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One World in One Lifetime

Posts Tagged ‘English Channel’

Job 2: English Channel

Posted by Heliocentrism on May 1, 2015

April 2007 – April 2008

One of my co-workers at EC and me

Why not Korea?

The next overseas Job I got was at English Channel in South Korea. This is another company that has since gone out of business.

I enjoyed teaching English in Japan and wanted to try it in a new country. After a year in the ESL teaching industry, I knew what I liked and didn’t like. I liked teaching adults. I hated teaching little kids.

There is a huge difference in the behavior of children who have started school and those who have not. School aged kids have a higher maturity level and, since they’ve been to school, they have already learned how to control themselves in a classroom setting.

Some people love teaching babies and toddlers because they are so cute. But, if I have to wear a suit to work, I would prefer not to be thrown up or peed on. Besides, I hate singing and dancing. (I’ll do it if I have to, but I will never like it.)

I really got into hiking my first year in Korea.

So when I found the website for English Channel that said they only teach adults, I knew that I would like working for them. I just made sure that the pay, health insurance, and other benefits of the job met my criteria.

Jobs in Korea have different benefits than jobs in Japan. They both provide you with national health care and basic training. They both find you an apartment. But in Japan, you have to pay the rent. In Korea your boss pays the rent.

In both Japan and Korea you have to pay into the national pension. In Korea you get all of your pension back when you leave the country, if you are from the right country. In Japan, you only get the first 3 year’s work worth of pension that you put in.

Me on some mountain

So after taking a few months off to travel and visit friends and family back home, I emailed English Channel and scheduled an interview over the phone. I asked for the interviewer to call me after 18:00 my time on a Wednesday.

I woke up at 5:00 on a Tuesday when my cell phone rang. It was Mr. Webster at English Channel. I sat up in bed trying to sound awake. He asked if he had called me at the correct time. “No,” I said. Then I pretended that being called at 5 in the morning was no problem. “I was already up… um, organizing stuff.”

He started the interview. He asked questions and I answered them, quite well I must add. I was fast asleep 15 minutes before and sitting in bed in my pajamas, but I was killing this interview. At the end of the phone call I was told that I would be hired.

I just had to do some paperwork, which I did. Then I sent my passport to the Korean consulate in Georgia to get a visa. Within 2 weeks I was in Seoul.

I wore this everyday.

They did training and orientation for 3 days near one of their branches in Gangnam. There were 6 of us and we would all be sent to different schools around Seoul. I kept in regular contact with 3 of them until they left Korea. (I traveled with one of them to Thailand.)

There were many things about English Channel that I loved. The first being the coat. Most people hated wearing the lab coat but I loved it.

English Channel never called itself a school; it was a “language clinic”. It was very gimmicky, but I guess we were supposed to be doctors, nurses, or scientists… I don’t know.

But wearing the coat meant I never had to iron my shirt. Hell, I could wear the same shirt all week and no one would know. In the winter I wore long woolen shirts under my lab coat and in the summer I wore a tank top. That’s right; I wore a spaghetti strap tank top to work on hot days. No one would know; you only saw a small triangle of my shirt anyway.

I just made sure that my pants were ironed or that my skirt was long enough. Then, I wore the same un-ironed shirts every week.

Another mountain

Life was great at English Channel. I liked my co-workers and would hang out or take trips with them often. The managers we had were all at least tolerable; even the one who didn’t seem to like foreigners much. And, the job was easy.

There were no lessons to plan. The books they used came in lesson-form already. There was no paperwork for me to do. I would even get a bonus during the months I taught more than some set amount of classes.

There were also no meetings to attend. The only mandatory gatherings we had were branch sponsored dinners we had to go to every 3 months and the big Christmas company-wide dinner. We had to dress up for the Christmas dinner at a swanky restaurant in a posh hotel and sit through many boring speeches, but then we all got to eat as much free 5 star food we wanted. It was by far, the best free meal I ever had!

