Teaching in South-korea
I didn’t want to continue being a solicitor and I wanted to live abroad.
Time for a Career Change – Time to be a TEFL Teacher Harriet Parker
This course has the best content for those with a thirst to teach!
A journalist who wrote a new story as a teacher Paloma Tiba
My first day as an ESL teacher would make a good tongue-twister. The title would be ‘Speaking with Samsung staff whilst sightseeing in Seoul’ and my task was to engage the eager learners in English conversation. This new role of teaching is a complete career change for me after many years of working as a Probation Officer and the TEFL training was an interesting challenge, having not done any formal studies since leaving University thirty years ago!
Gaining the TEFL qualification has made it possible for me to gain employment in South Korea, where my husband and I re-located in September 2014, after our children left home.
The three students I was assigned had planned an itinerary which began with admiring the view from an observatory overlooking an ancient palace with a backdrop of modern high rise blocks and mountains. Over a coffee they gleefully presented their ‘Ice-breaker’, which was a game of me having to guess each of their ages and resulted in some embarrassment as my estimates were grossly miscalculated. In typical Korean style, they had been forewarned of my age (I'm over 50) as it would significantly impact the degree of respect I would be awarded.
So, having viewed some of the city sights, my students informed me they had carefully selected a ‘western’ style restaurant, where I noted the rare sight of knives and forks on each table and….a poster advertising that ‘we specialise in pork intestines’. It struck me as highly amusing as I found myself sitting at a meal table beside a student called ‘Carrot’, whilst a really sweet young lady sincerely described how the intestines at that particular restaurant should appeal to my taste!
In South Korea, many people want to learn English but with an American rather than a UK accent, which still feels a bit ‘weird’ and rather ‘cheeky’. Since then, I’ve been working with groups of adults at a foreign language institute, where some classes involve grammar and are taught from books and some are based on topics of my choice and are purely conversational. I’ve also worked at a ‘Hagwon’ (after school class) and can confirm it is true that children and teenagers here are impressively respectful of teachers.
Teachers flock here from a diverse range of countries, largely due to the incentives of an attractive salary, free accommodation and a return flight to their country of origin. Another positive about Korea is that it has one of the most efficient and cheapest public transport systems in the world.
So I’m continuing the journey of adjusting to life in South Korea and learning about the culture and would recommend considering a teaching experience here to all adventurous TEFL graduates!