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Korea, South in Asia (School): Berkeley Language School - Private School - South KoreaBerkeley Language School is a private school located in Busan, South Korea.

 

Address: 11F, Youngpung Regency, Jung 1-dong, 1766-6 Haeundae-gu, Busan.

Website: Berkeley Language School

2.6/5 from 12 ratings.
  • Experience
  • Professionalism
  • Work location
  • Living situation
  • Pay & benefits
  • Support & facilities
  • Health & safety
Summary rating
Reviewer
1 rating(s).
2 helpful voted.
Best school I've encountered in Korea
1 months ago.
Experience
Professionalism
Work location
Living situation
Pay & benefits
Support & facilities
Health & safety
Institute Review
October 2019: This is by far the best school I or my wife have worked in Korea. I've been here for over a year and a half and I'm still very happy with my situation. There are some old, bad reviews out there, but the management has changed a lot since those reviews.

Berkeley is a "real" school, and not just a cram school. They genuinely care about the kids, and the teachers are treated well. There's plenty of respect to go around. The curriculum is consistent, varied, and interesting, so there's a lot to do (the parents pay a LOT for their kids to go here, after all), but there's never more work than you can do. You get a real co-teacher who is there when you need her, who works hard and gets everything done in the background. You get to teach all sorts of subjects in English, and the teachers have plenty of break time--real break time that you can use for yourself. You're not required to stay for deskwarming, and any prep work you do need to do outside of the classroom is useful and meaningful: no useless busywork or bloat. It's a genuinely fun and supportive place to work. We've worked at other hagwons, but for its faults, Berkeley is the most enjoyable and comfortable one we've ever worked for.

HOWEVER: Berkeley is quite serious about the quality of its teachers. You MUST enjoy teaching, or working with children, or both. If you're looking for a hagwon where you can slack off a bit and just have a good time in Korea, no judgments, but Berkeley is NOT the school for you.
The pros
Fun classes
Supportive and respectful work environment
Fun programming like field trips, birthday parties, and holiday fun days
No deskwarming
Meaningful work
Delicious lunch and friendly lunch ladies
Great location with nice, nearby apartments
The management isn't racist
The cons
Pay is often a couple days late in the spring months due to "cashflow issues". However, I've never known a teacher to straight-up not get paid.
Occasional miscommunications between teachers and management (but this is a social feature of Korea in general)
They're a little more stingy with benefits than other schools
Advice to Management
Better communication with teachers would be appreciated.
Institution Location
Youngp*o*g Regency Building, Jung-Dong (Exit 5), Haeundae-gu, Busan-si
Relationship
I am a current teacher at Berkeley
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Reviewer
1 rating(s).
One Year at Berkeley
2 years ago.
Experience
Professionalism
Work location
Living situation
Pay & benefits
Support & facilities
Health & safety
Institute Review
I have been working here for the past year. I can only speak for my experience here and I have to say that it hasn't been at all bad.

The director has been very reasonable with me and always maintained respect. Any problems have always been sorted out very smoothly without too much hassle. My Korean co workers are great and always very helpful and friendly. My western co-teachers have also been a blast to work with.

The students are mostly great, you may come across a few troublesome kids but you expect that as a teacher. Overall they are easy to work with.
Planning classes isn't difficult. I feel like I have a lot of freedom in my classes and I feel like the students become an extension of myself as having taught them throughout the year. You have two periods free for planning or whatever you need to do.

You teach the kindergarten in the first portion of the day. Classes throughout the week include, math, science, phonics, art, language etc. Very basic stuff though. Then you have some elementary classes which are straight forwards and out of the book usually.
There is no homework, and you don't get a bunch of work to take home to grade. You get to play many fun games with the kids and we've been on some really fun trips. Waterpark, museums, etc.

You get a great apartment at a great location. Lunch is delicious 75% of the time for me, that depends on your taste.

