Monday, May 18, 2009


Well... that was a different kind of weekend.


emsily said...

Hi George,
I am interested in teaching in Korea this summer and your blog has helped me feel more comfortable. I've been reading a lot of horror stories about corrupt hagwons. Would you recommend a first year teacher to avoid hagwons and stick with public school jobs?

Thank you. I really appreciate any advice you have for me.


George Bailey Sees The World! said...

Hey, Emily - so sorry it's taken me ages to get back to you. I couldn't connect to your blog to message you there, so I hope you do come back to read this comment. Feel free to leave your email if you wish...

For every hundred negative comments that you'll find about any given hagwon, you'll have another hundred that are positive.

Having worked in a hagwon last year, I would say that I was in the slim minority of teachers who actually feel that the experience was, for the most part, a very positive one. With hagwons, the thing you have to remember is that it is a business - therefore, the parents and their tuition fees laregly dictate the goings-on at the school.

For example, if the hagwon across the street says that they will teach a child a 600 page book in two months, and your hagwon can only offer to teach a 400 page book, guess where the overachiever's parents will send him?

There will likely be a lot of similar decisions being made in hagwons these days - especially as the economy remains uncertain. People hit the panic button and increase the occurrence of decisions based on the bottom line as opposed to the quality of education etc.

The best piece of advice I could give is to pick your battles, expect strange decisions to come your way, and expect a lot of extra work from time to time as said changes are rolled-out.

So much really depends on your branch, your manager, your co-teachers, and the other Korean staff.

Should you decide to go with a hagwon, if you care about your kids, and you have a decent work ethic, you can make anything work.

Wherever you go, insit on getting contact information from two current teachers so that you can ask candid questions of them before signing a contract. This is standard procedure.

Anyway, I could go on and on. Should you read this and are interested in asking more, feel free to email me and we can go from there.

Good luck!