South Korea has been one of the Asian countries that welcome expatriates or foreigners to get teaching experiences in their wealthy country. For a foreigner, this is a huge and wonderful opportunity for both personal and professional life. Living overseas means putting yourself outside of your comfort zone. You need to adapt to their cultural customs, working habits, as well as local ordinances. If you are a first-time foreign Korean tutor, here is some useful information.
South Korean Educational System
Just like most countries, students start at the age of 5 and the education goes on until their mis20s. Official school days start from Monday to Saturday with two Saturdays off for each month. The standard school hours are very long in South Korea. It goes on for 12 hours per day for high school students, 8 hours for middle school students, and 5 hours for elementary pupils. Those standard hours exclude extra classes or tutoring. So, simply prepare yourself for the lengthy teaching hours.
Types of Schools
In Korea, there are public schools, private schools, and also language academies. The people who go to public or private school are usually determined by factors like economic status, scholarships, and availability. Now that you are a foreign Korean tutor, note that students don’t move from class to class. It is the teachers who need to switch rooms. As for language academy, locals call it hagwon. It is a private after-school institution. Most parents send their children to hagwon for extra drills.
Engage With Your Students
This is, of course, important for every teacher. If you teach elementary students, you may find it more relaxing and fun with the joy your young pupils offer. However, if you teach high school students, you might need extra work to connect with them. Middle schoolers are mostly serious because the pressure level is quite high. They are expected to get into top colleges with very stiff competition.
Korean Work Culture
This may sound petty but this is an important aspect of Korean work culture. Saying yes to your boss’ invitation after work is a polite gesture of saying respect. Drinking after work is a common tradition so if you are not a drinker, simply take a little sip of a little soju or rice wine (makgeolli). Take this as a good opportunity to build a better relationship with your co-workers.
Do Go Out With Your Korean Colleagues
You might be invited to several occasions by your teaching colleagues. And again, saying yes is a way to show respect and willingness to be an open friend and confrere especially for a foreigner. You will likely be invited to Korean cultural events and festivities. Consider this as a great moment to learn Korean culture.
Don’t Spend Your Time in Itaewon
We know that this has nothing to do with your teaching occupation but it is worthy advice. Itaewon’s charm successfully shuns many tourists and even locals themselves. Itaewon is one of Seoul’s hottest areas with many attractive outlets, amenities, restaurants, and bars. This is a great place to come once in a while but not for a frequent visit. So make sure you don’t spend too much time here.
Hopefully, the above information will help you as a foreign Korean tutor. You also need to applaud yourself for landing the job that many have dreamed of. You may find bad days but good and adventurous days are surely things to look forward to.