We interviewed teachers who are teaching in Korea

//We interviewed teachers who are teaching in Korea

We interviewed teachers who are teaching in Korea

Why do you want to move to Korea? Was it a siren song that got you to pack up your bags and move? A desire to share your language and to sculpt young minds? To explore a new culture or try something new? If you haven’t left yet, are you nervous? Butterflies in the stomach, can’t sleep due to anxiety levels? Have you packed everything?

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When moving somewhere or starting something new one of the best resources is other people in similar situations. How are they dealing with it? What brought them to it? Do they have advice? It’s the best way to prepare for your new adventure. I’ve interviewed some teachers in Korea who teach at public and private schools, who’ve been in Korea for anywhere from less than a year to over five years to find out what brought them to Korea, what they wish they’d known and any advice they’d have.

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Sandra
Chicago, USA

How long have you been in Korea? 5 years

What type of school do you teach at in Korea?A private academy in Seongnam

What brought you to Korea?
I wanted to live in Asia and I’d heard the Japanese were extremely xenophobic, and don’t accept foreigners even after they assimilate to Japanese life. I didn’t have any interest in learning Chinese, but I had a friend that was already teaching in Korea and he recommended I try it. I had already had some interest in Korea, listened to some k-pop, watched some k-dramas, tried my friend’s mom’s homemade kimchi with seaweed and rice in his apartment and liked Bulgogi. I could read hangeul. I was pretty sure I could handle it.

What are some things you wish you’d known or had to learn the hard way?
1. Koreans yell a lot. Arguments will play out public (don’t try to interfere) and if you anger them, they will yell at you even at work.
2. If you aren’t getting any feedback about how you’re doing or no one seems to be watching you, that’s a good thing. It means they trust you to do a good job. Don’t wig yourself out.
3. Koreans don’t understand mental health or developmental challenges. You will see them try to force kids with special challenges to play by the same rules as the others. You can only do as best as you can, try to spread compassion and understanding, but until the parents can accept reality, it’s out of your hands.
4. You have to read your contract carefully before you sign it. You will still probably work a job that will try to screw you over financially in some small way, probably as you’re leaving.
5. Some places will pay for a visa run to Japan just so they can have you come to Korea sooner. Don’t take those jobs. They’ll ask you to do training and possibly even start work while you’re still on a tourist visa. That’s illegal.

What advice would you give for people who are thinking of teaching in Korea?
Read a lot of stories from other people that have done it. Read negative experiences, too. Do a lot of research on your own. I mean, I sound really serious about everything because I’ve been through a lot of rough experiences. I adapted. You have to adapt, and be willing to change, or you will go mad.

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Leigh
Hamilton, Middle-Earth (New Zealand)

How long have you been in Korea? 1 year 6 months

What type of school do you teach at in Korea?
Two small public countryside schools through EPIK.

What brought you to Korea?
What isn’t alluring about Korea? Whether you are interested in advanced gaming, technology, fashion, art or simply looking for a great overall traveling experience, this place has got it all. I wanted to kick-start the most amazing adventure of my life and so far it’s been great.

What are some things you wish you’d known or had to learn the hard way?

I think having awareness and being real about your situation can help you get a handle on things. However, when you get into a school just understand that everything is Situation dependent. I like to plan ahead and be organized but sometimes, in school, you have to get used to the idea of following a lesson plan, but also changing things to go with the flow (the flow of your students and their attitudes on the day). Be sure to have a worksheet or powerpoint game on the side to whip out when the kids are wild and unfocused haha.

I also didn’t quite understand the school textbooks at first because I, lacking awareness, assumed someone would tell me how it worked. I ended up doing lesson two of the book the second day of class (NB every lesson chapter has 6-7 periods) Please don’t do what I did. You’ll look like a fool to your colleagues by day two haha.

What advice would you give to people who are thinking of teaching in Korea?

