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Is it good to be the only foreign teacher at a school?
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jamie



Joined: 07 Apr 2003
Location: America

PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2003 2:22 pm    Post subject: Is it good to be the only foreign teacher at a school? Reply with quote

Has anyone done business with ABC Literacy, a Canadian Recruiting agency? Also, has anyone worked (or is working) in Kungki?

Oh yes, one more thing: From your experiences, what is the better situation: Working at a school with no other foreign language teachers or working at a school with other foreign language teachers? I'm in the position to choose between these options. Any pointers?
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kylehawkins2000



Joined: 08 Apr 2003

PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2003 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi,

I've never worked as the only foreign teacher at a Hogwan but some friends of mine have. It seems like they didn't work as much. Their respective Hogwan's were new and were in the process of attracting students. THe classes tended to be small and there weren't many of them at first. It is usual in this circumstance to spend a significant amount of time producing teaching materials.

I would not mind working for a new school, but it certainly seems like somthing you might want to be careful about. As a new teacher I don't think I would have wanted to work at a start up hogwan. There is always a risk of the business failing and you being out of a job. The nice part of it is that you will probably have a certain amount of freedom and you will probably get to put quite a bit of input into the development of classes, etc.

So it really depends on what kind of place you are going to work for and the amount of responsibility that you want to take on.
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jamie



Joined: 07 Apr 2003
Location: America

PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2003 2:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you so much for your reply. Yes, our thinking is very similar. One main concern I have is the difficulties of discussing the fulfillments of my contract and the possibility of being taken advantage of by virtue of my being a foreigner. I guess this is just paranoia though. I'll definately ask the school how long they have been established.
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Anda



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: South Korea

PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2003 3:02 pm    Post subject: um Reply with quote

I hardly ever work at places where other foreign staff are. Generally foreign staff fight amongst themselves especially at universities.
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Circus Monkey



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Location: In my coconut tree

PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2003 5:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From my experience, working with other foreigners is better since you can bounce ideas off one another. Sure, there are clique groups and infighting, but not all personnel are like that. I think that if you want any time off (say a week or so for your vacation) you might run into problems if you are the only native speaker.

CM
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kimcheeking
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2003 5:52 pm    Post subject: Re: um Reply with quote

Anda wrote:
I hardly ever work at places where other foreign staff are. Generally foreign staff fight amongst themselves especially at universities.


hence all the conspiracy theorys and gloom & doom talk.
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Zyzyfer



Joined: 29 Jan 2003
Location: who, what, where, when, why, how?

PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2003 5:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you're a newcomer to Korea, I wouldn't take a job at a school where you'll be the only foreign teacher. There's no guarantee that you'll have any support from the Korean staff, and, if you've got foreign coworkers, you can at least talk to them about whatever's on your mind.

If you've got some experience under your belt, and you don't mind catching a bus to meet non-Korean faces, being the only foreigner at a school could be advantageous. I don't speak at all with the other foreign teacher at my school, so that's pretty much my situation. It's not bad...but I do find myself trekking to Seoul for a little company quite often.
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Blue Flower



Joined: 23 Feb 2003
Location: The realisation that I only have to endure two more weeks in this filthy, perverted, nasty place!

PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2003 8:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well I am the only foreign teacher at my school, and though the other Korean teachers are friendly most of the time, there is still a huge language barrier. It can be quite lonely. It totally depends, I guess, on how much you like to be around other people. Personally I would choose the school with other foreign teachers, at least you can choose whether or not you socialise with them. Rather than having no choice. Wink
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Seatangle



Joined: 23 Jan 2003
Location: Left of Center

PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2003 2:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am the only foreign teacher in my hogwan, and I'm quite a distance from well, anywhere.

My situation has it's ups and downs of course. The good part is since I'm the only foreigner it's like I'm the star of the show. They automatically defer to me on any question of language, or teaching or whatever. It's like they think my foreigness endows me with a certain expertise. (Jeez if they only knew!!)

