Teaching English in a private school is not for everyone, but there are a lot of reasons why teaching in a private school is best. Private ESL schools are known as eikaiwa in Japan, buxibans in Taiwan, hagwons in Korea and training centers in China.

This article points out the perks of working for a private school in general. There are private schools out there that may not apply to these, but the bottom line is...

You have more control teaching English in a private language school

The main reason why teaching English in a hagwon, buxiban, eikaiwa or training center is best is because you have more control. Here's how.

  1. You choose the school. Unlike teaching English as an ALT in a public school, you can choose the school where you teach at. One of the best ways to get a good job is to go to the school and see for yourself. Talk to the teachers there and so on. If you work as an ALT you probably won't have this option.
  2. You choose the location. You can voice your preference for where you want to work in a public school through programs in Korea and Japan, but they usually choose for you. Unless you go through a recruiter (which I don't recommend) private schools are usually a direct hire.
  3. You don't have co-teacher most of the time. In a public school you will be working one on one with a co-teacher. You won't know who they are until your first day. You might get along with them or you might not. If you work in a private school you obviously won't know the other teachers there either and there can be co-teachers there too, but you don't usually work with them much.
  4. You are the lead teacher. In a public school you are an assistant, so there you won't always choose what or how you teach the lead teacher (your co-teacher) chooses for you. In a private school you will have more autonomy and freedom in how you teach.

A few more reasons why teaching ESL in a private school is better

You'll often...

  • have better materials to work with
  • work shorter hours
  • make more money
  • have smaller classes

You can find out more about these by taking a look at this article. It not only applies to Korea, but teaching in a private school in China, Japan or Taiwan.

Exceptions

These are some general truths about teaching in a private school. There is more variety when it comes to private schools. Some are in it just for the money and some treat their teachers poorly, so there are some "bad" schools out there. They are not all good. But if you follow these steps you will be fine.

It is possible to be directly hired by a public school, so you might be able to choose the location, but you'll probably have to be there for that and it won't be through a program like EPIK or JET. In Taiwan public school jobs are considered pretty good, but you need to be a licensed teacher.

I have had mostly positive experiences working in private schools and I have worked in quite a few in China, Korea and Taiwan. You may also enjoy reading Why public school teaching in Korea or Japan is not for you.

Just remember that it depends on you and the school. Whether it's private or public you have to find the best match for you.