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Got fired from a Hagwon... the lowest point of my life?
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myenglishisno



Joined: 08 Mar 2011
Location: Geumchon

PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 1:47 am    Post subject: Got fired from a Hagwon... the lowest point of my life? Reply with quote

First, hagwons rarely fire teachers. Second, I've been here for awhile (three years) and third, I take teaching seriously, work very hard.. and I was fired. It's the first time I've been fired in my life and it's been a huge blow to me.

I'll summarize what happened:

I'm nearing the end of a rather short stint at a hagwon. I've been in Korea for awhile and took a hagwon job because the hours and pay fit my fancy. I did not fit theirs, however. I always had the feeling (though was rarely explicitly told) that I wasn't wanted there and that they weren't happy with what I was doing.

When I taught at public school, the kids could be a pain but overall it was alright. I do actually enjoy teaching which is part of the reason I stay.

When I came to this hagwon, I started off teaching half JHS and half Elementary. The curriculum is set to be comparable with what kids the same age in Western countries would be learning, which means it was always several (or more) levels too high for the students. Our job is to break it down, simplify and simplify to the point where the kids can speak and write essays about it. Speaking rarely happened though as there was often so much material that had to be completed in class, that speaking was kind of secondary to filling in the blanks.

In JHS, my co-teachers (yes, my hagwon has co-teachers) said my classes were too boring and not fun enough so after a month I was dropped down to Elementary. I'm not sure what I did wrong because no one would give me any meaningful feedback, I only know what I know because of a tiny bit of speculation from the foreign staff. I can see why to an extent as working here has burned me out faster than anything. The amount of pressure coming from every direction is absurd (and the pressure is mostly in the form of dirty looks and backstabbing).

When I was bumped down to Elementary, I feel like I did better mainly because I found the curriculum more agreeable (it was more open ended so I could do my own thing) but teaching six classes and having to prep for two or three hours a day while always feeling like I wasn't "doing my best" made it so I really wasn't teaching at full capacity.

With the stress and pressure coming from above (my many bosses both foreign and Korean), below (the students who could get you in trouble pretty quickly if your class wasn't "fun") and sideways (my co-teachers who sit in the class and constantly email their impressions of you to the management), I never felt like I was reaching even half of my potential. Long story short, it was implied that I was a bad teacher (though never said) and I was fired, to be replaced by a fresh-off-the-boat 21/22-year-old with no teaching experience. Actually, everyone in the office who leaves seems to get replaced with a newbie.

Anyway, my hagwon prides itself on it's quality of instruction. The pay is quite a bit higher than the industry standard. There are many branches that are all connected, some of the bosses are foreign, there are standards and feedback (supposedly) as well as training. If this were a normal "mom and pop" hagwon I wouldn't give to craps as it's most likely politics, though here, I'm not so sure. I was fired by a foreigner who has been teaching for quite some time. I was fired, essentially because my co-teachers complained one too many times.

I have my own opinion of this place. My boss told me time and time again that high-quality instruction and good teaching are rewarded. I also worked harder than most of the foreign staff in some ways (this was well known) so I could have good classes. On the few occasions I did get serious feedback, it was always along the lines of: "a student complained that you didn't shave today" / "the parents are calling in and saying that your classes aren't fun enough--play more games." Then there are foreign teachers that could get away with murder in their classrooms because they please their co-teachers in just the right way. No one complains about them yet they definitely don't fit into our boss's definition of a good teacher (though they keep the kids happy).

Anyway, despite this, upon being fired I've been feeling really down. I say a lot of things to myself (like what I said above) to comfort myself, especially since I haven't got a straightforward answer as to why I was fired. I was just told that my teaching isn't good and my classes were too boring but that was just speculation. I was never told by the teachers who complained or by who they complained to, even when I asked them to tell me.

