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State of the ESL economy: Is the party over?
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PRagic



Joined: 24 Feb 2006

PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 12:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What are my wife and I going to do if we go back to N. America? Hmmm. Pay cash for the house and cars. Pay cash for all the stuff we need for the house. Maybe teach part-time at a small college or community college. Enjoy what there is to offer where ever that may be, and that will be a warmer place with low taxes and proximity to water. A move back is early retirement.

What are we going to do if we stay in Korea? Hmmm. We have land, savings, investments, a great group of long-term friends (both expat and Korean), and the work is great (guaranteed pay raises, long vacations, and a cushy, flexible schedule). No real reason to retire early here, and in 'old age', we honestly won't care where we are if we're together. We've talked it over aplenty. Place to live? Check. Food? Check. Teeth? Now where the hell did I put them? The ice in my scotch is melting and I'm tired of gumming my cigars!

Sorry, youtuber, but it seems as if you're projecting your thoughts and emotions pertaining to life in Korea on others. To each their own. I do, however, agree that people should prepare for a move back in advance if they're inclined to make a move to begin with. Personally, we wouldn't get on the plane unless we had a job lined up and waiting.
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Dharma_Blue



Joined: 11 Oct 2008

PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 3:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

asylum seeker wrote:
Those planning on staying here the rest of their lives are banking on the fact that wages and conditions here will stay at the level they are now indefinitely or will even improve but I don't think that's realistic. The increasing saturation of the job market is going to give employers the opportunity to keep offering worse and worse conditions knowing the desperate will still take the jobs anyway not to mention as you age you will face increasing job discrimination as many employers prefer younger applicants.


Employers in the west also discriminate based on age, they just do so in a covert way.
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Dharma_Blue



Joined: 11 Oct 2008

PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 3:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PRagic wrote:
the work is great (guaranteed pay raises, long vacations, and a cushy, flexible schedule).


Are these kinds of positions rare in Korea? Doesn't one need to do a lot of networking and/or have a phd?
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PRagic



Joined: 24 Feb 2006

PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 3:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sure, the Ph.D. helps in that you can get on a tenure track, get some stability, and earn higher salaries.

However, I have friends with MAs, experience, and certifications in positions that provide a good income and annual increases. The downside to being an ESL instructor is that you never know from contract to contract, boss to boss, or year to year whether or not you're going to get the rug pulled out from under your feet.
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youtuber



Joined: 13 Sep 2009

PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well PR, hope it works out for you. It's just my opinion, based on my experiences and observations.
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mongolian spot



Joined: 15 Sep 2009
Location: Seoul

PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PRagic wrote:
Sure, the Ph.D. helps in that you can get on a tenure track, get some stability, and earn higher salaries.

However, I have friends with MAs, experience, and certifications in positions that provide a good income and annual increases. The downside to being an ESL instructor is that you never know from contract to contract, boss to boss, or year to year whether or not you're going to get the rug pulled out from under your feet.


Quality of life in korea sucks big time. Korea is ranked the lowest of all OECD countries. The hagwan business is a crooked shameful place, how can you respect yourself for putting up with this hole and not trying to make it work somewhere better.
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Thiuda



Joined: 14 Mar 2006
Location: Religion ist für Sklaven geschaffen, für Wesen ohne Geist.

PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 6:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mongolian spot wrote:
Quality of life in korea sucks big time. Korea is ranked the lowest of all OECD countries. The hagwan business is a crooked shameful place, how can you respect yourself for putting up with this hole and not trying to make it work somewhere better.


Quality of life in Korea depends in large part on the amount of money in your bank account - just as in other countries. Long term foreign residents (expats) tend not to work in private academies, unless they run them, and have the contacts and know-how to get into the good gigs. Life is good.

New arrivals on the other hand are often young and relatively unqualified. They don't have the networks, nor the skills, necessary for landing a good job. They rank low on the totem pole and resent this. Life is not so good.

Don't fret young one, your time will come.
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PRagic



Joined: 24 Feb 2006

PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 6:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How can I respect myself? Seriously? I can respect myself because I have invested time and effort into learning both about the country and its people, and about the world outside yet connected to it. Learning how to be here is more challenging that learning how to be somewhere else. Korea is known as a tough place to understand and live, let alone thrive. Everything works if you let it. In that respect, I'll second Thiuda.

