Tell us a little about Travel and Teach and your role there.
Shane: I am the director or recruiting. I overlook our recruiting department, our day to day business activities, and also do a lot of recruiting and placement coordinating with our teachers as well.
The company was officially started in 2001, but the idea of Travel and Teach came in 1999 when I was working for a different recruiting agency in Korea. Myself and the other co-founders eventually decided to do this on our own so we could do things our own way. We wanted to provide people with the same great experiences that we all had in Korea, while helping them avoid the bad ones.
Where did you teach in Korea and for how long?
Shane: I taught in Korea for a total of 5 years in Gumi City as well as in a few different areas of Seoul. I taught in two private academies in Gumi, a private academy as well as a public school in Seoul, and finally at Seoul Women’s University. During this time, I taught students from kindergarten to adult.
What was it about teaching abroad that appealed to you?
Shane: At first this was my friend’s idea after he saw an advertisement to teach English abroad. We were still in university, but decided to take a TESOL course and see where this adventure took us. I had originally wanted to go to South America, but two recruiters from Korea came and sold us on the free airfare, free apartments, monthly pay, and all of the other benefits of teaching in Korea. I needed to start paying back my student loans and I felt this was the best and most fun way to do that.
What are the benefits of working with a recruiter to find an ESL job?
Shane: The main benefit of working with a recruiter is protection. Unfortunately, there have been - and still are - stories about schools in Korea cheating people out of money or firing them before their contract is complete. I speak from experience as I personally went through a similar situation. I now feel it is my duty to keep the best interests of teachers in mind and offer them protection.
After that, I would say experience and information. We provide a 30 page information package, a detailed first time ESL teacher’s guide, as well as a bunch of other resources for our teachers. We also have set up online communities through Facebook and Twitter so that our teachers can talk, meet, or just bounce ideas off of each other.
What is your opinion of the TEFL certification?
Shane: I think the TEFL certification is most beneficial to people who have not taught ESL before. These days though, it has become almost a requirement that schools expect applicants to have due to the high competition for jobs in Korea. People do need to be careful when choosing which course to sign up for, to make sure it is accredited as there are many dubious, non-accredited courses available these days.
Would you recommend a TEFL course to a teacher who is only planning to teach abroad for a year?
Shane: I would recommend it if the person hasn’t taught ESL before and is unsure what they will do when their year is finished. But since so many teachers do decide to stay for more than a year, a TEFL course does open more doors down the road.
Can you share three simple teaching tips for new ESL teachers?
- Be open-minded.
- Use a recruiter and don’t only think about money as the only benefit of this experience.
- Go with what feels right: too many people listen to what others say about the best places to teach, the money they should be making, hours that they should be working, etc. Keep it simple and if it feels right, go with it.
What are your future plans, both personally and professionally?
Shane: We plan to expand our services to different countries and to be able to offer a variety of teaching experiences to our teachers. Personally, I want to continue traveling as much as possible!