Let me begin this topic by asking you a question, “Are you planning to teach English in a Korean language school? If yes, please continue reading this article. If not, still read it, but just ignore the information that I am writing.
Korean tutorial center is a growing business in the Philippines. Majority of it can be seen in big cities and populated places. At the same time, many Filipinos both young and old are attracted to work and be an ESL teachers for them. My personal experience tells me that this kind of job is fun, demanding, frustrating, and disappointing. However, as I mingle with them, I started to appreciate and understand my Korean students.
So what are the 7 things you must know before you work in a Korean language center? Below are the straightforward and honest answers I gathered from ESL teachers including myself.
1. Every Korean language schools has their own way of learning and teaching English. Three years ago, I worked in two tutorial centers in Paseo Sta.Rosa.Laguna. The tutorial center in the morning was composed of a group of students from Brentville and La Salle, while my afternoon job in another school was to teach a group of university students. These two language centers have their own style of teaching to their students. One time, the employer called me in his office and I was told like this, “Teacher Alfred, you should follow ______ tutorial center teaching method. You should not use your own style. I want you to always speak in the classroom, and my student only listen.” Then I asked why, he replied by saying, “because I want my students to be no 1.” At first, I couldn’t understand. But I realized that its their way of making a trademark for their school. They want to show the other Koreans that their tutorial center is the best,their students are the best,their teachers are the best, their books are the best (even it is just photocopied from other resources). Like what I said, it is a business, and business means competition.
2. Majority of Korean tutorial centers have training for new teachers during the first week of the job, and sometimes for a whole month. And the sad fact is this – some of them will give you half of the payment for that day, or only allowance for transportation and food. Does it sounds unfair? Yes it is. But that is the reality. What’s the purpose of the training? This is to let the new teachers familiarized themselves about the school, classroom daily routine, and maybe your employer wants to see if you are really serious in teaching Korean students.
3. Do not expect to receive benefits like SSS, Philhealth, Pagibig, allowances, bonuses from your employer unless there is an agreement between you and your Korean employer. Despite they are legal to operate as a tutorial center, most of these schools do not give benefits to their teachers. Every teachers that I encountered have past bad experiences with their employers, while others do not have. These are the following reasons why your Korean employer does not care about your benefits:
- Your Korean employer does not know about it.
- Your Korean employer knows,but he does not know how to process it.
- Your Korean employer knows it, but he does not want you to pay.
- You are working as a part-time or a freelance teacher.
3. Not all tutorial centers have a venue for formal English classes. Do not be surprised if you will teach in their house. This is what they always do. They just rent a big house and use it not only as a home for Korean students, but also a school too. They do this to cut their expenses.
4. Your Korean employer will ask you to teach during holidays. Philippine holidays are not a big deal to them. Their only concern is the ESL class of the students. So expect that you will work on holiday, but you can ask your employer to pay you twice by explaining to him that the law requires it.
How about Korean students? What will you do if you will encounter these situations on the first day of your teaching job?
5. Korean students always say that their country is the best among the rest. Last time I had discussion with my Korean students about the biggest mall in Philippines. I was telling them that Mall of Asia is the biggest in Philippines. Then one student interrupted me while I was talking and said, “No teacher, you are wrong. Our mall in Seoul is the biggest in the world.” If you will encounter this kind of situation, just ignore it. Do not get irritated if they will say that Samsung is the best brand or Gang Nam style is the best dance in the world. Korean students do this because they are proud of their heritage and their country. However, there are situations that you must explain or reprove them like what I did to one of my students. One of my students in grammar was telling his classmates that Filipinos are not good in English. I just smiled and asked him, “Why are you here in Philippines?, then everybody laughed. If you will encounter this kind of situation, do not get mad. Reprove the student in a loving way. You will earn respect from your students.
6. Korean students are always tired and sleepy. Do not fret if your students feel this way. You need to understand them that English is not the only subject they study. They have Math in English, Science in English, Filipino in English, etc. If your students feel sleepy during class time, then think of a class activity that will make them active and alive.
7. Korean students will always complain that English is too hard for them. If your student will complain about this, then you must do something as a teacher. It does not mean that they do not like English, they just have problems understanding it. Remember that English is not their second language. Be patient with them. Do everything that you can help them to appreciate English. Maybe something is wrong with the way you teach English. If there is, then change it or improve. There are hundreds of ways to do it
I hope you find this article helpful. If you are planning to work as an ESL teacher to Koreans, then this article will be helpful to you.
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