"Why did you choose Korea?" I get this question a lot, but I can no longer remember the answer so I'll instead explain how I got the job.
First, I applied to a recruitment agency. I didn't do a lot of shopping around because I assumed they were all the same. I've heard, though I can't confirm, that certain recruiters are better than others. The names I've heard thrown around are:
I applied and was accepted by the latter two and I've been very impressed by both. I didn't know about Footprints until after I had already accepted my job, but everyone on Dave's ESL Cafe seems to love them.
The application process was pretty easy and I received emails setting up interviews within a week or so of applying. The interviews were exactly what I expected. They asked why I wanted to teach English, why Korea, and then had me do a mock lesson. They were pretty easy and laid back. Within a few days I had been accepted to both and then I just had to wait for my diploma.
The reason I ended up going with Aclipse was because they found me a job before I even got my diploma. They sent a contract, and then asked for some additional materials. I had to write an easy 200 word essay and send in some photos and other stuff.
(1) I got a job working at a hagwon, which is a private language institute. It's basically an after school English class which runs from 4-10PM. Korean kids usually go to regular school from 7 or 8AM until 3 or 4PM and then go to an English school until the evening. (Then they go home and study until about midnight, it's crazy). Anywho, there seem to be a few big differences between hagwons and jobs working for EPIK, the Korean government's program for English teachers to work at Korean public schools.
Late hours (+)
High pay (+)
Strict lesson plans devised by school (?)
Only teacher in the classroom (-)
No vacation (-)
Possibly unreliable/inconsistent employer (-) (*but keeps fingers crossed)
Have to work weekends (-)
Normal school hours and days (-/+)
Have to be at school for full 8 hours regardless of whether teaching or not (-)
Often don't have to teach at all and can sit around and go on Facebook for hours at a time (+)
Korean co-teacher in the classroom at all times (+)
Low pay (-)
Fairly reliable since run by government (oxymoronic though it may sound) (+)
Lots of vacation (+)
Field trips (+)
Have to run summer and winter camps for students (-)
Come up with own lesson plans (?)
That's all I can think of for now, and it's entirely based on hearsay from the aforementioned Dave's ESL Cafe.
(2) I'm on an hourly contract, whereas most teaching jobs have a monthly contract. This means that I get paid, yup, hourly with a minimum of 96 hours per month and an average of 120 (so, about 30 hours a week). It does not come with an apartment like the monthly contracts do, but I believe I make more money in the long run. Let's do some math and find out (I've proportionally fudged the numbers).
$1,800 monthly salary
-$600 living expenses
$3,500 (120 hours/month)
-$1,300 living expenses with rent
So I make almost double on the hourly contract. Yay math. Hopefully it works out and they do, in fact, pay me. I've heard horror stories where hagwon employers refusing to pay their teachers. Adventure!
More on the visa process later.