Overall, based on my experience; I would recommend working here. I would have stayed for another year, but I needed to find a solution which would allow me to visit my grandmother back home.
The pros
Easy work. Great Location. Friendly co-workers and great kids. This place does have some messy history but I do feel that the director is trying to change her habits for the better.
The cons
One bad thing to say would be the management staff in the Kindergarten can be frustrating at times. The manager of the kindergarten comes across as extremely rude, inconsiderate, divisive and often goes on petty power trips that help nobody. It creates an incredibly negative feeling which hinders productivity. But as long as you keep interaction with her to a minimum and work well with your co-teacher you should be fine.
Advice to Management
Replace the kindergarten manager.
Institution Location
South Korea, Busan, Haeundae, Jungdong.
Relationship
Teacher for one year
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Reviewer
1 rating(s).
1 helpful voted.
Berkeley Language School
2 years ago.
Experience
Professionalism
Work location
Living situation
Pay & benefits
Support & facilities
Health & safety
Institute Review
I worked at Berkeley for 1 year and had a positive experience. I had two very supportive Korean co teachers who I worked alongside of in many of the lessons. The foreign headteacher was also very helpful whenever I had a query about teaching or matters outside of the workplace. The location was excellent, only a 10 minute walk away from the beach and the workplace is only a 5 minute walk away. The apartments that the school provide are also pretty good compared to others I have seen provided at different hagwons. My kindergarten students were a lot of fun to teach and on the whole very well behaved.
The pros
Great co-teachers
Location
Good apartments
School field trips
The cons
Communication between the Korean and foreign teachers was weak at times.
No strict curriculum for elementary classes and you can get students of different levels in the same class making teaching difficult at times.
Advice to Management
Improve communication and make sure everyone has a defined role when it comes to events and tasks.
Institution Location
11F, Youngpung Regency, Jung 1-dong, 1766-6 Haeundae-gu, Busan.
Relationship
Teacher at Berkeley from 2016-2017
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Reviewer
1 rating(s).
Berkeley Language School
2 years ago.
Experience
Professionalism
Work location
Living situation
Pay & benefits
Support & facilities
Health & safety
Institute Review
This is the only place I've ever worked outside of the UK, and was my first job as an English language teacher. Because of this it's difficult to really compare Berkeley to any other school. I have to say that I really enjoyed my time living in Busan, and that in part was down to being at Berkeley. Whilst working at Berkeley I made lots of great friends, lived in a fantastic location and was lucky enough to really enjoy teaching the children in my class. The kindergarten was definitely the more enjoyable aspect of the school for me, with set lessons and a way of working which I feel is very beneficial to the children. Overall I had a positive experience.
The pros
Kindergarten lessons are well organised and the lesson planning doesn't take too long.
There are lots of resources available for kindergarten.
My co-teacher was very helpful and always available for me when I needed assistance.
The cons
There were times when relationships between management and some of the teachers became strained. The current foreign headteacher is working to try and resolve this.
Advice to Management
Try to communicate better with the foreign teachers, as this can avoid needless problems i.e. what foreign teachers/Korean teachers are responsible for.
Institution Location
11F, Youngpung Regency, Jung 1-dong, 1766-6 Haeundae-gu, Busan.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Reviewer
1 rating(s).
Worked at Berkeley for 3 years
2 years ago.
Experience
Professionalism
Work location
Living situation
Pay & benefits
Support & facilities
Health & safety
Institute Review
Worked at Berkeley for 3 years. Great location and facilities. Made some good friends while working there (foreign and Korean). I've only worked at Berkeley the entire time I've been in Korea, so I've got nothing to compare it to. The Director allowed me to go home after each year to visit my family, and she also gave me time off after my grandma passed away.
The pros
Great location
Nice apartments
Cool co-teachers
Little prep required
The cons
Communication from management can be lacking
Elementary doesn't have a set curriculum
You might struggle if you're not thick skinned and good at negotiating
Roles of teachers aren't defined (especially the Korean teachers)
Advice to Management
Work on communication with staff
Define roles of teachers (foreign and Korean)
Make sure pay and severance is not something teachers have to worry about
Institution Location
11F, Youngpung Regency, Jung 1-dong, 1766-6 Haeundae-gu, Busan.
Relationship
Teacher at Berkeley from 2014-2017
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0 of 0 people found the following review helpful
Reviewer
1 rating(s).
Berkeley Language School
2 years ago.
Experience
Professionalism
Work location
Living situation
Pay & benefits
Support & facilities
Health & safety
Institute Review
Korea is filled with language academies and each academy is bound to have good and bad qualities. Before I leave my review I need to highlight that any language academy is faced with a dilemma of balancing profit and education, this leaves any owner or educator in a particular situation. I will continue to compare Berkeley to my first academy teaching position, in a small little town up north. This is one of the few academies whom try to be diverse by hiring teachers from different countries. Your co-workers will probably turn out to be great, depending on what you look for in people. The school's location is absolutely amazing. The provided apartments are great, a stone throw away from the school, and a 10 minute walk from Busan beach.
The pros
The pay is average and mostly similar to most other academies.
If you've negotiated the school may pay for your flight tickets.
My co-workers were great and most became good friends.
The location is the bomb.
The materials are provided for which cuts the preparation time.
Lesson plans are easily done within in an hour.
The kindergarten classrooms are well equipped.
The school lunches are normally great.
The cons
Team management needs improvement.
Communications tends to be a problem.
The roles of the head teachers tends to be blurry which leads to meaningless problems.
The roles of the co-teachers are ever a problem and is not defined.
Advice to Management
Team management needs improvement.
Communications tends to be a problem.
The roles of the head teachers tends to be blurry which leads to meaningless problems.
The roles of the co-teachers are ever a problem and is not defined.
Institution Location
Busan
Jung-dong, Haeundae-gu
11F Youngp*o*g Building
Relationship
I have been at Berkeley as a native English teacher for nearly a year, and will finish up on 28 February 2017.
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0 of 0 people found the following review helpful
Reviewer
1 rating(s).
6 helpful voted.
Beware
2 years ago.
Work location
Living situation
Pay & benefits
Support & facilities
Health & safety
Institute Review
Do not make the mistake of working here. There are so many other places that are legit. Do not trust this place, the director is an evil lady.

