Home

 

Getting Experience

- # of # Filtered -

Kids And Culture In Korea

Q&A with Tara: Taught English in South Korea
Share this
Print this
Tara
Taught English in South Korea
University of Alberta
Her thoughts on Motivation
I'd always been really interested in Korean culture; and through my research I learned that South Korea really provides the best package when it comes to teaching overseas.
Her thoughts on The International Workplace
The kids love their teachers! I taught fourth grade through sixth grade and it's the only time I've ever felt like a rock star! My students would get so excited every time they saw me.
Her thoughts on Cultural Differences
There were things that I didn't understand, or that I found confusing... but I always took a step back and reminded myself that different cultures have different ways of doing things.
Her thoughts on Communicating Abroad
Be fearless; be open to advice and criticism; and be willing to throw yourself into the process of trying to communicate.

Where and when did you teach English abroad?

I taught in Yeosu, South Korea for a full year. I didn't go abroad with a specific program; I was approached by an independent recruiter working for the school that I ended up teaching at.

What made you want to teach English abroad?

After completing my BA in English, I wanted to do something different before I decided what my next step would be. My mother actually suggested that I teach overseas before making any final decisions about what step to take next with my education. I thought this was a great idea, and I enrolled in the Global TESOL College program. I'd graduated in August, and by November I'd become qualified and started looking for a job abroad.

How did you conduct your search? How did you select your program/country and/or find an employer abroad?

After I finished my TESOL qualifications, I began hunting for jobs on Dave's ESL Café and through various recruiting sites like Footprints Recruiting. After uploading my resume to the Serious Teachers site, I was approached by an independent recruiter looking for a teacher to work at a South Korean school. I'd always been really interested in Korean culture; and through my research I learned that South Korea really provides the best package when it comes to teaching overseas. Housing and airfare are provided, there is great medical coverage (which I used on more than one occasion), you get a settlement allowance, and if you work in a public school, the hours are pretty great, as well!

Describe the application process. What made you successful?

The process went fairly quickly. I have a strong resume and cover letter, and I think that really made me stand out. It also helped that my degree was in English, specifically, and that I had experience tutoring students. The most arduous part of the application process was getting the visa and getting everything notarized. It takes longer than you would expect, especially with all the documents being sent back and forth.

What was the biggest surprise about your teaching experience abroad?

How much the kids love their teachers! I taught fourth grade through sixth grade and I swear; it's the only time that I've ever felt like a rock star! My students would get so excited every time they saw me, and if they were with their parents, they would want their parents to meet me. It didn't just stop at the students, though, the public, in general, were also usually quite interested in the foreign teachers. It might have just been because I was in a smaller city, but there were numerous times where I had babies thrust in my arms so that the mother or grandmother could take a picture of me holding the baby.

Did you participate in extra-curricular or social activities while abroad? If so, how did they differ from social activities in your home culture?

There were plenty of activities to take part in, both in and outside the school. Volleyball is huge in Korea. Every Wednesday at school the teachers would get together to play volleyball against each other... and they took the game VERY seriously! I'm terrible at volleyball, so they usually aimed for me when they were serving from the other side... but they were good-natured about it! They took it seriously, but they also played just to have fun.

Outside of school, several of the teachers and I would often go out for dinner and drinks, and even to noraebang, which is a karaoke room! We had a lot of fun together, and it was great to be able to socialize with the other teachers that I was working with.

What made your experience abroad a success?

I approached everything with an open mind and enthusiasm! If you go in closed-minded, not expecting to like anything, you won't! The best way to make the most out of everything is to put yourself out there and just go for it!

How did you finance your trip abroad and did you find any creative solutions to stay on budget?

I was working full-time in retail before I left for Korea, so that definitely helped in terms of saving some money to head overseas. My parents also lent me the money for my plane ticket, which was promptly paid back by the South Korean school. Most schools don't provide you with airfare; they reimburse it once you get your alien registration card and bank account. The initial settlement allowance also helped with supplying my apartment with the necessary furnishings. Staying on budget was fairly easy. I sent half of my paycheck home every month, which was easy to do, since it is so inexpensive to live in South Korea.

Do you have a story from your workplace that gave you particular insight into your host culture?

The school that I worked in was great; they were always trying to involve me in cultural events around the city that I lived in so that I could learn more about Korea. They involved me in festivals and explained the cultural significance of the events that they were including me in. They made me feel as much a part of Korean culture as possible.

How did you deal with the cultural divide during your time teaching abroad?

By trying to be as open-minded as possible. Of course, there were things that I did not understand or that I found confusing or annoying... but I always took a step back and reminded myself that while I would not have done things like that personally, different cultures have different ways of doing things. You just have to remind yourself that you're dealing with a different culture, and to think of it that way, instead of getting upset about something you don't understand.

What was the most important thing you learned about communicating in a foreign culture while you were abroad?

Don't be afraid of making mistakes. People will realize that you're just learning and that you're trying really hard, and they will want to help you, just like they will want you to help them with their English skills. Be fearless, be open to advice and criticism, and be willing to throw yourself into the process of trying to communicate.

What is your number one tip for anyone hoping to follow in your footsteps?

