An American Teaching English in South Korea

What's it really like to teach at a Korean hagwon? Here's the word from someone who's done it successfully.

Korea has thousands of these private academies. Unlike public schools, they don't require an education degree or a teaching certificate. If English is your native language, and you have a bachelor's degree - in any field - you can be an ESL / EFL teacher. (See requirements.)

Margaret spent a year in English instruction at Best Language Institute in the city of Kangnung (Gangneung), part of Kangwon (Gangwon) Province, near South Korea's eastern seaboard. This is her story of that year.

Korea and hagwon teaching have changed since Margaret lived there. How could they not? Still, every time we revisit Korea, we find that some things don't change. If you're considering spending some time in the Land of the Morning Calm, maybe what she learned about Korea will help you, too.

Teaching in Korea

FAQ explains why Korea needs native English speakers as teachers, discusses how to find a hagwon job and avoid bad experiences, describes teaching in a hagwon, and talks about life in Korea.

Avoiding Cultural Pitfalls

Gets into some of the main cultural differences between the west and Korea, and gives tips for staying out of trouble. Includes some historical perspective and a basic guide to good manners.

Margaret's Journal

A detailed account of Margaret's year-long stay in Korea, in her words.

Photo Album

Photographs and detailed descriptions show you something of Korean culture and lifestyle. Most of these are from the early 2000s, with a few into the mid-2000s, so they're really more historic than current.

Best Language Institute

Describes the place where Margaret worked, and has a little about what's happened there since she left Korea.

ESL/EFL Related Links

Links for further reading on teaching English as a Second Language and English as a Foreign Language, and on Korean attitudes, culture, and cuisine.


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