This school has so much potential, it’s just a shame that the director and the management let this place down so much.

They will give you a hard time there over the smallest things. The director likes to always have a least one person to bully and traumatize. She will zero in on them and make their life hell until she moves on to the next victim.

She will do anything to save a little money and that often means taking away from YOU. She doesn't like you to confront her about it, she will make huge threats and will take advantage of any situation possible.

I did not get all the severance I was owed. I’ve seen her go back on other people’s contracts just like she did with mine. I've seen her lose her mind over small things. She is a twisted woman. You may think you are working in a good place but all of that will change whenever she sees an opportunity. You could be her best friend one minute and then she will stab you in the back and twist the knife. Just like she did with me. She will try every trick in her evil little book. She made my life so difficult towards the end so that I would quit so that she didn’t have to pay my severance.

She will not even pay what she is legally obliged to pay. She didn't pay 50% medical insurance. She put nothing at all into the pensions. I'm not sure, but I also think that all of the foreign teachers are over taxed. I don’t really know how she gets away with it. The problem is the foreign teacher go home and they can’t fight her.

If you're lucky you might get a good co-teacher who doesn't make life difficult for you and isn't lazy.
The pros
Co-workers. Location. I loved my Kindy kids.
The cons
Greedy Delusional Director.
Late payments.
no Health Insurance.
No Pension.
No respect.
Threats.
Contract means nothing.
Lawless director.
Cowboy management.
Advice to Management
Go Legal.
Institution Location
Busan
Jung-dong, Haeundae-gu
11F Youngp*o*g Building
Relationship
Teacher
Show more
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Reviewer
2 rating(s).
3 helpful voted.
Not so bad....
2 years ago.
Experience
Professionalism
Work location
Living situation
Pay & benefits
Support & facilities
Institute Review
I have just finished reading all the reviews regarding Berkeley Language School in Busan and I must say the reviews are pretty harsh regarding this school but most of it is true. I worked at this school for over 2 years as a Head Foreign Teacher and I have to say that I had a pretty good experience. Before I started working at BLS, I did my research and had found pretty similar reviews, but I still ended up taking a job here. I was very honest to the Director about the reviews I had read and wanted to give the school a try.

