What is it like to teach in South Korea?

What is it like to teach in South Korea?

Zoe Solomon has taught in China (Shanghai), Japan (Tokyo) and is currently teaching in Busan, a large port in South Korea. Having been a teacher for three years and taught more than 1,000 students, Zoe has a lot of tips for those intending to teach...

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Zoe Solomon has taught in China (Shanghai), Japan (Tokyo) and is currently teaching in Busan, a large port in South Korea.

Having been a teacher for three years and taught more than 1,000 students, Zoe has a lot of tips for those intending to teach in South Korea, finding out some of them the hard way… “Have you ever tried to discipline a class of 30 teenagers who can all speak the same language – and you can’t? It’s tricky!”

So, here goes…

Tip 1: Eat the food

“Even if you hate the Korean food you’ve had back home, I can guarantee you it’s different here. Food is an enormous part of life here and even if you still don’t end up liking it, you can use your new-found knowledge of it as a reference point in activities and exercises with your classes.”

Tip 2: However difficult it is to learn the language give it a go!

“Your life will be so much easier if you just learn the basics: numbers, ordering food, general polite phrases and anything that makes you feel slightly more confident will help.

“Unless you live somewhere where the language is similar to ours, you won’t become an expert… Start small – but learn enough so that you can show off a bit. My Chinese is appalling, my Japanese and Korean are on the verge of comical. However, the small amount I have managed to learn of each language has saved me money, made people laugh, guided me home and, above all else, made me realise just how difficult it is to learn another language – increasing my respect for the foreigners who speak to you in your mother tongue because they know there is no way they’ll be understood otherwise. I will never make fun of someone’s ‘broken English’ ever again.”

Tip 3: And finally, always carry these things:

  • A pack of tissues
  • Your address in the language of the country you live in
  • The phone number of a native person you know
  • A map, be it on your phone or an old-fashioned piece of paper
  • The frame of mind that you’ll experience something new/weird/exciting, pretty much all the time. So, keep your eyes open and be prepared to laugh at yourself as you bumble through the experience – the locals certainly will be; you’re hilarious to them, I guarantee it!

This article has been adapted from the original article, which can be viewed here.

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