Saturday, January 24, 2015

University Jobs in South Korea

I've started up a new website dedicated to helping people get a university job teaching English in South Korea.  You can find it at University Job Korea (

I plan to use that site instead of this one in the future for anything related to uni jobs in Korea, so be sure to bookmark it or add it to your feeder if you're looking for a job. Also, don't forget to like the Facebook Page for How to Get a University Job in Korea.

And, in other news, I'm going to Vietnam tomorrow for 3 weeks or so, so that will be why I'm MIA.  Stay tuned for lots more goodness at the end of February/early March including my new book about personal finance/investing for teachers abroad.

Free: 40 Tried and Tested ESL Games and Activities

Friday, January 23, 2015

Teaching Websites and Resources I use in my own classes

teaching resources
Teaching Resources for ESL Teachers

A quick post about some resources from around the Internet  that I use for my own classes when I'm in need of a bit of inspiration.

Classroom Resources for ESL Teachers

ESL Speaking-  The ultimate site for ESL speaking games and activities, as well as ESL textbook recommendations.

Breaking News English - My go to site for any kind of current events ESL conversation or ESL discussion class. I like the short 2-page mini lessons, but they also have full lesson plans here.

ESL Writing -Also a great site for lesson plans specifically for ESL writing classes. My favorite ones actually are the ESL listening lesson plans, which are perfect for an hour-long class.

Speaking Activities That Don't Suck- Lots of ready-to-go speaking activities and games for ESL classes that you don't have to put a lot of thought into. Perfect if you get a last minute class thrown at you and you're in a bit of a time crunch.

Presentation Expressions -If you teach presentations or public speaking, you'll want to check out this site (and also buy yourself this book: Speaking of Speech: Basic Presentation Skills for Beginners).

Business English Pod -My favorite site for business English and interview preparation. They have paid content, but much of it is free and you can probably get by with just that for your lessons with a bit of preparation by you.

ESL Trivia and Word Puzzles- I love to do a warm-up brain-teaser at the beginning of every class and this is the best book I've found with puzzles and trivia geared specifically to ESL students. The stuff around the Internet either has language that is too difficult or is geared to kids.

Don't forget to sign-up for 40 free ESL games and activities delivered straight to your inbox.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Student Evaluations +my Cynical Nature = Time to Leave Korea

It's that time of year: student evaluations are up on the Internet again. At my university, student evaluations are the sole basis of whether or not I get my contract renewed beyond my current tenure. Now, that's a whole can of worms that I don't think I'm going to open and thankfully, I actually don't care about evaluations because I'm just going to finish my contract and go back to Canada.

Upon reading my student's comments, here are the only negative ones I got and my own comments in response.

Too much homework, even though it was helpful in improving English speaking ability 
(what English major wouldn't want to improve their English ability? It's mystifying.)

Speaking tests were too subjective (I graded according to this whole grid system with numerous categories that I explained thoroughly before the test)

I didn't grade like the Korean professors/ I didn't give good grades just for showing up to class (Ummmm...are we in kindergarten here? Since when you should get a good grade in a university class just for parking your butt in a chair and breathing a bit of air?)

I didn't like having to change conversation partners every class (notice: real-life involves talking to other people besides just your BFF-why not get used to it now in a safe, happy place such as my class?)

My lateness policy was too strict (Yes, of course it is because NOTHING is more disruptive and not conducive to actual learning than having students constantly stream in at varying intervals for the first 1,2,3, 4, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, and 45 minute points in the class)

Moral of the Story

It's time for me to get out of dodge, and the quicker the better. Still want to work at a University in South Korea? Let me tell you how:

Doctorate Degree in Law-Uni Job in Korea from Overseas?

This is a question from a person who read my book, How to Get a University Job in South Korea: The English Teaching Job of Your Dreams, found it helpful and left a 5-star review (as an aside, if you've read the book and liked it, please leave a review on Amazon. It really helps the book's search rankings). Anyway, onwards to the question:

"I am currently working as an attorney in the US.  I have a Juris Doctor degree and a BA in English.  In both college and law school, I did some tutoring and mentoring.  My fiancee is also an attorney, and has a similar background with respect to sporadic teaching.  I know from your book that having a master's degree is helpful, but am wondering if having a doctorate-level degree might help make up for the fact that we are not in Korea presently/at the time of application and don't have experience teaching in Korea.  We are very committed to teaching in Korea and of course would be willing to come to Korea for in-person interviews, but as we are both working as attorneys currently, we don't have the complete flexibility to move to Korea before landing a position."

