Teaching English as a Foreign Language in Korea …Teacher

A friend of mine had lived in Korea for awhile and said that one could make good money there teaching English ($30-$40/hr). I wasn’t doing anything at the time, so I figured I might as well join him. At the very least it would be a fun experience.

And that is exactly what it was but I didn’t earn a ton of money.

My friend picked me up from the airport and helped me find a place. He spoke a bit of the language and I don’t know what I would have done without him.

We went to an area around Seoul National University and found housing. There are lots of rooming houses which cater to students in the area. We went to one of the many agencies, explained that I wanted a room for 2-3 months and they walked us down the road to this quaint little house with 7 or 8 rooms. We met my ajama (house mother) and she gave us a price…I saw other places, but got the best vibe from the first one and moved in later that night. The price included laundry and meals, so all survival was taken care of. Now I had to find work.

I was basically working ilegally, so it wasn’t so easy. All the schools required visas or degrees or long term commitments. I met this dodgy guy who said he could get me a job, but I would have had to move out of Seoul which would have been scary. I thought he was a setup at first and had all my stuff with me in case he deported me.

The other thing is that I’m not a white American, and schools often prefer that for English teachers. I guess it gives students confidence.

Anyways, I eventually took matters into my own hands and put up posters at the university offering private courses. I even wrote a bit of Korean on it.

The response was mixed. I got a couple of students who I became good friends with as I taught them English from USA today. They were a lot of fun and I eventually visited them in Pusan.

I got a rather quiet young lady who wanted to become a stewardess and needed help interviewing. I have a feeling she wanted to stop being quiet and do wild traveling things. So I mock interviewed here for awhile…I think she fancied me a bit which was odd. Actually, everything about our interaction was odd as I had to carry the conversations. But she did pay…

I got a businessman’s wife who paid well, but I had to travel far to meet her so it evened out.

I got a high school student, studying in the US, who needed help with his book report. His parents were quite well off, so they could pay well too…but often he didn’t read and so they would cancel my lesson.

In all, it was a good experience and I about broke even. I learned a lot and I don’t regret it. Socially, I met a lot of people and did a lot of Karaoke. I think Karaoke gets a bad rap in the US.

Towards the end, I started going to video booths and watching New York movies. I missed the states and the anonymity of being there. In Korea, foreigners really stand out…indeed, I got to be on this tv show once as they needed foreigners to judge weird things that Koreans do. Funny stuff.