How To Stop Hating Your ESL Job

It turns out that many people are finding my blog because of two posts: the one about hating my old job, and the one about midnight runs. I’d say that Googling “I hate my ESL job” or “How do I stop hating my EFL job?” or “How do I do a midnight run?” are signs that you’re not happy. It might also be a sign that you’re not looking in the right place for answers.

this sucks

But I, nevertheless, shall endeavor to provide you with some advice on how to stop hating your job. I can’t tell you how to do a midnight run, as I don’t think it’s a solution. Also, because I wouldn’t know where to start.


So… you hate your EFL job here in Korea. It’s not what you expected, or the kids are unruly, or your co-teachers are unhelpful, or it’s a lot of work, or it’s any other factors that are leading to you feeling this unhappiness.

So… step by step… this is how to stop hating your job:

1. Work out what is making you unhappy.

Is it the kids? Your co-teacher(s)? Your apartment? Your workload? Are you homesick?

What is the greatest contributing factor to your unhappiness?

What are the other factors that are contributing to this unhappiness?

This is the first step, because you need to work out what is making you unhappy before you can work out what to do about it.

2. Ask what exactly about the above problem is making things hard for you

For example, if your greatest problem is your students, what is it that they are doing that is making you hate your job? Are they unresponsive? Are they hyperactive? Is it all the students, or a select few? Is it all of your classes, or only some of them?

If you’re homesick – what exactly do you miss from back home? The place? The people? Familiar things?

If it’s your workload – is it too stressful? Is it too demanding? Are you being asked to something you know you cannot do? Is what you are being asked to do unreasonable?

Labyrinth Not fair 2

3. Work out what to do about the thing that is upsetting you.

For problems with students, it’s often good to ask advice of your co-teachers. Additionally, this shows that you are interested in your students, and that you respect your co-teacher’s experience and advice. This wins you epic brownie points.

If your problem is with your co-teacher – well… I’ve not dealt with this that much, as my co-teachers are so seldom involved in what I do. Ask friends for advice. Look at online forums, or Facebook groups. Don’t immediately run to the office of education or EPIK to help you out. Try to sort things out in the proper channel. The Office of Education may help you, but it may also shit on you from a dizzy height for not following the correct protocol. Go through the correct channels first.

All of that stuff about going through the correct channels also goes for issues regarding apartments.

how about that

4. If your problem seems unsolvable, talk about it.

I cannot emphasize this enough. It was one of the hardest lessons I learnt when at my old job. Maybe you need to vent, or you need to spend some time away from work, not thinking about it. Try… taking up a new hobby, or taking up an old one again. Do something you like and enjoy.

Or, if you prefer not to talk to others about, write about it, or talk out loud to yourself. Get it out of your system. Structure it in some way, as the vague uncomfortable “I hate my job” feeling is so often what will kill you.

Or... you know... this.
Or… you know… this.

5. Decide what to do

For many people, myself included, all of this culminates in the problem of What do I do now? Do we try to find another school next year? Sign to a new POE/MOE? Transfer to a hagwon? Or (if you’re in a hagwon) transfer to the public school system? Do you go home before your contract is up? Do you try moving to another country instead?

This… I cannot help you with this.

Except maybe for the running part.


I understand that midnight running is due to desperation. You feel like you have no other options. But you need to consider the consequences for yourself later in life:

  • Pulling a midnight run is… what’s the technical term?… a dick move. Whatever you may believe in life, I find the rule “Don’t be a dick” applies to all cultures and creeds.
  • If your next employer knows anything about EFL teaching, they’ll know that a standard contract is 12 months. To have been there for less than that time is going to look really bad on your CV.
  • Also, if you ever change your mind, and decide to come back to teach in Korea, you won’t be able to.
  • If you try your luck in another country, this will look bad. How will you hired in Japan/Thailand/Vietnam/Wherever if you couldn’t handle the full year in Korea?
  • If you want to be a teacher back home – wherever that is – are you aware of how shit it looks on a CV to not have stayed at a school for at least a full year?

I do know of people who’ve dropped out, due to a family crisis, or due to some other issue. If your reason is a real one, and a good one, and not just “I don’t like my job”, then I’m sure your school can be made to understand that. Or you can stick it out for long enough to give your school proper notice.

I hope that helped somewhat. Anyone who has anything to add, please do so. Any and all advice would be welcome.


2 thoughts on “How To Stop Hating Your ESL Job

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s