My Answer: 

While I appreciate the fact that you want to have a change of pace and a bit of adventure, I'm not sure teaching ESL in Korea is the best route for people with such good job prospects back home, such as you and your fiance.

Teaching ESL, and especially in Korea is basically a dead-end with no real chance for advancement into decent "career" kinds of jobs that give you more than a one or two year contract unless you make it happen for yourself such as getting into publishing or through Internet ventures. I myself am leaving mostly for this very reason. I've made it to the top of the Korean ESL world and there's nowhere to go but sideways or down, which is a pretty grim and demoralizing prospect for someone who is only 35 years old.

Korean Uni Interviews via Skype

If you must come to Korea, it really is very difficult to get a university job from abroad. I estimate less than 3% of Korean universities are willing to do Skype interviews.  Sure, having a PhD might help you get a foot in the door, but it also might be a bit of a red-flag because hiring committees will wonder why you would ever want to teach in Korea and you will probably have to spend a good bit of the interview process explaining this. They are used to people with Masters degree in things such as English, TESOL, humanities or arts.

Frugal Living and Early Retirement
Not to be too presumptuous and offer advice that wasn't asked for, but have you thought about just working hard for a few years in America, living extremely frugally, getting yourself set up with investments and then "retiring" and traveling and doing whatever adventures you want to do?  One of my biggest regrets in life is that I didn't study something more useful in university and set myself up for a situation like that. 

Check out these websites for some inspiration:

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Jackie Bolen around the Internet

Did you  know that I have plenty of others things going on around the Internet than besides just this site?

If you're interested in personal finance or investing or building passive income streams, you could check out:

Freedom Through Passive Income
Freedom Through Passive Income Facebook Page
Twitter: @freedomthroughp
Pinterest: Dividend Stock Investing
Pinterest: Building Passive Income Streams

In you want more about teaching English or South Korea, check out:

How to Get a University Job in South Korea (book on Amazon)
How To Get a Uni Job in Korea (Hubpages-free excerpts from the book)
How to Get a University Job in Korea on Facebook
Twitter: @jlbinkorea
Pinterest: Uni Jobs Korea
HubPages (so many more specific pages like Speaking Activities for ESL Students, or ESL Textbook Reviews)

And finally, more general, amalgamation kind of stuff that I have:

Jackie Bolen's Main Site
Jackie Bolen on HubPages
Twitter: @bolen_jackie
Jackie Bolen on Google Plus

Please connect with me on Social Media. I love to interact with my readers and answer any questions or check out their sites!

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Reviews of "How to Get a Uni Job in Korea"

Check out this other site of mine, Jackie Bolen with a page containing reviews of my book, How to Get a University Job in South Korea: The English Teaching Job of Your Dreams.  So far, so good. All 5 stars!

If you've read the book and liked it, please consider leaving a review on Amazonand also telling your friends who are looking for a university job in Korea.  I'd really appreciate it and of course I hope the universe will send some good Karma your way as well as helping your friend get that prime job.

Monthly Newsletter Sign-Up: Exclusive Content!

Exciting news from My Life! Teaching in a Korean University. I'm starting up a monthly newsletter with valuable information for English Teachers Abroad. It will contain excerpts from my previous book, How to Get a University Job in South Korea: The English Teaching Job of Your Dreams,as well as my upcoming book about personal finance for English Teachers.  Get the job of your dreams and become rich. What could be better? 

Use the sign-up form below, or click on this sign-up form link. Don't worry...I promise no spam and the program I'm using is Mail Chimp, the most respected company in the business.





Sunday, January 18, 2015

Retirement and English Teaching

Even though this blog is generally only about teaching related stuff, I just wrote a post over on my other blog, Freedom Through Passive Income that might be useful for a lot of my readers here:

Depending on the Government in Retirement: a Good Option?

Basically, English teachers are not contributing to things like government pension plans in their home countries so they're in a precarious situation if they aren't saving for their own retirement. Check out the article and get inspired to start saving!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Professional Development-Start your Own Teaching Website

An excellent way to challenge yourself professionally is to start a teaching website of some sort, kind of like this one. Not only have I learned lots of helpful teaching things, but I've met plenty of fabulous people through it as well plus I have a few website development skills which might come in handy in the future. Here is some advice I have on various options for websites:

1. Blogger (like this blog) is a decent choice if you want really, really simple and easy. You can probably get up to speed in under an hour with this choice. 

