ESL South Korea

Training and Orientation in Korea

Most foreign teachers in Korea do not have experience in teaching and do not have a degree in education.  This means that many of us need some sort of training or basic orientation on the Korean education system or the teaching of Korean kids.  There are a couple of ways this materializes at the beginning of your contract.

If you are employed with EPIK, a mandatory one week orientation is held before the commencement of your contract.  I participated in an EPIK orientation in 2017 and, contrary to my expectations, found the training to be very professional and informing.  EPIK takes great care of gently introducing new teachers to the culture and life of Korea, as well as the culture of education.  Unfortunately you are expected to attend this orientation without remuneration, but free housing, meals and activities are provided.  Complete details of where and when this orientation takes will is provided before you step on the plane to Korea.

For Hagwon, private school or University employees orientation is wholly dependent on the organization you work for.  As said before, most applicants won’t have any prior teaching experience, but your school or hagwon might not require you undergo any lengthy training or orientation.

At Hagwons the situation usually works like this:  As you, the new teacher commences with your contract you are of course (or usually) taking over from somebody who’s been at the school for the last 12 months.  You might have a day or two with this person who will attempt to help you quickly acclimatise to the new working environment and get used to the school’s academic structure.  Any training usually consists of observing classes of this foreign teacher and asking questions where necessary.

Sometimes new teachers might be surprised to find out they have to teach on their very first day, though my experience is that this is not usually the case.  But even if it is, it’s good to keep in mind that your boss will be happy as long as your students are in your presence, and he’ll be less concerned about exactly WHAT you did with them!

This may seem overwhelming, but new teachers in Korea discover quickly enough that Korean hagwon employers are less concerned about the content of your classes, and more concerned with the fact that the children have the opportunity to interact with a foreigner in a small class setting (This is, after all, all the parents really want!).