Teaching in South-Korea

Teach Enrich Empower
https://www.theteflacademy.com/assets/images/offer-box.png 12/18/2018

Teaching in South-korea

It’s a sweltering Sunday afternoon in Sejong, South Korea, and I am cooling off with an ice cold brew in my local café. I’m sitting here, thinking about my past four months of teaching.

The best advice I can give is: be flexible, open-minded and determined.

As singles, couples and groups of friends and family enjoy their beverages and desserts around me, I can’t help but smile at the adventure I am currently embarking on. I, Bronwyn Anne Pretorius, otherwise known as Teacher Bronnie, am a very lucky 24-year old (25 years old in Korean age).

Teaching at two elementary schools is no easy feat. I used to believe that I was tired at the end of a day at university – but I didn’t know what exhaustion really felt like! My typical day starts at 5:45 am, when I wake up and (dread) to do a quick workout before school in my little apartment. At around 7:15 am, I head to the bus stop down the road and hop onto bus 991. About 50 minutes later, I am sitting in one of my two English classrooms, ready for the day.

I am extremely fortunate to have been placed with a kind-hearted, supportive and witty main co-teacher. She has been a living example of much of the theory I learned during my TEFL course. Nonetheless, as ready as I felt coming to Korea; nothing could quite prepare me for the assortment of challenges I have encountered while living and working in a foreign country.

Over and above the inevitable language barriers I face within and outside of school; the infamous ‘Korean surprises’, or as my co-teacher calls it, the ‘sudden attacks’, are something I have had to get used to. These ‘attacks’ generally take the form of last-minute changes to a schedule, whether one likes it or not. One such attack happened recently when I was wrapping up my lesson with my third graders. An announcement was first made on the intercom. The next moment, the children were either laughing or looking frightened; placing their books above their heads; and hiding under their tables. Needless to say, I had no idea what was happening. I soon discovered that this was a planned earthquake drill, which I was not aware of. At least I now know how to deal with potential earthquakes!

After four months of teaching a total of 17 different classes every week, ranging from third to sixth grade, I can safely say that I have experienced some interesting things. Children crying when losing a game; being applauded (or laughed at) when I say something in Korean; being told I have pretty eyelids, and hearing how most children seemingly feel “so-so” when being asked how they are, are just a few examples.

A year ago, I was quite certain I would be in South Korea, but never did I imagine what it would truly be like. Coming from a multi-cultural country like South Africa, with immense cultural and social differences; life here has been jam-packed with learning and adapting. The best advice I can give to any future teacher is: be flexible; be open-minded; be determined; and of course – expect the unexpected. Believe me, the tiredness and little daily obstacles are without a doubt, worth it.    

The best advice I can give is: be flexible, open-minded and determined.

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