Friday, February 27, 2015

Korean University Jobs are Not What they Once Were, Part 2

A couple weeks ago, I talked about how I think university jobs in Korea (and actually all ESL teaching jobs in Korea) are on a downward slide to the bottom.

Korean University Jobs are not what they once were, part 1

Yesterday, at my staff meeting I got a bit of new information which just further confirms what I originally thought.  The head of my department was talking about how the Korean government is deadly serious about shutting down a good number of unis in Korea (although he didn't say this, due to a very low birth rate there are fewer and fewer Korean students going to uni so something truly does need to be done).

Starting this year, the government is instituting a ranking system with 5 grades: A, B, C, D, F.  The F-rated schools will be forcibly shut down. The C and D-rated schools will have to reduce enrollment by 30 and 50% respectively, which will in essence mean their closure because it will just be too hard for them to be profitable with such reduced numbers. The B-rated schools will have to reduce their students by 10% and the A-rated schools can do whatever they want. 

The writing is on the wall, especially for those with working at lower-ranked universities. You could be losing your job, sooner rather than later.

Anecdotally, my school which is the 2nd or 3rd highest ranked in Busan (the second biggest city in Korea behind Seoul) lost a good number of students and some of the extra-curricular English programs that I would normally do for overtime got cut. There is just less money floating around and often the first thing to go is English programs.

Exit-plan = put into full effect.  Want to know my choices for up-and-coming English teaching destinations?  Check out: The Wealthy English Teacher: Teach, Travel, and Secure Your Financial Future





Lesson Planning Made Easy

I'm in the office, here on a Friday night in South Korea getting ready for the upcoming semester which has come alarmingly fast. Time flies when you're having fun jet-setting around the world, or something like that. Anyway, onwards and downwards back to Earth.

I checked out my class rosters and it appears that many of the students I had last semester are back for round 2 this semester. Same students, same teacher, just different subject. Which is fine and I actually like having repeat students who've conformed to my system, but one area where is does throw a little wrench into the system is the class warm-up. I did word puzzles last semester and felt like by the end, I had exhausted every single appropriate one I could find on the Internet. Finding good ones for my students is tricky,  since they're not little kids, but they don't necessarily understand ones with complicated language.

So, my solution! ESL Trivia, Logic Puzzles and Word Games. It's $9.99 well spend, let's just say that and the deeper I've dived in as I'm planning, the more impressed that I am. I can't believe I wasted so much time last semester scurrying around the Internet looking for stuff that's all in one place (this book!).'s kind of the ultimate way to start off your class with a couple little brain-teaser trivia puzzles.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How to Get a University Job in South Korea: on Sale for 1 week only!

Starting tomorrow, you'll be able to get How to Get a University Job in South Korea: The English Teaching Job of Your Dreamsfor just $1.99 (reduced from $3.49) but the sale lasts for one week only.

If you're looking for a uni job teaching English in South Korea, this is your go-to book and there truly is nothing else out there that contains all this information in one place. People like it so far: only 5 star reviews over on Amazon. 

In somewhat related news, check out the newly updated book's website, University Jobs Korea for some resources that will be helpful to any job-seekers. Let me know if you have any questions or requests for posts; I'm always happy to help and will answer them within a day or two on this blog.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

AXA English Website Makes Car Insurance Easy for Expats

Car insurance...we all know that every driver is required to get one to drive in Korea. As much as it’s mandatory, we really want to consider the brand and coverage very carefully, which is never so easy for foreigners like us. So I've always LONGED for a car insurance as easy and convenient as the one in my home country!

Fortunately AXA Direct just opened up a comprehensive English insurance website! While car insurance is a must-have in Korea, no more worries! Thanks to the newly opened English website of a global insurance brand AXA. Every service with car insurance is now available in English.

The Wealthy English Teacher: now available on Amazon

My second book, The Wealthy English Teacher: Teach, Travel, and Secure Your Financial Futureis now available on Amazon in Ebook format. But, you don't actually need a Kindle to get it. Any Smartphone, tablet or PC will do if you get the Kindle App.  The hard-copy book should be out in a couple of days if do books that way.

In the book, I talk about the 10 steps to securing your financial future including:

1. Choosing a job wisely (with advice most specifically tailored to ESL Teachers)
2. Building a small emergency fund
3. Living frugally and paying off debts
4. Advancing your career
5. Building a full emergency fund
6. Saving your first $10,000 to invest
7. Investing in the financial markets and enjoying life
8. Building passive income streams
9. Planning for the future
10. Enjoying financial freedom

There are a couple other books out there related to expat investing, but this is the first one that I know of with financial advice specific to ESL/EFL teachers.  Check it out and please leave a comment or email me with any questions or feedback that you might have.  I'd be happy to connect with you.

