Teaching English in South Korea can be a great time or a huge disaster. Plan your trip well and you’ll enjoy your time in Korea. Plan poorly and you’ll wish you had never left home. This post is going to tell you 3 things you must do to ensure that you have a great experience while teaching in Korea.
1. Seoul, Buson or Beyond
There are lots of English teachers spread out across the Korean countryside. Some enjoy it. Some hate it. Almost all, though, have done the same thing. They allowed their recruiters to tell them where to live. That’s a bad choice. Why? Becasue many can’t stand being out of Seoul. Other teachers, though, find the big cities to be too crowed and busy! Teachers sent out to rural areas often site the lack of Western goods as a major headache Some in big cities, on the other hand, find hanging out with other Westerners ruins their Asian experience. Stop and think for a moment. Do you want to be in Seoul where you can get everything from a beef burrito to a boyfriend from Bulgaria? Or do you want to live out in the countryside where you’ll be forced to learn the Korean language, make Korean friends, and take part in Korean customs? Neither living arrangement is necessarily best, but they are certainly very differnet. Make your year in Korea a wonderful one by telling your recruiter to find you a job in the specific location you desire.
2. Get the Job You Want
Schools and businesses offer many differnt kinds of working environments. For instance, all public schools in Korea hire native speaking English teachers. Teachers like these positions, as they are funded and controlled by the government. Public school positions are standard 9 to 5 jobs. You can also get jobs in private English academies, called hagwons. Hagwon jobs usually have easier schedules and higher salaries. Watch out, though! Some hagwon owners are less than honest.
You can also find English teaching jobs in some of Korea’s biggest corporations, like Samsung. You can find jobs teaching a wide range of students, from pre-school kids to corporate executives. Consider these options thouroughly. Can you cope with a classroom full of screaming elementary school students? I would be miserable having to deal with a bunch of screaming kids. How about you? What is your personality best suited for? Young learners? Adults? Public schools? Private schools? Corporate instruction? You must choose wisely, as you’ll be in the position you choose for at least a year.
3. Back to School
Getting TESOL certified is an important thing to do. Here is why. There is a huge influx of teachers wanting to head out to Korea these days. You need to be at least as qualified as them. Sending off a TEFL certificate with your resume may put you at the top of the pile. Second, you’ll gain a lot of very useful knowledge. Remember, just because you speak English doesn’t mean that you know how to teach it. Several years ago, nobody cared if you knew how to teach. Those days are over–you’ve got to know how to produce results. Aside from that, it’s good for you personally. You’ll feel much more comfortable stepping into class on that first day if you feel like you’re prepared and able to do your job.
Going to Korea? Be sure to read my article, “How to Learn Korean in 3 Easy Steps