Wednesday, November 07, 2007

a question for you university English teachers

No need to identify your university in your answer, but I'm currently mulling over the following questions, which require replies from people working at many different Korean universities:

1. How does your university calculate the number of hours you are required to work, and does that calculation vary? What does "work" consist of? Teaching and... what other duties? Is the method of calculation spelled out in precise language in your contract?

2. How does your university calculate overtime pay? Is the method of calculation spelled out in precise language in your contract?

3. If, in a given semester, it is determined that you have not worked the required minimum number of hours, what is done about this? How are you informed of this "undertime"? was the possibility of "undertime" spelled out in your contract?

4. Do you feel your university's methods of calculation are straightforward, up-front, trustworthy, consistent, etc.? If the answer is not a definite "yes," then do you feel that the problem(s) you're experiencing may be the result of malice, disorganization/incompetence, or both?

5. If you have breaks between terms (say, a one-week break between summer and fall terms), are these breaks considered vacation (and noted as such in your contract), or are you "on call" during this time? If you are considered on call, are you paid for being on call, or are you obliged to "make up" that break because you weren't teaching?

I look forward to many and varied replies. If a particular question doesn't seem relevant to you, please note its irrelevance. If you have something more to add, something not covered by the above questions, please feel free to unload.

I decided to post these questions here rather than over at Dave's ESL Cafe because I'm convinced that, collectively speaking, DESLC has no sense of perspective. The bitterness, the hatred, the more-than-occasional racism were a turn-off for me on the rare occasions I ventured into those forums. Better to post my questions here and elicit level-headed responses of a generally higher quality.

Oh, yes: PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT THIS POST. I'd like a large library of answers from people all over the peninsula.



Anonymous said...

1. In contract: 15 hrs instruction; 'upto' 5 hrs for consultation and admin duties (rarely used as classes are far from admin office)

2. In contract: set rate for classes taught per week, then calculated for the term for a designated class (i.e. overtime/week x 16 week term) -- note that in the case of a holiday fee is still paid.

3. When I started, 'undertime' was a major concern, and attempts were made to penalize the instructor during the term of the contract -- either by extra duties, or in cash deductions. This concept was successfully fought, now admin has 1 semester to find alternative duties if the instructor is not scheduled a minimum number of hours. The instructor is no longer penalized.

4. Now, definitely YES.

5. In contract: Instructor must be available 3 working days after the end of term, and 3 working days prior to the beginning of term (though even this is not strictly enforced, instructor MUST be available for grade challenges and diagnostic testing at the beginning and end of each term)

Hope this helps.

-JMac (long time reader, low/nonexistant commenter)

kwandongbrian said...

1. During the semester, we are expected to work 16 hours a week. Each 'hour' is 50 minutes of teaching and 10 minutes of break. Classes usually consist of teaching 1st, 2nd and 3rd year students in classes segregated by major. For the few teachers who want extra hours or are short of the 16, there are also children's classes (elementary school) and evening classes open to the public. I believe that you have extra work time where students can visit to get one-on-one assistance. We are asked to give office hours to our students but I simply tell students, assistance is eagerly given by appointment. We do not usually have required level testing or one-on-one work.
Although I am not involved, I believe foreign teacher involved with running the children's classes also does level testing. This has never been suggested for other teachers.
The contract, as I recall it, seems clear enough on these points and the way it is followed.

2. Hours over 16 a week are overtime. The first month, OT is calculated by hours actually taught, while other months are calculated by scheduled hours. The difference is that many first year classes have orientation during the first week so their classes usually are canceled. Evening classes also start a few weeks after regular classes do, so hours in the first month are irregular.

3. I have never heard of this happening at my university. I think that if I worked 15 hours, I would still be paid for regular teaching hours - unless, for some reason the shortfall were my fault.

4. Yes. I have seen incompetence in management but not in matters financial. I think that once (in five years) we were told our pay would be a day late for some reason.

5. It might be terrible to say this, but one of the great things with work is how little I work. That does sound terrible. Anyway, we have two 2-month breaks (Jan- Feb and Jul-Aug) and our contract says we may need to teach one month of children's classes during this time.
I think I have given a glowing description of my workplace but it is with children's classes that I have some annoyance. Teachers are able to choose which break they are willing to teach in and names are drawn to fill the spaces. Since registration is uncertain, teachers twist in the wind regarding kid's classes. I expect to hear in early December if I will teach in January. Meanwhile, my other options are drying up.

Anonymous said...

I used to work at a university in Seoul and this is how our contract worked while I was there:

1. 12 hours per week of instruction plus 3 office hours.

2 and 3. Our contracts specified weekly, not total contact hours, so being over or under was never an issue. There were no overtime opportunities within the department, but we could teach at the affiliated language institute and receive their hourly pay.

4. Yes.

5. Yes, breaks are breaks unless we voluntarily teach at the language institute, which runs on a different calendar. Teaching there was totally voluntary, and there is never any pressure.

Sean said...

1) calculation is monthly. I am contracted for 12 teaching hours and 2 office hours. Hours are 50 minutes long.

2) o/t is calculated hourly, but I'm not sure if it's on a per week or month. I've never had a pay discrepency that I noticed so haven't bothered to investigate. The contract is somewhat vague.

3) This almost never happens. If a class is cancelled and this results in a teacher going under hours, then teachers that are over the minimum are required to give a class to the under teacher. If this were not possible, I'm not sure what would happen.

4) Everything seems straitforward. The only problem related to money that I have is that we haven't had a raise in 3 years. in areas not related to money there are problems related to disorganization and general incompetence.

5)I get two 10 week vacations per year. They are vacation. The only requirement is that we are available for a meeting on the Thursday/Friday before the semester begins. After exams are completed teachers are required to remain in email contact with admin/students until the grade dispute period expires. If an instructor fails to do this they could be dismissed.

Teaching during vacation "could" be required. However with a staff of 25 teachers and only 4-5 vacation teaching slots available we have a lottery to determine who gets to teach as there are always more teachers wanting to teach than classes available.

Sean said...

A little disappointed you didn't get more responses. Did you get anything by email?

Kevin Kim said...


Nothing by email, alas. Still, I'm happy to have gotten the answers I got. Based on Fred's question over at Lost Nomad, I'm under the impression that some people actually fear talking about their work conditions. I have no idea why, but for some people, simply answering the questions I posed is a little too much to handle.

Thanks again for your help in advertising the questions, and for your own contribution.