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Canadian Connection - English Teaching Jobs in Korea
Zach Tucker is a teacher by trade, born in Texas about 25 years ago. He received a bachelors from Texas A&M Univerisity, and loves film, music, and disc ultimate.
Highlights: The highlight of my teaching experience has been learning how to effectively manage a classroom in spite of the language barrier, and finding ways to peak their interest in learning English. I have had amazing opportunities to learn about a culture completely different than mine by living in Korea, and have loved experiencing their hospitality and food. The Native English Teacher community is incredibly diverse and I have learned much from their distinct cultures as well.
Morning: My typical morning consists of waking up around 7:00am, taking my time getting ready, and then I catch a bus at 8:00am. The bus ride is about half an hour, so I get to school with plenty of time to spare before classes start at 9:00am.
Afternoon: I am required to be at school from 9-5, and that usually consists of teaching 3-5 classes, each lasting a about 45 minutes. The rest of my time I spend lesson planning or perusing the web at my desk.
Evening: I take a bus (or hitch a ride from a coworker) home and relax/unwind for a bit before grabbing dinner with other English teachers in town. I then spend the evening hiking, playing sports, watching tv, or indulging in other hobbies.
Marcel Van Oort was born in Groningen in the Netherlands in 1982. He grew up in Perth, Ontario, Canada and attended the University of Toronto, where he earned a specialist BA in English and a BED in primary/junior education. He is currently working and living in Seoul, South Korea with his wife Mary.
Highlights: So far, there have been many highlights in my experiences both at school and away from it. Probably the most exciting thing I've done outside of school was visiting the Seoul Grand Park Zoo on my first weekend in Korea. Somehow, the animals made me feel at home. Moreover, the zoo is very big and impressive, and reasonably priced as well (only costs around $3 to get in).
At school, two moments stand out as highlights of my experience. The first one was my seeing my classroom for the first time. As a new teacher, I was literally shaking with excitement at the thought of having my own classroom and my own class. It was like a dream come true. The other moment that really got to me was when Irene, a 7 year-old girl who is selectively mute (she can talk, but chooses not to) said 'hi' to me in the hallway. I was so surprised and excited, I wanted to jump up and down, but that probably would've scared her, and I'm really trying hard to make her feel comfortable so she becomes less introverted. These experiences have made me feel that my time abroad is certainly worthwhile, and have strengthened my belief that teaching is the most important, and best, job in the world.
Morning: On a given morning, I wake up in my apartment around 7:30 am, and take a shower. I do my exercises, drink a cup of tea, and head to work. It's about a 5 minute walk, so I take my time, and am usually pretty early. If I didn't do it the night before, I take a look at my schedule for the day, review my lesson plans, and make sure all my materials are in order. My kindergarten class starts arriving at 9:30, and all the children have arrived and are ready to start class at 9:40. We do our morning greeting, which involves checking the calendar and the weather, and singing our song of the week. Each day has a different schedule, but there is always a snack sometime in the morning, which I share with the students.
Afternoon: In the afternoons, starting at 3:00 pm, I teach elementary school to children between the ages of 7 and 10. Many of them used to attend kindergarten at the school, so they're familiar with the rules and routines of the school. The content is generally more difficult than the morning, and requires a little extra work in advance sometimes to be prepared for the day.
I usually have a 45-50 minute break sometime in the afternoon to catch up on grading and preparing for the next day's lessons. Unlike kindergarten, where I teach all the subjects, I only teach English to elementary students (usually reading, writing, multimedia, or literature).