At the end of the day, it sucks because I've been teaching for years and since my foreign co-workers know that I was fired because of my teaching, they've really started looking down their noses at me. At least I feel they do. I have a fresh off the boat newbie giving me advice. When I said to one one of my bosses, informally, a few months ago that "sometimes I have bad classes but who doesn't" he said "I don't! I haven't had a bad class in years... you know why? Because I know how to control my kids. What you need is confidence..." and so on. This has been mirrored by pretty much all the foreign staff. The Korean staff just give me dirty looks despite me being super nice, almost to the point of being spineless. One teacher doesn't even acknowledge the fact that I'm teaching. She just walks into my classroom and starts lecturing to the students over me. It's true that I'm not the best teacher in this building but I definitely don't feel like I'm the worst nor do I feel like I deserve all of this... or do I?

It's been a major blow to the ego. I considered teaching something I wanted to do as a career or ongoing. I'm starting my Master's next Spring with the hopes of getting a university job afterwards since I'm not a huge fan of teaching children. After this experience, I'm not sure if teaching is such a good idea for me. I've always been told I was a good teacher since I've been in Korea and had a public school begging me to sign a third contract before I left, however, this isn't exactly a culture where feedback is given openly and now I'm questioning everything.

As you can tell by this post, I'm pretty confused too. On the one hand, I was fired because of my teaching and not only that, lots of my co-teachers requested that I be fired. They ganged up on me. On top of that, my foreign bosses (located elsewhere) received these complaints, agreed and pushed really hard for me to be fired. I was not told any specifics on why I was fired beyond speculation from my local branch and a comment about how my co-teachers complained a lot about my teaching.

I don't know what to think. I'm either a horrible teacher which is what they seem to imply or something else is going on. The fact that when someone is fired (happened in the past), they are replaced with a newbie is suspect too.

What do you think?


Last edited by myenglishisno on Thu Oct 20, 2011 8:13 am; edited 2 times in total
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jamesd



Joined: 15 Aug 2011
Location: Korea

PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 2:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well....life is certainly not fair. Sometimes when you're at your best, some sly people will undermine your best and make it as though it's the worst. Perhaps, it's pure jealousy, envy, etc. but it drives the people around you to turn against you when you're at your best.

Cheer up! It's not the end of the world. Just think of it as a learning experience. Go out and celebrate for job well done for past few years at that place. Good luck to you.
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The Floating World



Joined: 01 Oct 2011
Location: Here

PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 3:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Man, don't sweat it.

If i were fired from a public school job it would upset me, but not a hakwan.

Being fired from a job where the sole requisit to success is faking it, bieng 'funny teacher' and stroking everyone elses ego and essentially provinding daycare to the theme of English - well I just look back at my experience and successes back home in what I consider real industries whoich require genuine ability and standards and realise it's not such a bad thing that actually trying to teach (thus being boring) is what lead me to being fired.

Chin up and next time perhaps do what I recently did - hold out for a job with a good and properly structured curriculum where things follow logically (rather than 50 mins of one vocab set etc and then move on to the next thing b4 the kids actually have learned it in order to impress the parents with 'a book a month progress') where studetns and parents are held responsible also for the kids learning.

They are few and far between, but there are some better hakwans out there.

You DO have to be able to establish good rapport with the kids though - without that you are in the wrong industry.
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myenglishisno



Joined: 08 Mar 2011
Location: Geumchon

PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 3:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Floating World wrote:
Man, don't sweat it.

If i were fired from a public school job it would upset me, but not a hakwan.

Being fired from a job where the sole requisit to success is faking it, bieng 'funny teacher' and stroking everyone elses ego and essentially provinding daycare to the theme of English - well I just look back at my experience and successes back home in what I consider real industries whoich require genuine ability and standards and realise it's not such a bad thing that actually trying to teach (thus being boring) is what lead me to being fired.

Chin up and next time perhaps do what I recently did - hold out for a job with a good and properly structured curriculum where things follow logically (rather than 50 mins of one vocab set etc and then move on to the next thing b4 the kids actually have learned it in order to impress the parents with 'a book a month progress') where studetns and parents are held responsible also for the kids learning.

They are few and far between, but there are some better hakwans out there.

You DO have to be able to establish good rapport with the kids though - without that you are in the wrong industry.


Thanks for the kind words.

