel like a loser?
« Reply #70 on: June 11, 2015, 12:42:37 pm »
"It's part jealousy/part justifiable."

It's more jealousy.

Even more so in the current job market in Korea.

Starting salaries are going down as are the number of vacancies, house prices are going up, and so is the cost of everyday living.

Korean military service is almost a social necessity.

Imagine the social impact of hundreds of thousands of extra young unemployed men. 

The vast majority of us can go home, or elsewhere and do similar / better - we have options.

The vast majority of Koreans don't.

That's were the jealousy comes in.

And as bleak as we may think options are back home at times, the future for Korea looks even bleaker.


Re: Does teaching English in Korea make you feel like a loser?
« Reply #71 on: June 11, 2015, 01:58:26 pm »
I've worked in public schools in the US (as a part-time gig), and also come from a family chock-full of teachers back home. Honestly, I feel like Koreans are MORE respectful of foreign teachers than your average parent back in the states is of their kid's school teacher.

Typical comments: teachers these days don't know anything, teaching is a cushy job with luxurious benefits, anyone can teach, teachers need to get their pay cut, all teachers are getting away with murder and need more standardized testing, how dare teachers' unions ask for better conditions, etc.

Soooo... I feel like just teaching as a profession is enough to get someone called a loser, there are obviously assholes everywhere, and I don't think it's anything especially loser-y about ESL in Korea.  :sad:
"Don't Panic"


Re: Does teaching English in Korea make you feel like a loser?
« Reply #72 on: June 11, 2015, 02:01:31 pm »
Nah part justifiable. 99% of  are not qualified to teach in our home countries.

Koreans know the low standards 'required'  being a NET in public school.

We are glorified babysitters/English monkeys. Once you realize this, you with understand where the justifiable part comes into play.

We like to think we are 'teachers'. But the truth is, well you know......


And TBH, I am thankful for the opportunity to 'teach' in Korea. I was able to travel, earn a decent wage, and start my masters program thanks to the inept program we call EPIK.
 



  • Loki88
  • Expert Waygook

    • 722

    • July 25, 2014, 08:41:07 am
    • Seoul
Re: Does teaching English in Korea make you feel like a loser?
« Reply #73 on: June 11, 2015, 02:39:56 pm »
We like to think we are 'teachers'. But the truth is, well you know......

I don't know many people who actually think this. I know some Koreans who seem to think we think this and act accordingly however.