Evening: I get off work between 6:00 and 7:00 on weekdays. There are often a few loose ends to tie up at work before heading home, and sometimes I have to call one or more of my students at home to check in with them. When I get home, I make dinner for my wife and myself, and try to relax a little. Most days, I am exhausted from teaching, and don't want to do too much besides catch up with family and friends on the internet. Sometimes, I go shopping for essentials or go for a walk to stretch my legs. If I don't feel like cooking, there are always a lot of delicious restaurants in the area to visit for dinner, and most are quite inexpensive. Bedtime is around 10:00, with a bit of time to read before I fall asleep. I like to keep up on my English, just to be safe ;)
Desiree Gabel is from Portland, Oregon and is currently Choreographing musical water fountains in her family business. She spent her time in Korea from August 2008 to August 2009. Desiree received her Bachelor's Degree in Social Science in Portland, OR. Desiree is 28 years old, loves all food, doping crafts, and taking pictures of her new experiences.
Highlights: My favorite experience within my school was always teaching the Kindergarteners. They were the most open to learning and would have so much fun doing it. They were almost never negative about learning English in my classroom. The highlight overall was the traveling and learning the local culture. It was interesting to be able to see all the differences in the different regions of Korea.
Morning: My typical evening would usually involve de-stressing activities. I would go walking around town, spend time with friends, watch something in English, or some other fun activity. One to two times a week I would volunteer teaching English and raising money for the local orphanage kids along with many of the other English teachers.
Afternoon: I was an elementary school teacher in Korea and so I had to follow an almost rigid lesson plan. I would spend my afternoons after classes coming up with creative and new ways to teach the kids the material. I would try and improve on the material as much as my co-teacher would allow me as I felt the books were often boring or obsolete as teaching materials. Most afternoons I would also teach extra classes. I would spend time preparing the classes and then I would teach the children English using lesson plans completely designed by myself. Every Wednesday afternoon I would also be asked to participate in the teacher Volleyball tournaments. It was very important to the native Korean teachers to have all teachers be involved in these games when possible as it worked to build community within the school.
Evening: My typical evening would usually involve de-stressing activities. I would go walking around town, spend time with friends, watch something in English, or some other fun activity. One to two times a week I would volunteer teaching English and raising money for the local orphanage kids along with many of the other English teachers.
Gina Covert is from North Mankato, Minnesota, and studied history at UW-Green Bay. She was an ESL teacher in Gwangju, South Korea for two years, where she enjoyed the opportunity to learn about Korea and Korean culture. She enjoys swimming, running, travel planning and reading in her free time.
Highlights: The highlight of my teaching experience really comes down to how much I fell in love with teaching, my students, and my school. My plan was to stay in Korea only one year, but I ended up liking my job so much that I stayed another year at the same school. Once I got to know the students, and they got more comfortable with me, I began to look forward to going to work every day and interacting with my students. I had a great support network of fellow English teachers, my friends, my co-teachers, and the school staff - all of whom were friendly, kind, helpful, and welcoming to me. Because I didn't speak much Korean, the only way I was able to learn about my students was through English, so when my students would come up to me in the hallways just to chat in English I was really able to get to know them, even if their English level was low. The best part of my days were when I effectively communicated with one of my students in or outside of class, because I felt it gave them more confidence in their English abilities, and therefore encouraged them to continue speaking.
Overall, my teaching experience in South Korea was a dream come true. My orientation provided me with a solid, strong network of friends to rely upon, ask for help and advice, and of course, have fun with. My school - staff, co-teachers, and students - were wonderful to me, and really made me feel welcome in their country. Other aspects of Korean culture - the food, low expenses, the safety of the country - all contributed to making my experience more positive. Travel in Korea was cheap and easy, thanks to their impressively efficient bus systems - trips to the beach in Busan or the museums in Seoul were only a few hours away. Also, due to working in the public school system, I had fantastic opportunities to travel around Asia during vacation time and was able to see more of Asia than I ever hoped I would have. Moving to South Korea was the best life decision I have ever made, and I hope that this will help inspire other teachers to come and experience life in Korea!
Morning: Usually I would teach two or three classes in the morning. If that was the case, I would arrive at least an half hour before the first bell rang, and I would spend time between lessons prepping for the next class! If I was all prepared I had free time, which I usually used for e-mails, chatting with people back home who were just going to bed, or preparing for future lessons. The mornings tended to go by fast, especially if I was busy with classes and prep!
