Koreans tend to care a great deal about their education. In fact, most students supplement their studies by attending one or more Private Learning Institutions after school. There are literally thousands of these Private Learning Institutions specializing in teaching English and catered to students of all ages. These Private Learning Institutions are called ‘Hagwon’ by the locals.
Many English teachers are hired throughout the year to teach English at Hagwons in Korea. They are the most common type of English teaching jobs in Korea, often requiring little or no previous teaching experience. It is relatively easy to conduct English classes at a Hagwon since the teaching curriculum and manuals are provided.
However, teaching at a Hagwon usually means a greater number of hours per week (30 in-class hours versus 22 in-class hours at a Public School) and less vacation days per year (10 days versus 18 days at a Public School). That being said, the class sizes tend to be a lot smaller than at a public school, with the number of students ranging from 5 to 15.
For both options, the salaries will be similar, with slight variances depending on your qualifications. However, the upside of working for a Hagwon is that they usually have more native English-speaking teachers who can help you get acquainted with daily life in Korea. Also, the relationship between you and your boss can be much more intimate than the one you might have at a Public School. Most Hagwons are run like a business and they will treat you like family.
For a typical Korean, extra education begins before the elementary level. Hagwons may specialize in a variety of subjects like Math, Science, Art, Music or English and it is very common for them to offer integrated instructions in several subjects. These are known as Soksem Hagwon (elementary level), Ipsi Hagwon (secondary school level) and Gosi Hagwon (college students and adults for preparing for the civil service examinations).
Some Hagwons offer English classes to adults but they tend to hire teachers with higher qualifications and/or more teaching experience. More importantly, these jobs tend be filled by English teachers already residing in Korea. For this reason, it is bit more challenging to find positions for teaching adults; however, those positions do not necessarily guarantee a higher salary or more benefits.
As you can see, choosing the right position is a confusing matter. There are ‘PROS’ and ‘CONS’ to each school type, which you should consider before making your decision. Please review the information included in the 'Private Institution' section of our site to help you make the right decision in choosing a Hagwon that suits you the best.