2. is similar to Blogger but it requires a wee bit more technical skill. It's probably better to start with this rather than Blogger because learning how to develop websites through this platform is a much more valuable skill for your future. Here's one site I developed using

Freedom Through Passive Income

3. shares the same platform as with the difference being that you need to have your own domain (instead of and that you need another site to host your page (although you can pay wordpress to do it for you too).  You can use something like Go Daddy for domains and hosting, and then Wordpress for the platform, which is how many of the websites you see do it (basically!). It is quite complicated, as I am discovering now that I've started working on my new website.

Jackie Bolen Please don't look too closely! I just bought it last night and haven't had much time to add cool stuff.

4. Hubpages. If you want to talk about a specific topic related to teaching, Hubpages is an excellent choice. Here are a few examples of my pages related to teaching:

ESL Icebreaker Activities

ESL Writing textbooks

Speaking activities for ESL students

Friday, January 16, 2015

Teacher Resource Pack

I've run across this helpful resource from Rob Whyte over at ESL Writing and perhaps most famous from his work on Lonely Planet Korea. As a cool aside, we hung out yesterday doing some "research" for the upcoming edition. Anyway, onto the helpful thing.

It's a teacher's resource pack which contains the following:

160 logic puzzles and word games
ESL Trivia Challenge volume 1
ESL Trivia Challenge volume 2

I always do a bit of trivia or a puzzle of some sort to start my classes off in an interesting way, but it's kind of hard to find things appropriate for students who don't speak English as their first language, so this could be quite useful for sure. You can buy it at: ESL Publications  for $9.99 and it comes with a money-back guarantee if you're not happy. You can buy each book individually, but click through to the second page for the resource pack which contains all three-it's a much better deal!

What Others are Saying about "How to Get a Uni Job in South Korea"

I now have 3,  5-star reviews on Amazon for my book,  How to Get a University Job in South Korea: The English Teaching Job of Your Dreams. Here's what people are saying:


"I've been following Jackie's blogs ( and for a while now. I've also seen her posts on the Foreign Professors and University English Teachers in Korea's Facebook group. She really knows her stuff and this book is no exception. She lays out the info in easy to read form. You can read it straight through or just skip to the parts that you need to read. She gives you the basics about teaching at a university in Korea and gives you lots of tips, such as common mistakes people make at a demo lesson and an interview. I think her info is invaluable and I'd highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to get a university job in Korea or even those people who currently have a university job and would like to get another one."


"Having met the author at a conference, she seems very personable and eager to help. This comes through in her book. Having been working on gaining a full-time university job after five years teaching elementary school students in Korea, it confirmed decisions I was making, help me question some in relation to time-management (why do I so much so much hime on , when doing Y would likely be more valuable), and gave additional ideas and information about other a few resources I did not know about. Fantastic book from an author who seems like a great person (though admittedly I have only met her only once)."


"All relevant information for someone looking to land a Uni position in Korea. Well written and easily digestible. Worth the price to have it aggregated into a book."

People seem to like it!  Check it out for yourself if you're looking for a university English teaching job in South Korea.

Monday, January 12, 2015

On Being Thankful

Occasionally, I will complain about my job, especially at the end of the semester when I'm a little bit weary and worn down. Overall though, I remain positive about it 95% of the time and feel very thankful that the last 8 years of my life have been spent doing this pretty amazing job.  But, there are some people working at Korean universities who complain frequently, which kind of mystifies me because I'm totally convinced that this is the best job that I, or any of these other people will ever have in their entire lives. Who else would pay you so much money for such a little amount of actual work? And that work isn't even stressful or difficult, dangerous or dirty.

 So, what am I saying? I'm very thankful to have worked at Korean Universities for the past eight years, and I've enjoyed my time in Korea for the past ten years most of the time, but I've decided to move back to Canada in February or March of 2016 when my contract is done. I don't want to be an English teacher for the rest of my life and the longer I stay abroad, the more that this will just become my life and before I know it, it will be too late to switch careers.  So, one more happy year in Korea, filled with lots of sad times doing things, teaching things, eating things and seeing people one last time. I know that after I leave, I'm going to think about Korea and miss it, probably every single day for the rest of my life.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Korean Culture Tips for Job Seekers #3: Use Correct Language

This is the third tip in my series about culture tips for those looking for jobs in South Korea.  It's an excerpt from my book which is available on Amazon for $2.99 US so if you like what you see, rest assured that there is plenty more goodness in the book and definitely a few tips that will be useful for anyone looking for a teaching job in South Korea.

