Public School vs Private Academy Korea

There are two most common options for teaching English in Korea. You can either go with a public school, or with a private academy (hagwon). There are pros and cons to both! 

Public Schools 

1. Long Hours
Usually, in a public school, you work from the start of school around 8.30am to the end of the school day around 4.30pm. That's 8 hours! Obviously, the timings depends on the school. 

2. Less Teaching Hours (Classes)
It is common that to will get around 22 classes a week. 

3. Desk Warming
Yes, you will have desk warming. The times when you won't be teaching will be spent at a desk, planning your future lessons. Even if you have planned already, you are still required to warm that seat with your butt. 

4. Lunch Breaks
When the kids get their lunch, you will also get it too! Sometimes they are free, other times you have to pay. They're pretty cheap, and you won't have to worry about forgetting your lunch. 

5. Pay
It all depends on what the government allows. There is a pay structure, so every teacher will be on a different pay rate. 

6. Spouse
If you have a spouse, they may not be placed in the same school as you. They may not be placed in the same province as you! I know a few married couples who have been placed in different schools, in different provinces. 

7. Big Classes 
Classes are much bigger and can reach to around 30 students or more.
Therefore, you might only see the same class, once a week. 

8. Vacation
You will get vacation when the children get vacation. Korea kids have two big vacations, around 1 month in the summer and 1 month in the winter. 

Private Academy

1. Variable Hours
Depending on the type of hagwon. If you teach Kindergarten-Elementary you might start your day at 9am and finish Kindergarten around 2. But, you will have elementary classes too, which could last until 7pm. 
Some hagwons are elementary-middle school, where classes start around 2/3pm and end around 9/10pm. 
There are also middle school-highschool hagwons too. 
Timings vary. You could do 20 hours a week, 25 hours a week or more (less). 

2. Mostly No Desk Warming
Depending of course, but usually there is no desk warming. Some hagwons have set plans. I have heard of some who have to sit at their desk planning on a Friday morning instead of their usual classes. 

3. Variable breaks
If you work in Kindergarten, you will usually have a lunch break, where the kids eat their lunch. Some have 1 hour, others have less. 
The older classes, elementary up usually have lunch/dinner break. Depending on the hagwon, some might have 10 minute breaks between class. Others like mine only have 5 minutes between class. 

4. Pay
Pay usually starts at 2.1 million but it can go up each year. I've heard some hagwoners getting 2.7 million, but it all depends on the institution. You might not get a raise at all! 

5. Spouse
There are many couple jobs going around, where you can work with your partner. You don't have to be married either. You could of course, apply to two different hagwons in the same city. 

6.  Smaller Class Sizes
Usually classes are no more than 12 in a class. Some even have 3 students, it just depends on the number of students and their levels. 

7. Vacation
You only get 5 days winter vacation and 5 days summer vacation which is not a lot. You also get any red days off. Of course, the red days depends on the hagwon. I have heard some not getting Christmas day or New year day off! 

8. Foreigners 
Some hagwons have many foreigners! So you won't be alone. There are some with only 1 foreigner, but you can choose which hagwon you want to work it. 

With both, you usually get the same benefits like free housing, 50% health care..etc

There are of course pros and cons to both. If you want a lot of vacation to go traveling, public school is for you. 
I am with a private academy and I wouldn't change it. I love the place I work, the kids are nice and so are the staff. My hours are decent, 3-9pm. Sometimes I work till 10pm, but it never maxes 25 classes a week. The only downside is the vacation time! It's not a lot and you can feel worked off your feet. 

Of course, there are other options other than the two I mentioned. You can go for university jobs (harder to come across)...

Good luck! 


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