From Korea with Love

"I carry your heart with me… always."


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Questions Frequently Asked about Teaching in Korea

When I started this blog a couple of years ago, I vowed to myself that I will never ever abandon it no matter how busy I am… but I couldn’t keep that promise. Now that I’m back to blogging, I feel like I’m in zombie apocalypse. Everything has come to a standstill. My brain refuses to function when I try to organize my thoughts. I can’t figure out how to reply to all the messages and comments that have piled up from last year. My dear readers, I owe you an apology. Here’s a big ghost hug!

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This time, I’m going to try to answer SOME of the most frequently asked questions in my blog about teaching in Korea.

Let’s start!

  1. Can a Filipino teacher work as an English instructor in Korea? 
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My 5th graders performing a role-play

Yes, but if you’re applying for a teaching job here and you’re currently in the Philippines, there is only one way to obtain a teaching visa. It’s known as the E-1 visa, one that is given to lecturers and university professors. The other teaching visa, the easiest to obtain, which is the E-2 visa, is only given to citizens of one of the following English speaking countries: Australia, Britain, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa or United States. No matter how fluent you are in English and how impressive your resume is, if you’re not from any of the countries mentioned, you won’t be given an E2. Yes, the requirement is racial bias and it’s BS… but this is Korea where getting a teaching job is not as easy as pie if you’re not Caucasian-looking.

 

There are also Filipinos who come here with a student visa (D-2) or training visa (D-4) and teach part-time. This is legal ONLY if you get a written permission from your school or one of your professors.

Other Filipinos who are in Korea under a missionary or religious worker visa (D6) try their luck on teaching, and they succeed; however, the D-6 visa is NOT a teaching visa. This means that if you teach here with a D-6, you’re not teaching legally. Some hagwons may hire you, but only as a part-timer. This is somewhat risky and temporary. I had a colleague who taught English in an academy while she was on a D-6. Eventually, they had to let her go, because she couldn’t be registered as a legal employee.

The easiest way for a Filipino teacher to teach legally in Korea is through the F-6 visa or the F-5 visa. This means that you’ll have to come to Korea as a spouse and/or attain permanent residency here. Most of the Filipinos married to Koreans I know teach in private institutions like hagwons (academies) or public schools. Some of them don’t even have teaching degrees. (They are graduates of other courses.)

I’ve written about this topic five years ago, and the rules haven’t changed. You can read more about it here.

2. How much is the salary?

In hagwons, monthly salaries range from 1.8 to 2.3 million won (around 1,589 to 2,031 USD) if you work full-time. A full-time teacher in Korea should work for at least 30 hours a week. The normal workload is 6 hours a day, 5 times a week. Note, however, that there are private institutions who require teachers to work from Monday to Saturday (for example, hagwons that have more middle school students). If this is the case, you should not work for more than 5 hours a day. Other private institutions will offer non-native speakers lower salaries, but do yourself a favor… don’t settle for less than what you deserve just to have a job. You can always find a hagwon that will treat you fairly.

In public schools, the average monthly salaries for teachers range from 1.5 to 2.6 million won (1,324 to 2,296 USD) depending on credentials. Those with no teaching experience can expect to get somewhere between 2 to 2.3 million won (1,766 to 2,031 USD) . Education majors or licensed teachers can make somewhere between 2.2 to 2.6 million won (1,942 to 2,296 USD). There are some foreigners who claim (or boast) that they are making 3 million won or more, but this is kind of hard to believe, because public schools have a certain budget for foreign teachers. They can’t just offer higher salaries. Universities offer the highest salaries starting from 2.3 to 3.5 million won (1,766 to 3,091 USD). There are even reports that university professors with outstanding credentials can get up to 5 million won (4415 USD).

Private tutors are usually paid per hour. The rate depends on you, of course, but just to give you an idea of what is acceptable, 30,000 to 35,000 won (26 to 31 USD) is good enough. In affluent areas in Korea, you can ask for 40,000 won (35 USD) per hour, 50,000 won (44 USD) for business English classes. I had a college student who agreed to 40, but I taught her for just a couple of months before she flew to London.

3. Is private tutoring legal?

If you’re on E-2 visa, NO. You can take your chances and do it secretly, but if you get caught, you might end up getting fined or deported. It is illegal for an E-2 visa holder to work as a tutor… unless his employer allows it and submits a written permission to the immigration. Also, the income from tutoring should be declared to the tax office, so that the tutor can pay the appropriate taxes.

On the other hand, it is good news for F-6 and F-5 visa holders. Being on a spouse visa or a permanent residence visa gives one more leeway to work any jobs in Korea, including tutoring; however, it is mandatory to report the income, just like with the E-2, and pay taxes.

For D-6 visa holders, there is NO legal way to teach privately.

I’m going to answer more questions next time and share with you how I manage to earn more as a teacher in Korea.

