TESOL Planet provides the TESOL Teaching community with current TESOL teaching jobs, TESOL Teacher Training, and TESOL Information for those English speaking teachers looking to Teach English as a Second Language around the world. TESOL planet is here to help all TESOL teachers make informed choices about their TESOL teaching career.
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Know before you go! This investigative report documents over four-hundred complaints reported by Native English-speakers who taught English conversation at language institutes in South Korea. This guide can help prospective teachers to avoid these problems.
Examples of complaints in the book voiced by teachers:
Complaint Group Cluster Number 19 of 405 (missrepresentation of facts and suppression of information): American, British and Canadian citizens, who were full-time managers and part-time recruiters for hakwons (language institutes in Korea), posed as teachers and gave job applicants making housing and working condition inquiries from overseas false and misleading information by telephone, written letter, fax and e-mail regarding actual working conditions and company housing. Job applicants had asked to speak or otherwise communicate with "only to teachers on staff, not employers, directors, managers or recruiters" to get unbiased information.
Hakwon managers-part-time recruiters provided misleading information to secure signed contracts from English teachers abroad to obtain USA$1,000 commissions from their employers for each teacher successfully recruited from abroad to Korea to teach in the language institute.
Recruiters most often advised teachers abroad to enter South Korea on three month tourist visas. "Don't worry. Your Director of Studies will send you to Japan to get your Work Visa within three months. Teachers worked illegally for three months. Some passed the three month unspoken probation period while others did not.
Immigration Police making unannounced raids at English language institutes confiscated foreign teachers' passports, fined them WON600,000 or more, gave the teachers 14 days to exit South Korea and imposed a re-entry ban on those teachers. My Korean English student said to me, "After Korean Immigration Police obtain 600,000 Won fines from the foreign teachers, that money is split with the Hakwon Director or the language institute owner. Hakwon Directors and owners are not fined or have any penalities imposed on them. This insures that the hakwons remain in business as cash cows for the police and hakwon owners and that there is a continual turnover of new unsuspecting English teachers that can be imported used to replace the teachers who were fined and deported."
The process is a cycle that is repeated again and again during the months throughout the year. Because the local police have the final word in any appeal or complaint investigation the foreign teachers may have filed, the teachers have no recourse. Foreign teachers who have been granted work visas by the employer say nothing so they can retain their jobs, collect their one month severance pay at the end of their contract, obtain positive letters of recommendation, and regain possession of their passports which are held as security by Hakwon directors preventing teachers from bolting out of Korea until their labor contracts (one year teaching) have been fulfilled."
Read the companion eBooks about teaching English in South Korea:
EFL ESL Teachers' Employment Contracts does your employment contract protect your legal rights in Korea?