Experienced ESL teacher, Adrian, at Teach Away shares some essential insight into living and teaching in South Korea.
1. Learn some basics of the Korean language. Even a few key phrases can go a long way when it comes to carrying out basic tasks and getting around. Take the time to study correct pronunciation. You wouldn’t want to end up confusing a hot pepper for a part of the male anatomy. Trust me.
2. Don’t expect students, especially younger ones, to behave as they do in Western countries. Students are well-disciplined and friendly – not to say that they aren’t in Western schools. But you may see students of the same gender sitting on each other’s laps outside of class, or holding hands down the halls; a little friendlier than my school days I’d say.
3. Take your job seriously and you’ll be rewarded. You may find some foreign teachers are in Korea just for fun and not really focusing on student needs. Don’t be phased by them. Korea is known for it’s strong work ethic. Follow suit and your experience will flourish with your employers.
4. Make the most of your free time. Anytime you’re off from teaching, you should be taking advantage of the beautiful sites around Korea. Travel is cheap and easy. Whether visiting Jeju island for it’s famous views and oranges, or a day trip into Seoul for late night shopping, there’s never an excuse to be a shut in.
5. Mild food is still spicy. Better yet, there is no mild option in Korea. You’ll either learn to love the spiciness of food in Korea, or quickly learn to, as I did. Not everything is spicy, but just be warned. Korean food is delicious, so don’t be afraid to be adventurous.