Paperwork + Prep Time when Teaching in Korean Universities

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Paperwork + Prep Time in Korean Universities

I recently had a question about how much paperwork you have to do when working in Korean universities. The suggestion was that perhaps uni jobs in Korea are not so fabulous once you factor in this “unpaid” work you have to do. I have talked previously about whether or not my university job in Korea is too good to be true, and in that discussion, I didn’t really touch on paperwork. So, here’s the deal about admin/grading/paperwork when teaching in a Korean university.

Cha-Ching: All Old Classes!

Let’s take this past semester as an example. I taught four, 3-hour credit classes. One of those classes was overtime since my contract is only for 9 hours/week. Of those four, I taught two sections of two different classes. The best  news was that I’d taught both those classes previously, with the same textbook.

Thank you Korea!

Since I’m organized and have all my PPTs, syllabi, homework assignments, etc. in Google Drive (see: Why I Love Google Drive), I just pulled up all my old stuff and used that. Sure, I tweaked it a little bit because not everything worked well the first time, but overall, I could plan for these four classes in less than an hour a week, for a total of about 15 hours over the course of the semester.

Grading Homework

For homework in those classes, I did the following:

  1. Making YouTube videos. These are really easy to grade. If students met the basic requirements, they got the full grade.
  2. A presentation. Also easy to grade since it happened in class.
  3. An English diary. Also easy to grade since I just skimmed through them and gave full points for meeting the basic requirements.

For each class, I probably spent about five hours during the semester grading all the homework for a total of 20 hours.

Midterm and Final Exams

I did have written midterm and final exams in those two classes, but the exam was only 50 minutes, so there was only 15 questions, mostly short-answer/fill in the blank/matching, etc. To make my grading life easier, each question was all or nothing.

I could grade each exam in less than a minute, so it took less than an hour for each class. Let’s say five hours total by the time I entered grades onto the spreadsheet.  That equals 10 hours on grading tests for the semester.

Grades When Teaching in a Korean University

Entering grades onto the paper spreadsheets and then onto the computer system takes time. But, here’s the secret. If your test is worth 15%, make it out of 15 points. Homework is 20%? Have four assignments worth five points each. Because I made things simple, each class probably took me around 2 hours, for a total of 8 hours for the semester.


At universities, you generally have to submit a portfolio of some kind with your lesson plans, student work samples, grading criteria, etc. Some teachers spend upwards of 20 hours on this. I spent around 15 minutes for each class, for a total of one hour. The secret is that nobody truly gives a shit about this, as long as there is a binder full of paper on the shelf with your name on it by the due date.

Credit Classes, Let’s Add it Up

Prep: 15 hours

Homework grading: 20 Hours

Grading tests: 10 hours

Grades: 8 hours

Portfolios: 1 hour

Total: 54 hours

54 hours spread out over a 15 week semester? That ends up being 3.6 hours/week, which isn’t that bad, especially when considering how much money I get paid for such a little amount of work. Please note, however, this is on the extreme low-end. There are plenty of people:

  1. Who are far less organized than myself.
  2. Who care way more about things like portfolios.
  3. Who do crazy things like give full-on essays for homework/tests in conversation classes.
  4. Who actually grade homework with a fine-toothed comb.
  5. Who don’t teach the same classes semester after semester.
  6. Who are less apathetic.
  7. Who do crazy things like make students come visit them in their office.

Prep for Overtime Classes

This past semester, I had some other overtime classes that I taught for 8 hours/week. It was the same class, taught four times. The topic was presentations, and thankfully, I’d taught that very same course multiple times in the past so again, I went into Google Drive and pulled up my old PPTs. I even used the same textbook. Prep time for 8 teaching hours/week? Perhaps 15 minutes. Let’s round it up to four hours of prep for the semester.

Total Preparation/Grading/Admin Time for the Semester

54 + 4 = 58 hours

Total = 3.9 hours/week

Love teaching in Korea!

How can I Get this Sweet Job?

So, you’re thinking to yourself, “That sounds like a score! How can I get myself some of that awesome.” I’m not going to lie to you, it’s not easy these days to score yourself a sweet uni gig in Korea. But, for some solid advice on how to do it, check out:

How to Get as University Job in South Korea

The book in available on Amazon in both print and digital formats. It contains all the tips and tricks you need to get that prime English teaching job. Seriously, it’s one of the best in the world.

Have your Say!

If you teach in a Korean university, how much time do you spend doing prep and paperwork? Leave a comment below and let the readers know.

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