I do like kids and get along with them. One of the main problems I had with this hagwon was how counter-intuitive everything seems to be. For the new teachers, they just assumed that that's what teaching was and went along with it. For a relatively "seasoned" teacher like me, it seemed like a dog and pony show and on occasions, I not only wouldn't stand for it but I stood up against it.

I had one co-teacher that wanted me to essentially fill in textbooks in class. The textbook was full of articles from The Economist. The kids were an apathetic bunch in their first year of middle school and they hadn't the slightest idea what the articles were about, even if it was in Korean.

The textbook was way to high level for the students and teaching in a way that would allow them to arrive at their own answers (when the kids would normally only produce one word at a time) would take more time than I had in the class, even if I simplified the articles to their lowest possible forms as well as the questions they were required to answer. My co-teachers solution? Spend all class writing the answers on the board and have the students copy them down. I refused. It got somewhat ugly and ended with me being paired with a different co-teacher. People sided with me then but I had the feeling that that event destroyed my reputation.

That's an extreme example but it is a major reason why I couldn't stand teaching middle school here. After awhile I tried doing exactly what they wanted me to do but it felt so pointless that my heart wasn't in it which is what my co-teachers must have picked up on. It was like teaching High School level Physics to Canadian kids in Grade 3. You could only dumb it down so much but that's what they expected us to do. On top of that, the foreign teachers as well as the bosses bought this approach hook, line and sinker. I was told that if I disagreed with the way things were done, it reflected on my lack of professionalism and my lack of understanding, for the way things are done here are perfect or at least close.

Anyway, it did feel like a giant dog and pony show. However, I did try my best, give it my all, etc... and those teachers really wanted me out. No matter how I look at it, it hurts my pride.
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SeoulNate



Joined: 04 Jun 2010
Location: Hyehwa

PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 4:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

myenglishisno wrote:

For a relatively "seasoned" teacher like me, it seemed like a dog and pony show and on occasions, I not only wouldn't stand for it but I stood up against it.


That is why you got fired. No more information needed. You didnt get fired because you were a bad teacher, or got bad reviews from the other staff or students; you got fired because you came in and tried to rock the boat.

I understand your point of view; a lot of hakwon material is not the best, but you can not be the person who points that out to the staff that has worked there for years in your first few months. After a year or so, sure, but not right out of the gate.

Every job has some politics involved and (at the risk of sounding like an ass) you need to work on yours. I have never worked in a position, nor do i expect to (especially in Korea) where I didnt have to kiss a little ass at first to further my own goals within the organization.
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myenglishisno



Joined: 08 Mar 2011
Location: Geumchon

PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 4:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SeoulNate wrote:

Every job has some politics involved and (at the risk of sounding like an ass) you need to work on yours. I have never worked in a position, nor do i expect to (especially in Korea) where I didnt have to kiss a little ass at first to further my own goals within the organization.


That's one of the lessons I learned. I worked independently (which I prefer) in a public school for years and when I started having people tell me what to do, I didn't take it very well. Especially when it seemed wrong or counter-intuitive. I tried to be diplomatic at first but when they got in my face I gave them the finger (figuratively speaking).
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The Floating World



Joined: 01 Oct 2011
Location: Here

PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 5:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
One of the main problems I had with this hagwon was how counter-intuitive everything seems to be.


Sadly there are probably only 1 in 100 hakwans that arent like that. It's the norm. They rake in the huge fees by kidding the parents that their kids really are learning all that material every month. At my last hakwan gig both myself and the K teachers had to inflate the grades as part of our job. It's all, a lie, a con, a joke job and yes a lot of your co-teachers have bought into it - not that they don't realise it, but unlike you they decided it is worth playing along for the money. Personally I am more like you myself and can't seem to be able to fake it.

Quote:
it seemed like a dog and pony show and on occasions, I not only wouldn't stand for it but I stood up against it.


When everyone is being paid to say that the naked emporer IS wearing clothes and to convince the parents that he is wearing clothes - it upsets everyone a great deal when anyone threatens that hegemony.

