Michigan Language Academy, Yeongtong-dong, Suwon, Korea

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Teaching English conversation in Korea

Koreans from all walks of life learn English

Are you interested in learning about Asia while you work? Consider working as an English teacher in Korea. This is a job that will give you a chance to meet and talk with Koreans from all walks of life.

The quick view of day-to-day life at Michigan Language Academy

Michigan Language Academy (MLA) is a specialty school (hogwan) for teaching foreign language. Your life in Korea will center around classes taught at MLA.

In between classes, you can spend time doing the various day-to-day and weekend activities that a long term stay in Korea offers. These are things such as shopping, sightseeing, recreating, meeting with students and other Koreans and meeting with other foreigners. Your school and your apartment will be in Yeongtong-dong, a modern residential development east of Suwon. The school is in a modern "plaza" and the teacher apartments are in a new building a ten minute walk away.

Classes are taught Monday through Friday, and occaisionally on Saturday mornings.

Warren teaching an afternoon conversation class.

MLA Basics

Director Tok-han Kim founded Michigan Language Academy (MLA) in 2003. (He is also the founder of the former Joong Ang Foreign Language Institute, which was until 2003 the oldest foreign language school in Suwon.) There are five to ten American teachers on the staff at any one time, and these teachers are in Korea on one year teaching contracts with MLA.

The school teaches English conversation, writing, and reading, and preparation for English language tests, such as SAT's and TOEFL's, for those who will be going to the US for study. Students are Koreans from elementary school age through adulthood who live in the Yeongtong-dong area, with the majority being elementary and middle school students. Most classes are conducted in MLA classrooms, which are in a new building with all the modern conveniences. A few classes are conducted "on site" at other locations.

MLA does the advertising and hustling to bring students into the classrooms, provides housing for the teachers, and pays the teachers on an hourly basis for time spent in class teaching. The teachers show up to teaching assignments on time and ready to teach English conversation, reading and writing in a professional and popular manner.

The pay rate varies from year-to-year based on the exchange rate for the won. The current pay rate will be discussed at the time your interview. Your pay rate will vary depending upon your educational background and experience. Teachers with additional TESOL qualifications or advanced degrees are paid at a higher rate.

Apartment rent is paid for by MLA, but utilities are not. Teachers will typically have a one room apartment, unless they are coming to Korea with other family members. The cost of living in Korea varies for each person, but basics excluding entertainment will typically run about 600,000 won (about US$600) per month.


Pay scale at MLA for 2008

MLA will pay teachers either US$25 or $30 per teaching hour. $25 for a person with a four year college degree, and $30 for a person with an advanced college degree or TESOL certificate. Rent is paid for an apartment, but not the phone or utilities. The apartment will be a one-room apartment, unless the teacher is married and bringing family, which case MLA will provide a two-bedroom apartment.

MLA will guarrantee a teacher gets paid for 100 hours per month (averaging over two consecutive months), and a teacher may teach more hours, depending on the teacher's desire and the availability of classes to teach. (This means teachers will be making at least $2500 or $3000 per month.) (Note that Korea's income tax is quite low compared to the US. Income tax on $2500 would be about $80.)

Round trip air fare is paid if the teacher completes a one year contract. Contracts for six months are also considered, but only the cost of returning will be paid.

Upon successfully completing a one year contract, the teacher is given a one week paid vacation, and a $2,500 or $3,000 bonus.

National Medical insurance is available to teachers who are working legally in Korea, and it costs about $80/mo. MLA covers half this cost.

(Note: the exchange rate varies, but 1,000 won is roughly US$1)


English in Korea

Students on an outing to Korean Folk Village
Students on an outing to Korean Folk Village, not far from Yeongtong-dong

The Koreans are developing their nation into a manufacturing and exporting powerhouse, and they have decided that mastering foreign languages is essential for the nation's development. English, Japanese and Chinese are all considered important languages for Koreans to know, and because English is the language of world trade, particularly with the West, knowing it is very important.

Koreans study English in school, most will have studied written English for years by the time they graduate from high school. But they get little practice speaking in English. To master conversational English, many turn to private suppliers. MLA is now offering a convenient place for Yeongtong-dong residents to be taught English by highly qualified North American teachers.

Being an English Teacher at MLA

Three log bridge at Korean Folk Village, not far from Suwon
A three log bridge at Korean Folk Village

MLA is looking for native English-speaking North Americans who want to combine learning and teaching. A person who spends a year teaching English in Korea is also spending a year learning about Korea in depth. Teaching conversation is a wonderful way to meet people and learn what they are thinking.

Teaching is a wonderful learning experience, but a MLA teacher must also be well-qualified to teach: A Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degree is the minimum requirement. (the degree doesn't have to be in English) Advanced degrees and ESL training are a plus. In addition to formal requirements, a teacher must have a teaching style that will be well thought of by the students. The students (or their parents) must be satisfied that the money they are paying to MLA for English instruction is well spent.

Another essential requirement is having a positive attitude towards living in a strange place for a year and dealing with people who have a different way of conducting day-to-day life. This requires great patience and flexibility.

Who to Contact

Senior teacher Roger White and Director Tok Han Kim in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA