Recently someone asked me what the schedule looks like when teaching in Korea. So here it is!
The average teacher has 22 classes a week. That is roughly 4 – 5 classes a day. You will be at school for about 8 hours a day – usually from 8:40am – 4:40 pm, but this depends on your school. Lunch is some time between 12pm and 1pm and you will have lunch for 30 – 50 minutes (also depending on your school!). Usually class times are as follows:
- Elementary lessons: 40 minutes each
- Middle School lessons: 45 minutes each
- High School lessons: 50 minutes each
Here is my time table. I teach at my main school on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. On Tuesdays I travel to an Elementary School in the area and on Fridays to another Middle School. My main school is a Middle School, but there is a High School in the same building, so I teach there too! (Don’t worry, most teachers have 1 or 2 schools that are the same level, I’m unique!!!) ALSO!! My students have too many subjects (seriously these poor kids!!!) so at my main school I actually teach them English before the school day actually starts… so this is a non-typical lesson schedule! It will give you an idea though…
Okay so I have different times on Tuesdays and Fridays. Teachers’ Class is when I have conversation classes with the teachers. If you’re in a bigger school you probably won’t have this. You might have 2 classes for each Elementary grade (I did last year) so then your schedule will be way better, since you get to repeat your lessons! I really teach in the sticks so I have all schools, all grades (except for Elementary 5 & 6). I don’t like the morning classes really… The students are still sleepy, I’m still sleepy and at the moment it’s bloody cold. Mondays are rough, but the time goes by really quickly. After school classes can earn you more money if you already have 22 classes. I don’t so no extra money for me.. although my teachers’- and after school classes get canceled often – Especially during exam time. I haven’t had teachers’ class since October… So I guess that’s a bonus. For after school classes you might have one or two grades (together) on one day and another on a different day. Mine is a free for all. Plus, despite going to school early and leaving late (My co teacher has a *lot* to do, so I leave school late often) I get to go home straight after my classes on Tuesdays and Fridays, so I catch the 3pm bus and I’m home by 4. (The bus takes longer)
Also, as you can see, you’ll have quite a lot of free lessons in between for planning. These are GREAT. In the beginning you’ll spend a lot of time lesson planning, so it might not feel like enough, but after a few months the lesson planning goes very fast so you will have a lot of “free” time.
At my Elementary School last year (I only had Elementary), teachers played Volleyball together every Wednesday afternoon. I don’t ever see it or hear of it at my current school, but my students still have classes in the afternoon, unlike Elementary students. As mentioned earlier, my students have too many subjects, so they literally start their day with morning class and end at16:15. During the summer months, we change to 50 minute lessons (to accommodate the High School classes in our building) so then my poor middle school kids leave at 5:20!! The sad reality is that most of them go straight to hagwon (academies) where they study even more, or they would have self study sessions at school – sometimes until 10pm. It’s hard. English teachers obviously don’t stay at school till then, but you can understand why the students are sleepy in my morning class…
On some occasions we go for dinner after school. This is merely to socialize. DO IT. It might not be the BEST part of your day – especially if they don’t speak English to you! – but do it. Koreans are very social and they love it when the waygook enjoys it. It can honestly be a lot of fun. It’s what you make of it. Besides, after a few soju shots my principal is Mister English! They try. So can you. Force-drinking happens. But there are ways to not drink, without offending your principal. I have friends whose teachers *never* drink at staff dinners, so once again every school is different. Not scaring you, just telling you what to expect.
Sometimes there are also teacher’s trips. Day trips. Overnight trips. I personally haven’t been on an overnight one, simply because I don’t feel comfortable. Maybe if I was a guy. I would be like MacGuyver. But I’m not. I’m a girl with a boyfriend whom I only see on the weekends. I work longer than most teachers. My weekends are super precious to me. I still try to make the best of it though – for instance, we have a teachers’ trip coming up on the final day of school. Over night. 23 December. Which means?? We’ll be back home at around 9pm on Christmas eve. I’m sorry, I just don’t do that. It’s Christmas Eve. I already have plans to go to Seoul for Christmas, so I compromised with my school. (They really are very understanding, so this is not an issue) I am still joining the trip – come on, they’re going to BUSAN! – but I will subway to the train station and catch a train to Gumi late Friday night, since I’m departing from there for Seoul early the next morning.
Okay that was a bit of a babble, but my point is this: If you really don’t like teachers trips and dinners, at least try to make some effort. It doesn’t happen every week. It happens maybe once in 2 months. Sure, it gets long and sometimes crazy, and I know me not going on the trips isn’t ideal, but at least try to go. They will appreciate the effort and usually after a teachers dinner they’re all smiles and happy and they try one more time to speak English without being terribly shy around co-workers. I’ve eaten some of the most delicious and also weirdest things by going to teachers’ dinners! Plus, you find all the hotspots in your town!
What do I do during vacations?
Well… if you’re not on leave, you’ll probably teach English Camps. They are at school, during school hours (maybe just morning or afternoon sessions) but they are much more fun and you *usually* can teach what you want. If you’re lucky you’ll have a really nice Camp budget to buy all kinds of fun stuff with (to do a cooking lesson or buy snacks for the movie day). If you’re not teaching a camp or on leave, you’ll be deskwarming. It’s super boring. I love the first week of deskwarming, because I plan ahead, but then it gets super boring and you don’t feel like working…. :P There’s a whole list of things to do while deskwarming on waygook.org. Your school hours will most likely be the same during vacation time, however some schools tell their teachers to leave after lunch or not come in at all. The POE doesn’t like this, so it is often done in secret. Shhh!
Anyways, this post was supposed to be about my lesson schedule.. Feel free to ask any questions and remember that my 4 different level schools and early morning classes are NOT the norm!! Last year I had 4 Elementary grades (3,4,5,6) and I had two classes for each grade, saw all 8 classes twice a week and had a second school on Fridays. It was much easier!