Quote:
Spend all class writing the answers on the board and have the students copy them down. I refused. It got somewhat ugly and ended with me being paired with a different co-teacher. People sided with me then but I had the feeling that that event destroyed my reputation.


Agsin, this boils down to you being unwilling to agree that the naked man is wearing clothes and believing (rightly) that it would be best to agree that he isn't and then get him some clothes to put on.

Quote:
I was told that if I disagreed with the way things were done, it reflected on my lack of professionalism and my lack of understanding, for the way things are done here are perfect or at least close.


This is how Korea works. Pretence and everyone buying into that pretence. You have to learn to play along or gtfo.

Quote:
No matter how I look at it, it hurts my pride.


It really shouldn't. Back home or in a non pony show job, them principals will carry you upwards.

I'll be honest with you; the only reason I stayed in this joke industry is that I had a compulsive gambling problem so was living from paycheck to paycheck (often with loans from friends to get me through) and couldn't afford to leave or didn't want to go home broke.

Now I have a few grand saved up, I'm caring less and less about staying here and want to find somewhere that will let me feel like I can be a real person doing a real job again, not just pretending all the time. My new job seems so far that it might be like that, if it turns out it isn't; I'm leaving. I've heard good things about Shanghai and the salaries are very close now if you have a ba and 2 yrs exp plus 100hr tefl cert and acctually - you'll teach less hours. Do 30 hrs of teaching and you can likely make more than you do here.

Not that I'm trying to talk you into going to china lol. I just wish people would leave Korea for china and then Koreans would finally have to buck their ideas up to attract teachers. my friend there says the kids and co-workers are night and day compared to korea.

Perhaps it's time for you to consider what you really want to be doing anyhow? What is it important for you to do in your daily life and how would you like to be treated by your employers. If it's dog n pony show and be stressed out whenever you let it slip that the emporer is indeed naked - stay in the hakwan business. if not - maybe time to go public school (only barely better) or hold out for that rare private position like I described finding. Or up your qualifications to an matesol or something and go for uni jobs or international schools etc...?

Otherwise my best advice to you and my advice to every newb I meet at the bar with the same problems is - learn to not give a crap and play along with the game.

It can actually be quite an easy life when you stop caring and get all zen. You just have to think of going through the motions and faking it AS YOUR ACTUAL JOB!

So the kids aren't learning and you filled in their textbooks? And in your ele class all you did was sing a song and play bingo?

You have non shared housing and I assume around 2.3mil coming in, you get up at 12pm if you want and all you have to do is fill out some kids books or let them copy off the baord and sing some songs and play games!!!

Life COULD be worse huh! Cool Really, think about how low your stress levels would be and what an easy gig that is! You just have to thinks of going through the motions and being funny teachah as your job. That is all.

Seriously, those to me are the only options - stop giving a crap and play along or move on.

I've got the not giving a crap part down, but sadly still can't let go off not accepting kids swearing at me and being rude and vulgar in class without any recourse. That is and never will be on.


Last edited by The Floating World on Wed Oct 19, 2011 5:12 am; edited 1 time in total
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northway



Joined: 05 Jul 2010

PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 5:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

PM sent.
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some waygug-in



Joined: 25 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 5:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unfortunately, this scenario is quite common in the hagwon industry.

With the co-teacher situation in Public schools, the atmosphere there is often just as bad in some ways.

So that leaves one with few options.


a) Get a university job where you can do more of your own thing,

depending on the university of course.

b) Marry a Korean, get into private tutoring.

c) Leave Korea, either go to another country or return home.

I chose option 'c' because I could see my future was going nowhere fast
in Korea.
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ontheway



Joined: 24 Aug 2005
Location: Somewhere under the rainbow...

PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 6:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since we have never seen you teach, we have no way of knowing if you really have what it takes. So, I'm not going to pretend that you are a good teacher who was wronged by your school, since there is no way anyone here could know that.

Public schools in Korea teach nothing - especially in the English program - and surviving there, even being praised there, is meaningless. Some years ago there was a mentally retarded native English teacher with a fake degree who worked happily for two years at a Korean public school - he got fired after one week at his first hogwan. (He admitted, outside of his workplace, that he'd never attended a single day at any University. To those of us who knew him, he deserved to be fired and the only surprise was that no one noticed at the public school.)