The only downside to the job was working on 2 Saturdays a month. But I could live with that.

another random mountain

Things were going so well, I started thinking about signing up for another year at English Channel. I had an around-the-world trip planned, but I was hoping to return to Korea and English Channel when that was done. But, during my last few months we got a new manager. He thought we could make more money by changing a few things.

The company stood out from the rest of the English schools in Korea because it was the only one that offered one-on-one classes. Students could have lessons go as quickly or slowly as they needed. They could also feel safe to make mistakes, because it was just them and the teacher in the class.

The new manager thought, that we could double our profits if we put 2 or 3 students in a class instead of just one. We tried it, and within a month many students left. I could see the results quickly. Chatty students clammed up when they were no longer the only student.

It was a disaster.

Like students leaving English Channel

At the end of April 2008, my contract was up and I left for my trip. Within the first month of leaving English Channel, I was supposed to get my end of the contract bonus. But when I checked my bank account, there was no deposit from English Channel.

I sent an email to the new personnel guy at the head office. I told him that I had yet to receive the year-end bonus. I got an email back from him a few days later where he basically told me that life was tough and that I should not be such a whiner.

I had never really dealt with this new guy before, but I had heard my co-workers complain about what a jerk he was. Rather than get into it with him again, I emailed the personnel guy that Mr. Jerk had replaced. Mr. Webster was the man who interviewed me and he was the guy I turned to.

I sent him a copy of the email Mr. Jerk sent me and asked him what he thought I should do about it. He told me not to worry and that he would take care of it. Within a week I had my money.

Somewhere in Korea

Later I heard from the co-workers I left behind that Mr. Webster got frustrated with the horrible changes the company was making and he quit his job. After that English channel stopped paying its employees on time. Then they stopped paying the Korean staff all together.

One of the native English teachers found out that English Channel stopped paying into the employee’s pensions and health insurance. Everyone I knew at English Channel left. The last I heard they shut down many of their branches. I think there are none left.

South Korea

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, or train, though entry by train is rare if not damn impossible for most non-presidents of North or South Korea.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to South Korea.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 90-day visa at the airport or ferry port.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Korean embassy in your country.






  • Korea is a generally safe country. You don’t really have to watch out for pickpockets,muggers, or scam artists.
    • You should watch out when crossing the streets, beware of scooters on the sidewalk, and the little old ladies that will push you to get that last seat on the bus or subway.
  • Use common sense and you will be okay.
  • Things are generally inexpensive and there are many wonderful things to buy.

Enjoy Korea! I live there for 2 years and had a fantastic time.

Posted in Seoul, South Korea | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

So Why Do You Want to Join the JET Program?

Posted by Heliocentrism on February 28, 2010

February 24, 2010

All Pictures

Asakusa Temple in Tokyo, Japan

The Japanese Embassy, Guam

The picture above is of one of my students and me at the Asakusa Temple in Tokyo. At the time this picture was taken I was living in Japan and I was really skinny. I worked for a company called GEOS and I was having a good time; not a great time, but a good time.

I had friends, but most of them work for the JET Programme. I have to say that I was quite jealous of them. They had a huge social network. They knew people in other towns that they didn’t have to serendipitously meet on a subway or anything. They also had Japanese coworkers that they hung out with.

My own coworkers at GEOS seemed tired and over worked, but only because they were. They mostly lived far away. None of them lasted very long at GEOS. By my 4th month of working at GEOS, I was the most senior member at the eikaiwa. I had to rely on casually meeting people on trains or in grocery stores or making friends through my students. (Most of my students were around my age or older.)

Lucky for me, I had one really nice student and he had many foreign friends. He would invite me to go with him anytime these friends were having a party. Many of them were in the JET Programme. I am still friends with a few of them today.

