When One Teaches, Two Learn - An English Teacher in Korea Shares Her Story
I decided to write about the subject I’m an expert in, my personal teaching experience. The focus will be on what I’ve gained from the last nine years as an EFL instructor. I’ll begin by telling you about my first teaching position in rural South Korea. Next, I’ll share my experience taking the TEFL course. Finally, I’ll discuss my efforts to become an independent online English instructor. I hope my experience can provide some insight into some of the many options for EFL teachers.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Karissa B.
Teaching English in South Korea
After too many hours in an airplane and another two hours in a taxi, I finally arrived at my new home. My co-teacher was there to meet me. He would become my mentor and personal guide to living in Korea. The process to become a NET (Native English Teacher) in the public school system in Gyeonggi Province, South Korea took several months and a lot of paperwork.
The process didn’t end when I arrived, either. I would be taken to the hospital for a full physical exam and the immigration office to receive my residence card. I needed to open a bank account, get a cell phone, and find my way around my new neighborhood. I couldn’t have done any of these things without the generous help of my co-teachers and new Korean friends. It was my first time living abroad and I learned the importance of asking others for help. I also gained valuable insight as to what it’s like to try to navigate daily life when you know little of the local language.
My struggles learning Korean helped me to be a better teacher because I knew how my students felt when faced with new situations that require new words and expressions. I learned the importance of body language and tone in communication. I learned to be flexible, patient, and look for creative solutions. I expected to learn how to teach English, and I did (I’m still learning) but I never expected how much I would gain from my experiences living and working in a foreign country.
English education is everything in South Korea.
South Korea was serious about English education. They increased their standards in 2011 by requiring all NETs to hold a TEFL certificate. I knew I was passionate about travel and now I had found my passion for education. I didn’t want to give up this new life that was the source of so much personal growth. After much research and consideration, I signed up for an in-class TEFL course in Phuket, Thailand, through ITTT. Those four weeks are some of my very best memories.
I met many amazing people, several of whom are still good friends. We worked hard and studied hard but we also had a lot of fun in and around Phuket. Even though I already had a year of teaching under my belt, I learned techniques and practiced skills that have been indispensable to my teaching career. I appreciated the opportunity to share advice and ideas with other passionate educators. Being observed and having been given detailed feedback by professionals was another valuable experience. Truly, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Also read: 7 Awesome ESL Conversation Activities to Really Get Your Students Talking
Taking the next steps towards a career in teaching English
Following such a positive experience, it was an easy choice for me to take this teaching business English course from ITTT. And how appropriate that I took the course online. These days, I’m working on becoming more independent and teaching more of my own students online. After years of teaching various age groups, I’ve found that I enjoy adult classes the most. The Business English course provided me with the knowledge I need to better instruct my adult students.
In my opinion, the field of online education will only continue to grow in the near future. It offers many benefits for teachers and students, such as flexibility and comfort. I find that students are less nervous and can focus better on online classes. They are especially useful for business English students as they don’t have to miss a class when they travel or stay late at the office. All they need is a phone or computer and internet access.
In conclusion, my journey into EFL education has lead to countless opportunities to grow and improve. I’m so grateful to the administration, my co-workers, ITTT instructors and fellow students for their guidance and inspiration. And I must also thank my students, for I learned the most from them. I’m looking forward to many more years as an EFL educator.
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