Friday, January 28, 2005

job search update

The interview went well enough, and the university seems ready to hire me. The job has good points and bad points.

Bad points:

1. I won't be paid a salary (can't trust those ads). The pay will be hourly (i.e., it'll vary from month to month), and stands at W30,000/hour, before taxes.

2. I'd have to teach children-- middle- and high-schoolers.

3. I'd have to work a split shift.

4. I'd probably have to work during winter and summer vacations. In other words, I wouldn't get 8-10 weeks off per year. So much for spending a month in the States every year.

5. My interviewer, in a candid moment, complained about how Westerners can be "hard to work with" because they only want to stay in the classroom/at school long enough to discharge their duties as teachers. Westerners don't seem to want to help out with curriculum planning, etc. My interviewer's point was that this is in contrast to the work ethic of Korean teachers, who volunteer their personal time for the betterment of the company. She didn't seem sympathetic to the Western notion that, if you're working but not receiving money for your work, you're being fucked.

Good points:

1. W30,000/hour is significantly better than what I'm getting now, which comes out to about W10,000/hour. Here's the math: Start with a base salary of 2.2 million won per month. Take out 3.3% for tax. That leaves you with W2,127,400. Take out another W200,000 for utilities and whatever other mystery expenses there are. Now it's W1,927,400. Calculate about 24 teaching days a month. Divide W1,927,400 by 24, and it's W80,308 per day. We teach 8-hour days, so divide by 8 and you've got an hourly rate of W10,039. At the current rate of exchange, this means I'm earning about $9.60 an hour. Peanuts. True-- I don't pay rent. That's a major savings. But compare getting W10,000 per hour to getting W30,000 per hour (and I still wouldn't be paying for housing).

2. The schedule would be around 20 hours per week of in-class teaching time, which is much better than my current 44-hour workload. I suppose I'd also be expected to do lesson plans and such, but I wouldn't mind doing that stuff in the quiet of my home. Not a big deal for me. I did much more as a high school teacher in America, routinely staying at the school until 8:00PM to tutor students, grade quizzes and tests, go over homework, etc. I was also told that there'd be no problem with private tutoring (though my inner skeptic needs a bit more convincing).

3. The housing would be huge. Well, maybe not by American standards, but I'd have a place measuring about 8 p'yong-- a wee bit smaller than my old place in Jangui-dong, but a damn sight larger that the 2- or 3-p'yong shoebox I'm in now. (A p'yong, which is a traditional Korean unit of measure, is roughly 4 square meters. For those working off the English system, imagine a square about 6 feet on a side. If you're the visual type, imagine two twin beds nestled side by side.)

4. I'd have the chance to create original curricula. One thing I think Korean English education lacks is a theater option, and I love doing theater. Having taken two semesters of French theater in college, I can vouch for how effective a language learning method it is. It's a modified version of Total Physical Response: the director's constantly shouting commands at you in the target language, and you have to get it right. But what makes drama even better than TPR is that (1) you're working with a script-- a script you have to understand, which means you're being exposed to all sorts of different grammatical constructions, and (2) you're expected to speak, because you've got lines. Obviously, the script for such a class should be relevant to the students' needs. I wouldn't want to teach modern American English by working from a Shakespearean tragedy. Upshot: the thought of creating a drama curriculum is pretty damn tempting.

5. The university is a Christian school with a history of interreligious dialogue. They've got exchange programs at Buddhist schools in Japan, and a delegation of German profs is on its way over here for the upcoming semester. I'd be able to gratify-- somewhat-- my academic urges.

6. The campus, slightly outside of Seoul, is beautiful, hilly, and quiet. I like beautiful, hilly and quiet.

It's a toss-up. If I can, I'd like to avoid split shifts and teaching children, but I'm tempted by the advantages. I'm glad to be job-hunting early; I still have some options to check over. But I'll be keeping this university on my list.

One thing I still need to get: a list of teachers who teach there, to see what they think of their jobs.

Meantime, I'm still searching.


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