“What’s it like teaching English in South Korea?”
I get this question all the time, right after, “Why’d you decide to come to Korea?” For some reason, people seem to think that being an ESL teacher in South Korea is a glamorous position. The truth is, after a while, things are pretty regular. Once the students get used to you, your days go by just as they would anywhere else.
Being an English teacher with EPIK is a lot less stressful than my previous teaching position. Although I have a 40 hour work week, only 22 of those are actually spent teaching. (Well, even less than that, since each class is only 40 minutes). That leaves me with a bunch of desk-warming time, which can be used for planning, prepping, or Instagram-stalking.
Here’s my schedule:
I teach 19 regular classes and 3 after-school classes each week. Since I am the only native English Teacher at my school, I teach 3rd-6th grade, but I only see each class once a week. My busiest days are Tuesdays and Fridays, where I have 5 classes, but the other days are pretty easy.
* If you’re an English teacher with EPIK, you only have 22 teaching hours per week. If your school schedules you for more than 22 hours, you will receive overtime pay.
This is a typical day at my school:
8:40 am: Arrive at school. Go to my office and check for messages on my computer. Personal email systems like Gmail are blocked on school computers so teachers send messages to each other on the CoolMessenger system. This is always the first thing I do, because I might have messages letting me know that classes are cancelled.
This is where I spend the majority of my time, in my office that I currently share with the Sports Teacher. Equipped with a couch, a refrigerator, sink, and a heater right above my head, this is where you’ll find me when I’m not teaching classes or eating lunch.
9:00 am – 9:40 am: 1st period I teach classes in 3 different English rooms. My English co-teachers have to teach Music in those rooms as well, so it’s just easier for me to have my own office.
9:50 am – 10:30 am: 2nd period
*There’s a 10 minute break between each class.
10:40 am – 11: 20 am: 3rd period
11:30 am – 12: 10 am: 4th period
12:10pm – 1:00pm Lunchtime. This is usually when most teachers eat lunch because this is also when the students eat lunch. It’s just easier this way.
1:00 pm – 1:40 pm: 5th period (I only have these classes on Mondays and Tuesdays. Otherwise, I’m desk-warming).
1:50 pm – 2:30 pm: Usually, this is more desk-warming time, unless it’s a Thursday. On Thursdays, I teach a 6th grade English Club during this time.
2:40 pm – 3:20 pm: On Tuesdays and Fridays, I teach after-school classes at this time. Otherwise, more desk-warming.
The rest of the day, until 4:40pm when I leave, is spent desk-warming.
Pretty chill schedule, right? This is pretty much the same schedule that I had last year, with the exception of a few classes, but it could change a little when the new school year begins in March. It’s important to note that a person’s schedule really depends on their school. Some EPIK teachers see some of their classes more than once a week and have overtime. It all depends on what your school wants.
Keep the questions coming! What other questions do you have about working as an English teacher in Korea?