Archives for the month of: May, 2015
Tsinghua University

Image credit: Jens Schott Knudsen

Posted: 13/04/15
Last updated: 12/05/15

As noted in my article Getting a University Job in Korea, the minimum criteria almost across the board lately is to have a Master’s and two years experience at university level. There are some accepting without, but by the time I get my Master’s it will be the standard. But how to get this experience?

The most obvious answer I can think of is to teach in a country with a less competitive job market. These markets seem to be parts of Asia and the Middle East.

A few countries stand out to me personally. I’ve started by compiling information and observations about them across some time. I’ll probably start by accumulating job listings I can find across a few weeks.

China

First impressions: A Master’s Degree is not a requirement for most positions. Research into the reputation and lifestyle in the areas of the universities would be really important here. Posts keep saying “only apply if you’re seriously ready to come to China” almost like a warning, as though people bail out fairly frequently, because they can’t handle living in China. For me, I’ll probably want to live in or near a city, and preferably somewhere with a milder climate… I’m not sure that exists though. I would definitely consider moving to China though. Some jobs provide free Chinese lessons, which is great, and I would really appreciate.

Vietnam

I’m having even more difficulty finding positions in Vietnam than in Thailand. But even at RMIT’s campuses the qualifications don’t seem particularly rigorous. I would be very interested in a position at RMIT internationally and would probably jump at the opportunity.

Thailand

The best resource for jobs in Thailand seems to be ajarn/ajarnjobspace, with another resource being gooverseas.com. Try using the search function for “university” on ajarn if positions aren’t showing up in the board, this appeared to bring up contemporary results when I tried it. Some advice can be found at studyinthailand.org. A reasonable article about teaching in Thai universities can be found here, but it’s undated.

Ajarn notes:

There’s an old saying that the best jobs never get advertised and teaching jobs are no different.

Who knows what gems you might unearth by simply enquiring at the school admin office or making a speculative phone call? There’s a school near my house that’s had a ‘teachers wanted’ sign hanging on the school gate for months. They’ve probably never heard of ajarn.com either.

Others

Past job listings

China

Vietnam

Thailand

Others

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Why Learn Korean?

This question is really important to me, as I try to justify the time, energy, and expense of Korean language learning. I know I want to improve my Korean, but I think it’s important to be critical of my reasoning, to keep me motivated.

Largely, I think it’s due to my strong desire to actively engage with Korean culture, which overall thus far I’ve immensely enjoyed. I don’t want to be experiencing life in Korea like I’m watching a fish tank. I want to swim around, blow some bubbles, lay eggs on some rocks. It’s been a goal of mine for a long time to learn a second language. I feel like the more I learn the wider my worldview grows.

I also feel like it’s almost the least I can do for having the privilege of living and working a decent job in Korea. I feel like a burden requiring staff to speak English to help me. They couldn’t get away with that here.

Altruism aside, if I do want a successful career teaching English, then learning Korean would surely be valuable at some point. As jobs become more and more competitive in Korea, it would give me a competitive edge. Maybe I could break out of the teaching industry briefly or permanently. If I work out, maybe I could model before I get too old. If I know double the languages surely double the employment opportunities would be open to me anyway. Not that I really think my Korean will reach a professional level, but it’s possible.

If I can easily engage in conversations across a range of different contexts, then I’ll be happy with my one year in Korea. If I can communicate 90% of my ideas and opinions, I’ll be happy. Hopefully I’ll be able to make some jokes. Even if I make mistakes, and can only half-understand dramas without subtitles, then I’ll be satisfied. There’s going to be a lot of new and specific vocabulary though. It’ll take hard work.

How?

I need to commit to learning, and have a routine, including independent study time.

But I don’t have the discipline to do it on my own, so I think committing my Tuesday and Thursday mornings to lessons at Omija Korean would be a valuable investment. Maybe once I get settled and comfortable teaching, I can up it to Monday through Thursday, if I reckon it’s worth the cost. Tuesdays and Thursdays would be 160,000 KRW a month. I think 3 months of studying Korean two days a week, then 7 months of studying 4 days a week would help me gain leaps and bounds. I’ve yet to find any other Korean hagwons or university language programs that could fit around my timetable.

Free Korean classes are also definitely worth checking out. These include the ones at Hangul Kongbubang, which may be Saturdays 4-5:30PM if Semester 2 is the same as Semester 1. The Yeongdeungpo Global Village Center and Ichon Global Village Center look closest to me, and it seems like they run Korean classes, I just can’t find any contact email addresses or information in English. Seorae Global Village Center isn’t much further, either.

Beyond this, hopefully I can make some Korean speaking friends who I would practice with. If not, then a language exchange partner with whom I can have maybe designated activities or chats where we speak only English and only Korean. Maybe we could each keep a journal, and when we meet we can edit each other’s journals and practice our fluency by reading them after. Talk to Me in Korean and Go! Billy Korean are pretty good free online resources (even if Billy is a bit irritating).