International English School in Wonju was created and carefully designed to give each of our students the best possible English so they can achieve their goals in life – whatever they may be. Education always comes first at our school. I’m Songae Chweh, principal and owner of the school.
Our students are nearly always the highest in their class no matter which school they attend, with students commuting from as far away as Seoul and Incheon.
We have a beautiful, clean, modern school and excellent housing for our teachers. Check this link for photos: https://englishschool.livejournal.com/photo/
Our classes have a m*x*mum of 5 students and are closely grouped by level and speed of learning. We teach speaking, listening, reading and writing in our regular classes and add math, science and social studies when the students are ready. All of our classes are in English only and we only hire native English speakers. We also offer special classes in speech & communications and writing, for higher level students. We have a mini-theater for acting in our speech room and a small stage for assemblies, speeches and acting in our auditorium.
Our students are all interviewed and placed in classes according to their English ability level. We only accept well-behaved students who actually want to learn, and only accept parents who are serious about their children’s learning and who will support the teachers and the school in matters of discipline and homework.
All students are treated equally at all times - this is a one of our first principles that our teachers learn during training – and we have a variety of systems to ensure equal treatment. No mention is ever made about a student’s financial situation or family income and we never reveal to our teachers the names of any of our scholarship students from needy families. Every student is given the best possible English education without exception.
Our students are nearly always, polite, gentle, sweet and hardworking. Discipline problems almost never come up, but in the case of any student who disrupts classes, speaks Korean in class or doesn’t study, we have a series of warnings followed by expulsion when necessary. Given our pre-screening, our students are nearly always the best behaved you could ask for. We have never had, nor would we tolerate, any student exhibiting violent behavior or bullying toward other students at our school.
We have all of our reading books on tape with 7 listening rooms for the students to practice in, and maintain a supply of copies so students don’t have to buy books. We have made a huge investment in our library with thousands of books for the students’ outside reading and 5 video rooms, now with over 14,000 movies and TV episodes organized by level and age – all provided free and which we encourage students to use outside of class, any day of the week.
We are proud of our graduates who have matriculated to top English language universities all over the world using English language skills they acquired entirely at our school. Although scholarships for international students are rare, nearly all of our students have received academic scholarships at their US universities – many over $100,000.
For teachers we offer the best possible experience during their stay in South Korea and we offer a pay package that we believe is one of the best in Korea for ESL teachers outside of some universities. Our cash pay is always slightly higher than other schools; we pay round-trip airfare (not just one-way) and have either a 2 or 3 bedroom condo provided free for each teacher. Our teacher housing is better than the average family housing in Wonju and within a 10 minute walk to our school. Photos: https://englishschool.livejournal.com/photo/
We have free meals in our kitchen each day, two vacation breaks of 9 days or more including weekends and all the national holidays. We have full pension and national health care from the first week – as soon as the teacher can get his or her ARC (which is legally required in 10 days not 90). Teachers also receive a severance payment of one month’s pay for each year worked, pro-rated after 12 months, with the calculation based on their final highest month’s salary level. We withhold income taxes at the correct rate – usually below 2%, although our higher paid teachers do pay more on Korea’s progressive income tax.
At renewal time, for our outstanding teachers, we offer raises, and a bonus every six months in lieu of airfare, since they already received their airfare to and from Korea for their first year. Any teacher who is already in Korea or not leaving Korea receives a cash payment equal to their un-needed airfare as bonuses in their first year as well.
Our teacher housing is professionally cleaned before the teacher moves in. Furnishings provided by the school are complete enough that a teacher will not need to buy anything but food and pay utilities during their stay, and include: a full-size bed, clothes dresser or armoire, air conditioner, washing machine, drying rack, full-size gas range and oven, refrigerator, microwave oven, kitchen table and two chairs, desk and chair, sofa or love seat, color TV, TV table or stand, basic kitchen pots, pans, dishes and utensils, rice cooker, toaster, vacuum cleaner, iron and board, night stand, landline telephone.
Our teachers receive itemized pay sheets each month with every won itemized. The teacher brings their bills to the school and the school pays them and itemizes their pay sheets. No teacher has ever paid their own bills, nor has any teacher wanted to do so. Teachers are encouraged to keep records of their bills, and all bills including the health insurance and pension bills from the Korean government are available for the teacher to check at any time. And, again, all bills are itemized on the teachers’ pay sheets.
I have personally taken every teacher to get their medical exams and to Immigration to get their ARCs – both of which are paid for by the school. When teachers are sick, I take them to the doctor – and I insist they go even for what might seem to be minor conditions.
When a teacher is too ill to teach, we cover for them or reschedule classes as necessary to give them time to recover. On one occasion a teacher was chewing gum in class - (the only time this ever happened at our school as it is against the rules for students to have candy or gum in class) – so we reminded the teacher it was impolite to chew gum in front of the students. She then informed me that she was ill, which was not apparent and she had not mentioned it before, so I sent her home to rest and insisted on taking her to the doctor the next day.
We have always had a waiting list for admission to our school – some on the pre-interview list and some on the post-interview list. Because of our small class sizes and with students tightly grouped by ability levels, there is very often no spot where a student will fit, so waiting is unfortunately unavoidable.
We have basic levels of Beginner 1,2,3, Intermediate 1,2,3, Advanced 1,2,3, and SAT 1,2,3, however each of these is broken into 4 internal levels with a distinct difference in the abilities of the students at each level. With so many levels it is often impossible to immediately find an open spot where a student will fit based on ability and time. In addition, except those returning from 2 or more years immersed in an English speaking country, we have never found any student from any other school or hogwan whose level was higher than our beginner levels. As a result, our higher level classes can only be filled with our own students as they advance through our program.
We will not add students to open spots just to fill them. Students studying below their actual level will be bored and disrupt the class. Students studying above their actual level will be frustrated, unable to handle the material and disrupt the class.
Education always comes first.
Many of our teachers stay for 3 years or longer, and on the average, our teachers stay more than 2 years. We are very proud of our former teachers who have gone on to medical degrees, law degrees and master’s degrees in various fields and we are always happy to give them glowing recommendations for their future endeavors for their outstanding teaching to our outstanding students.
Other teachers come to Korea on a gap year – many of the best and brightest, in fact – intending to earn money before going on to their various graduate programs.
Two other categories of teachers also come to Korea. Some teachers are barely adequate, although they may be able to complete a 1 year contract by restricting them to easy beginner classes. The other category comprises teachers who are unable to read, spell, teach or grade papers of 13 simple spelling words or even the ABCs - even with a key!
Yes, these are individuals with college degrees and some with experience of teaching one or more years at schools where no one notices.
At our school, we notice. Unfit teachers are asked to leave within the first month or two. They are not trainable and would hurt any student they were allowed to teach. We have no choice. Yes, some teachers have left our school within three months – they were fired due to gross incompetence.
At International English School, we have the best teachers, the best pay package and the best students. We give them the best English.
Our school operates very much like a non-profit. The school began and has remained debt-free, everyone is on salary – including me – and any surplus after paying all salaries and bills is used for long-term improvements to teacher housing, the school facilities and new materials for the students.
At International English School, education always comes first.
Students get the best possible English to achieve their life goals, score at the top of their elementary, middle and high schools in English, matriculate to top universities and earn scholarships at some of the best universities in the world.
Teachers teach small, classes of eager students, earn better than average salaries, with the best housing and benefits.
For students who don't study or misbehave will be expelled. Of course this is a positive for everyone else.
For teachers who are incompetent, you will be fired. This too is a positive for everyone else.
Mushilro 181, Wonju, Kanwondo, South Korea 26447