Friday, 1 March 2013

Universities vs. Unigwons in Korea

University jobs can usually be broken down into two distinct groups: teaching at the university or teaching at the university language institute (aka "unigwon" in Korea).

Whether you're looking to teach at a university or a university language institute, try taking a look at these tips on Dave's ESL Cafe. There are advantages and disadvantages to each as you can see below. Both groups have contracts. While it is possible for foreigners to get tenure at a university, it's pretty unlikely.

Advantages for University Institutes
  • Less planning
  • Less stressful
  • No office hours
  • Pretty easy job
  • No grading, or little grading
  • Little research, if any
  • Don't have to create materials
  • Less competition
  • Few staff meetings
  • Much better than teaching at a normal institute or a school
Disadvantages for University Institutes
  • More teaching hours
  • Less vacation
  • Teaching camps during breaks
  • Teach non-credit conversation courses
  • Shorter contracts, usually just for a semester or a year
  • Teaching visa, not a professor visa
  • Hourly pay, pay varies month to month
  • May be farmed out to other schools
  • May have split shifts
  • May have to teach children

Advantages for University Positions
  • Less teaching hours
  • More vacation
  • May have a TA
  • Teach credit courses
  • Longer contracts
  • Salary with benefits
  • Teach in one place
  • Block teaching time
  • Stable monthly pay
  • Teaching young adults


Disadvantages for University Positions
  • Office hours
  • More stress
  • More research
  • Expected to attend conferences
  • Expected to give workshops
  • Expected to publish
  • Create curriculum
  • Exams and grading
  • Staff meetings
  • Professor visa
More info
If you want to teach at a university in Korea, I'd definitely recommend Jackie Bolen's book, “How to Get a University Job in South Korea: The English Teaching Job of Your Dreams.” She wrote a couple of guest posts here at TEFL Tips, How to get the university job in Korea that you want and why I love working at a Korean university. She's been in Korea for over a decade and really knows her stuff.

Your Opinion 
What do you think about TEFLing in Korea?

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