We are very excited this year to be working at public schools where we are given summer and winter vacation days. July 23rd started the summer vacation and our classes are finished until August 18th. However, the Korean public school system does their vacation a bit differently than back home.
In our contracts, we are given 8 days of vacation for the summer during our first year. If you resign your contract, you will be given 7 more vacation days that you can add on. These are the only days we are excused from coming into work. So even though it is “summer vacation” we must still come in and be in our offices from 9 – 5 on our non vacation days. We don’t have any classes, but we still need to be there. This is commonly referred to as “desk warming” and we use this time for lesson planning for the upcoming fall semester.
During winter vacation, we have a lot more days. Winter vacation starts at the end of December just before New Years. School is then closed until the beginning of March. We have 24 vacation days during those two months.
We also are responsible for teaching 20 hours of English Camp during the summer and winter vacations. I teach two hours of summer camp for 10 days. Only a small number of students sign up for the camp, so it is a good way to have fun with your students and get to know them a bit better. We do creative projects, play games, and just have a lot of fun.
The school during this time is pretty much empty save for a couple of administrative workers and the principal. Our school grounds are really big, so walking around and seeing no one and hearing only silence is rather eerie.
Most private schools only give 10 vacation days to their teachers per year. This doesn’t include national holidays, so you will also get two longish vacations during the Seollal (Lunar New Year in February) and Chuseok (Thanksgiving in September) holidays.
Private schools are a bit more difficult when it comes to scheduling vacation dates. Since there are usually no substitute teachers that can cover classes in your absence, getting days off can be tricky. You will likely not be able to take the entire 10 days of your vacation all at once and will instead have to split it up during the year. This means you might be able to work out two nine day vacations with weekends capping both ends.
Keep in mind that private schools also try to take advantage of the summer and winter vacations that public schools have by offering extra classes. Your normal work week might include extra intensive work hours in the mornings which will be paid as overtime for you.