For management: As a Head Foreign Teacher, I tried to bring in a positive change at BLS. I am not sure what the other teachers have to say about me, but I tried my best to fix everyone’s issues as best as I could. The Director can be reasoned with if you know how to approach her. I believe the Director and me had a great relation even though towards the end of my days at BLS we fell out a bit but managed to sort out our issues. She was always willing to hear my suggestions and took action on them.

However, the issue addressed in the reviews below regarding the Directors attitude towards teachers was poor. I tried my best to change to that, but you can only clap with two hands.

The Staff: The staff at BLS both foreign and natives were amazing to work with and they treated me with great kindness. However, there were few incidents where there was a clash of disagreements on certain issues, but we always managed to find a middle ground and it worked in everyone’s favour in the end. Every time, I needed to speak to someone or needed anything there was always a good response from the school and the Director.


Salary: The salary at Berkeley Language School, due to my experience and position my pay was different compared to other teachers. For other teachers, the salary was good compared to other language schools but not enough for the work they did. Pay was frequently late but I have heard recently it has gotten better.

The School: It is true that Berkeley Language School is not perfect however, I think it is a decent school to work at. You have to be quite hard skin to work here. The students are great, and if you are a positive person you will have a good experience here.

Also, BLS gave me the opportunity to learn a lot and I am a much better teacher than I was before. I taught different levels and different ages and even if the resources were not perfect they were more than enough to teach the classes.
The pros
The Foreign Teachers
Great Korean counterpart for your class (if you are lucky) ... mine was AMAZING!!!
Great Students (max 12 per class)
Good accommodation in a great location
The cons
See the other reviews.....
Advice to Management
See other reviews...
Please treat teachers with respect.
Fix payment issues
Stick to the signed contract.
Communicate and listen to Teachers!!!
Don't make rash decisions.
Don't underestimate teachers
Think about the teachers too, not just the students.
Institution Location
Jung Dong, Haeundae, Busan, South Korea
Relationship
Former teacher/Head Teacher. March 2014- August 2016.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Reviewer
1 rating(s).
3 helpful voted.
Lousy management made for a stressful year
3 years ago.
Experience
Work location
Living situation
Pay & benefits
Support & facilities
Health & safety
Institute Review
My experience with Berkeley Language School was overall a positive one, but this was due to the other staff and students. I attribute none of that to management. Which is a shame honestly, because it created this horrible tension among all the staff for the whole year. It was tiresome to spend the entirety of my contract at Berkeley always fighting for basic things like pay, pension, severance, etc that I was not only legally entitled to, but that were included in my contract! It's an awful feeling to wonder every month if we were going to get paid the right amount and on time. The communication from management was deceitful and sometime nonexistant. The manager would avoid coming to school around pay day and was unreachable when staff would find their bank accounts empty. I will say that in the end we were always paid our wages, but not without a struggle and typically a delay (the longest was 10 days, with no word from the director while we waited and worried). We were being charged for healthcare that we soon realized didn't exist and never saw the first few months of fraudulent insurance deductions from our paychecks again. When I went to the pension office at the end of my contract they informed me that Berkeley had skipped payments on many months (despite deducting them from my paycheck). The pension office had to pull nails to have her make up for the contributions she had stiffed me. Not only this, but teachers were made to feel disposable. It created this awful atmosphere where each week someone else's head was on the chopping block and we were all scrambling to help out the newest teacher to get picked on. It didn't matter how trivial the issue was, instead of trying to work with teachers to remedy situations, their jobs were put on the line and threats were made to terminate contracts almost daily. It took away the energy and the positivity the teachers wanted to bring to the classrooms and children to always have these worries in the back of your mind.
The pros
Location couldn't be better, and the apartments (if the director hasn't downgraded to a different building as she has previously threatened) are about the best you can come by in Korea. Modern, *fairly* clean apartments with Queen-sized bed and all furniture as promised. However don't be surprised if the director moves you to a different room with 24 hour notice to pack and no help - this has happened before.
The cons
See "review" - there are many things that make Berkeley great but due to the issues with management I would never recommend Berkeley to another Foreign English Teacher. I remember when the school year started there was talk that Berkeley would be better for our year than the teachers before us. Unfortunately they seem to be able to make the same mistakes year after year and it's the teachers who suffer. Just be warned!
Advice to Management
Treat your teachers like humans! Show a little compassion. If your teachers were less stressed about pay and job security they could dedicate so much more time and energy to keeping kids happy and having a positive teacher-student experience. Isn't that the goal, anyways?
Institution Location
Jung Dong, Haeundae, Busan, South Korea
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
  • berkeleylanguageschool 3 years ago.
    Hi Rachel

