We recently followed up with Aralynn, an American teacher, we placed in Korea a few months ago. We asked her these 5 questions below and you can read what she had to say.
1. Why did you want to teach in Korea?
- I needed a new start in my life and be truthfully honest a new job. But I wanted to fulfill fantasy and reality. I did research on many different jobs and teaching in Korea happened to be one of them. At first I looked at it as a farfetched dream. But I continued to read more. I love kids! I love teaching people especially something I know and I am good with. I have always dreamed of traveling to other countries. I was qualified. Everything I needed was a yes. I just had to put it to work. I could have gone to any other Asian country or really any country. But the idea of going somewhere that was as far from what I did know was scary and exciting all together. And Korea, well to me has interesting history culture. I wanted to know more. It was also highly rated by others and that I can say was very good help to push this way.
2. What do you like the best about teaching in Korea?
- I absolutely love all my children. I teach 4, 5, 6 and 6 year olds. They are the future. What they learn now can truly help predict what they can do in the future. I love being their first experience. I love seeing the kids explore or try to speak with what English they know. They truly light up my days because they remind me to be silly. When they succeed or progress that is by far the best feeling. Here the kids really seem more anxious to learn
3. What surprised you the most about teaching in Korea?
- I teach 4, 5, 6 and 7 year olds so I typically see learning in a more playful relaxed schedule. When I first started class, it seemed like such a hard schedule for the kids. They are so young. And they have more subjects to cover in one week than I did in one semester in high school. They worked so hard. As this was a surprise to me, it also worked and it did not really stress the kids at all. They enjoy almost all subjects and their teachers which in all this surprised me as well. I think the teachers stressed about the schedule more than the kids.
4. What do you like the best about living in Korea?
- I love the culture. I love not knowing and being challenged to find out or discover. The food was a struggle at first only because it was so foreign to me. But I am quite fond of it now. The history here is really interesting and a lot to take in. The respect and honor people give to their elders is so remarkable. Things are cheap. Random Koreans will talk to me with little English they know. A lot of kids will always say hello when walking down the street. I truly like a lot here. I love learning about the history and the traditions that still are present. I also have a great group of coworkers. They have become my real good friends. I like being a part of the Korean culture and can say that if I was near a tourist area, such as Seoul, my Korean culture experience would be less. I like living in Ochang.
5. What advice do you have for teachers following in your footsteps?
- if you want true experience with culture, look for a place outside of tourist areas. Because as much as you say you won’t fall into the comforts of the tourist areas you will. It is hard to get away from. S. Korea is a small country. Use those breaks and weekends to travel to the tourist areas. It has worked great for me. From my experience I am forced to learn the language, which I like, take in more culture experiences and make more Korean friends. Making friends who actually live here will benefit you all sorts of ways. You help them with their English, they help you with your Korean, they get you places, they show the best places to eat, travel to and show you how the culture is within their own families. Traveling is pretty inexpensive and a weekend trip is all you really need. And there are many times you can go back and do something different.
- be sure you know what you want in teaching and school. There are so many different types. You must research, research, research and research. Familiarize yourself with the different types of school. But most importantly research yourself so you know what you like and can tell your recruiter where you are sure you will succeed.
- Koreans really like foreigners but if you are here to party and just make money they do get annoyed especially when you act out of line or disrespect their country or culture in any way. Know your place and do not set a bad example for your people. And show the Koreans you can have fun and be respectful to their country even if you do not care so much about learning the culture. We are from different places so we do things differently. You must understand that you do not want anyone coming into your home disrespecting you and your family for what you stand for.
- As for me at first I did not make any other English teacher friends. I am the only one at my school. But I did not go and find others. I thought I would be totally find just making friends at school. Yes I totally have some great Korean friends at school. But your brain can hurt after a while because of the language barrier. So making other English friends would be a great way to just talk with out all the hard thinking. It can be a good stress release. Also it can get lonely especially if you are far from tourist areas or are the only English teacher at school. Koreans typically live with their parents or are real close to their families. So they continue to be busy with family. Korean teachers also sometimes have other jobs sometimes three jobs. They can be real busy people. They want to do things with you and will but their daily lives tell them they have no time or little time. When I made a English friend I was and am able to do more things and travel to places. Don’t just make Korean friends and don’t just make English friends both can be very beneficial and an awesome adventure to be had.** Apply to teach English in Korea. ** Sign up for TEFL.