Flexible Interpretations of Your Contract
Koreans in general largely prefer to resolve disputes between two parties by themselves, and will only turn to the courts as a last resort when all informal means of reconciliation have failed. What this means for foreign teacher¡¯s purposes is that verbal agreements are usually more important to Koreans, and your boss may regard your written contract as not much more than a piece of paper which for some reason crazy Westerners require for employment. So when he or she breaks it or assumes, for instance, that thirty hours a week means they can be at anytime anywhere, it may not be so much a deliberate effort to break your contract to squeeze a little more profit out of you as the fact that he or she hasn¡¯t even read it.
As explained in the Why use People Recruiting? section, we will help you with major and minor breaches of your contract, but how you deal day to day with things, like the boss expecting you to test new students on your lunch break, is up to you. You can take the attitude that you are, after all, in Korea and should do as Koreans do, but this opens you up to exploitation and in fact most institute owners are familiar with working with Westeners and are aware of the importance they attach to contracts. So we personally recommend you to take a firm stand.
The Boss is God
Please read more about this in the Culture section. Many many bosses all over the world think that because you work in their institute then they can treat you how they like, but whereas in most countries your contract will prevent you from becoming their slave, Korean¡¯s traditional disregard of contracts (see above) and hierarchical social relationships may well mean that not only is your boss is used to treating his or her Korean staff like slaves, but that they expect it and look forward to when they¡¯re boss and can do the same. Many foreign teachers can find this management style a bit abrasive to say the least, and are astounded at how Koreans tolerate it. If you do have a boss that is unfamiliar with working with foreigners, a culturally sensitive way to deal with it is to air all your problems and concerns, no matter how minor, with him or her privately. Koreans are notorious conflict avoiders, and will usually put up with a LOT for the sake of workplace harmony, so bosses are unused to loud and public confrontations and tend to find your questioning of their authority in front of others VERY insulting. But of course, they may deserve it.
Size of Classes
There is no average class size in Korean language institutes, but once you have a specific job arranged we can contact the institute and find out for you. We can say that we have never taught more than 20 students at a time and most classes have much less, although university classes will be much larger.
Assistance Given to Teachers
Almost all Korean language institutes adopt a sink or swim approach and will give you virtually no assistance in your classes on your first day beyond pointing out what page the students are up to in the book that they are using – even the ones where the bosses and other teachers have been falling over themselves helping you to settle into your new accommodation and city. It is very rare for institutes to provide Korean teachers in your class to assist and translate for you even on the first day, and so you will very quickly come to wonder about how exactly Korean parents expect their children to learn English if you nor they understand a single word of the other is saying (see Learning Korean).
At most institutes you can ¡®t choose which books you to use, but will be able to supplement them with your own games and activities and will probably need to in order to make the classes interesting. Alternatively, you may be expected to choose your own books and develop a curriculum entirely from scratch by yourself. Generally, being told exactly what and when to teach is comforting to begin with but once you are more experienced you will probably find any lack of choice frustrating, especially if you don¡¯t like the books provided. There¡¯s nothing worse than being stuck in a tiny room with 15 teenagers sitting at toddler-sized tables at 8pm on a Friday anyway, but doing a book you all hate but must finish make things a lot worse.