Teach English in Korea! Everything you need to know.
Teach in Korea: Part 22 – Teaching tips
The key to keeping your students happy, and therefore their parents and the director, is providing enjoyable lessons.
A good ESL teacher is both an educator and an entertainer. Your lessons need to have a purpose but they should be fun and entertaining. If your students find your lessons boring, they will go to another school.
Teach in Korea: Part 23 – Lessons planning
A good teacher takes time to think about what they need to teach each day, and how they can augment the lesson plan to make it more interesting, memorable, and fun. Do some research. Get creative. Play games. Sing songs. Remember your students are kids. Kids crave fun.
Teach in Korea: Part 24 – Your students
You will teach students ranging from kindergarten to middle school.
You will teach small classes—generally 10-15 students in each class.
Korean students are good students—well behaved and eager to learn English. But be aware, they can also be brutally honest. For example, at some point a student is likely to tell you look like Pinocchio. (Western noses are a lot pointer than Korean noses).
It’s important for you to remember that your students have very busy schedules. They go to public school all day, and then attend several private schools in the evening. One just happens to be the English school where you see them.
After you see them, their school day is not over. After English school, they will attend other private schools (Math academy, Science academy, etc.) –until 10pm. Then they will go home and do homework until 1am.
Next day it’s the same thing. So be nice to them. They are tired and often under tremendous pressure. Their parents spend up to 60% of their income on their children’s education.
Teach in Korea: Part 25 – Co-workers
You will be partnered with a Korean teacher who will teach your students on alternative days. For example, you will teach a class on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and your Korean co-worker will teach the same sets of students on Tuesday, Thursday. (On Tuesday and Thursday, you will teach another set of students).
The Korean teacher’s job is to go over what you have taught, in Korean, to make sure the students understand your lessons.
Your Korean co-worker will be working from the same book as you and you will both be teaching the same page. So it’s important to co-ordinate things with them. Also you can discuss how your students are doing.
Teach in Korea: Part 26 – Communication
If you have a problem while teaching in Korea, you should address the problem immediately. Don’t bottle it up. This leads to resentment, and often to over-reacting later.
Approach your director like a professional, and seek a solution to your problem. With clear communication most problems are easily solved.
Teach English Korea: Part 26 – Working with other Foreign teachers
There may or may not be other foreign teachers working at your school. There are pluses and minuses to both situations.
If you are the only foreigner at your school, you will be the super-star. All the students will love you.
You will be the one and only. (But you won’t be lonely because you’ll likely meet lots of foreigners in your city).
If you are working at a school with other foreign teachers, you will get less attention from the students.
If you work at a school with many foreign teachers, it could be a chance for you to make new friends. However, it may turn into an episode of survivor if you aren’t careful. Anything you say or do can be used against you. Don’t tell anyone any information that may jeopardize your job. Remember big lips sink ships.
Teach English Korea: Part 28 – Language Barrier
Even though you are going to Korean to teach English, be aware that very little of it seems to be spoken anywhere. Signs, menus, etc., are all in Korean.
Take a phrase book with you. This will help you get around in Korea.
You will find out that universal body language comes in handy. Pointing, gesturing anything you can do to get your message across.
Teach English Korea: Part 29 – Learning Korean
Since you are in Korea, and most Koreans don’t speak English, this is a great chance to immerse yourself in another language. Usually your school provides you with free Korean lessons.
Even if you don’t want to take classes, you will still pick up a working knowledge of Korean just by living there and being exposed to it every day.
The Korean language is not a complicated language to learn. They only have 24 characters in their alphabet. It is just a matter of memorizing the sounds of each character.
Teach English Korea: Part 30 – Your contract
You will teach 30 hours a week. You will teach 6 hours a day. Each class is an hour long.
You will teach 12 different classes. On Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, you will teach 6 classes and on Tuesday and Thursday, you will teach 6 different classes. As I mentioned previously this gives your Korean counterpart the chance to go over the material with your students in Korean.
You will be required to become in a few hours early to plan your lessons.
Your contract is for 12 months.
You will get a bonus of one month’s salary when you complete your contract.
You will get 5 days off in the summer and 5 days off in the winter. You will take your vacation days around the school’s schedule. You will also get 15 paid nationality holidays off so you will get a total of 25 days paid holiday.
The school will pay for 50% of your medical insurance and you will pay the other 50%. It works out to about $80 a month
You will be provided with free accommodation.
The school will pay for your flight upfront.
Teach English Korea: Part 30 – Teaching private lessons
Teaching private lessons is illegal. You will get to know many people in Korea. They may try to convince you to give them private lessons under the table. You should not do this under any circumstance. If you get caught, you will be deported from the country. It is a very serious offense.
Your E2 visa only allows you to work for the school that hired you, and often only at a specific location. If the director has schools at other locations you might violate your visa conditions by working there. Please check your visa carefully.
If you want to make extra money, ask your director if overtime work is available.
Teach English Korea: Part 32 – Life in Korea
Let’s face it, you’re going to stand out like a sore thumb. If you ever wanted to feel like a celebrity, you will now. You will be noticed everywhere you go. Your every move will be followed. Everywhere you go, you will hear someone say, “Look there is a foreigner!”.
But on the bright side, they will be excited to see you and will want to talk to you. Random strangers will come up to you and say hello. Some may even ask to take a photo with you. They will want to know who you are and what country you are from.
Interact with the people you meet. Koreans are the kindest people I have ever met, and
I experienced some random acts of kindness while in Korea that really touched my heart.
For example, one day I took a taxi and after I arrived at my destination the driver told me I didn’t have to pay.
Another time I was walking down the street, and a stranger put money in my hand and insisted I take it.
You are sure to experience your own random acts of kindness while in Korea. And I hope you will commit your own when the opportunity arises, like I was lucky enough to be able to.
One day when I was walking to work, I noticed an older lady carrying a pail of water. She looked like she was struggling with it, so I decided to carry it for her. We couldn’t talk to each other, so we simply walked along in silence.
I had no idea where she was going and why she was carrying a pail of water but I carried it for her until I reached my school and we parted ways. I had wondered if that was her first experience with a foreigner. I hope I left her with a good impression of us. Regardless, I was happy I could help her.
Another day, as I was walking to school, I happened to pass a bunch of elderly grandmothers having a picnic. “Hello!” one called out. I smiled and said “hello” and kept walking. I kept walking and heard all the grandmothers take turns calling out “Hello!” It always surprises me how eager Koreans are to learn English and speak to foreigners – young or old.