-The man of virtue makes the difficulty to be overcome his first business, and success only a subsequent consideration.
Confucius (551 BC - 479 BC), The Confucian Analects
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asylum seeker



Joined: 22 Jul 2007
Location: On your computer screen.

PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 6:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

PRagic wrote:


Sorry, youtuber, but it seems as if you're projecting your thoughts and emotions pertaining to life in Korea on others. To each their own. I do, however, agree that people should prepare for a move back in advance if they're inclined to make a move to begin with. Personally, we wouldn't get on the plane unless we had a job lined up and waiting.


The vast majority of us don't have Phds or jobs that have security or guaranteed pay raises so it seems you are the one who's doing most of the projecting here. For the vast majority who only have BAs or MAs and are working at hagwons and public schools the future here in Korea is not as bright as you try to make out.
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Thiuda



Joined: 14 Mar 2006
Location: Religion ist für Sklaven geschaffen, für Wesen ohne Geist.

PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 6:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

asylum seeker wrote:
The vast majority of us don't have Phds or jobs that have security or guaranteed pay raises so it seems you are the one who's doing most of the projecting here. For the vast majority who only have BAs or MAs and are working at hagwons and public schools the future here in Korea is not as bright as you try to make out.


You're right, many of us don't have PhDs, but that's not the point. The point is that if you work hard, if you put in the time and effort, and continue to qualify yourself further, you CAN get a secure, high paying job. PRagic wasn't born with a PhD, he earned it. He wasn't born with a secure, high paying job, he qualified himself for it.

There are great jobs in Korea, within ESL and outwith, but you're not going to get such a job from the get-go, nor are you going to get such a job if you don't put in some effort. Oh, and networking really helps.
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mongolian spot



Joined: 15 Sep 2009
Location: Seoul

PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 7:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thiuda wrote:
asylum seeker wrote:
The vast majority of us don't have Phds or jobs that have security or guaranteed pay raises so it seems you are the one who's doing most of the projecting here. For the vast majority who only have BAs or MAs and are working at hagwons and public schools the future here in Korea is not as bright as you try to make out.


You're right, many of us don't have PhDs, but that's not the point. The point is that if you work hard, if you put in the time and effort, and continue to qualify yourself further, you CAN get a secure, high paying job. PRagic wasn't born with a PhD, he earned it. He wasn't born with a secure, high paying job, he qualified himself for it.

There are great jobs in Korea, within ESL and outwith, but you're not going to get such a job from the get-go, nor are you going to get such a job if you don't put in some effort. Oh, and networking really helps.


Im not saying effort and networking wouldnt help create some kind of future in Korea. I just have to question WHY you would want to direct your efforts into staying in this wasteland.

If your so amazing and hard-working...great. But why here, i would rather commit suicide than stay here long term.

Ok, you have your great job, phd, and great pay but.....your still living in this place.

Don't paint Korea to be something better than it is
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Francis-Pax



Joined: 20 Nov 2005

PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 12:07 pm    Post subject: Re: State of the ESL economy: Is the party over? Reply with quote

Voyeur wrote:
Hardly the first time it has been asked ofc.

Just curious how we see things. Currently, seems to be an employer's market. Unemployment in West has many applicants - maybe too many - flooding the market. You have a hyper competitive ESL industry that is colluding to some degree to keep salaries down and hours up. Schools are asking for more and more work. Salaries seem to be stagnant, barely up from 5 years ago.

At this point, I'm feeling that ESL in Korea is suiatble for maybe three groups:

a) classic person who just graduated and is in for 1 year to save some money and have an adventure

b) professional ESL teacher who has a passion for the job and is actively getting more and more credentials

c) someone who was fired and wasn't prepared to lose their salary for even a few months. So they are in a jam and need a quick job at any salary for a year so they can stay above water, get sorted so they can then go back home with a bit more wiggle room for job seeking.

Other than that, I'm not sure it is really a good idea to be here any more.

But really, I don't have any firm opinions. Just observations and musings.


