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At a number of ESL schools in Asia you may have to teach with a co-teacher. In these situations you will share responsibilities or perhaps perform a certain role in the classroom. You're co-teacher will be native to the country that you're teaching in. So if you're teaching in China you're co-teacher would be Chinese.

It depends on the school and country in Asia, but you'll usually be considered an assistant teacher in a public school in Japan, China, and Korea. And you'll usually be considered the lead teacher in a private school. But it really depends on the school. For example, in Korea public school teachers are considered assistants, although some teachers here find themselves in more autonomous roles where they are more or less the head teacher.

Some people have fine experiences with co-teachers. If you're a first time teacher you may find co-teachers to be helpful. Some co-teachers are more qualified to teach than foreign teachers who often don't have any experience.

Co-teachers in Korea

In Korea if you work in a public school you will have a co-teacher. Typically you will be considered an assistant teacher. The Korean teacher will lead most of the lesson and you will follow them. You will have a certain role and you will share the classroom with them.

If you work in a hagwon you most likely will not have a co-teacher in the class with you. There may be other teachers in the school, but they will not be teaching in the same class at the same time. You might want to read this if you are not sure whether you want to work in a hagwon or a public school in Korea.

Co-teachers in Taiwan

My experience in Taiwan was a mix. I worked in buxibans where I did all the teaching myself and there wasn't a co-teacher around. I also worked in buxibans where I had co-teachers in the class with me. Sometimes they would correct homework or just sit there. It depended on the co-teacher. Some others would help out with classroom management.

I also did a little bit of subbing at a few public schools in Taiwan. In that school there wasn't a co-teacher in the class with you.

Co-teachers in China and Japan

While in China I personally didn't have a co-teacher when I worked in a training center. Teaching in Japan is somewhat similar to Korea. You can work in an eikaiwa where you may be the one and only teacher in the classroom or you can work as an ALT in a public school. ALT's are considered assistant language teachers.

Problems with co-teachers

Some people have problems with co-teachers. Some of them may be poorly trained or even have poor English. Some of them can be jealous or envious of the fact that you may have less training than they do, but earn more and have it easier. In some cases they may have a greater responsibility than you have too.

I personally prefer to teach by myself. I find that I have more control and am more comfortable in the classroom. I have had a few poor experiences with co-teachers. I find that co-teachers usually only complicate the situation. I prefer to work alone, so that makes sense. If you enjoy working with other teachers then you may be fine. It is a bit of the luck of the draw though. In Korea, people say that your co-teacher makes or breaks your experience.

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