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Frequently asked questions about teaching in Korea
  Is it a law to offer a one month severance pay for a year contract?
There are schools that offer bonuses for completing a one year contract. This could be in the form of severance pay or a return flight home. It depends on the contract. These bonuses only apply if the full year is completed.
  What happens to me if I leave before the 1 year contract is finished?
Some schools offer bonuses if you complete a year contract. This could be in the form of cash or a ticket home. If you leave early, you lose this and you may also have difficulty in ever finding another job again, especially in Korea. In addition, if you leave before your contract is up you may be required to reimburse the school for the airfare there.
  Do I need to send my original degree to Korea?
No. You can take your degree in person to a Korean Consulate, if there is one near you. They can notarize photocopies of the degree for you, but there is a small fee for doing this, and they must see the original degree. However, if there isn't a consulate near you, you still will have to send your original degree, plus photocopy to the consulate. They need to see your original degree to verify that it is indeed valid.
  Are my flights to and from Korea at my expense?
A round-trip ticket is often provided for you by the school. Sometimes they ask that you pay for it in advance and then get reimbursed upon arrival. Occasionally only a one-way ticket is provided. Flight benefits will be stated in your contract.
  When is the peak season for hiring teachers in Korea?
Korea is always looking for teachers. There are jobs available all year round. The busiest time however, tends to be in the summer.
  Can I be placed with my friend or spouse?
Yes, it is possible to be placed with or near a friend or spouse, but it may limit your choices of placement. It requires finding a school that needs two teachers at the same time, but couples can get placed together. It just sometimes takes longer.
  What holidays do I get?
Basically, you'll have the statutory Korean holiday's, approximately 12 - 15 days a year. You get only one day off for Christmas, and that would be Christmas Day. Their biggest holiday is Chusok, which is the big Korean harvest festival, like our Thanksgiving. For this holiday, you'll get 2 days off plus the weekend. You don't get to pick and choose your holidays or days off. Some schools will allow extra vacation time. It depends on the school. Most don't.
  What if I hate it? Can I break a contract?
Yes, you can, but it will be hard to find another contract after breaking one. You'll also have to pay your own way back home. Remember, if you break a contract, your visa is canceled and you have two weeks to get out of the country. If you overstay on your visa, plan on paying a heavy fine.
  I have heard about private tutoring or teaching on the side, can I do that as well?
You can and many do, but remember it is illegal and you can get deported if caught. It will also be heavily frowned upon by your director because if you are caught he loses a teacher.
  I'm female, will that hurt my chances?
No, not at all.
  If I have more than one degree, will I make more money?
No, it doesn't matter how many undergraduate degrees you have, the salary level is the same. Those holding Master's degrees, however can make more money, though this isn't always the case. People holding Master's degrees are permitted to teach in universities, while those with Bachelor's degrees, legally, may not.
  What are the schools like?
Each school is different, but basically they will be small institutes which teach a variety of subjects along with English. The average classroom size is about 12 but can be anywhere between 1 and 20. There most likely will be native teachers at the institute teaching as well. They usually are quite friendly and helpful. The teaching hours can vary, but plan on teaching evenings and possibly Saturdays. You may or may not be the only English teacher there.
  Is there a dress code?
Each institute is different, but generally the rule is dress neat. If you're a female, you don't need to wear a dress, but you should look semi-professional. For men, a suit and tie may be necessary for some schools, but most just require slacks and a shirt. Occasionally, there is a school that doesn't mind jeans. It could be anywhere between casual to formal business attire, depending on the school.
  How long is the school year?
You will be teaching for the entire year. Language schools are private and teach year round. In fact, when universities and grade schools are on their break, the private language schools get very busy. This is when many English teachers pick up overtime wages.
  If I'm having a problem with my employer. What should I do?
The first thing that you should do is talk to your director about the issue. If this doesn't work, and things appear at an impasse, phone your contact in Korea or Taiwan (we'll supply you with the numbers). If things are still in conflict, you now have a problem that may need official intervention. Contact "The Association of Foreign Workers Human Rights" and they may be able to help you. In extreme cases, you may need your embassy to get involved. In the Links section, we will include links to other websites, some of which list legal resources.

Author : Jayne Enderle