Yoo graduated from Kangnam University in 1995 with a BA in business and received a master's degree in business at Aston University in England. Afterwards, she returned to Korea and began teaching preparation for the TOEIC English proficiency test, which is still widely taken in Korea. "I leave home around six-thirty in the morning and give TOEIC lectures from 7 a.m to 2 p.m. I teach about 1,000 people, 200 in each of the five classes," she says. "After the lectures, I head over to the Yoo soo-youn English Center, which I established, around 2.30 p.m. When I'm done there, I head back to my classes and lecture from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. I usually handle three classes of 200 people. My day officially ends when I get home around 11 p.m. I usually go to sleep at 1.30 a.m. in the morning after I check online posts and comments related to my lectures. I haven't slept for more than five hours a day since I became an adult."
And most importantly:
Constantly juggling a busy schedule, Yoo has no time to put on makeup.
She certainly puts in the work. You'll remember the Korea Herald profiled Yoo a few months ago, but put her annual salary at two billion won.
Yoo analyzed the past seven years of TOEIC questions and found that 800 key words appear most frequently. This means students should learn these key words thoroughly instead of simply checking their definitions in a dictionary, she said.
Another tip for test takers is that knowledge about usage matters in TOEIC. "Most students think they know the words like 'reveal' and 'emerge' but when it comes to specific usage, many do not know how to use such simple yet useful words properly," Yoo said.
Taking simulated TOEIC as a practice is recommended but an analytical approach is needed, Yoo said. "Once students complete one set of TOEIC questions, they should sleep on the questions they have missed. Why did I fail to get the right answer? What is the purpose of this question? Asking these questions can be really helpful in reducing errors and set a direction for self study," she said.
You can find a bunch of her videos on the internet via a Naver search. Yes, I know that Korea has a different interpretation of "English" than native speakers do, and that Koreans are interested in English as a test subject rather than English as a language, but when I read about these millionaire Korean English teachers, I can't help thinking someone's pulling a fast one on the public. I definitely cringe when colleagues show me their study materials and the errors just jump off the page. Certainly if people complain about "unqualified" native speaker English teachers who have an incomplete knowledge of grammar, for example, it's also a legitimate concern when Korean English teachers earn large salaries but struggle with speaking and pronunciation. But, well, as we know, it's a matter of priorities, and for Koreans standardized exams that test English grammar and vocabulary are extremely important, while communicative competence really isn't at all.
Anyway, you may also remember that in July Yahoo rather lazily reported on the phenomenon of rich English teachers in Korea. Though Korean teachers are among the highest-paid in the world, earning millions of dollars a year certainly isn't the norm, nor does
"If you want to strike it rich, go teach in South Korea"
as the report begins hold true for foreigners teaching here.