The Differences between Private Institutions and PRIVATE LANGUAGE INSTITUTION

  PRIVATE LANGUAGE INSTITUTION (HAGWON) PUBLIC SCHOOL
Employer Private Individual or Corporation Korean Ministry of Education, Provincial Office of Education etc.
Ability to choose location Yes. Seoul, Busan, Daegu…almost any city that you want to go live and work in is available through the private school system. No specific placement requests. You can choose between Metropolitan City, Provincial Province, or “Flexible.” Where you end up is very much dependent upon when you can get your documents to Korea as well as your qualifications.
Qualifications Bachelor degree in any subject.
No experience necessary (most cases)
TEFL not necessary (most cases)
Although teaching experience, TEFL/
TESOL certificates, and a BA in English may get you an even higher salary.
Higher qualifications are required.
GPA: Preferred to have at least 3.0/4.0
Bachelor: BA in English, English Literature, English Writing, Linguistics and Education preferred.
If your degree is not one of the above, then you need to get a TESOL/TEFL certificate (minimum 100 hours) or have 1 year of teaching experience.
Even then, some provincial offices of education do not accept online TEFL/TESOL certifications.
Procedure complexity Relatively simple. Requires:
Interview
Apostilled/Korean Consulate certified CRC
Apostilled/Korean Consulate certified
Bachelor’s degree
Complex and time intensive. Requires:
10 Page application form
2 Page lesson plan
500-800 word Personal essay
2 Letters of Reference
Interview
Apostilled/Korean Consulate certified CRC
Apostilled/Korean Consulate certified Bachelor’s degree
Process Length Takes approximately 3-4 months. You are almost virtually guaranteed the job and location after a successful interview with your prospective employer. Takes approximately 6-8 months.
* Success is not guaranteed. After going through the entire process, you may still not get the job.
Positions Available Over 10,000 per year all over Korea. Approximately 1,500 per year. Competition for these jobs is fierce.
Reliability Your contract will be created in accordance to the labor laws set by the Korean government. There is a slight risk of being let go if the institution faces financial difficulties (it happens but not very often). Will not close or reduce staff unexpectedly during the contract.
Class size Approximately 8-16 Approximately 28-45
Student levels Students tend to be at the same level and usually possess more advanced English (for their age group) A mix of high and low level students, with some students being at the top of their class and some students not knowing their ABCs.
Salary 2.0~2.7 Million Korean Won (KRW)
No settlement allowance.
Airfare to Korea paid for
Return airfare to your home country paid for
No rural allowance because the schools will not be located in a rural area.
No multiple school teaching allowance You will be staying at your school and do not need to bus from one school to another.
1.8~2.7 Million Korean Won (KRW)
Settlement allowance:
300,000 KRW
Entrance Allowance (airfare)
1,300,000
Rural allowance (rural areas)
100,000 KRW/month
Multiple school teaching allowance: You may be asked to teach at multiple schools if your main school does not have enough hours to satisfy the 22 teaching hours stated in your contract. This tends to happen if your school is very small.
100,000 KRW/month for first 2 schools
50,000 KRW/month for each additional school
Exit Allowance (return airfare)
1,300,000
Severance Severance pay equalling approximately 1 month's salary will be given upon completion of the one-year contract. Severance pay equalling approximately 1 month's salary will be given upon completion of the one-year contract.
Working Hours 9:30am - 6:30pm / 10:30am - 7:30pm
2:00pm - 9:00pm / 3:00pm - 10:00pm
Split shifts for example: 7:00 am – 10 am; then 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Regular day-time hours
8:30am - 4:30pm (or 9:00am - 5:00pm)
Teaching Hours About 30 classes per week
1 class is about 40-50 minutes in length
22 classes per week
1 class is 40 minutes for elementary school, 45 minutes for middle school and 50 minutes for high school
Lesson Planning Minimal. You are normally required to follow a set curriculum so you do not really need to make your own lessons. This will save you a lot of preparation time outside of the classroom hours however. Moderate to Maximum. You are responsible for the lesson material and what you teach your students is in most cases, entirely up to you. This means that depending on your abilities, you might have to work outside of the school hours to make a lesson for your students.
Paid Vacation Approximately 10 working days in addition to all national holidays Approximately 18 working days in addition to all national holidays
# of Foreign Teacher 2 - 7 foreign teachers. This makes it easier to make friends and settle in to your new role initially. 1 foreign English teacher per school
Overtime Not usually available Most areas have overtime available
Overtime Pay 18,000-22,000 Won per hour 18,000-30,000 KRW/hour.
In many provinces, special overtime rates apply for summer camp and winter camp.
Airfare Prepaid ticket/reimbursed upon arrival Reimbursed within 30 days
Housing Single studio type housing provided Single studio type housing provided
Medical Insurance Korean government health plan or private health plan (50% paid by the employer) Korean government Medical plan (50% paid by the employer)
Tax Exemption No tax exemption All nationalities (excluding Canadians and Irish) are exempt from paying taxes in Korea during their first 2 years of work in the public school sector.
Tax and
Other
Deductions
3.3%-7% personal income tax deduction and other deductions such as residential taxes 3.3% - 7% personal income tax deduction and other deductions such as residential taxes
Paid Sick Days 3-5 days are common 11-15 days, 3 month maternity leave and other paid emergency leaves (refer to your contract)
Korean National pension plan The majority of schools will contribute 4.5% to the KNPP. Teachers with American, Canadian or Australian citizenship are eligible for a lump-sum pension refund upon successfully completing their contract and departing Korea. Your school will contribute 4.5% of your salary to the KNPP. Teachers with American, Canadian or Australian citizenship are eligible for a lump-sum pension refund upon successfully completing their contract and departing Korea.
Overall If you need to find a job in a specific location, then teaching at a hagwon may be your best option. If you are more concerned about the nature of the job, the benefits and the job security, it is better to work for a public school.

Summary of Pros and Cons

  Pros Cons
Private School Ability to pick a specific location (Seoul, Busan, Daegu etc.)
Easier to make friends initially as private schools tend to have between 2-7 foreign teachers. Some larger private schools will employ more than seven teachers.
Easier to adapt and learn the ropes as you have peers to smooth the transition
Smaller language barrier between you and your co-workers as the Korean teachers tend to speak good English as well.
Some employers, especially if they are a smaller private school, will treat you like family (take you to dinner, take you on trips, etc.)
Heavier workload (30 classes vs 22 classes)
More difficult to experience the full breadth of Korean culture if most of your friends are foreigners
Stability of the school may become an issue
Minimal training programs
Not a 9-5 job
Public School Stability and prestige
Authentic Korean experience
Well established training programs (10 days of mandatory EPIK orientation for example)
Korean co-teacher to help you adapt to the school
Connected with a large number of public school teachers when you are outside of your school.
9-5 job
Do not have to worry about the financial situation of the school.
A small level of control over where you will end up teaching (if you apply very early on). Sometimes you may be placed in a rural setting. With the recent updates to EPIK’s policy, you can no longer list specific metropolitan cities or provinces that you are interested in.
Being alone (you are the only foreign staff at your school)
Language barrier with other Korean staffs at your school.
More difficult process to get a job. Complex paper work, higher qualifications required, and longer time frames. After all of this, there is NO guarantee that you will get a job.

* Mainly applicable to the EPIK program but other offices of education based their contract and system on EPIK.

 
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