There are definitely hogwans that use flattery, inflated grades and undeserved praise to secure and retain students instead of actually teaching. One of the big, famous chain schools with a reputation for its large group of returning students is notorious for this - the students learn very little, but because they have already learned English elsewhere, it appears that the school is good. If you were at a chain like this one and tried to buck their system, you could definitely have been a fish out of water - a good teacher in a useless job.

If you think you are still interested in teaching, you should give it another try. Try to find one of the good hogwans that actually teaches English at the appropriate levels, where the students actually advance. Most of these will be small, mom and pop type schools with a good program, honest policies and tough requirements for students and teachers alike. There you can test your mettle and find out if you have what it takes.

Don't sweat getting fired. Even when a person deserves it (NOT saying that you did), it can be a healthy learning and maturing experience. Take what you've learned, evaluate yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, your plans and goals, and then, move on.
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Gorf



Joined: 25 Jun 2011

PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 6:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm in a similar spot. My school has told me in the past two weeks that I play too many games yet in other cases my classes are boring and the parents complain no matter what. My hagwon uses the flattery, begging, and infalted grades aspect. In fact, one of my bosses today told me my classes were better simply because I pantomimed all the stupid CD phrases because I was bored. They don't care about teaching and comprehension, they care about making parents happy, edutainment, and money - not teaching English.

The best advice I've heard is to just not sweat it. There's a million other jobs out there. Forget the past and start finding something better right now. You've got good credentials, use them to find something better that isn't poisonous.
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nero



Joined: 11 Mar 2009

PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 7:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ontheway wrote:
Since we have never seen you teach, we have no way of knowing if you really have what it takes. So, I'm not going to pretend that you are a good teacher who was wronged by your school, since there is no way anyone here could know that.

Public schools in Korea teach nothing - especially in the English program - and surviving there, even being praised there, is meaningless. Some years ago there was a mentally retarded native English teacher with a fake degree who worked happily for two years at a Korean public school - he got fired after one week at his first hogwan. (He admitted, outside of his workplace, that he'd never attended a single day at any University. To those of us who knew him, he deserved to be fired and the only surprise was that no one noticed at the public school.)

There are definitely hogwans that use flattery, inflated grades and undeserved praise to secure and retain students instead of actually teaching. One of the big, famous chain schools with a reputation for its large group of returning students is notorious for this - the students learn very little, but because they have already learned English elsewhere, it appears that the school is good. If you were at a chain like this one and tried to buck their system, you could definitely have been a fish out of water - a good teacher in a useless job.

If you think you are still interested in teaching, you should give it another try. Try to find one of the good hogwans that actually teaches English at the appropriate levels, where the students actually advance. Most of these will be small, mom and pop type schools with a good program, honest policies and tough requirements for students and teachers alike. There you can test your mettle and find out if you have what it takes.

Don't sweat getting fired. Even when a person deserves it (NOT saying that you did), it can be a healthy learning and maturing experience. Take what you've learned, evaluate yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, your plans and goals, and then, move on.


This is exactly right. There are hagwons (among them a large chain) who base their teacher's performances on student assessments. Yes, they get elementary and middle school students to judge how the teachers are doing in class.
Now, which kind of teacher do you think will come out best on that one? The teacher who has prepared work and activities, or the teacher that plays games and gives out snacks and candy every lesson?
And yet here we are in 2011 playing the same games. It's a joke. I have a couple of months to go (thank god) then I am out of this b.s.

Chin up OP!
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The Floating World



Joined: 01 Oct 2011
Location: Here

PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 8:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

nero wrote:
ontheway wrote:
Since we have never seen you teach, we have no way of knowing if you really have what it takes. So, I'm not going to pretend that you are a good teacher who was wronged by your school, since there is no way anyone here could know that.