Simply to keep an open mind. If you approach everything with resistance, you'll have a terrible time. The place that you will be traveling to will be different from what you are used to, embrace it, throw yourself into the mix, have fun, and enjoy yourself... because you will learn so much more. Also, pack light, but remember to bring some of your favorite comforts from home. I brought my favorite spices and seasonings with me, and they sure came in handy!

Do you have advice on how to handle a cross-cultural classroom?

Make it as fun as possible. If you're having fun, then your students will have fun. No one enjoys being bored, whether they are the teacher or the students. Incorporate games, music, arts and crafts, and other fun and challenging activities into your classroom, and not only will your students thank you for it, but you will proudly notice all of the different learning styles that you have activated in your students.

What did you miss most about home?

My family and friends, but the use of Skype and Facebook makes it so easy to keep in contact nowadays! Sometimes, as a foreign teacher, you have a lot of downtime in your office; this was the perfect time for keeping in contact with people back home. Email, Skype, chatting on Facebook, blogging... they were all important ways for me to keep in touch with the people I love.

Do you have any final observations on your experience?

Teaching overseas is one of the greatest experiences you can have. You learn so much, and you get to have the satisfaction of watching your students develop and grow. It is such a rewarding and unique experience that you will never forget.

Describe an experience from your time abroad that made a particularly strong impression on you.

The experiences that made the strongest impressions on me were the ones where I truly got to interact with my students outside of the classroom. Students in Korea are in charge of cleaning the schools in the afternoon, and there was always the same team of students who cleaned my office. We would teach each other new words in our respective languages, and show each other tricks and talents that we had. I got to really know my students through little interactions like this, and it made all the difference.

What are your future plans for going abroad and for your career?

I plan to return to South Korea with my husband next year. I'm so excited at the prospect of getting to teach English in Korea again! I am currently working in my education degree, and will be finishing it up next spring. My husband and I plan to spend at least a few years working and living in Korea, experiencing the culture and the people together. I look forward to sharing all of my favorite things about Korea with my husband, and creating new memories and experiences there.

Advice from MyWorldAbroad
Jean-Marc Hachey, Publisher

South Koreans can be so welcoming! Tara shows just how exciting it can be to live an experience teaching abroad. People who have taught English in Korea almost all express the same enthusiasm and love for the country. Here are a few links for those who want to teach English abroad and also for those who want to travel with their loved ones. (Note: you must log in to MyWorldAbroad to access the links below.)