Afternoon: A typical afternoon consisted of usually teaching either 5th or 6th period, and then one day a week I would teach a 2 period 'extra class.' This class didn't follow a book or a co-teacher, so I had the freedom to basically do anything I wanted related to English conversation. I usually taught PowerPoint lectures about fun topics, followed by a reinforcement activity or game. For a fun day, we would either play English games or watch a movie. I would usually have a small number of students for the after school groups - my classes ranged from 4 to 14 students throughout 4 semesters. Also, Wednesday afternoon is typically 'teacher volleyball day,' when all of the teachers trot down to the gym and work on their volleyball skills for an hour or two - the games were fun and usually followed by food and drinks that were brought in to the schools. If there wasn't anything going on in the afternoons I would use the time to do some touching up on my lessons for the next day, or sometimes just use it as free time for e-mails or reading or something.
Evening: In the evenings most teachers aren't responsible for any extra work or commitments, so your evenings are your play time! After either cooking dinner or eating out (sometimes about the same price) most of my friends and I would utilize the evenings to either socialize, exercise, or just relax.
I spent my evenings swimming at a nearby pool, going to a nearby gym for fun classes like yoga or pilates, or sometimes just hanging out at one of the many coffee shops in order to read, write, study Korean, etc. I had just come from four years in university, so the adjustment to working 9 to 5 and only having evenings free was a bit of an adjustment for me!
Erin Stieler is from Waterloo, Ontario and is currently living and teaching in a small town in Jeollanamdo Province, South Korea. She attended the University of Waterloo for Anthropology and intends to peruse graduate school in 2013. She loves hiking, painting, and travelling.
Highlights: My teaching highlight was teaching English to adults and fellow teachers. I really enjoyed teaching adults as they are motivated to learn and often have interesting stories to share. I could really learn about life and culture in Korea, and depending on their English level, I had intelligent conversations with them. Also, teaching adults boosted my confidence as a teacher as it made me feel like I'm really making a difference in their learning. They always seemed so interested in my classes, and when they learned something they went out of their way to demonstrate it.
The highlight of my overall experience was learning to become proficient with living in a different culture. Very few people have the opportunity to have such an educating experience. Also, I have become more aware of what I want out of life. Living abroad not only teaches you about the people of a different culture, but it teaches you about yourself. I have developed this thirst for travel and learning that can be best served through more international experiences.
Morning: taught at an English Town, which is a mock village intended to provide an opportunity to immerse the students in English. Students learned and practiced dialogues as if they were in a real-life situation. Typically every morning, from Monday to Thursday, we saw different classes from different schools in the county. My co-teachers and I worked together to teach the classes, which involved singing songs, playing games, and teaching "real life" dialogues. Afterwards, the students practiced the dialogues at our areas of the "village" (we had a train station, travel agency, restaurant, and hospital). The full program usually ran for 3 hours.
Afternoon: I began my afternoons eating lunch with all the teachers in the cafeteria. Typically for lunch we had rice, kimchi, fish, and vegetables, although some days varied in cuisine (such as having dishes with a Chinese, Japanese, or Western flair). After that, I normally taught a few classes in the afternoon. I taught kindergarten and teachers' workshops. I also had a lot of spare time to lesson plan and socialize with my co-teachers.
Evening: The county office asked me to teach night classes to adults that live in the area. Tuesday and Thursday from 6:30 to 8 was when I usually held these classes. When I wasn't teaching, I spent my evenings relaxing at home and socializing with other teachers. Our town was small, so we only have 7 teachers including myself. However,the small size strengthened the bonds in our group.
About Canadian Connection
Canadian Connection is an ESL recruiting agency that operates in South Korea. Every year we help hundreds of teachers find opportunities to teach English in South Korea. This is a tremendous opportunity for young adults to travel the world while making a quality living. Please visit our website for more information and to apply online.