One of my fellow English teachers in Seoul, South Korea

Stay Away from the Channel

Then I moved to South Korea and worked for English Channel. When I worked there the company was okay. They always paid me on time, though I did have to check all my pay stubs to make sure they gave me all my overtime. If I did get paid the wrong amount, it was easily and quickly fixed and I would get the rest of my money in the next pay check. I really had very few complaints.

However, as my contract was nearing to an end, things started to change. There was a new manager and new people in charge at the head office. The new people in charge gave me the impression that since I wasn’t resigning, it wasn’t worth the effort for them to be polite to me.

When I didn’t get the end-of-the-contract bonus that I was supposed to get one month after my last day, I e-mail Mike, the new guy in charge of Human Resources. His response was literally to only say, “That sucks,” and not offer to help me. I did get my money after e-mailing Bob, the guy that used to be in charge of HR.

So, when I decided to go back to South Korea, I didn’t trust English Channel enough to resign with them.  I started to look for a different company. It’s a good thing too. I heard from my old co-workers that English Channel stopped paying the pensions and health insurance for many of its employees; this is illegal. There were also been many times when teachers were not paid on time. Sometimes, the Korean employees did not get paid at all.

I just want to make a note that not all English Channels are the same. It’s like a chain company and they do not all have the same management. The one I worked for, was not a chain, though. It was run by, Kenny, the president of English channel. I’m sure it won’t be long before this company goes bankrupt.

Dea Gin Girls’ High School in Seoul, South Korea


That’s when I found SMOE (Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education). They place ESL teachers in public schools in Seoul and it is modeled after the JET Programme. I enjoyed my time teaching at Dae Jin Girls’ High School. I was finally able to just teach English without hearing about how the school was losing money.

One of my 2nd grade classes (That 2nd grade of High school = 11th grade in the US)

No one tried to pressure me into working on Saturdays, to sell books, or more classes. I just taught English lessons. And my co-teachers were great, Mrs. Kim and Mrs. Oh! I also enjoyed teaching the English teachers and other co-workers.

They taught me so much about Korea. Whenever they saw me planning a trip, they would give me advice on things to do there. Many times Mrs. Kim or Mrs. Oh made reservations for me since I do not speak Korean very well.

So now I would like to live in Japan one more time. This time I want to work in a public school like I did in Seoul, so I applied to the JET Programme. I was given an interview at the Japanese Embassy in Guam. I think the interview went well. Hopefully, I will hear back from them in April.

The interviews for the JET Program are notorious for being rough. There are blog entries out there from interviewers who say that their fellow interviewers delight in tormenting prospective teachers. I was expecting the worst, but my interviewers all were very nice.

I’ve noticed that Guam is filled with nice, friendly people who are quick to offer help with directions or to drive you around to take pictures of Point Udall.

If you do need to stay in Guam, especially if you have an interview for the JET Program, I recommend The Tamuning Plaza Hotel. It is not fancy, in fact it’s a bit old. But the rooms are huge and the staff is very helpful. It’s about 2 blocks away from the ITC building where the Japanese embassy is. The room rates are pretty good, and you can rent a car from them for about $50 a day. (The room rates are better when you book it through hostelworld.com.)  Since you rent the car from the hotel, you can rent it on days you need a car and just walk to the beach when you don’t need to drive.

The hotel is near Agana Beach. It’s a great beach for kids because the water is shallow even far out. But, it’s not that great for tall swimmers.

Because I’m in a bit of a nostalgic mood, here is a picture of the little Japanese town I used to live in. It’s called Tōgane (pronounced Toe-ga-nay) in Chiba Prefecture. There isn’t much going on there; just onion and rice fields. It was a great place to live.

The old neighborhood in Japan

All Pictures.


The United States of America

How to get there:

You can enter my country by land, air, or sea. But I think flight would be your transportation method of choice.

I have no clue how to get a visa to the US or who needs one. Just assume that you need one if you are not American or Canadian and check with your local US embassy.


  • Use 911 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance
  • Use 411 for information (This might cost money.)






  • It’s a big country. You’re going to need a car.


