Say what you will about teaching english abroad, it gets all kinds of comments online. Whatever you think about it, it’s been popular as a way for college students to delay their responsibilities some more, or to experience living abroad. But there’s one reason why so many decide to and teach in South Korea, Japan, China and Japan. Specifically, if you’re young and male, you’re going to be getting a lot more attention from women than you would at home.
That’s not what people put down on their supporting documents when they write their applications. Oh no. It’s all about expanding your horizons, giving something back, doing something they love.
Now I think about it, it’s not just for teaching. It goes for men travelling in Asia generally. Just imagine spending your entire life being made to feel worthless, not good enough for any woman you dare to approach. And then finding women who not only find you attractive, but are happy to have relationships with you as well, simply because they enjoy your company. I’ve heard of men who say that after going to Asia they will never date a white girl again.
Equally, I’ve encountered many women in Asia who are largely ignored because they don’t fit into the rigid boxes that society makes for them. Or they don’t have exactly the right physical attributes that men in those country expect women to have.
Sometimes I see mismatched couples, usually when she is much more attractive than him. There are a few instances of Asian girls dating white guys that look just like Moby (thank you, Awkwafina). but many Asian women know their worth and are dating very attractive white guys. I don’t need to drive the point home too much. The evidence is all around. Geeky white guys (who stood watching everyone getting off with each other at parties) are going to Asia and marrying banging girls who end up coming back with them. If this were a movie it would be the feel-good hit of the year. But it’s not – it’s real life, and everyone’s winning in this love story.
Did you ever think about teaching in South Korea? These days, it’s so popular, I can imagine there is a surplus of teachers and that competition for good positions is dropping.
Back in 2016, I was interviewed by the company EPIK, with a view to teaching in 2017. When I failed to be chosen, I looked at other companies before getting a job with Pagoda. Whilst I was disappointed I couldn’t place with EPIK, who seem to have the best reputation for English teaching, I think I did well to work with Pagoda. The class sizes were really nice, and I got on well with the majority of my students. By that I mean I struck up some really good relationships and got to know them outside the classroom too.
Whilst I did find living in South Korea difficult, none of it was caused by Pagoda. When they decided not to renew my contract, I was disappointed. Looking back, I probably didn’t give it as much effort as I could have. I was lucky to have laid-back students and a light schedule. Many people might look at English teaching as the kind of job anyone can do, it’s the teachers who work the hardest and have the most professional attitude that are kept back every year.
I enjoyed my time in Korea. I probably wouldn’t work again as an English teacher unless I had the freedom to choose my students and a choice of material. There are too many good teachers in South Korea, and it is my understanding that recruiters have a bias towards teachers who are female and under thirty.
My verdict: a good job for those prepared to really put the effort in. In a hagwon you’ll be with professionals who will have a work ethic that will put you to shame. Get used to criticism. Some of it will be harsh and unfair. I was told that the students all loved the outgoing teacher and that I should try to teach like her. It wasn’t the best advice and made me doubt my own abilities. Koreans don’t always speak openly and may act as though everything is fine whilst they criticise you to the hagwon manager. I sometimes regret choosing South Korea over Japan, but that was the choice I made.