Like any country you decide to move to, come with an open mind. If you find yourself in a situation feeling a little chaotic, like a stampede of horses running wild in your stomach, you’re probably experiencing culture shock– it’s normal. Just pencil down what made you mad, learn from it and see it as a part of this wonderful experience of learning about another culture.
But really, please don’t unravel and be a snowflake. Practice empathy and try to see things from a different perspective other than your own.

Jenny from USA

How long have you been in Korea? 1 ½ years

What type of school do you teach at in Korea?

EPIK public school

What brought you to Korea?
I applied in other places, but Korea had good benefits like health care, reimbursement fees, a safe environment for people to travel and live in. And they pay for your housing and other things.
This one was better than the others.

What are some things you wish you’d known or had to learn the hard way?

I wish I’d known a little bit of Korean and about their banks and how to deal with them a little bit better. Maybe learning more about the public transportation. Getting buses in rural areas is difficult, because of how we pronounce sounds and our accent is incorrect.
I think the information with the banks are difficult because of the language barrier and just difficult anyway, especially in a second language, so it’s difficult for them and for the english teachers.

What advice would you give for people who are thinking of teaching in Korea?

Go with the flow. Don’t get too angry about things, they do stuff that’s easy for them that might not seem easy to us but just kinda be like it’s fine, you’ll be okay and if somethings really bothering you make sure you make someone give you an answer or else you’ll just keep asking.

Eric from Canada
How long have you been in Korea? 4 years

What type of school do you teach at in Korea?

I currently teach at a public middle school.

What brought you to Korea?
I had good experiences with a number of Korean students while in university.

What are some things you wish you’d known or had to learn the hard way?

I think the expectations put on foreign teachers are quite different than I expected. Generally, you are just given instructions with little freedom on how to conduct classes.

What advice would you give for people who are thinking of teaching in Korea?
Be aware that Korean culture is different from wherever you are coming from. Expect to make changes to your diet and activities. Korean work culture also requires you to follow the lead of your superiors, and if you want to fit in or be successful at work you will need to hang out with the Korean staff at company events outside of work hours

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Sivmui
Long Beach, California

How long have you been in Korea?
I’ve been in Korea since 2012. So about 5 years and 5 months!

What type of school do you teach at in Korea?
I’ve taught at 3 different schools.
– Vocational Boys High school with Chungnam EPIK
– Rural Public Elementary with GEPIK
& starting March – City Public school with GEPIK

What brought you to Korea?
I was 25 years old and I wanted to try to teach abroad. I thought I would only be here for a year or two…

What are some things you wish you’d known or had to learn the hard way?
Buying plus size clothes is so hard! In 2012, there weren’t many options, nowadays it’s a lot easier. But be prepared to find lots of misses!

What advice would you give to people who are thinking of teaching in Korea?
Everyone’s experience is different. I know there’s so many blogs and vlogs about people’s experiences in Korea. But take it with a big grain of salt. Just because one person is in love with Korea doesn’t mean you will be. Your personality and teaching style is different from everyone who comes here. Just know, Korea isn’t your home country. In order to live and be happy here, you must understand Korean culture whether it’s in the school, in the community and just all around. I’m thankful that I’ve had great experiences in Korea… just try new things with an open mind and open heart. You’ll find something that keeps you here or makes you happy while you’re here.

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Writer: Lauren Smith

Editor: Jane Castillo

Pictures

Header picture with coffee from pixel bay user Joshua_seajw92  link here.

Picture of balanced rocks in front of a train from pixel bay user zheng2088 link here.

Picture of a note book and pencil from pixel bay user Free-Photos link here.

Picture of questions marks from pixel bay user qimono link here.

Picture of Korean food from pixel bay user jyleen21 link here.

Picture of yellow umbrella from pixel bay user geralt link here.

By |2018-10-26T16:17:19+00:00July 24th, 2018|Featured Articles|0 Comments

About the Author:

Lauren Smith was bitten by a travel bug long before she got a passport, thankfully it’s not deadly to much besides her wallet. This of course means most of her free time, when she’s not teaching in rural Gyeonggi-do, is spent traveling and exploring new places and writing about them. You can read about more of her adventures (and misadventures) on her blog.

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