Tara's Application Documents
See how She got started.
Tara's Next Steps
Advice from MyWorldAbroad
by the founder of MyWorldAbroad
Jean-Marc Hachey
Want to Have the Same Experience?
10 Core Global Competencies
Take control of your career with this ESSENTIAL model!
Virtual Internships in 2021!
Remote work is the way of the future! Start planning YOUR virtual international internship now.
The 1-Year & 4-Year Global Mindset Maps!
Don't miss your blueprint for success! Set goals & take action to build the Global You.
The Global You
What skills, knowledge and experiences can change your life? Find out with this NEW model!
The Culture Tree
EXPLORE the three levels of culture!
Quizzes & Scorecard
Take these simple quizzes to assess your international skills, experiences & job search readiness!
9786
- # of # Filtered -
  • 102
102
16382
Making the Most of Lockdown with a Virtual Internship
1
16392
Building International Career Skills Online
2
16387
An Epic Internship in Malaysia
3
16312
Virtual Internship for a Cross-cultural Future
4
16320
Independent, International, Virtual! A UN Internship Online
5
16316
Exploring the Sights, Sounds & Tastes of Mexico City
6
16157
Zoom Zoom! A Virtual Internship with Central America
7
9756
Springtime In Spain
8
9763
A Professional Visit To Vietnam
9
9780
A Year In Marvelous Mexico!
10
9751
A Canadian Globe-Trotter Visits The US
11
9743
Hooked On Volunteering!
12
9768
Going Solo In Spain!
13
10188
Now Or Never In Colombia
14
9792
Rolling With The Punches In Seoul
15
9745
An Unforgettable Adventure In Nanjing
16
9774
Gaga For Ghana!
17
9783
Off The Beaten Path In Africa
18
9755
People, Places And Passionate Volunteering In Peru
19
9778
Study And Adventure In New Zealand
20
9740
Sports, Study And Fun In France
21
9777
Into The Wild In Alaska
22
9775
A Year Of Feeling French
23
9754
Building Memories In India
24
9750
Host Hospitality In Morocco
25
9747
Fun And Friends In The Netherlands
26
9748
Adventure In The Alps
27
9786
Kids And Culture In Korea
28
9772
Learning To Go With The Flow In France
29
9791
Making Contacts Count In The UK
30
9762
American Freshman In London
31
9771
Learning To Love London
32
9742
Take-Charge Travel: Germany And Beyond!
33
9773
Independent In India
34
9746
A Cross-Cultural Co-Op In West Africa
35
9760
Getting In Sync In Nairobi
36
9759
From Cold Feet To Confidence In Germany
37
9779
One Summer, Two Internships!
38
9785
Motivated In Madagascar
39
9741
Adapting to Work In Peru
40
9784
Skill-building in Bonn
41
9753
A Season in Sweden
42
9765
Simpatico in Florence
43
9782
Making The Most Of Milano
44
9737
Passionate About Panama
45
9766
Short-Term Trips For Long-Term Gain
46
9781
A Hospital Helper In Costa Rica
47
9789
Loving Life In Lyon
48
9790
Design And Dining In Korea
49
9770
Contributing To Change In Ghana
50
9757
Teaching And Learning In Tanzania
51
9738
Living For The Moment In Valencia
52
9767
Beyond The Call Of Duty In Africa
53
16174
An Empowering Virtual Internship in Nicaragua
54
9761
Communicating Creatively In Spain
55
9744
Food, Fun And Festivals In Germany
56
16161
A Bright & Friendly Cross-cultural Workspace
57
15401
From Korea to Oman: Teaching English Around the World!
58
16017
A Globally-minded Visit to Qatar
59
10204
Across Europe In A Caravan!
60
9758
Learning The Local Ways Of Addis Ababa
61
11645
A Love Affair with Shanghai
62
12058
Architectural Adventures in Australia
63
11996
Daring to Go Solo in Ireland
64
15333
A Literary Education in the UK
65
11845
Hospitality and Hosting in the DCR
66
10923
Insight And Education In Korea
67
14483
Finding Home, By Teaching Abroad
68
14088
An Eye-opening Experience Teaching in South Korea
69
15347
12 Months, 12 Countries!
70
14594
Growing Abroad: Hong Kong & South Korea
71
15405
From Daydream to Reality: Teaching Abroad
72
15383
Hustle and Bustle in Vietnam
73
15327
An Open Mind & Open Arms in Spain
74
15387
Bliss on a Budget in Brazil
75
15631
An International Career in the Making: Asia, Africa and Beyond
76
15644
Discovering the World on Campus: International Skills at Home
77
11467
Stepping Outside the Box in Sweden!
78
9752
Giving In Guatemala
79
9769
Getting Sporty In Switzerland!
80
9788
Business And Pleasure In Australia
81
9807
Fast Friendship in Korea
82
9787
A Spring Semester in London
83
9764
Do It Yourself! A Proactive Intern in Rome
84
11557
Un stage au Cambodge (Français)
85
9776
Soaking Up Japanese Culture
86
10230
Getting Caffeinated In Bolivia
87
11468
Learning While Teaching in Beijing
88
10145
Real Stories And Real People In Mexico
89
9803
Ten Years Teaching In Seoul
90
10851
Tips From Tasmania
91
9799
Getting Settled In Seoul
92
10258
Encountering Cultures Across Europe
93
10218
Adaptation And Appreciation In Japan
94
9812
Caring And Career Skills In Belize
95
10157
Changing Course In China
96
11850
The Warmest Welcome in Guatemala
97
11904
Enthusiasm, Education and Experience in Greece
98
10163
English Teaching In Eastern Europe
99
10153
China, South Africa And Beyond!
100
10192
Out And About In Paris
101
10143
A Warm Welcome In Mexico
102
9786
All Job Boards
462
All NGOs
1428
Au Pair Resources
39
Awards And Grants Resources
53
Business Directories
18
Canadian Federal, Provincial And Territorial Government Profiles
60
Canadian Government Resources
27
Children And Families Abroad
16
Consulting, Economic And Finance Job Boards
63
Country Guides
70
Cross-cultural Skills
80
Engineering Job Boards
59
Engineering Resources
81
Expatriate Networking Sites
32
Foreign Students Working in the US
9
Freelancing Abroad
27
General Job Search Books
15
Global Education And Social Action
45
Health And Medicine Job Boards
49
Health Career Resources
67
International Associations With Clubs on Campus
43
International Development Career Resources
75
International Internship Organizations
309
International Internships And Student Programs With Canadian Governments
35
International Internships With The US Government
37
International Job Hunting Resources
14
International Law Careers Resources
113
International Law Job Boards
26
International Studies In The US And Canada
11
International Trade Resources
25
International Volunteer Organizations
492
Internship Directories And Advice
37
Internships With The UN And Other IGOs
157
Language Careers
30
Learn A Language
108
Licensed Teacher Abroad Job Boards
28
Licensed Teacher Abroad Resources
31
Loans for Studying Abroad
18
Low-cost Travel
63
NGO Directories
33
NGO Job Boards
47
Re-entry
12
Regional Job Boards
102
Relocating Abroad
26
Resources For International Students Studying In Canada
17
Resources For International Students Studying In The US
46
Stories From Abroad
102
Study Abroad Resources
185
Teach English Abroad Job Boards
99
Teach English Abroad Resources
64
Tools for Travelers
72
Top International Blogs & Podcasts
85
Travel Health And Safety
39
UN and Other IGOs
269
UN And Other IGOs Job Boards
26
UN And Other IGOs Resources
73
US Government Profiles
76
US Government Resources
36
Virtual International Internship Organizations
88
Visas and Passports
26
Volunteer Directories And Advice
50
Women Living And Working Overseas
18
Working Holiday Resources
73