Do Your Research Before Teaching in Korea

8 May

I’ve received hundreds of questions about teaching in South Korea over the past two years. And while I’m excited that there’s a strong base of people interested in going abroad to teach, I’m a little concerned about the types of questions I have been receiving about teaching abroad.

Most people have been asking me the same questions:

  • What documents do I need for my visa?
  • How much can I expect to make/is it enough to live on?
  • Do I need a TESOL?
  • What do I need to bring from the USA?

These are all very important questions to ask before moving to South Korea, and every prospective teacher should be an expert on the answers before going over. The problem is these questions have been answered over and over again, and a quick Google search will reveal the answers. I usually don’t mind answering these things, but that people are asking me without doing their own research tells me that they’re not ready to do their own groundwork before coming over to Korea.

Before I taught abroad, I scoured the Internet for all the information I could get about teaching in Korea. And it took me all of 1 hour of Googling to learn the basics of what I needed to do learn before coming over.

I think a lot of people who ask me questions want me to do their research for them. I don’t do that. But I do answer tougher questions that come up after people have done their research. And usually, in those cases, I’m not too much of a resource as I just answer from my own personal experience.

Again, I would encourage all prospective teachers do to their own research before coming. Recruiters and Dave’s ESL message board are two great resources, although checking other websites such as the US State Department’s travel site.

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Video 23 Mar

Teaching in Korea: FAQ

3 Mar

Since uploading videos about my experiences teaching in Korea on my Youtube channel, I’ve received a lot of questions about how to teach, what it’s like to teach abroad and how to find a job in Korea. Most are great questions, but I feel like I’ve answered the same ones over-and-over.

To get everyone’s questions answered at once, I made a short FAQ video about teaching in Korea. Some of the topics covered include:

  1. Degree requirements
  2. Teaching curriculum
  3. Dress code
  4. How much Korean you need to know
  5. Certification requirements

Check out my video: 

If  you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments. But before you ask, please PLEASE search Google to see if you can’t find an answer yourself. I got all my information from Google before going, and I turned out just fine.

ESL: Only for pro teachers?

29 Apr

Over at Dave’s ESL (the Japan forums), there has been a discussion going on about whether or not it is ok to take a teaching position if you don’t intend to make ESL or teaching a professional career. The logic is that people who take teaching positions just so that they can experience a different country are taking away from the people who actually want ESL or teaching as a career.

I see the logic in that, but I don’t think that people coming over to Asia (or any other place) for the travel experience are necessarily wrong in doing that in many cases. Here’s why:

First of all, there are teaching positions in Asia (mostly in Korea, but some in Japan) where the foreign “teacher” is nothing other than a glorified conversation monkey. What I mean by that is the teacher is given a set curriculum to teach and is watched like a hawk to make sure he or she teaches according to the method that the boss prescribes. Professional teachers I’ve talked to have told me that they want to avoid these types of positions. It’s not that they’re bad jobs, but it doesn’t give aspiring teachers the freedom to teach the way they want to teach.

Second, there are plenty of people who go to a foreign country to teach without the intention of becoming professional ESL teachers, but wind up loving their job and going back to their home country to get certification in order to become professional teachers. I think there’s nothing wrong with using ESL abroad to discover whether or not ESL or teaching is right for them.

In both cases, I feel that the person who is taking these positions without the intent of becoming a professional teacher needs to understand first and foremost that they’re an employee first and a traveler second. That means showing up on time each day, making adequate preparations for class and taking your responsibilities seriously.

Insadong and Loneliness

30 Mar

Long time no blog!

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what approach to vlogging I want to take. Do I want my vlogs to look like tourist videos? Do I want to appear as a “host” type figure or as a vlogger who is trying to convey the experiences and emotions of someone who is working in a foreign country? Do I want my Youtube channel just to be an online diary?

I feel like I’m coming more towards an answer as to what type of vlogger I want to be, and I think that comes through in my video about Insadong and loneliness.

Insadong is a popular tourist destination in Seoul. I originally went to shoot some video and to find some traditional Korean decorations to spice up my apartment a bit. However, two Korean girls approached me in the middle of the street and took me on one of the most interesting adventures I’ve ever had.

And that’s half of what I wanted to vlog about. The other half was as a sort of response to people who complain that they are lonely in Seoul and that they don’t have any friends. All it took for me to meet people was for me to go out in the middle of the day and walk around filming things with my camera. If a goofy looking guy like me can do that, there’s hope for any lonely English teacher in Seoul. Anyway, check out the video (in full 720HD!) below.

Let me know what you think, and feel free to leave a comment below!

My First day of ESL in Korea

18 Mar

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been doing this ESL thing for six months now. It’s transformed itself from something I do for money to a legitimate job. I go home thinking about ESL, I wake up thinking about ESL and I spend most of my day doing ESL. I’ve made vast improvements in terms of my teaching style over the course of the past couple of months, and I think that within the next six months, I can make the transition to a teacher who is actually decent at his job.

Thinking back to my first days of teaching ESL is pretty nostalgic for me. That feeling was actually surprising because time has flown by so quick that I half expected that those memories were just like my memories of yesterday. But truth is that I’ve grown as an ESL teacher since that time. I understand how to make my students do things while conveying compassion and understanding to them. Some of them do drive me crazy, but at the end of the day, I’m happy with the work that I do.

I have to say that recording this video was a unique experience for me. As I recounted the experiences, it felt like a virtual walk down memory lane. In my mind, I was reliving the experience of being instantly immersed into the world of teaching. I think that whenever I hear the phrase “hit the ground running,” this will be what I remember.

Happy Friday everyone!

Spaghetti and Cheese sticks

17 Mar

I love cooking, but lately I’ve been far too lazy to do any of that. Ever since I made the barbecue video, I’ve done no cooking whatsoever, mostly because I have no energy. Back when I first got here, I would have just sucked it up and made some instant rice or noodles. But about three months ago, I started visiting a little place next to my apartment called “Tom’s Pizza.” The restaurant is billed as a pizza venue, but they have all sorts of dishes, including two or three types of spaghetti.

I feel as if I cannot emphasize enough how close this place is to my apartment… so I decided to make a video about it. Check it out:

Anyway, I just want to say that life is getting a lot easier in the land of the morning calm. I know how to take care of my day-to-day functions a lot better than I used to, such as taking out the trash, recycling and keeping my fridge stocked with food. Finding a huge department store nearby has been a bit of a hassle though. All the ones I know of are a subway ride or further away.