I wanted to teach English abroad ever since I started university. I was young when I started my degree and I wanted to travel before I settled in my career. I didn’t have much money to go abroad for a long period of time, so I needed to find a teach abroad program that paid well. Initially, EPIK wasn’t even among my top 10 choices. After I learned more about South Korea and the EPIK program, I was so determined to get the job that I even took some Korean classes in my last year of university. These are the top 3 reasons to teach English in South Korea with EPIK.
The first thing I learned about teaching Business English in South Korea is how much grammar my students knew. The English language proficiency in Korea is very high because the government invests a lot of money in the EPIK public school program to teach English to their citizens from an early age. My Business English students were mostly in their late 30’s and many had spent a lot of time in the USA and Canada, where they took their IELTS test. My students’ grammar was very good, but they weren’t very confident with their speaking skills. The TESOL certification course I completed with OnTESOL prepared me to succeed in the Business English classroom because it taught me to prepare a syllabus that was specific for my students.
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When I found out I would be working with a co-teacher I was very excited, but also wary. Some of my friends had told me stories about standing in the corner of the room, only being called upon by their co-teacher to say something a few times per class, doing none of their own planning, or just running a game for the last ten minutes of class. This can and does happen. In many other cultures it is important to be incredibly respectful to your elders and your superiors. It would be a terrible faux-pas to undermine an older (even if they are just a few years older) co-teacher. You must handle the situation with the utmost of tact or leave it as it is.
Since coming to South Korea, I have had the opportunity to work both with and without a co-teacher. I worked mostly on my own during the first semester here in Korea, but this semester I have a proper co-teacher with whom I share an office and work side by side for all of our classes. Both of these situations have their own benefits and challenges. My experience allows me to compare them closely and help you prepare for your teaching experience at EPIK ! In the first part of this blog series I will talk about teaching solo in South Korea.
-OnTESOL offers the most recognized TESOL certification in South Korea!-
Class sizes can vary dramatically in South Korea. Many teachers are placed in rural areas where they work at schools with less than twenty children in total, and class sizes of only three or four students. You could also end up working at a city school with hundreds of students, where the average class size is 30 students. It is difficult to anticipate which situation you will find yourself in until you arrive at your destination and get your placement. In this article, I will talk about teaching small classes.
I was very lucky to get an EPIK placement in Seogwipo, Jeju Island. If you are teaching English on the mainland, you should definitely make a point of checking out Jejudo. It is the top honeymoon destination in Asia, and is often compared to Hawaii (though in the winter that comparison falls pretty flat). Jeju Island has been named one of the new seven natural wonders of the world because of its many unique natural characteristics. Jejudo is the place to go for hiking, water sports, and scenery. It’s perfectly suited to anyone who loves the outdoors, and is an excellent getaway from the fast paced lifestyle of mainland Korea.
Hello teacher-travelers, welcome to Korea and the EPIK program! I came here six months ago and this was my first time moving to a new country, away from my family, my culture, my language, and my comfort zone. If you are also a first-timer like me, my immediate advice to you is: go with it; be open to everything from the moment you arrive in Korea and head to orientation. It will make your experience and your transition so much easier.
-Recommended: TESOL Certification for South Korea–
Sonia writes her last post about her wonderful TESOL experience in South Korea and shares a couple of things that you probably wouldn’t know until you got there. Enjoy!
You should know about the yellow dust season, particularly if you have allergies. It comes between spring and summer, and it’s exactly what it sounds like- a thin layer of yellow dust coats everything outside. Some people say it’s pollution from eastern Chinese industry, others say it’s spring pollen. During this season, weather reports will include the yellow dust predictions for the day, and on high index days you’ll see a lot of people wearing surgical masks outside. Yes, sometimes people really do wear surgical masks around all day long. Sometimes it’s for yellow dust, but the rest of the year it’s because the person wearing it has a cold and is being polite by keeping the germs to themselves as much as possible with that mask.
About half the population identifies as Christian, which accounts for all the red neon crosses in the city night sky, and the other half identifies as Buddhist, which leaves you with a lot of old, beautifully painted temples to explore. Most small towns and many remote mountaintops have got a temple, and bigger cities have several each. Some temples, such as Bong Eun-sa in Seoul, offer temple-stay programs where you can get a more intensive Buddhist experience, trying out the food, dress, and lifestyle of a monk, even if just for a day or two. Otherwise, most temples have regular visiting hours when anyone is welcome to enter the grounds for a stroll or just to have a look. Note that removing your shoes is considered polite in most indoor temple spaces.
Public transportation in South Korea is great in a lot of ways. It’s generally cheap, quick, and reliable. Subways operate in only a few major cities. By far the most extensive metro system is in Seoul, with several very long and interconnecting lines. You must buy a T-money card from a kiosk in or near a subway station, then load money onto it at the station agent’s window or at an automated machine (these operate in English and Korean, the station agent may not). You tap the card at the turnstile to enter the subway, and tap it again on your way out once you’ve reached your destination, and your card is charged based on distance travelled. The subways operate until roughly midnight, a bit later on weekends.