 How to Get a University Job in South Korea: The English Teaching Job of Your Dreams

"Use Correct “Language” At your interview it is especially important that you realize your position of inferiority to your interviewers. If you speak any Korean, you should use the formal verb endings (“imnida” instead of the “yo” or no ending). You should use a 2-handed handshake, complete with head-bow and not make too much direct eye-contact during the greeting and introduction phase of the interview."

The general principal of this applies to whether you speak Korean or English in your interview because you always need to remember that Korea is a very hierarchical culture and that you, the interviewee are way, way lower in the pecking order than your interviewers. You should always use formal language and if you speak Korean, be extremely careful to use correct verb endings. Remember: it's far easier to offend someone in Korean with inappropriate "politeness" than it is in English.  While your interviewers may have some sympathy for your weak attempts at Korean, if you make a mistake and address them as someone in a lower position than you, you will be in big trouble.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Korean Culture Tips for Job-Seekers #2: Gifts and Favors are Important

 This is the second tip in my series about Korean culture for those looking for a university, hagwon or public school job in South Korea.  It's an excerpt from my book, How to Get a University Job in South Korea: The English Teaching Job of Your Dreams, which you can get on Amazon for only $2.99 US for the Kindle version. Sure, you can get a lot of the material on this blog and from my guest entries on other sites, but that's annoying.  Anyway, onwards to the cultural tip:
"Gifts and Favors are Important If a Korean goes out of their way to help you at your current job, or during your job search process be sure to repay them for the favor (s). Take them out for lunch or bring them a small gift. It really does not have to be a large thing but they will appreciate it and be willing to help you out again in the future."

This one more applies to the current job you're at, before you get a university job.  You will need a solid recommendation from at least a couple people at your public school, hagwon or current uni job in order to move onwards and upwards in the teaching ESL world in Korea.  You should always do your best to cultivate these relationships and part of that is gifts and favors. Don't think of it as a bribe, think of it as a necessary part of social interactions in South Korea.  Always remember, relationships are way more important than anything that is written down on the piece of semi-useless paper that is a contract in South Korea.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Korean Culture Tips for Job-Seekers. Tip #1: Everything Happens Last Minute

I'm going to do a series on Korean culture for people who are looking for English teaching jobs, with excerpts from my book, How to Get a University Job in South Korea: The English Teaching Job of Your Dreams. Although my advice is specific to university jobs, the basic principles can be applied to anyone searching for a job in Korea.  Here is tip #1:

"Everything Happens Last Minute If you let the last-minute thing get to you, you will not last long in Korea and you will stress out all the Koreans around you. Hassling someone about not giving you notice about something will just make them not like you because they probably did not find out about it themselves until the last minute. Hassling the hiring committee about making a decision about whether you have the job or not will never go down well. Worrying about class and schedule changes that happen a day or two before the semester starts is a recipe for disaster in Korea. “Adapt, improvise, smile and go with the flow,” should be your general attitude if you want to get the job, keep the job and stay there for several years."

What I'm saying is this: most universities in South Korea will not be as organized as you might think they should be. Many of them hire later than you would expect and most places will not produce an actual contract for you to sign until days before the semester starts. Most of them will not be able to tell you how many, or what kind of classes you'll be teaching until the semester is almost underway. Most administrative people will resent you if you ask too many questions and you won't get the job, or if you do, you'll be off to a pretty bad start even before you begin.  So, as I mentioned in my book, "Adapt, improvise, smile and go with the flow." You'll have a much better job searching as well as working experience in South Korean Unis.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Types of University Jobs Available in South Korea

This is an excerpt from my book, How to Get a University Job in South Korea: The English Teaching Job of Your Dreams. If you are looking for a university job in South Korea and like what you see, consider buying the book, which is available in electronic form (downloadable to any computer, tablet or smartphone) or paper form. It's cheaper than a decent beer (remember: friends don't let friends drink Cass or Hite).

There are three basic kinds of university jobs that you can get in South Korea and the vast majority of job advertisements you see will be for one of these positions.