On the downside, the isolation aspect is really a drag. I live for my weekend trips to Seoul and Daegu. If I didn't get out of here pretty often I'd snap. And yes, the vacation thing is a problem too.

So in short, the good thing about my situation is I'm the only foreign teacher, the bad thing about it is...I'm the only foreign teacher!

Hope that helps your decision,

Brian
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crazylemongirl



Joined: 23 Mar 2003
Location: almost there...

PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2003 3:03 am    Post subject: and yet another one Reply with quote

My school has three branches and I cover two of them while there are four other english teachers at a larger branch in incheon. I don't see them at all so I basically all buy myself.

Seatangle summed up my thoughts on the subject well. It can be great being the only foreign teacher I've heard horrible stories about bitching and infighting amongst foreign teachers at schools where there is more than one. If you get stuck with people you hate then your in for a long year.

Being the only foreign teacher can both extend and limit your social ciricle. As you can get stuck hanging with the people you work (and in some cases live) if there is more than one of you which would suck. But the social set can be pretty cliquey esp. to newcomers getting over culture shock etc.

OTH You get the superstar status etc. I don't think I would have learnt as much korean surrounded by foreign teachers. But the isolation is huge thing, there are regularly times where I feel invisible in a room because I don't know much korean and most of the teachers don't speak above middle school level english.

Also you don't have anyone to show you the ropes both in terms of day to day living (like where to pay your gas bill) to showing you around the social scene. If you have never taught before it's always great to have people to bounce ideas off of.

So like anything you have to work out what your personality is and what are your priorities while in korea. What's right for one person isn't right for another...

Hope that helps
CLG
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waterbaby



Joined: 01 Feb 2003
Location: Baking Gord a Cheescake pie

PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2003 3:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am the only foreign teacher at my school and I quite like it. There is only one other Korean English teacher. I'm not dragged into any office politics and I pretty much keep to myself and do my own thing. The school gives me plenty of space and everyone is just nice and polite to me and me likewise to them.

Getting good work colleagues is pretty hit and miss, like getting a good job, getting good roommates. Depending on where you're taking a job (ie which city), if it's your first time in Korea, I reckon you should take your chances and line up a position where there are already some foreign teachers. Hopefully, the foreign teachers will be able to guide you and help you out in a way that your Korean co-workers can't. By this I mean relating to your first impressions of Korea, dealing with culture shock or homesickness.

When I first arrived in Korea, there were some pretty depressing foreign teachers working at my school who had tried (and failed) to create what I call a "Little Canada" within Korea. They were bitter, very unhappy, rude and constantly disparaging (spelling?) everything and everyone Korean. Fortunately one did a midnight run and the other gave notice and left soon after. After this, we got some great foreign teachers and the atmosphere changed dramatically for the better and we had a good team.

Can't say I miss having people around to bounce ideas off... I just come to Dave's for that! Wink
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igotthisguitar



Joined: 08 Apr 2003
Location: South Korea (Permanent Vacation)

PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2003 6:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

>. My experience as a lone foreign teacher was intially quite positive.

However, since an Aussie showed up a few months ago i've noticed a dramatic reduction in my Director's overall "friendliness". With a fascinating new object of linguistic wealth now existing within his orbit, it was at this point he became more focused on at every possible turn "sucking the english" out of the Aussie.

One night at a house warming party for our new foreign colleague, the Director gushed exhuberantly in front of everyone "Look, here's my teacher", motioning to Aussie Shocked . Unphased by any possible impact upon my kibun, he at this time had nothing to say of the help i'd offered him with his English over the previous 6 months Rolling Eyes My Korean gf later told me this is one way many Asians often seek to illustrate more in what they DON'T say rather than what they DO Razz

While i suppose it could have all merely been my imagination, the impression was he was in fact shrewdly playing the two of us against against each other ( a game which i had no real interest in playing ). By the same token, after this incident i've had little interest spending much of my "free", extra-curricular time tutoring the Director outside of the workplace.

