If you’ve done any research on teaching English in Korea, you will have come across the term hogwan, which refers to private schools. There are lots of misconceptions about private schools. If you go online, you will likely come across horror stories of teachers being paid late, forced to work on weekends, and so on. The problem is that people who read those comments often lump private schools into one category. There are tens of thousands of private schools in Korea so it is inevitable that there will be bad ones. However, the majority are perfectly functioning schools with solid directors. The major thing to worry about is going through a reputable recruiting agency. Those agencies take the time and care to ensure that they only partner with trustworthy schools that do not disobey the contract. This post will explain why you should teach at a private school!
The Perks of Private Schools
There are several major perks to working for a private school or hogwan. First, the class sizes are usually much smaller. Public school class sizes can get as big as 30 or 40 students. At that size, it’s nearly impossible to have everyone stay focused. Private schools, however, have classes of about 8-12 students. This is great because it allows you to give more individual focus to the students. Also, it’s easier to keep an entire class engaged when the group is smaller.
Another great aspect of hogwans is that there are multiple foreign teachers working there. Most hogwans have at least three or four foreign teachers, but there may be as many as 20! Public schools, on the other hand, typically only have one foreign teacher. This is significant because having other foreign teachers means that you have a built in social circle. Most people don’t know anyone when they land in Korea, so having foreign coworkers opens you up to new social opportunities so you’ll never be lonely!
Real Teaching vs. Poor Teaching
The teaching at private schools is often more “real” than teaching at public schools. Public schools adhere to a standard curriculum for all English levels in a classroom. However, that class will inevitably have different levels – so the kids at the top will be bored and the kids at the bottom will be overwhelmed. At a private school, class sizes are smaller and broken up into more specific skill levels so you can teach uniformly without leaving behind or boring any of the students.
Lastly, private schools are supplementary to the public education. As such, the students who attend those schools are highly motivated. If you’ve ever done any teaching, you’ll know that there is a massive difference between teaching someone who wants to learn and someone who doesn’t. At public schools, you’ll be teaching all of the students so there are many children who couldn’t care less about learning English.
Teachers have had great experiences at both public and private schools. The real issue is finding out which is the best fit for you. Hopefully, this explanation of private schools will allow you to make a more informed decision about what you’re getting yourself into. Moreover, these are just a few of the reasons why you shouldn’t be afraid to teach at a private school!