Published 1st November 2017
Learning English is becoming more and more popular with students from South Korea. South Korea has been a popular destination for TEFL teachers for many years, mostly because it can offer jobs with generous contracts, but also because of the high demand for English teachers. In fact, being able to speak English is such a sought after skill that in the last few years South Korean students have even started to venture outside their country for English language classes. What this means is that even if you are not teaching in South Korea, you will probably find yourself with South Korean students in your class at some point.
Of course, no two students are the same and we should treat our students as individuals, but there are a few cultural considerations that you should bear in mind when teaching Korean students that will help you understand their educational mindsets and learning preferences. If you find yourself teaching South Korean students, you should consider the following:
The Status of Teachers
Teachers are highly respected in South Korea, but with that respect comes great responsibility. Students will expect a lot from their teachers in terms of knowledge, assessment and conduct. If there are any countries that value professionalism, South Korea is one of them. Dress well, act appropriately and put in the work even after your lessons are finished. Your students will appreciate it.
The Importance of Education
Education is considered very important in Korean society and the pursuit of a good education is taken very seriously. Consequently, South Korean students spend a lot of time in the classroom. They understand what is expected of them in the classroom and respect the role of the classroom in furthering their education. They are generally disciplined students.
Students’ Work Ethic
Because they are in the classroom a lot, students expect a lot of work. They are not scared of hard work and will gladly tackle any and all classroom and homework assignments given to them. At the same time, they expect a lot of tests so they can keep track of their own progress. If they are not as chatty or relaxed as your other students, it may be because they are used to doing a lot of individual exercises rather than working with classmates.
There is a lot of pressure on students to be able to speak English. English is an important skill for a South Korean who wants to work or study in an English-speaking environment. Don’t underestimate the effect this pressure can have on students who may not be performing as well as they would like. Be sure not to single out students for their mistakes, as this may hurt their motivation.
If you find yourself with South Korean students in your classroom, be happy in the knowledge that they are hard-working and focused. Don’t be afraid to give them work. At the same time, understand they might not be as outgoing as other students but this by no means signifies that they are not paying attention.