You could also check out the book's website, The Wealthy English Teacher for some samples from the book and other Internet goodness.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Coming Home after Living Abroad


A post over on my other blog, Freedom Through Passive Income that might be of interest to my readers here. It was inspired by a great discussion over at the Foreign Teachers in Korean Universities Facebook group about returning home after living abroad for so many years and who is successful in that endeavor. Here's the post:

Going Home After Living Abroad

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Top 5 Tips to Get Ready for the New Semester

It's that time again! The semester is starting up in a week and I'm sure teachers are busy getting everything ready to go.  Here are my top 5 tips to get ready for the  new semester:

1. Plan ahead There's nothing more terrible than frantically trying to pull something together an hour before class. I've been there and it's not a happy place for your mental health. I always try to stay 2-3 weeks ahead for my lesson planning.

2. Things don't work You know it always happens: Monday morning at 8am before the semester starts, there's a line-up of 5 people trying to use the photocopier to copy their syllabi and of course it breaks. Be organized and hit it a few days before, just in case.

3. Simple is best You don't need to reinvent the wheel and simple is almost always better. Of course, put a bit of effort and creative energy into your lessons, but it really is okay to use a page or two out of the textbook, or to use something like ESL Logic Puzzles and Trivia for your class warm-up instead of making your own, which would take hours.

4. Recycle Similar to not reinventing the wheel, hopefully you've been saving your lessons somewhere in a place like Dropbox or Google Documents. There are always plenty of generic "conversation" classes here in Korea where you are free to use anything you want and it's much easier to reuse an old lesson than to pull something new out of your hat.

5. Work space Make sure that you have a happy place where you can get work done so you can put some focused effort into stuff. For me, it's usually not at home and if I want to be productive, it's far better for me to go into my office, which I'm lucky enough to share with only 2 people who are rarely (if ever) there.

But for others, they share an office with 10+ people and of course, serious work is impossible in that kind of environment so those people could maybe find a quiet coffee shop near their house, a public library or set-up a space at home to do work.

Free: 40 Tried and Tested ESL Games and Activities

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Top 5 Tips for Newbies to Teaching in Korean Universities

It's that time of year again as the new semester starts in a week or so. Even though I've been doing it for years, I still get a little bit nervous. But, it's nothing like it was before my first semester teaching at a university. Instead of feeling a bit nervous, it was a feeling more akin to terror. Anyway, nothing I can say is going to make you feel less nervous, but here are a few tips to help you.

Top 5 Tips for Newbies to Teaching at Korean Universities:

1. Lower your expectations, particularly for freshman English classes. First year of university is a time of rest between high school hell and mandatory army hell for the boys, so they just want to have fun, enjoy their freedom and perhaps find a girlfriend.

2. Simple is best. You may have plenty of fabulous ideas for how you're going to have the raddest classes ever but always remember that simple is best. Your students are probably going to be lower level than you would expect them to be. 

3. You can't fight the system. Things like passing seniors who never show up to class and/or fail every single assignment and test will seem ridiculous to you. Get over that and the quicker the better. You are a lone foreigner and nobody actually cares what you think about the Korean university system.

4. Be fair and care. You don't need to be the funniest, or the coolest, or the most handsome teacher in order to be popular. It is actually easier than that. Just be fair and treat all students the same and also show them that you care. Remember their names, talk to them outside of class, be a decent human being in case of a problem of some kind. Never use the power that you have to your advantage but instead be humble.

5. Fly under the radar. Build yourself a reputation as a stellar teacher but also work on being the person who never has any negative interactions, with anybody. NEVER complain to the admin about anything and try to ask for as minimal amount of their help as possible. I make it my goal to always fly under the radar and only have positive interactions with the powers that be.

Maybe you're wondering how you could get this rad job?  Let me tell you how for the low price of $3.49:

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Do you want to be a Wealthy English Teacher?

Most people find their way to Korea to pay off some debts, save a bit of money and have some adventures while doing it. And it is indeed a fabulous place to do all those things. But, can you become rich teaching ESL as a career, in Korea or in other countries? Yes!  I think it really is possible for just about anyone with a bit of frugal living, wise investing and by avoiding a few common financial mistakes.

So, the happy news for you, my readers is that I have another book coming out, "The Wealthy English Teacher: A Beginner's Guide to Becoming Rich." It is in the final editing stages now so you should be able to find it on Amazon in a couple of weeks and I promise that the price will indeed be right...around $4 or so.

Here's the website, The Wealthy English Teacher where you can get an overview of the book contents. Check out the links on the top menu bar too: plenty of goodness to whet your appetite for becoming fabulously rich.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Teaching English in Taiwan

I got an email from Dominic the other day over at TEFL One, mentioning that he had written this guide to Teaching English in Taiwan. I had a perusal through it and I have to say that it is a lot of great information for anyone considering a move over to Taiwan to teach ESL.  Check it out if you're interested.

As a kind of aside, I visited Taiwan a few years ago for a couple of weeks and really enjoyed it. Bubble tea in abundance. Warm weather. Bicycles and scooter lanes. Decent, cheap food. Nice hiking and scuba diving. What more could you want?  It'd be a prime ESL teaching destination if the pay was a wee bit higher I think. But, if you want a decent quality of life, definitely consider Taiwan.

If you like this blog, consider signing up for my monthly newsletter which will contain excerpts from my books and other such fabulous stuff. 100% non-spammy goodness guaranteed.

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Reader Question: Sample Syllabus for a University Conversation Class

This one from Joshua:

"Could you post a sample of a syllabus that you would use for a University conversation class in Korea?"