Public schools in Korea teach nothing - especially in the English program - and surviving there, even being praised there, is meaningless. Some years ago there was a mentally retarded native English teacher with a fake degree who worked happily for two years at a Korean public school - he got fired after one week at his first hogwan. (He admitted, outside of his workplace, that he'd never attended a single day at any University. To those of us who knew him, he deserved to be fired and the only surprise was that no one noticed at the public school.)

There are definitely hogwans that use flattery, inflated grades and undeserved praise to secure and retain students instead of actually teaching. One of the big, famous chain schools with a reputation for its large group of returning students is notorious for this - the students learn very little, but because they have already learned English elsewhere, it appears that the school is good. If you were at a chain like this one and tried to buck their system, you could definitely have been a fish out of water - a good teacher in a useless job.

If you think you are still interested in teaching, you should give it another try. Try to find one of the good hogwans that actually teaches English at the appropriate levels, where the students actually advance. Most of these will be small, mom and pop type schools with a good program, honest policies and tough requirements for students and teachers alike. There you can test your mettle and find out if you have what it takes.

Don't sweat getting fired. Even when a person deserves it (NOT saying that you did), it can be a healthy learning and maturing experience. Take what you've learned, evaluate yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, your plans and goals, and then, move on.


This is exactly right. There are hagwons (among them a large chain) who base their teacher's performances on student assessments. Yes, they get elementary and middle school students to judge how the teachers are doing in class.
Now, which kind of teacher do you think will come out best on that one? The teacher who has prepared work and activities, or the teacher that plays games and gives out snacks and candy every lesson?
And yet here we are in 2011 playing the same games. It's a joke. I have a couple of months to go (thank god) then I am out of this b.s.

Chin up OP!


hear, bloody hear. (or is it here, here?)

I'm so glad the apologists keep out of this forum mostly and we can express our frustrations with this 'industry' without getting into symantic crap slanging matches.

I wake up often or come home often, look at myself in the mirror and think of all the potential I had and say to myself 'how the hell did it come to this? (being an english monkey and working for idiots.)

You saw the movie 'The History Boys?" When Richard Harris has a breakdown at the end and says 'I've given the best years of my life to this place for nothing?' (or something like that.) That's how I feel.

Outside of work I have had some of the best times of my life in Korea, but when I look at what the kids, parents and bosses have reduced me to - a lying, performing clown ruining his potential for money, it makes me sick. I have severely shortchanged myself by staying in this bloody pantomine gig and I know it. If I had have taken the potential I had at uni (revered amongst many of my peers and respected by my professors) and developed it instead of working here, I could be sucsessful in a real career now in perhaps academia, journalism or some aspect of tv / film production instead of hanging out with perpetual backpackers and - even worse - being one of them myself.

This is my last year dammnit. This job for anything more than one year is a knackers yard for lost potential. (No, that wasn't satire.)

if you have no ambition, dremas or goals other than saving 600 pounds a month and paying off debt, great.

Otherwise you are short changing yourself by doing esl in Korea (my friend working for a Korean uni says it's the same there.)

Seriously; is this what we went to uni for?

The day I leave this country I'm getting a phoenix tattoo and I'm going to wake myself the f up.
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Skipperoo



Joined: 05 Jul 2010

PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 8:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

While I admire your dedication to your craft, if you'd had multiple complaints and a 'demotion' (to elementary level) for not doing what the boss expected of you and then continued to do things your own way then does your firing really come as such an unexpected turn?

I'm not defending them, but Hagwons are first and foremost a business - not a public service. They want bums on seats, and if your style was making said bums want to leave said seats then you're losing the business money and they'd be daft not to move you along.

Don't take it so personally, you just weren't a good fit for that particular job. It sounds like a mismatch in styles rather than lack of ability or dedication.
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The Floating World



Joined: 01 Oct 2011
Location: Here

PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

nero wrote:
ontheway wrote:
Since we have never seen you teach, we have no way of knowing if you really have what it takes. So, I'm not going to pretend that you are a good teacher who was wronged by your school, since there is no way anyone here could know that.

