Hopefully you enjoyed the first part of my blog ChungDahm Teacher Asks Top Questions About Teaching in Korea. Today I will answer some of the other popular questions that I have been asked by candidates who are interested in teaching in Korea for ChungDahm.
I hear a lot about what is going on with North Korea. Is Korea really that safe?
Even though Seoul is close to the DMZ (North-South Korea border), I think all of the teachers who have come to teach in South Korea feel pretty safe from North Korea. I have been in South Korea for 6 years and we always hear about the rhetoric that the North Korean dictator says. Most of us just brush it off and continue with our daily lives and many of my Korean friends don’t even pay attention to what he says because the likelihood of something happening is very low.
Furthermore, it is illegal for citizens to own guns so going out at night is pretty comfortable. Also it is illegal to have drugs here so finding it is extremely hard. I have never felt so safe in my life than when I have been in Korea. One of my closest friends for instance used to walk home at 3AM in the morning by herself. Don’t get me wrong, bad things can happen but for the most part, when it comes to safety, a lot of people feel great living here.
What is the work schedule like?
Most teachers will have anywhere between 24-30 teaching hours a week however that depends on the schedule the branch sets up for the team. ChungDahm classes run in 3 hour blocks while April classes run for 45 minutes each session. Because April starts early, some of our teachers start at 2:30. However, for ChungDahm, teaching starts at 4 and ends at either 7 or 10PM. Now many people think that this is late however I really like it because it allows me to go to the gym in the morning, sleep in, and stay out late with friends. Some of us even get out at 7 o’clock and only have a 3 hour work day which means there are nights where we can still go out as a group. Some branches have their teachers come in early to prepare the day’s lesson, to make photocopies, or to get feedback from management. This is all quite normal so please keep that in mind.
I read online that we teach on Saturdays Is that true?
Many branches like to have their teachers off on the weekends because that will help the teacher appreciate Korea more. However, there may be a time when you may need to work on a Saturday (usually only for make-up classes). At my branch, this has been extremely rare and we still get paid for it. Some larger branches may have teachers come in on a Saturday to teach but they usually allow the teacher to still have 2 days off during the week. If this is a concern, make sure to check with the branch that you have signed with.
Besides teaching, what other things are we expected to do?
Obviously, teaching is the biggest part of our job here. We need to be able to connect well with the students and make sure that they have the proper skills to do well on their Toefl Jr. or iBT exam at the end of the term. However, many branches ask teachers to complete a report card on their students so that the Korean staff can contact their parents. Without this information, it is very difficult to explain to parents why they should have their child continue to study with us. Also, there are welcoming and end of term comments that must be done to encourage our students. Each branch is different so make sure to check with your team leader so that he/she can set the expectations with you.
These were the most common questions that I have been asked over the past few years. Like I’ve said in the past, I really enjoy working for ChungDahm. If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t have stayed here for my 6th year. I’ve been lucky to have a great management team and have some really amazing co-workers. And finally, I really enjoy my students and have built bonds with them. It has been great watching them grow. So if you are thinking of either a one year contract or thinking about staying in Korea for longer, ChungDahm may be the right fit for you.
Marc Gonzales has been living in Seoul working at the ChungDahm's Gangdong Branch for 5 years now. During those 5 years, he worked his way up from being a teacher and is now a faculty manager for that location. He majored in Finance and Marketing at the University of Nevada Las Vegas while working as a manager for a national bank. In his spare time, he enjoys outdoor activities like hiking the numerous mountains around Seoul and biking along the massive Han River. To know more about him and his adventures living in Korea, follow Marc on Twitter @geonmakku and on Instagram @geonmakku.