Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Why do Koreans hire people to teach English with no training to teach English?

Another reader question:

"At one point you criticized someone's ideas as to why foreigners with no training are hired to teach English, but I never noticed any speculation on your part.  I'd like to know, if you're willing to take a stab: why do they hire from such a pool?"

It all comes down to supply and demand I guess.  Lots of people want to go teach in Japan, so they get an overwhelming number of people applying, hence the rigorous interview/application process.  And everyone wants to teach in Thailand, hence the required TEFL certificate.  And in the Middle East, the salary is so high, that it's easy to require a CELTA.  And who wouldn't want to live in Europe?  Hence the EU citizenship requirement, as well as a CELTA in most cases.  And Hong Kong is so cool, which is why it's hard to find a job without a teacher's degree. 

Now Korea.  Not exactly a prime place to live for most people, although I find it altogether enjoyable.  And the ESL industry here is not exactly on the up and up, if you know what I mean?  Which is why the benefits and pay are so good.  Despite that, just not that many want to come and live and work here, leaving the basic requirements of a pulse, and a 4-year degree to teach ESL in Korea.  Koreans don't care so much about experience, as they do appearances.  So, if they can find a blond-haired, blue-eyed North American girl to teach little Min-su and Ji-Hae, they'll take it.  Some places even prefer inexperienced teachers that have no training in ESL because they're more easily manipulated trained.

However, I will say that things are changing these days.  GOOD jobs are getting much harder to come by, with the recent economic downturn in North America leaving a bigger pool of people wanting to come to Korea.  If you're willing to work out in the countryside, then you'll find a job in no time.  But if you want to work in a bigger city, be prepared to search around for at least a couple months to find the job you want.  Gone are the days when you got a phone call one day and were on the plane the next.  I foresee in the near (<10 years) future a Korean ESL industry that looks a whole lot more like Japan. 

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