Hourly rate in America vs. Korea for ESL teachers

I recently taught a 3 week course for some Brazilian teens here in Florida. The pay was $24 an hour. The money didn’t impress me but it was a good experience and I was exposed to some cultural differences that gave me an idea for a series of roleplays designed to help teachers prepare for classroom management issues.

More recently I interviewed for a position in the continuing education language program at the local Valencia Community College. I wanted the job because I’ve rarely taught classes with lots of nationalities, and all my experience was in an EFL setting; this was ESL. The pay was $20 an hour. I didn’t take the job, though I would have were it within walking distance. The gas, wear and tear on my car, driving time, etc. just made me feel that it would cost me money to take the job.

I could spend the time working on my second book or working on eslgo.com or writing articles to pad my CV. I could even spend the time teaching SAT classes much closer to home and I imagine I would get the same money or more. I mean when I taught SAT classes as a recent college grad 13 years ago I think I got 20/hour or slightly better. Now I have a Master of Applied Linguistics, a CELTA, and a bunch of experience.

Plus in Korea I don’t think I’ve ever been offered less than $40 an hour. So it’s a bit hard for me to understand this $20 an hour thing. Are American employers just working harder to profit off the work of teachers than their Korean counterparts? Do Koreans take English education more seriously than Americans? Is it simply the high unemployment in America that leads to a big supply / small demand for English teachers while unemployment in Korea doesn’t really impact native English speakers like me?

Filed Under: ELT jobs

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