Public schools in Korea teach nothing - especially in the English program - and surviving there, even being praised there, is meaningless. Some years ago there was a mentally retarded native English teacher with a fake degree who worked happily for two years at a Korean public school - he got fired after one week at his first hogwan. (He admitted, outside of his workplace, that he'd never attended a single day at any University. To those of us who knew him, he deserved to be fired and the only surprise was that no one noticed at the public school.)

There are definitely hogwans that use flattery, inflated grades and undeserved praise to secure and retain students instead of actually teaching. One of the big, famous chain schools with a reputation for its large group of returning students is notorious for this - the students learn very little, but because they have already learned English elsewhere, it appears that the school is good. If you were at a chain like this one and tried to buck their system, you could definitely have been a fish out of water - a good teacher in a useless job.

If you think you are still interested in teaching, you should give it another try. Try to find one of the good hogwans that actually teaches English at the appropriate levels, where the students actually advance. Most of these will be small, mom and pop type schools with a good program, honest policies and tough requirements for students and teachers alike. There you can test your mettle and find out if you have what it takes.

Don't sweat getting fired. Even when a person deserves it (NOT saying that you did), it can be a healthy learning and maturing experience. Take what you've learned, evaluate yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, your plans and goals, and then, move on.


This is exactly right. There are hagwons (among them a large chain) who base their teacher's performances on student assessments. Yes, they get elementary and middle school students to judge how the teachers are doing in class.
Now, which kind of teacher do you think will come out best on that one? The teacher who has prepared work and activities, or the teacher that plays games and gives out snacks and candy every lesson?
And yet here we are in 2011 playing the same games. It's a joke. I have a couple of months to go (thank god) then I am out of this b.s.

Chin up OP!


hear, bloody hear. (or is it here, here?)

I'm so glad the apologists keep out of this forum mostly and we can express our frustrations with this 'industry' without getting into symantic crap slanging matches.

I wake up often or come home often, look at myself in the mirror and think of all the potential I had and say to myself 'how the hell did it come to this? (being an english monkey and working for idiots.)

You saw the movie 'The History Boys?" When Richard Harris has a breakdown at the end and says 'I've given the best years of my life to this place for nothing?' (or something like that.) That's how I feel.

Outside of work I have had some of the best times of my life in Korea, but when I look at what the kids, parents and bosses have reduced me to - a lying, performing clown ruining his potential for money, it makes me sick. I have severely shortchanged myself by staying in this bloody pantomine gig and I know it. If I had have taken the potential I had at uni (revered amongst many of my peers and respected by my professors) and developed it instead of working here, I could be sucsessful in a real career now in perhaps academia, journalism or some aspect of tv / film production instead of hanging out with perpetual backpackers and - even worse - being one of them myself.

This is my last year dammnit. This job for anything more than one year is a knackers yard for lost potential. (No, that wasn't satire.)

if you have no ambition, dremas or goals other than saving 600 pounds a month and paying off debt, great.

Otherwise you are short changing yourself by doing esl in Korea (my friend working for a Korean uni says it's the same there.)

Seriously; is this what we went to uni for?

The day I leave this country I'm getting a phoenix tattoo and I'm going to wake myself the f up.

THE WORST PART OF IT IS knowing you are a smart, hardowrking and capable individual (I worked for my government in a managerial role ffs and taught homeless, drug addicts and alcoholics drama for development to great results) but the Korean hakwan and PS system wont let you do a good job and work to your full potential so as to not spset their traditional way of doing things (even though it doesn't work - they spend the most in the world on esl and achive the poorest results) and of course - t not lose precious face. And this makes us lose (well it has me, only the beer buzz brings me backto myself these days and being outside of work at weekends) self respect and self esteem - just like the OP - when we are told the lack of results etc is OUR FAULT.

You know, I actually respect the 'working holiday' esl folk who go to work in their ripped jeans and dirty t-shirt and play the pretending game and do bingo and pictionary etc - know why? They are not compromising themselves. They are taking it for the joke that it is and raking in the money, having a blast outside of work and then getting tfo.

Well essentailly I can only blame myself for staying and being here in a roundabout way has been good for me in other ways and I actually would not change any of it, no matter what.

But yeah, need about ten mil more and then bye bye baby, bye bye.
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