Hey there Joshua, no problem.  Check out the link here to one that I used last semester:

English Conversation Sample Syllabus

Some (most) people make their syllabi far more complicated/official sounding than this one. But, I like to keep it simple since it's my style and I always try to keep my audience in mind (students with sometimes quite basic English skills) and not worry too much about appearances for the sake of the admin.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Korean University Jobs are not what they once were

Then and Now

Anyone who has been in a Korea for a few years (or a decade in my case) has seen the decline of the ESL industry as a whole. 10 years ago, anyone with a pulse could get a hagwon (private institute job), public school jobs were plentiful and uni jobs were being handed out like candy to those with just a Bachelor's degree and perhaps a year of experience at a public school or hagwon.

These days, even hagwon jobs seem to be pretty scarce and it seems to be a race to the bottom for the lowest salary and weakest job positions. There are just too many decently-qualified people looking for work. Public schools have been bleeding jobs for the past 3 or 4 years, with almost all middle and high-schools cutting their native English speaker positions. And of course unis-even those with a Master's degree and a few years of non-uni experience are sometimes not getting jobs.

Anecdotally, I have three friends here in Busan who've lost their jobs recently and while they've found other positions, it certainly was not without a struggle and they were competing against other quite well-qualified applicants for okay positions.

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The Glory Days are Done

What am I saying? The happy days of Korea as a prime ESL teaching destination are indeed over, much the way things went with Japan, just a few years later in the case of Korea. Only the most qualified (someone like me! Ha! Masters+Celta+Delta+years of uni experience) will get those prime uni jobs with low teaching hours, motivated students, high pay and full vacations while everyone else will be left fighting for the okay or crappy stuff. Salaries and benefits like free plane tickets and housing will keep decreasing.

My Plan

I, myself have planned my exit strategy that involves going back to Canada and changing careers because I think the writing is on the wall. I would suggest that those who are making longer-term plans, thinking that Korea is going to be a winner for English teachers should perhaps reconsider. Another country like Vietnam? Upgrading qualifications and getting into teacher training? Changing careers?  There are plenty of fish in the sea so why place your bets on the one flopping around on the dry-land?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Reader Question: Bringing a child to Korea

"I am a 51 year old American with a 9 year old daughter. Would I be able to bring my daughter with me if I got a teaching job in Korea?"

(I'm answering the question assuming you're a single mom. If you're married, your husband could home-school/take care of your child and none of the stuff I talk about below will be a problem).

Short answer: yes.

 Long answer: yes, but I probably wouldn't do it for the following reason.

What do you plan to do for school?  I certainly wouldn't put a foreign kid into a Korean school for a host of reasons including: large class sizes compared to Western countries (ie: no one will hold her hand), inability/unwillingness of anyone in the school to speak English to her, Korean being quite a difficult language to learn for an English speaker, lack of communication between you and the teachers and finally, the biggest reason of them all: bullying.

She will most certainly be bullied by her classmates because in Korea, people seem to seize upon any and every opportunity to assert their superiority over just about anyone who is perceived to be inferior, of which your daughter most certainly will be due to her lack of language skills.  Teachers are also known to bully the weak and there was just a report in the news only one or two days ago about a teacher being disciplined for her repeated bullying of a mixed race kid. But, here's the thing: her punishment was less severe because she had won an award of some sort at some point in her career.  Crazy. And certainly not recommended. Let it be indication to you that Korean parents are almost willing to give their left arm or pinky toe to get their kids out of the education system here.

Where does that leave you? International schools? Also a pretty terrible idea unless you're independently wealthy, which is probably not the case if you're coming to Korea to teach English.

Home-schooling?  Yes, it's possible. But, what is she going to do while you're at work all day? Due to the language barrier, you'll have kind of an impossible time finding someone to look after her. And assuming you find someone who can speak English, it will just be way too expensive and impossible for you to actually make any money after paying for that.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Korean University Gods have Rewarded Me

During all my semesters working at Korean universities, never have I been fortunate enough to have a schedule as amazing as this one. Just last semester, working at the same uni and in the same job position, I was saved by the skin of my teeth from 5 days/week due to the kindness of one of my coworkers who traded a class with me. 

Anyway, are you ready for it?  Just how amazing is my schedule you might ask?  Enough suspense...I'm just going to tell you:  I work from Wednesday at 10:30 to Friday at 7:15. Nothing on Monday and Tuesday. Yes, all of this equals 4-day weekends.

Although I'm sure my schedule will get filled up with overtime classes (I usually do 10-15 hours/week of extra teaching), it's still pretty amazing and I'm excited about the big chunks of free-time I will have to work on my various online ventures including these websites:

Freedom Through Passive Income
Jackie Bolen 
How to Get a University Job in South Korea

I also plan to finish up my second book, tentatively titled "The Wealthy English Teacher" for anyone teaching overseas who doesn't want to end up in the unfortunate situations of begging from your friends in case of minor medical emergency, teaching until you're 70, or having to take the crappiest of jobs just because you're desperate. It should be up on Amazon in a month or so and the price will be right at about $3, so you really can't afford not to buy it.