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Being the only FT

 
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MedellinHeel



Joined: 16 Jan 2014

PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2014 8:41 pm    Post subject: Being the only FT Reply with quote

Anyone done this? How did it turn out?

Seems a bit concerning to be the only FT at an academy.
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ttompatz



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Location: Kwangju, South Korea

PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2014 8:52 pm    Post subject: Re: Being the only FT Reply with quote

MedellinHeel wrote:
Anyone done this? How did it turn out?

Seems a bit concerning to be the only FT at an academy.


Pretty common at smaller academies.

Recipe for disaster for newbies.

.
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DosEquisXX



Joined: 04 Nov 2009

PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2014 4:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's pretty depressing. My work environment was very hostile as a result of having nobody to interact with. The Korean teachers wanted nothing to do with me and even at lunch they didn't sit next to me. I was always sitting alone.

I strongly suggest trying to find an academy with at least one other foreign teacher. That way you have somebody to talk to other than yourself.
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beentheredonethat777



Joined: 27 Jul 2013
Location: AsiaHaven

PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2014 4:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's quite common in smaller academies. FT's make a lot more than KT and it's rather expensive to sponsor more than one, unless the owner is rich.

Let's see. I've worked in both private and public schools with/ and without foreigners. Initially, it was okay to have someone to talk to who understood the cultural differences, but over all, I personally prefer being the only foreigner, hands-down.

But to answer your question,I can think of five reasons why it may be problematic for you:
1)If this is your first time in Korea
2)If you're going to be an isolated area
3)If you don't speak Korean fluently
4)If your boss doesn't speak English well, or
5) If you require daily conversation with someone(Koreans teachers are usually too busy to notice you)

It will get old really quick being the only foreigner. Misunderstandings, depression, and loneliness may set in during the winter months.
Unless you value quiet time and isolation, please try to find a larger school.

Most of it depends upon your personality. I enjoy having my own private space and not being bothered. but I'm older and more settled in Korea.
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ghostrider



Joined: 27 Jun 2011

PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2014 5:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been in that situation a few times. Sometimes it works out (if you have Korean coworkers who treat you like a normal human being). Other times it doesn't work out so well. At one academy I felt ignored and excluded a lot of the time. A lot of important things were never communicated to me or only at the last moment. Coworkers avoided sitting next to me when we'd eat out. Some people hardly ever spoke to me but would have conversations about me right in front of my face, "Weigookin blah, blah, blah...."
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EZE



Joined: 05 May 2012

PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2014 8:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm the only FT at my hagwon. It's fine. I'm in my 22nd month at this one and plan on working at least through the fall. While I miss the camaraderie a foreign staff can provide, at least I get paid on time, my apartment is nice, and the Korean staff is polite despite the fact that we tend to be aloof of one another. It's not unusual to go days at a time without communicating with anyone other than my students. The Koreans are really nice to me and I'm really nice to them, but there seems to be a tacit mutual understanding that I'm just a mercenary. Even my classroom is treated like a semi-autonomous, foreign outsourced department of the school. Sometimes when I get a new class, I'll ask my boss for guidance on what she wants me to do with the new class and the answer is usually, "You can do anything."

At my two previous hagwons, I had foreign co-workers.

At my first hagwon, I liked most of the foreign and Korean teachers, but the Canadians needed to air daily grievances about the USA and how America had ruined their lives. They would stop me in the hallway between classes to discuss the problems America was causing them, but I'd have to interrupt them and be like, "Pardon, I'd like to hear you out, but I really have to go to my classroom and check my students' homework." They weren't bad people, but I came to Korea to get away from America's bullshit, not to hear about it every day. So I didn't renew my contract at that hagwon because of the Canadians.

At the second hagwon, 100% of the foreign co-workers were totally great and my British next door neighbors were a lot of fun too. The thing is, it doesn't matter how great the foreigners are at a school if the school itself is crooked and screwed-up. An Australian co-worker pulled a midnight runner and I did two days later.

The bottom line is, it all comes down to the boss. It may also come down to the supervisor, but the supervisor is the responsibility of the boss. My second hagwon had my favorite foreign staff, but we were jumping like rats off a sinking ship because of the boss and the supervisor. My first year in Korea was magical because my boss and supervisor were first-rate. My current hagwon is totally awesome because my boss is a totally awesome boss.
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pmwhittier



Joined: 03 Nov 2011
Location: Korea

PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2014 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love being the only FT at my school. I also find it amusing that I'm the only male at the school (with the exception of the boss, and he's not here very much). I work with 12 Korean speaking teachers and 1 Konglish speaking teacher. However, this situation is good for me but would probably drive most people crazy. I have been in Korea for 3 years, so I know about many of the cultural differences. At my last school, the FT were all pretty horrible people. Here, I don't have that issue. I can choose my friends outside of work.
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ttompatz



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Location: Kwangju, South Korea

PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2014 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Experienced hagwon teacher being the lone foreign teacher in a hagwon = no problem.
You probably know what you are doing:
- in the hagwon
- as a teacher
- in Korea.

Newbies in EFL AND being a newbie in Korea AND being the lone foreign teacher in a hagwon has always been a recipe for disaster.

.
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