links i find vital

where it all started for me! (btw it starts off with like a min of music)
a seoul radio station interview about bssk
a bunch of interviews with black expats in soko
find family on facebook: Brothas&Sistas of South Korea

Saturday, January 01, 2000

training/housing/class size

Sent: Tuesday, May 1, 2007 2:42:04 AM
Subject: insights for teaching at CDI?

Hi,I'm XXX and I stumbled across your Seoul Sista blog while researching CDI/Seoul/Teaching English abroad. I'm currently in California, and have just been offered a position in one of the 7 schools in Seoul, so you can imagine that it was kind of neat for me to find your blog with your insights. Before I commit to CDI, I would appreciate if you could offer me some insights.

  • 1. What is training like? I have also interviewed with Amity and from their interviews/info sessons, their training seemed pretty straightforward. From the website, I understand that CDI has a pretty structured system and I would like to know how teachers are trained to teach it.

  • 2. How big are the schools? How many native English teachers are there at your school? What is teacher interaction like? Do you interact with teachers from the other branches?

  • 3. How big are the classes? How much time do you spend prepping/teaching? How much creativity/flexibility do teachers get when it comes to lessons? I want to teach English.. but since I don't have too much experience teaching, my ideal experience in Korea would be pretty straighforward with a decent amount of guidance. The thought of being handed a book and told to teach it kind of scares me.

  • 4. How difficult is it to find housing in Seoul? I'm a little worried about it because I don't speak any Korean.

  • 5. How does health insurance work in Korea? It was a little confusing in the CDI website. My MOU is for an hourly contract so I don't think I would be in on the company's plan. Should I continue paying for coverage here in the States?

  • 6. What is the dress code like? I know in Japan, teachers wear business professional. I'm assuming that teachers in Korea must dress similarly, but I'd like to know for sure.

  • 7. Finally, how's life in Korea? My parents are worried about things like safety and communications and I'd like to be able to tell them a few things that show that I've got a realistic view of what life is like halfway around the globe. I'd like an honest assessment of your experience so far.Thank you so much! I look forward to hearing from you.

Sent: Wednesday, May 2, 2007 9:18:55 AM
Subject: Re: insights for teaching at CDI
hi ! thank you for your email. i will try to answer your questions:

  • 1. training is one full week, 6 days i think, unpaid but they did put me up in the hotel (which was nice, there were 60 new employees and we were all together in the same hotel). the training was long and tedious, but i am glad for it, i felt really prepared when i got into the class room. each cdi class is three hours. daily training is pretty much showing you how to teach hour 1 (or 2 or 3) and then we mock teach it for each other. the system is structured, but not inflexible. if there's something you want to do different in class, you simply talk to your HI (head instructor) about it. after training, we had one week off, and then began work. i arrived in korea on feb 11, my first payday wasnt until april 10th. i brought 1200 USD with me and went through every cent of it.

  • big are the schools: it depends on the location. i teach in pyeongchon, which is in anyong, just south of seoul. it is one of the main cdi schools. last term there were 9 teachers or so. when i arrived, it was with 8 other people, so our group doubled the staff. they were in dire need, b/c student enrollment had gone up so much. all of the teacher are native english speakers. all of the staff is korean, and most speak at least a little bit of english. teacher interaction: they hang out a lot and go out a lot, but it's not intrusive. im a homebody myself and rarely join when they get together, but no one has given me a hard time about it, so it's cool. interaction with other branches: not yet, but i think there's talk of like a scrabble tournament or something to get mingling.

  • 3. the classes are no bigger than 15 students. my biggest is 12, my smallest is 4. it will depend on how many students there are and how many teachers. i spend a good amount of time prepping, but i think it's b/c im still very new. i do have prior teaching experience, and i want to make sure i keep the kids attention, that they have fun, but stay disciplined... i dont track at all, but i would guess i spend less than two hours to prep each class day. but many of my coworkers are much much faster.

  • 4. finding housing: i used the realtor from cdi. there was a group of about 10 of us, and he took us out and showed us apartments and officetels. i called dibbs on the first one i liked. others used realtors elsewhere to avoid the cdi realtor fee. i didnt bother, it was easiest that way.

  • 5. insurance: i dont know, im trying to find out myself. when i learn more, i'll let you know.

  • 6. dress code is officially "business casual." most of my coworkers wear jeans. they wear nice shirts or jackets, no suits or ties. me and maybe two other newbies dress busienss everyday: suit, tie, etc. I wear a black skirt with some sort of black blouse everyday, with sneakers (b/c of those 3 hour classes and i like to walk around the class room a lot) But no one has ever told us we HAD to dress that way. i do it b/c i feel it keeps the students at a proper distance.

  • 7. life in korea is great. i love it here. a woman can travel around alone safely, ive never had any problems. use common sense of course, but overall things are fine. i would advise little things like keeping money with you at all time, keep your adrs with you written in korean and english so you can hop in a taxi to go home if you get lost, etc. Other than korea, ive travelled in europe and africa. it's hard with the language barrier, but korea is pretty ok. there's always a sign in english somewhere, or you can ask around and find someone that speaks a tiny bit of english. Best tho to be prepared before you go somewhere: know where youre going, have a phone number in case you need help, have something written in korean about where youre going so that if you get lost, you can show it to someone and they can point you in the right direction. if youre an independent personality, you're fine.

    *phew!* more questions, let me know!

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