Sweet spastic, silly swarms
Back in Korea again
Korea was the same as when I left it. New swarms of hagwons proliferated like rabbits on viagra and cheap wine. Every street twinkled with the latest corporate offspring – doe-eyed upstarts of whatever educational franchise chain. Small, independent, family owned schools struggled to compete; while saturating the nation themselves oblivious to supply and demand.
The staff room
Inside a Korean hogwan
A total of seven teachers work at my school. All of them are Korean except for myself. Three of these teachers can speak English with me, but the others are too shy to do so. Staff meetings are held in the Korean language. I seldom understand what is discussed, but that is my fault for not learning to speak Korean fluently. If I want to learn about the meetings I will talk to the director afterward.
Dong chims and dried squid
Changes in Korean education
Education in Korea has rapidly changed in recent years. Up until the end of the Yi dynasty (1392-1910) Korean education was heavily influenced by Chinese practice. Only a few privileged children were allowed to enter elementary school to study Confucianism, Chinese language, and literature. At age 15-16 elitist students attended secondary school. Graduation entitled them to sit for a crucial lower level civil service examination.
Korea's EFL roots
If you scratch the surface of many English teachers in Thailand, underneath all that fine polish of discount dress shirts and shiny veneer of silk ties, you can often glimpse a trace of Korea. English teachers have either sacrificed their prized cherry of lecturing in a dusty classroom floor of a Korean hogwan, or they are fleeing to the country from Thailand to refill depleted bank accounts with a 2.1 million Won monthly salary.
Australian (male, 36 years old, native English speaker). Currently living in Thailand.
Dane (male, 41 years old, native Danish speaker). Currently living in Thailand.
Certificate (4), Diploma (3), BA (1)
Canadian (male, 37 years old, native English speaker). Currently living in Thailand.
Certificate (2), BA (1), MA (1)
French (male, 33 years old, native French speaker). Currently living in Thailand.
Certificate (5), BA (1), MA (1)
Canadian (male, 46 years old, native English speaker). Currently living in Thailand.
Diploma (1), BA (1), Certificate (1)
South African (female, 34 years old, native English speaker). Currently living in Thailand.
Certificate (2), BA (1)
British (male, 42 years old, native English speaker). Currently living in Thailand.
Certificate (3), BA (1)
Canadian (male, 62 years old, native English speaker). Currently living in Thailand.
MA (1), BSc (1)
Irish (male, 26 years old, native English speaker). Currently living in Thailand.
Australian (male, 28 years old, native English speaker). Currently living in Thailand.
Ajarn.com was started as a small hobby website in 1999 by Ian McNamara. It was a simple way for one Bangkok teacher to share his Thailand experiences and pass on advice. The website developed a loyal and enthusiastic following. In 2004, Ian handed over the reins to Phil Williams and 'Bangkok Phil' has run the ajarn website ever since.
Ajarn.com has grown enormously and is now the most popular TEFL site in Thailand - possibly even South East Asia. Although best-known for its vibrant jobs page, Ajarn has a wealth of articles, blogs, features and help and advice. But one principle has always remained at Ajarn's core - to tell things like they are and to do it with a sense of humor. Thailand can be Heaven or Hell for an English teacher. It's always been Ajarn.com's duty to present both sides of the equation. Thanks for stopping by.
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