    I am sorry to hear that you had some bad experiences while at Berkeley. Unfortunately, some of the things you said have been problems in the past, but fortunately we are working hard to change things here at the school. There have been some instances of late pay, but happily things are back on track and people are being paid in a timely manner and the tension that you mentioned is no longer a problem. As the current foreign head teacher here at Berkeley, I am proud of our school and grateful for all of the hard work from our teachers. There is a lot of support and room for professional development. We appreciate your honest review, but this was from a few years ago and things have changed and we are constantly working to get better here at BLS Busan.
Reviewer
2 rating(s).
6 helpful voted.
An utter nightmare
3 years ago.
Experience
Work location
Living situation
Pay & benefits
Support & facilities
Health & safety
Institute Review
The reviews you see about this school are all true. The problem with the school begins and ends with the director. Don't expect to be paid on time, don't expect to get pension (illegal), don't expect your vacation days to be honored, and don't expect to be treated with any dignity. The director is one of the worst people I've ever had to work with and doesn't care about anything but her own money. Don't be fooled be her charlatan "Christian" act. You'll be threatened with bad references, threatened to be sued, and treated as a traitor if you don't want to re-sign. Avoid this school at all costs.
The pros
The location is amazing and the housing is excellent too. It's the best apartment I lived in Korea probably. I also loved my kindy students and learned a lot in terms of experience.
The cons
No one is professional there. They don't help develop teachers and just throw you in a class and expect you to immediately figure it out. You won't be paid on time and will have to fight to get paid. This makes her (the director) angry and she threatens you more.

The pay really isn't even good. They don't pay into pension (which is illegal). The vacation was shorter than the contract said and she told us, "Next year it'll be better." Obviously no one stuck around to see. Also I had red days taken away once. She also promised we'd be provided lunch but only Korean teachers got it.

They have great facilities but it's all a show for the parents. In terms of support, there's none. Don't expect to be trained or developed or even have time to figure out how they want you to teach. The curriculum is a random set of book bought at a local bookstore. Rude and disrespectful students will be coddled and you'll get in trouble for trying to discipline and manage them.

I rated health and safety as a 2 since I was incredibly stressed and miserable working there. I gained weight, ate terribly, and the relationship among the teachers deteriorated and worked my a@@ off for them.
Advice to Management
Treat your teachers with proper respect, pay them, and don't be a tyrant.
Institution Location
Jung-dong, Haeundae-gu
11F Youngp*o*g Building
Jung-dong station across from EMart
Relationship
Former Teacher, Freed s*a*e
Show more
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
  • berkeleylanguageschool 2 years ago.
    Hi ESL Teacher,
    Your imagery and descriptive language show a lot of creativity. I’m sorry that you had such a bad experience at our school. Fortunately, things are looking up. We do offer severance and pension and our vacation days are on par with other private schools (we follow a standard calendar). I’m not sure that your assertion of “No one is professional there,” is exactly fair. We have many professional, helpful and kind teachers on staff here at Berkeley and there is great camaraderie between our teachers. We order all of our books from trusted distributors. We do have great facilities (including a gym) and teachers have access to all of those facilities both during and outside of class time.

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