HAVE A HAPPY WEEK! ^^

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Things You Should Never Ever Say or Do When Your Korean Parents-in-law Are Around

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7The other night, I got scolded by my father-in-law for using the word “Ya!” (Hey!) with my husband. If he had reprimanded me for such a simple reason back when I was still a novice myeonuri (daughter-in-law), I might not have taken it lightly and would have spent the wee hours of the night crying or complaining to my husband about how unreasonably strict his father is. Yup, I’ve been there… too long, in fact, that, I got used to the draconian ways of Korean parents-in-law when it comes to dealing with their daughters-in-law. Now, I usually just let my FIL’s words pass me by like the wind. It’s not like he scolds me every single day, but when he does, it can be pretty daunting, even when sometimes he means well. 

What is it about “Ya!” that ticked him off, you may ask? In Korea, using that expression to someone older is extremely rude. To Abonim (FIL), using it with my husband is a mortal sin. I have never used that word with anyone other than my husband. It has become sort of a joke between us. He calls me “Ya!” when I am annoying him, and I say “Ya!” to him when he is not paying attention to me. My mistake, however, was that I hollered “Ya!” to him when I knew that Abonim could hear me from the other room. You see, my father-in-law has ESP (extrasensory perception). I’m kidding of course, but in our little abode, he can be everywhere!

6My mother in-law heard me when I used that term. She was in the kitchen with me, but she didn’t make a big deal out of it. She smiled instead, because after I said “Ya!”, she saw my husband run away from me with a can of Coke in his hand which I mistook for a can of beer. She understood what was going on, and even sided with me, reminding her son to avoid alcohol. My Omonim (MIL) rarely gives me a talking to. There was one incident, though, when she reprimanded me in front of my husband’s other relatives for spending too much time getting my hair and make-up done for my brother-in-law’s wedding. I was mortified! I almost cried in front of all the people who witnessed my humiliation, but thank God, I was able to hold back the tears. I knew that Omonim was sorry for embarrassing me, because when I got in my room to change into my hanbok, she followed me inside and helped me get dressed.

As a myeonuri, there are things you should NEVER EVER say or do when your in-laws are around. I will enumerate some of them. Most of these are based on my own experiences and personal observations. Some have been shared with me by other myeonuris.

When your Korean parents-in-law are around, never ever…

  • call your husband by his first name (Using terms of endearment are common among Koreans.)

  • talk to your husband using banmal (informal or casual speech in Korean, the kind of speech that does not use honorifics) (My sister-in-law is a few years older than her husband, but she rarely uses banmal when she talks to him, especially when she is in front of our parents-in-law.)

  • sit with your legs straight out in front of you or cross your legs, especially when talking to your in-laws

  • speak in English or in your native tongue (They’d rather hear you speak bad Korean than hear you talk in a language they can barely understand.)

  • do aegyo (talk and act like a child to appear charming or cute) (Seriously, this can be annoying even to other people.)

  • get lovey-dovey with your husband

  • argue with your husband

  • kid around your husband’s male relatives or friends even in an uncoquettish way

  • let your mother-in-law work alone in the kitchen (no matter how busy, tired or sick you are) (My MIL is very considerate. She doesn’t pressure me to help with the chores when I’m not feeling well. Some myeonuris, however, are forced to do housework even when they are ill. I know a fellow Filipina who was tasked to do farm work even when she was pregnant. Her MIL would bang the door of her bedroom everytime she didn’t wake up early and would nag at her relentlessly when she failed to prepare breakfast.)

  • try to get even by saying something negative about Korea after they make an unpleasant comment about your country

  • contradict anything they say (even when you know more about something they believe they are experts at)

  • disregard their suggestions  (You don’t have to follow everything they tell you, but spare yourself the grudge by pretending that you appreciate their advice. Remember, the in-laws know everything! At least that’s what they think.)

  • give excuses for your mistakes

  • talk or laugh too loud

  • brush or dry your hair in front of them

  • wear anything that exposes your shoulders or legs like shorts or tank tops (even in summer when it’s freaking hot!)

  • wear too much make-up

  • wear piercings (A former collegue told me that everytime she meets her boyfriend’s parents, she has to remove her cartilage piercings, because she’s afraid her future parents-in-law might see them.) 

  • give them a hint that you’ve gone shopping (Hide all those shopping bags before they see them!)

  • serve food with only two or three banchan (side dishes) (They might assume that you are not feeding their son well.)

  • come home late (but it’s totally all right with them if your husband comes home late, tipsy)

  • kick your husband out of the room for being drunk

Although these may happen to myeonuris with strict parents-in-law, it doesn’t mean that they are encountered by all daughters-in-law in Korea.  Some myeonuris are fortunate to have in-laws who are more open-minded. My father-in-law may be a bit of a dictator, but he isn’t mean all the time. Today, while I was working in the kitchen, he called me to eat before I finish the chores, because the food was getting cold. The truth is, I am headstrong, but living with the in-laws has taught me a lot about humility. In Korea, you can’t be a good myeonuri if pride is more valuable to you than establishing a good relationship with your husband’s parents. Get rid of your pride and obey first to win their respect and approval. You can keep a little of that pride, because you will need it to maintain your self-esteem, but know when to use it, and never ever use it as a weapon against your parents-in-law.

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