Teaching ESL in Korea with a Child

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Teaching English in Korea with a Kid

Check out this reader question about whether or not it’s possible to teach English in Korea if you bring a child with you. The quick answer: it’s not really ideal.

Teaching ESL in Korea with a Kid

“I am a 51 year old American with a 9 year old daughter. Would I be able to bring my daughter with me if I got a teaching job in Korea?”

I’m answering the question assuming you’re a single mom. If you’re married, your husband could home-school/take care of your child and none of the stuff I talk about below will be a problem. Unfortunately, if you’re a gay couple, you may have a difficult time getting a spousal visa as gay marriage isn’t recognized in South Korea.

Anyway, bringing a child to Korea as a single person is kind of a terrible plan for the following reasons.

What about School?

I certainly wouldn’t put a foreign kid into a Korean public school for a host of reasons including: large class sizes compared to Western countries (ie: no one will hold her hand), inability/unwillingness of anyone in the school to speak English to her, Korean being quite a difficult language to learn for an English speaker, lack of communication between you and the teachers and finally, the biggest reason of them all: bullying.

Foreign teachers in Korea with kids leave before their kids enter school

It should say a lot to you that many English teachers here who are married to Koreans and have kids leave precisely when their kids get to school age because they don’t want them in the Korean school system. I mean, it’s not terrible, but there are a lot of things not great about it, especially the obsession with the test at the end of grade 12 that basically defines your entire future. This obsession starts way too early.

Koreans are Not Kind to “Different”

Your daughter will most certainly be bullied by her classmates because in Korea, people seem to seize upon any and every opportunity to assert their superiority over just about anyone who is perceived to be inferior, of which your daughter most certainly will be due to her lack of language skills.

Teachers are also known to bully the weak. There was just a report in the news only a few months ago about a teacher being disciplined for her repeated bullying of a mixed race kid. But, here’s the thing: her punishment was less severe because she had won an award of some sort at some point in her career.  Crazy. And certainly not recommended.

Korean Parents = All Kinds of Crazy Action to Avoid Korean Schools

Let it be indication to you that Korean parents are almost willing to give their left arm in order to get their kids out of the education system here. They’ve even been known to forge passports and other such crazy stuff to get their kids into international schools. Speaking of that…

Are you Independently Wealthy?

Where does that leave you? International schools? Also a pretty terrible idea unless you’re independently wealthy. This is probably not the case though if you’re coming to Korea to teach English. They’re ridiculously expensive and are for-profit businesses so it’s unlikely that they’ll have lots in the way of scholarships, etc.

If you work for an international company, your employer will probably pay for this schooling for your kids. As an English teacher? Not a chance.

Home-Schooling? Not a Great Plan

Home-schooling?  Yes, it’s possible. But, what is she going to do while you’re at work all day? Due to the language barrier, you’ll have kind of an impossible time finding someone to look after her. And assuming you find someone who can speak English, it will just be way too expensive and impossible for you to actually make any money after paying for that.

English teachers do make a decent wage, but it can be hard to support a family on, especially if you’re paying for childcare costs.

A 10 year old I guess could stay at home alone. However, it’ll be pretty terrible in a foreign country when she’s totally and completely alone, would it not? And for the entire day? I don’t think this is an ideal situation for anyone involved.

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Have your Say about Teaching English in Korea with Children

Have you taught English in Korea with a child? How did it go? Do you have any tips or tricks for someone considering this?

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