How to Get There:

From Bangkok –

  • The best airline that I found to get to Guam from Bangkok was Philippines Airline.
  • There’s a long stop over in Manila’s airport. (I will blog about the Ninoy Aquino’s shenanigans later.)

Guam has one commercial airport, the Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport. It’s near Hagatna.

You pretty much have to fly into Guam. There are not boats, and trains are just ridiculous.



  • Guam is a territory of the United States. This means that if you are American, you do not need a passport to travel to Guam.
  • If you are not an American, then you will need the same visa to enter Guam that you would need to get into the continental United States.
  • The people of Guam are United States citizens, just at a better climate.
  • You can only us US dollars here.
  • I recommend renting a car unless you are with a tour group.
  • Although Guam is a small island, it is not anywhere small enough to just walk around.
  • The beaches here are great.
    • When you go to any beach in Guam, DO NOT go out to the breakers. They look pretty, but do not leave the calm water. The current out there is very strong and many tourists have died. There are also many coral reefs. Corral can be very sharp and you don’t want to be pushed into corral by strong waves.
  • There are 2 military bases on the island.
  • Forget about seeing Point Udall. Just forget it!

Umatac Bay

How to get there:

  • 13°17’54.8″N 144°39’48.3″E
  • This is on Route 2 in Umatac.
  • It’s just about the only part of Route 2 in Umatac that’s near the ocean.


2, Umatac, Guam 96915, Mariana Islands



  • Free


  • The monument is out in the open and can be accessed at any time.


  • This is the spot where Magellan landed and started off the burning and pillaging of the Chamorro villages. Soon after the conquistadors would show up by way of Miguel López de Legazpi.
  • The land would be taken away and claimed in the name of Spain’s King and Queen no Chamorro had ever seen. Later the Guamese would be converted to Christianity, because they needed to learn how to be civilized.
  • Miguel López de Legazpi would then move onto The Philippines. Mark and I would run into him again in Manila.

Fort Soledad
(Fort Nuestra Señora de la Soledad)

How to get there:

  • 13°17’42.4″N 144°39’36.1″E
  • Once you’ve found the Umatac Bay, you can see the fort.
  • Just follow Route 2 past the Spanish Bridge if you’re heading south.
  • If you’re heading North, it’s before the Spanish bridge.


  • Free


Two Lovers Point

How to get there:

  • 13°32’09.5″N 144°48’05.2″E
  • Take Route 1 in Tamuning to Route 34.


Two Lover’s Point, Tumon Bay, Guam, USA


  • 671-647-4107



  • 3USD per person


  • 8:00 – 20:00


The Story of Two Lovers

There once was a Chamorro chief, who had a lovely, charming, and intelligent daughter. She was so lovely and charming that a Spanish captain fell in love with her and asked her father for her hand in marriage. The chief, seeing this as an opportunity to make peace between the two peoples thought it a great idea and said, “Sure. Why not?”

The daughter, being young and beautiful, wasn’t interested in the old crusty Spaniard. She preferred a hot, young Chamorro guy who liked to watch sunsets while saying profound things. Unfortunately, his family was not in the same tax bracket as the chief’s family.

The chief told his daughter to forget about the handsome guy who was actually the right age for her and to think about the positive aspects of marrying the old Spanish captain. The dad and the Spaniard went ahead with the wedding plans and they both got all excited when the big day came.

Right before the wedding the bride-to-be went for a walk. She walked all the way up to what is now known as Lovers Point to be with the guy her dad didn’t feel was good enough for her. Eventually, her father, the Spaniard, and many wedding guests found the lovers. Her father tried to order her to get back to the wedding, but she wasn’t listening.

The young lovers tied their long shiny hair together in a tight knot. They held each other and kissed one last time. Then they jumped.

It was a long way down. There’s a lot of pointy coral down there.


Posted in Chiba 県, Guam, Honshū, Japan, Tamuning, Tokyo 都, Tōgane 市, Umatac, United States, The | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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