My advice here simply would be maintain your awareness. Regarding the infamous Asian two-faced syndrome Twisted Evil , Koreans are no better than the ppl they always seem to attack : the Japanese.
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yodanole



Joined: 02 Mar 2003
Location: La Florida

PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2003 12:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I generally prefer to be the only foreign teacher at my institute. However, it is much better if you teach at least some adults, and don't live in major boonies. This way, you make adult Korean friends who ply you with free food and liquor and help you when you need to get internet service, etc. All you have to do in return is be friendly and have English conversations with them. However, if you teach only kids and live in a small town, it can be isolating.
On the other hand, working with a large group of other foreigners can be either trying or helpful. It's nice to have adults who are fluent in English who understand your more subtle comments. However, remember, we are still often different nationalities. So, conversations don't always have the comfortable cultural references we'd like. I'm American, like American college sports. My colleague may say to me "Wow, How about them Maple Leafs? Eh? I reply: "Huh? Another colleague says: "I could really go for some vegemite! So we both say: Huh? So I say: "I got me a hankering for some fried catfish and hushpuppies". Two guys go: Huh? A fourth hale and hearty fellow asks: "Would that be similar to fish and chips, eh what"? Now you got three guys going:"Huh"? A common language?
In the category of whether you like this kind of thing or not, foreign teachers working together often end up going to the "local foreigner bar" together to drink beer as the cornerstone of their social lives. Every weekend. Maybe every night. Nothing wrong with that, if it suits you. But it's not really for me. Eating raw fish with my Korean buddies with soju is a better option, since I primarily came here to expand my horizons over expanding my portfolio. But you have to examine what you think are your personal requirements for comfort at this time. Whatever you try, neither option guarantees happiness. But you knew that. Good luck. Cheerio!
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mysteriousdeltarays



Joined: 07 Feb 2003
Location: Food Pyramid Bldg. 5F, 77 Sunset Strip, Alphaville

PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2003 7:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like being the only "alien" teacher BUT if you are isolated in a small town (and in my case this is compounded by my odd location) you can, no you will become very "strange." I hope Anda forgives me, but I would say that he and I are prime examples.

I spend 90% of my free time reading. I read whatever I can get, it doesn't matter what it is I'll read it. Anda's writings are often sprinkled with references derived from the Book of Illunati, a pubication from a bizarre and obscure cult. I know because I have read it myself. In the last couple of days I have read an odd book : "Actual Innocence" a truely frightening account of just how many people have been sent to Death Row and then exonerated by DNA testing long after the fact. Totally fried by the statistics in this thing.

Nobody to talk to about it. It is lucky I am not into UFOs yet!

On the other hand. It is nice to be the star of the show, and to be honest with you I haven't exactly been impressed by the caliber of "teachers" showing up in Asia lately.

At this very moment I'm watching some sort of "cracker" concert from apparently the pentagon. It would be nice if somebody was around to laugh about it.

On the other hand, I stuck it out for a year in a place where everybody else were all hard core dykes. If I hadn't been so aclimatized to being totally alone, it would have been a big problem. They were making a clubhouse out of the place. Torture people into leaving (anybody heterosexual, male of female), bring their buzz headed leather capped pals in, as replacements. Want to see my new "Tat?" Believe me, alone issolated as I am I don't give a **** if you are gay or not, I simply don't care. Illuminati! Oh! North Korean spy! Oh! How interesting!

Their world was not that though, in fact it was the opposite. They weren't even in Korea they were so busy recreating some Vancouver suburb, some town with an S or R in it's name to come over here. Straton maybe?

Right now I'm about to vomit from AFKN so I'd better sign off.
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BTM



Joined: 20 Jan 2003
Location: Back in the saddle.

PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2003 11:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
My colleague may say to me "Wow, How about them Maple Leafs? Eh? I reply: "Huh? Another colleague says: "I could really go for some vegemite! So we both say: Huh? So I say: "I got me a hankering for some fried catfish and hushpuppies". Two guys go: Huh? A fourth hale and hearty fellow asks: "Would that be similar to fish and chips, eh what"? Now you got three guys going:"Huh"?


So clearly not a colloquy of rocket scientists, then, I guess? Wink
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