Posted on


One on One English Tutoring Program


1. Matching Students and Teachers


PSCORE matches students and teachers based on three things:


1) Location

2) Gender

3) Age


Location is the most important.  If the student and teacher live nearby they are more likely to continue studying together after the initial two months.


Female students feel more comfortable studying with a teacher of the same gender, particularly if they are recent arrivals to the South.  Remember North Korean society is very conservative when it comes to sex.


For cultural reasons, some students feel uncomfortable studying with a teacher who is younger than them. Others don’t mind so much.


2. Common Teacher Complaints


“My student is aloof and doesn’t seem grateful that I’m giving up my time to tutor them.”


“My student is always late, and doesn’t call to let me know beforehand.”


“My student doesn’t return my messages and phone calls.”



North Koreans don’t seem to understand volunteer work because they come from a socialist country, where one’s time and labor belongs to the state.


North Koreans tend to have a very lax sense of time, and are not familiar with telephone courtesy.  This is a cultural difference which cannot be fixed overnight.


3. Common Teacher Mistakes


Buying the student drinks and meals: Students don’t want to be treated all the time. This can make them feel subordinate.


Becoming the student’s ‘new best friend.’ If a teacher helps the student too much, especially with things unrelated to study, students may feel abandoned when the teacher’s schedule gets busy and they have to quit tutoring.


4. Meeting Place


PSCORE recommends that classes are held at either the student’s house or the teacher’s house.  Most students do not want to have class in a coffee shop for several reasons:


  • Students dislike western food served at coffee shops including coffee, dairy products, bread and cake.In particular they have a hard time eating sweet foods because they have not received adequate dental care in North Korea.


  • Students find coffee shop prices a burden and a waste of money when their only source of income is a monthly welfare check.


  • Coffee shops are often noisy and the tables are too small to spread out books.


  • Other customers may stare if they hear the student speaking in a North Korean accent. Students also feel uncomfortable speaking about their former lives and how they came to the South, where others can hear.