A Little Bit About Me
Hello! My name is Madelyn and I currently teach in Seoul, South Korea. I have been living in Korea for the last 6 months but have been an avid traveler for the last 10 years! Seoul has definitely won my heart and is an incredible city to be able to teach in. The food and people are amazing and I adore my students! I began my education journey 7 years ago but stepped into teaching English last April. I got TEFL certified through Premier TEFL and then embarked on their internship program soon after!
Morning Time in Korea
One of the best parts about teaching in South Korea is that your rent is covered by your school. They pick out an apartment for you so when you arrive you already have a place to stay nearby your school. My apartment is an 8min walk through a wonderful little traditional market, which means I can pick up cheap groceries on the way to and from work!
I start work around 9 am each morning which provides me with a bit of time to class plan prior to the kids arriving. I teach kindergarten classes in the morning and elementary school in the afternoon. At my school, there is a Korean teacher (KT) and a foreign teacher (FT) per class. Kindergarten consists of 3 age levels 5-year-olds, 6-year-olds and 7-year-olds.
The first half of the day is three blocks (40mins each) and can be a variety of English, phonics, or social studies classes depending on the day. I work with a foreign co-teacher and we exchange homerooms for some classes to make sure the kids acquire diverse teaching styles throughout the day.
We start the first class of the day with a meditation, and each student gets to share how they are feeling. I love that we allocate them time each day to communicate their emotions, it is equally excellent speaking practice!
Off to Lunch
We get 50mins for lunch while the students eat. Most days I bring my own lunch because I like doing my own creative work (video editing, writing or journaling) during my break. I find with talking all day long with kids although super rewarding, can also be moderately draining. So I try using my lunch and prep blocks to recharge. Some days my co-workers and I will go out to one of the numerous restaurants in the area.
Our favourite is a traditional Korean mom and pop-shop loving deemed “The Soup Place.” You can get a traditional style Korean lunch (밥상 or bapsang) which includes soup, rice, and of course the amazing side dishes (반찬 or banchan). A lunch like this usually costs less than $7. Being in Seoul there are also plenty of options for western food but Korean food and street food are always more affordable and usually quicker to grab for lunch!
After lunch, I continue teaching kindergarten classes or my previously mentioned “prep” classes (time to prepare class material) for another two blocks. Then we enjoy our final break of the day as kindergarten students leave and our elementary students arrive.
Afternoon classes run for another five to six blocks depending on the day. We teach kids from age 8 all the way up to 12 years old. These classes can drastically vary going from teaching social studies to kids who are just learning English to 12-year-olds doing university-level writing classes. This semester I teach social studies, English writing classes and language composition for multiple levels. However last semester I taught grade 2 science and that was 100% my favourite class to teach so far!
In total, I teach 19 kindergarten classes a week and 20 elementary classes. The rest of my class times are used for prep or if I have prepped everything then much-needed snack breaks!
A Bit Of Background About My School
The school I teach at, like many schools in Korea, teaches kindergarten during the day and becomes a hagwon (after-school classes) in the afternoon and evening. The school itself is located very close to one of the top universities in Korea, so the area is really built for young people. With so many students living in the area, it means you can obtain anything you would require within a two-block radius.
The school itself is very casual for a Korean school. We are allowed to wear whatever we would like as long as it is appropriate for school kids to see. I have many tattoos that I do not have to cover and my go-to look always comes with combat boots, both of which are a-okay. The class sizes at this school are also small which is lovely, capping each classroom at 12 students.
The only downside is the long hours, which is relatively normal in Korea for both students and teachers. Kids typically go to school during the day and then go to hagwon classes and other lessons until 8pm or 9pm. But spending time with the kids is super rewarding and inevitably makes the days fly by!
Evening Time in South Korea
After class, I usually head home to cook dinner. In the summertime, I would go to the Han River for a picnic or go out for dinner and drinks with co-workers. But as the weather gets below freezing most of us scurry home to get back to our heaters. Although as I mentioned our neighborhood has everything and all the teachers live nearby so it’s easy for us to go out to grab dinner or even karaoke!
If You Are Considering a TEFL Internship in South Korea
If you are considering doing a TEFL course and heading on an internship in South Korea, I absolutely recommend it! My time here has not merely given me fantastic teaching experience but additionally allowed me to genuinely appreciate a different culture. From new holidays and food to absorbing a new language, it has been a life-changing adventure.
I know moving abroad, especially on your own, can be scary but you will never look back and regret making stories for yourself. If you are worried about making friends while living abroad check out this blog HERE for the top ways I’ve made friends all around the world. I also suggest reading this blog HERE for teaching tips related to South Korean culture!
Learn More About Madelyn
Get a travel expert’s tips on making friends while traveling abroad > https://premiertefl.com/blog/make-friends-abroad/
Hear some of Madelyn’s tips for teaching in South Korea as a TEFL teacher > https://premiertefl.com/blog/teaching-in-south-korea/
Find out how and why Madelyn got TEFL certified and chose to live and teach in Korea > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AtDwjnouTg