Today’s guest post comes from an English teacher and blogger who goes by Spencer Travels. His blog, Travel by Broom chronicles his adventures in Korea and Southeast Asia. I always get a lot of questions on my YouTube channel about other options to teach English rather than at public school or hagwon so here’s your opportunity to know more about the alternatives.
For the past two years, I have been living and working in an English Village on the outskirts of Seoul, allowing me easy access to the city. Working in an English Village is not your typical ESL experience and some days you will feel more like an entertainer than a real teacher; however, I still highly recommend working at one as a perfect start to an ESL career or for a gap year in South Korea. I have taught many different age groups ranging from kindergarten to university.
Getting the Job
I found my position via Dave’s ESL Cafe. An English Village is not a typical job you’ll find with a recruiter as these positions seek out participants first hand. Usually the person doing the recruiting, is someone you are going to be working with. This is super helpful as you can get a quick feel for if you will get along with them or not.
Most English Villages will have similar benefits of working at a hagwon, public, or private school but with a few twists. Primary benefits include health insurance, housing, and food. When it comes to food, my particular village provides three square meals a day during sessions, whereas hagwon or public schools provide only lunch or dinner.
In addition, the provided housing is on campus, and since the kids spend the night in the village you will always be surrounded by them. You are allowed to leave when you are not working and you shoud be aware going to and from your house can involve walking past your students. The best part about the job is I don’t have to pay for any utilities while I live and work at the English Village. That means no electricity, water or even internet bills! When it comes to saving money, working at an English Village has a lot of benefits besides just the paycheck.
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The teaching philosophy at most English Villages is full immersion. This means every class is built around a certain theme. For instance, we have a bank class, and the classroom is made to look like the lobby of a bank. We also have a fake airplane setup, a jail for the police station, and several other theme-oriented classes. The classes focus on speaking, flash cards and playing games with no textbook in sight.
We will also have special programs like debate, leadership, and even media and marketing. In this position, I have schoolchildren all the way up to adults and even Japanese, Chinese, Russians, and Singaporeans! Learning how to handle different classes is a skill that you will either quickly develop or miserably fail.
Working Hours and Sessions
There are two different shifts and you are able to request the ones you want, but a rotation is in place if no one requests. The day shift is from 9 am – 6 pm and the evening shift spans from 1:30 pm – 8:30 pm. Teachers are given two days off a week but vary every week. Sometimes days off are not always on the weekend or consecutive.
The number one setback is not having a set schedule, and the days off change every week depending on your shift. The pay isn’t as high as other ESL jobs, but the benefits make up for that. Since an English Village is similar to a camp, you never really get to know the kids. In addition, living on campus means you don’t fully escape work and you’re constantly surrounded by the people you work with and the kids you just taught. With the schedule always changing, it’s difficult to make friends outside your fellow coworkers. Luckily, at my village, we have about 15 – 20 foreign teachers at any given time and Korean teachers who all speak fluent English.
As sweet as this gig is, many English Villages are closing and shutting down. There once was a time when almost every city had one, but most if not all have been closing. Despite this, many still exist and some are thriving while others are starting to fall apart as well.
All that said, I still think working at an English Village is still an excellent starting position for ESL teaching because of the breadth of experience one will gain and it can be a little more fun for those who are seeking a gap year.
Has anyone else worked at an English Village or have any questions I didn’t answer?
Spencer is a 28-year-old Native Texan with a big thirst for travel. Currently, he is living and working in Seoul, South Korea where he is an ESL Teacher. He is also working on a few different websites with his baby being Travel by Broom. While doing all of this, he is managing to find time to finish his Masters Degree online from a state university back in Texas. If you’d like, you can follow his adventures on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.