4-Year University Your job will often consist of teaching mandatory Freshman (and sometimes Sophomore) English courses. Schools vary in how they administer this, but it can involve one 3-hour per week course during either the student's first or second semester, or it could involve something like four 1-hour per week courses over the first two years of a student's program. You will sometimes be able to teach other classes like writing, presentations, or business English to students in majors like business, airline business, tourism or English. It really depends on the university. Student English levels range from almost fluent to very low. All of these classes involve designing a syllabus, administering tests and homework, and giving final grades.
Community College These institutions offer two-year programs in fields like hair-styling, security or cooking. The students are still required to take English courses and will likely be extremely low-level and have almost no motivation to learn English. There is usually no opportunity to teach anything besides basic conversation at these places. This job is similar to the one above in that you will have to design a syllabus, administer tests and homework and give final grades.

Unigwon These are hybrid “university + hagwon” positions, which are located on university campuses. You will teach mostly university students and some adults from the wider community, but quite likely some children as well (if not mentioned explicitly in the job advertisement, you should ask about this in the interview). None of your classes will be for official credit so there are no tests or grades and you will teach things like basic conversation or run English discussion clubs. Your students will often be quite motivated because they have chosen to be there, unlike the previous two positions where students attend your classes because they must fulfill academic requirements.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Uni Jobs and Bad Timing (not March or September)

One topic that my book, How to Get a University Job in South Korea: The English Teaching Job of Your Dreams didn't really touch on but perhaps should of is what to do if your timing is bad when you want to work at a South Korean University. The semesters start in September and March, with March being the start of the academic year. A recent trend in the past few years is that schools have started to try to hire most of their English teachers for a March start, when in the past the hiring has generally been divided pretty equally between the two (that said, I got both my jobs as a September start).

Anyway, what should you do if your current contract does not finish at an ideal time, such as in October or April. The best solution would be to stick at your current job until you can finish at an ideal time. This will probably involve asking your employer to extend your contract, but not for a full-year, perhaps only 3 or 4 months.  In my experience, most employers will be willing to do this if you are a good employee since it saves them the hassle (and expense) of hiring a new person for a bit longer. The additional bonus of this one is that you can hopefully transfer your visa from your old employer to your new one, which is much easier than getting a new visa. If you aren't a good employee, of course nobody will go out of their way to help you.

The next best solution would be to finish your current contract, but then find some sort of temporary employment such as at a summer or winter camp. Or, you could study Korean for a few months and switch to a student visa. It's kind of unclear whether or not you'd have to submit new teaching English paperwork for either of these options. Perhaps give the immigration hotline a call to find out the details.

If you only have a month or two between your old contract finishing and the new uni one starting, you could switch to a D-10, "looking for work visa" in which case you probably wouldn't have to submit new paperwork.

Alternatively, you could also take a few months off to travel or hang out in Korea on a tourist visa (you will probably have to leave and come back).  In this case, you will definitely have to submit new paperwork.

The option that you should put out of your head is starting anytime besides September or March. It just isn't possible. I know it maybe doesn't seem fair, but that's just the way things work here. Of course, think about how you would have felt if you took a class in university and the teacher you started with wasn't the one you finished with. That would just be really annoying.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Reader Question: Advice about Teaching in a Korean University

From Sam: "I am interested in a career change as I have been working in a UK university for the past 5 years and have recently completed my PhD and I would like to work in Korea. I suppose my biggest concern is landing the first job and ensuring that is a decent experience. In your experience, is there a good company/agency that you would recommend I contact to ask about positions?  I have seen jobs on Dave's ESL but there are so many and it would be good to have recommendations.  It would be good to go through an agency that offers visa and housing etc."
My answer:
If you want to work at a Korean university, it can be very difficult to get these jobs from overseas. That said, I have no idea what your PhD is in, so perhaps you want to teach sometimes besides ESL. If this is the case, you might have better luck finding a job from overseas, but as far as agencies or companies to recommend using, as far as I know there are no recruiting companies that place people in Korean unis. Everyone just finds their jobs through searching online for school's advertisements or by networking.

A word of warning though: Korea is still kind of the wild west in a lot of ways when it comes to teaching jobs. Plenty of people get ripped off, especially those that don't do their research, and it's quite obvious that you have not if you don't know that people don't get uni jobs through an agency, or that almost all teaching jobs in Korea include housing or that all jobs include a visa. Even though you have a PhD, because you a foreigner and a newbie to Korea, you will be at the very bottom of the totem pole here, even lower than the department secretary or the security guard on campus.  And, you will find that academic standards are shockingly low here so for someone who is a "real" academic, you might find it to be a tough place to work.

Check out my book: How to Get a University Job in South Korea: The English Teaching Job of Your Dreams,which although it is geared towards English teachers, you might still find helpful.  That's not to say that you shouldn't teach here, but just be aware of what you're getting yourself into.