So you’re thinking of teaching in South Korea? Congratulations, you are making a wonderful choice! South Korea is a beautiful country filled with rich history, delicious food, and an incredible education system. Whether you have been teaching for decades or are just starting out, there are hundreds of opportunities to teach all across the country!
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Tips For Teaching English In South Korea
- Stay Flexible.
- You likely won’t be teaching just one age or grade.
- Papago will be your best friend.
- You don’t need your TEFL notes, but do learn lots of games!
- Stay gentle with yourself.
Before you start on your journey to teach abroad let me offer you 5 tips on teaching I wish someone had told me!
1. Stay Flexible.
No matter where you are coming from the education environment in Korea will likely be different. There is a heavy focus on studying hard and doing well in school here that is much more intense than a lot of other countries. Most kids here go to school during the day and then multiple Hagwons (after-school classes) followed by sports activities or homework. They have a very impressive work ethic even at a young age. Staying flexible in the way you approach a new educational system will help you integrate with greater ease. Embrace the chance to be a part of one of the best education systems in the world and see what you can learn from it!
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2. You likely won’t be teaching just one age or grade.
In a lot of schools, you will teach multiple ages or grades throughout the day. At the Hagwon I work at, we teach kindergarten in the morning (age 5-7) and Elementary in the afternoon. Although their level of English is similar you have to be aware of changing your teaching style slightly in order to support the different age needs. Don’t worry about it too much at the start though! After a month of teaching, you will begin to understand the flow of classes and the needs of your students.
3. Papago will be your best friend.
If you were like me, I wasn’t able to become fluent in Korean before moving here. I was really nervous about how I would get around, buy basic necessities or communicate with new friends. Papago is an app that helps you to translate images (I use this all the time when shopping!), text, and even conversations. This was really handy when I needed a light fixed and had to speak with my landlord who did not know any English. It’s free to use and a great tool for helping alleviate stress when you first arrive.
In class, this can also be a helpful tool for your students. For my elementary school classes, particularly writing classes, I leave Papago up on the main computer so the kids can look up new words to use in their writing. I encourage them to try and use one new word each class and having the translate helps them express themselves more deeply.
4. You don’t need your TEFL notes, but do learn lots of games!
You absolutely do not need to drag all your TEFL notes with you on your trip, but it is useful to learn games. A lot of schools have a strict curriculum and textbooks you will have to follow. But it is up to you on how you want to teach the pages or subjects each day. Having games that are engaging and fun will add in creating a welcoming and friendly classroom experience. Remember to keep in mind the age and English speaking level of your students!
5. Stay gentle with yourself.
Teaching can be a hard job but it is very rewarding. Depending on your level of experience you may know how to manage a classroom or you might be learning as you go. Either way, stay gentle with yourself. Some days you will feel like a great teacher, the kids will be well-behaved and all your lessons will be on track. On other days the kids might not want to listen, you are 3 lessons behind and the stress is creeping in. This is a very normal experience to have especially when starting a new teaching job. So stay gentle with yourself.
Hot Tip: One thing I did to help combat those harder days is to write out why I started teaching and the nice things my students say to me on good days. I put these all on little sticky notes and decorate my desk with them. Then when a hard day hits, I’m surrounded by reminders of love and the goals I’m working toward.
Have any questions about teaching in South Korea? You can ask your questions on social media by tagging @premiertefl or by sending us a DM. You can read more on our South Korea internships.
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