Teaching English at a winter or summer camp in Korea is a great way to earn good money, gain teaching experience and live in another country short term. Camp sessions usually run two to four weeks, at the end of December and again at the end of July.
This past January, I had the pleasure of teaching at a winter camp in Korea for the first time. Having never taught in Korea before, I had a lot of questions about what to expect, what to bring and how to actually teach the kids English.
I did a lot of research before I left to try to find answers to my questions and although I did find some general tips for teaching English overseas, I couldn’t find any information specifically to teaching at a Korean winter or summer camp. All the questions I had that were not answered, or I didn't think to ask, are answered here.
Although this article is written for people going to teach at a short term camp, the information may be helpful for people planning on teaching in Korea long term as well.
The salary for camps usually averages between 2.1 million and 3.2 million, depending on the length of the camp. Unlike long term teaching positions in Korea, camps typically do not pay for their teacher's airfare. This is because of the short duration. However, room and board are fully paid for by the camp so, except for the airfare, your entire salary is yours to save or spend.
The dress code for teachers at English camps is usually casual. Jeans, khakis, corduroys, skirts, sneakers, casual shoes, etc. should be fine. Just be sure they are not ratty looking, no holes, stains, etc.
Because camps are intensive programs, the hours can be very long. Days can be 12 hours long, 6 days a week with half a day off on the 7th day. The students may go on field trips once a week which, many times, teachers have the option or go with them or take the half day off. You will most likely have to eat with the students in the cafeteria.
Teaching at an English camp in Korea is a different experience than teaching longer term at a school or hagwan. The English camps are intense – long days and long hours for both teachers and students. Because the kids are away from home, many for the first time, there is a certain amount of emotional support that needs to be given the children that would not need to be at a school. This also allows you to really get to know the kids, which is one of the best parts about the camps.
Read more about what to pack for English camp in Korea.
Rewards and Classroom Rules
There will most likely be a reward system in place in your camp. In the one I worked at, students were awarded ‘Happy Money’, business card sized camp money that they could use at designated times to buy snacks. As a teacher, it is your call on when to give a student the reward.
There was a lot of ‘why did he get Happy Money and I didn’t’ and ’that’s not fair’ the first day. It made my life easier to make a list of reasons to give students happy money so that it was clear what they needed to do to earn it.
For example, I don’t think it’s appropriate to reward kids just for being smart, so I rewarded them for doing their best at the level they were at the time and any improvement I saw. I also played a lot of games in my classes – hangman, Pictionary – using new vocabulary and grammar. The winning team would be rewarded.
My students needed to work on manners, so when they behaved well, they were rewarded. Students that helped me out, were kind and helpful to each other, when they listened well, etc, they were rewarded.
You Are There for the Students
Most importantly, remember that you are there FOR THE STUDENTS. They should be your priority at all times. It is also VERY important that you are able to take the inevitable last minute changes, non-communication and disorganization in stride. If you are someone that has a hard time rolling with these kinds of things, you will have a very frustrating experience.
This is an overview of information about how it is typically when teaching English at a Korean camp. It is a good idea to ask your recruiter about how it will be at your camp, as sometimes things vary from camp to camp and year to year.