Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Last days at YBM and a brief review of the school

After a year and a half of teaching at YBM, I've finally left. I'm leaving, not so much because I'm sick of working there, but because I just won't be around enough in Korea for the next 6 months to justify them trying to hold my position. I'm back in the states now, working on finishing my MATESOL, I'll be gradutating in August, then I'll be heading back to Korea for my wedding, then honeymoon in China, then traveling more around China, then coming back to Korea and starting the job hunt for the next job, then going home again for Christmas.  It's going to be a very busy next 6 months...

 The last days at YBM were rather uneventful, but we did have the ultimate game of Monopoly (4 hours long) with the students pictured above, and one of my favorite halaboji students took me and another teacher out for this octopus stew. They added the octopus in whole and live, then cut him up as the soup boiled. I guess I've been living in Korea long enough that this just doesn't phase me much, but this was the first time I'd tried this particular dish, so I took a few photos to memorialize the event.

I thought I'd sum up the pros and cons of working at YBM Jongno, for anyone who is intersted in working there in the future. 

  • Right downtown, basically across the street from Insadong
  • The 'Wow' factor you get when you tell Koreans where you work. It's often regarded as the best hagwon in Korea for adult learners. 
  • Foreign bosses.
  • Not necessarily on block shifts. Most adult hagwons keep their teachers on a permanent block shift. YBM Jongno is big enough that sometimes you may get to finish at 1pm or start at 2pm. Sometimes. 
  • A schedule which changes every month. If you don't like your schedule this month, just wait, it will change next month. Including classes and start and finish times. 
  •  A lot of overtime, which means that your paycheck can be quite high some months. 
  • A 50% discount on any YBM class (Korean, Chinese, Japanese). The Korean classes can be difficult to take with the English class schedule, but some people have made it work. 
  • Teaching. Adults. Yea, you can have a conversation that doesn't necessarily involve colors, food or numbers.
  • Lessons plans are pre-made so there's little prep work.
  • Low base pay. Especially for those without adult teaching experience. I started at the lowest rung despite my experience. 2.0 million. 
  • Low housing money. 200,000/ month. Kind of insulting considering rent anywhere you look in the area will be at least 550,000 but probably higher, nevermind management fees and utilities. But, better than nothing I suppose. They do not supply pre-furnished apartments for teachers.
  •  Foreign bosses. Yep, I put this in both categories. You will never have a supervisor pat you on the back after your lesson and say good job. Your boss is a native English speaker and actually expects you to do something more than just be a talking head. 
  • A schedule which changes every month. Yep, I put this in both categories. It's probably the biggest reason why I wouldn't go back to YBM. I am a pretty active person and I always have things going on. Working here made it impossible to plan my schedule more than 3 weeks in advance. It's the main reason why I quit taking Korean classes. 
  • Early morning starts and late night finishes. The first class starts at 7 am, which means you'll probably want to get there at least at 6:30am. The last class finishes at 10pm. If you're not on split shifts starting at 7am and finishing at 10pm, you're probably at least starting or ending at one of these times. Your first several months youWILL be starting at 7 am and finishing at 10pm. 
  • Not mandatory Saturday teaching. While technically in the contract you only need to teach 2 months of Saturday classes, in reality most people have to work most Saturdays. You do make 25,000won/ hour. Some people love the chance to pick up the extra cash. I personally have a life outside of work, so it wasn't great for me. That's one of the reasons why posting has been much lighter on the blog since I started working there.
Overall, though, I did really like working there, dispute the cons I listed here. The staff is a bit quirky, but so am I, so I think I fit in fairly well. I really loved working with the students, as I mentioned before, and the location was fantastic for me. I would recommend working at YBM if you get the chance, and they're often hiring, so check worknplay.co.kr often for their want ads.


  1. Hi,
    I'm teaching here in Korea as well and was wondering if you had any info on taking classes at YBM. I'm interested in taking Mandarin classes at YBM, but can't seem to find any info about them.

  2. I took Mandarin there, they theoretically offer most levels most months. If your level is high enough, they have native teachers that you can study with, but if you're like me and just a beginnner, you'll have to study with the Korean teacher, meaning it's as much of a Korean class as a Chinese class. This didn't bother me so much, but I thought their "conversational Chinese" program which they offer at lunch times was very poor. I heard their other classes which focus more on all four areas of the langauge is better. I also wasn't a fan of my teacher's teaching style. It was very grammar-translation method. If your Korean isn't high enough to do this, then it might be an issue.