In honour of Teacher’s Day (which in Korea is every 15th of May) here are, in opinion, the best things about teaching English in Korea. As the day fell on a weekend, most teachers will receive praise and recognition today, or will have done last Friday. “Happy Teacher’s Day” to them all!
5) Rising to the Challenge
If you have never taught before (as I hadn’t), taking on this role is certainly a challenge. Obviously, it depends on the organisation, but I was given absolutely no training, and was ‘thrown in at the deep end’ on my first day, with 6 one-hour classes to conduct with barely any preparation time. This was extremely daunting, and I was so nervous, but it’s amazing how quickly you learn.
The fact that that the role required so much intuition brought out the best in me, and prompted me to think harder and put in extra effort. The challenges that teaching brought with it made the work all the more rewarding and enjoyable.
4) Creative input
No other job I have had has allowed for so much creativity and versatility. A part of the role was to consider and devise enjoyable ways to convey information and engage students.
In my case, this involved creating games for the children to play, playing songs for them to sing along to, and inventing competitions with small prizes. For older and more advanced students, diary keeping in English as well as reading and discussing extracts from books and newspapers worked well.
My friend who taught in a high school had access to more advanced resources, and made interactive shopping experiences and quizzes for the students.
3) Special Days
I really enjoyed making a big deal of each and every “special day” throughout the year. These included Children’s and Teacher’s Day in May, Halloween (not usually celebrated in Korea but endorsed in English schools), Christmas, and Chuseok (추석) which is Korea’s harvest festival, amongst many others. Children love activities, and anything topical and seasonal is a great excuse to provide more varied teaching methods. Celebrating these special days whilst teaching was a brilliant way to be involved and immersed in Korean traditions, festivals, and ceremonies.
2) Seeing the Difference
Anyone who has ever taught will surely agree that there is nothing like noticing the progress that your students have made, and are continually making. With progress comes confidence, and this is all-important in language learning. Encouraging and rewarding students is all part of the teaching process, and helps to engage them. I am so proud of the progress that each of my students made in just one year, as well as their positive attitude to learning English.
Working in a Hagwon (학원) / academy meant that I taught students of all ages, ranging from 4 year olds learning the ‘ABC’ for the very first time to university students and adults who were at the conversational level. Across the board, the students were the greatest thing about this job.
Adult students were so eager to learn, as well as to hear and understand more about the way of life in England.
Like all children, the kids I taught could be cheeky, naughty, and moody at times, but all in all they were an absolute joy to teach. They made coming to school every day so worthwhile, and made me laugh every single day. These photos give a snapshot:
I would highly recommend teaching English in Korea to anyone interested in gaining teaching experience and learning about Korean culture first-hand. Here are some organisations that can find placements and facilitate:
- Flying Cows (very helpful UK-based company- I found my placement through them) http://www.flying-cows.com
- Access Korea Now (Canadian company) http://www.asknow.ca
- English Program in Korea (biggest program of its kind, best for getting a job in a pubic school rather than Hagwon) http://epik.go.kr