I taught in Korea for five years and I possess a MA in TESL/TEFL from University if Birmingham. Furthermore, I am married to a Korean. All that being said, I remained steadfast in my conviction that South Korea is not that good of a deal anymore. With exception of a few places, most of the EFL jobs offered are only entry-level class teaching positions.

I love Korea a lot, but it is highly unlikely that I will teach there again in the near future. The pay is too low and teachers are having to endure greater and greater forms of disrespect. I personally witnessed this deterioration between 2004-2009.

With EFL salaries around the world, Korea is not the best deal. There are many other places where the same amount money can be maid. It is something to think about for people considering Korea for mainly financial reasons.

The golden age of teaching English in Korea is over. These people want to work teachers too hard for too little.
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PRagic



Joined: 24 Feb 2006

PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 1:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love the selective reading going on in some cases.

Asylum Seeker, maybe you missed the part where I wrote, "However, I have friends with MAs, experience, and certifications in positions that provide a good income and annual increases. The downside to being an ESL instructor is that you never know from contract to contract, boss to boss, or year to year whether or not you're going to get the rug pulled out from under your feet."

Mongolian Spot, seems like you've had some bad experiences here. Sorry bout that. However, I have to say that I haven't met any more or any fewer dissilusioned people here than I have anywhere else. Most of the people I know with a lot of ESL and non-ESL related experience in several countries on several continents say that Korea is a good place to work. In Asia, most agree that it is the best place to work. Having said this, many people make the money they do because this is not an easy place to work.

Don't forget that a lot of the defeatism and complaints come from new grads working their first jobs (or second job if they moved to a different job after a year). You'll hear that from people just about anywhere you go working in just about any field. Also, you get a lot of negativity from people who don't necessarily want to be teachers. Go figure.

Some professional teachers like Francis-Pax enjoy Korea but hit an employment ceiling when it comes to opportunities. This isn't uncommon. There are fewer and fewer long-term positions. One friend of mine, also with a Korean wife (and a new baby) decided to make the move back to the U.S. Now he's working in ESL for a major university there. With the MA, CELTA/DELTA, and a load of other certs and experience, he's competitive in a competitive market.

To selectively quote Thiuda, "The point is that if you work hard, if you put in the time and effort, and continue to qualify yourself further, you CAN get a secure, high paying job," and, too boot, "There are great jobs in Korea, within ESL and outwith, but you're not going to get such a job from the get-go, nor are you going to get such a job if you don't put in some effort. Oh, and networking really helps."

And to quote my dad, "Just concentrate on making yourself better. The rest of the shit will take care of itself."
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Dharma_Blue



Joined: 11 Oct 2008

PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 2:45 pm    Post subject: Re: State of the ESL economy: Is the party over? Reply with quote

Francis-Pax wrote:
With EFL salaries around the world, Korea is not the best deal. There are many other places where the same amount money can be maid.


For example? A desert compound teaching spoiled rich Saudi kids? Vietnam or China? I doubt it, in most cases. Japan? Super competitive, plus almost no chance of tenure in universities there, either.

Seriously, where are all these places where you can make the same amount of money as Korea?
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Moldy Rutabaga



Joined: 01 Jul 2003
Location: Ansan, Korea

PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
But how did Japan deal with the constant thirst for more teachers? How were wages driven down?
Answer: they now hire teachers from the Phillipines, India, Germany, ect.
So the supply is more than adequately filled. And thus wages are driven down.


I think this is an accurate prediction of things to come in Korea. With a glut of unemployed Korean graduates, there will be pressure to place the ones with better (sic) English skills in EPIK or SMOE. In time, more pliable Indian and Filipino teachers will be brought into hogwans as they can be abused more.

I am a little more optimistic about the university system in Korea, which I think is gradually getting better. So far as the hogwan system, every year I am here the pay and conditions get better in countries like Thailand, Vietnam, and China. In absolute terms of cash they may even still pay less, but the corresponding quality of life and costs of living can compensate. You might make $1500 a month in Vietnam, but at Vietnam prices for everything. Young teachers are not solely motivated by money. Really, Haeundae is nice, but are people going to choose it over Phuket?

Within the next ten years, SE Asian hogwans are going to eat Korea's lunch for western teachers. So my outlook is somewhat positive for ESL. But not for Korean ESL.
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