Well here it is: the blog about my adventure teaching English in South Korea. Since Matt and I announced our plans to move to Korea, we’ve had many people ask us whether we’d be blogging. I hope this will be a great way to keep those family and friends apprised of what we are up to while also allowing me to have a record of our adventures.
Since many people have had the same questions, here is an overview of our FAQs:
How did you decide to teach English abroad?
I’ve wanted to live in another country since I was in college. I never knew what that looked like or how to go about it, and I knew that I wanted to be working while living abroad. Matt is also an adventurous soul, and once we took several big trips, he had the travel bug as well. We love to experience different cultures, but we never feel that we can fully immerse ourselves in a place when we are only there for a week or two. We know of several people who have taught English in other countries, and we were able to pick their brains about it. We decided it sounded like something we’d like to try.
Are you qualified to teach English?
So we’re told. Requirements vary by country. From my research, I’d say Korea is in the middle of the requirement difficulty scale. In order to obtain E-2 visas and to be accepted into the EPIK program, we had to:
Have at least a bachelor’s degree (in any discipline though you get paid more if you have a degree in English or teaching)
Provide our college transcripts and GPAs
Be from one of the seven English-speaking countries recognized by EPIK
Provide two letters of recommendation from current or former employers
Complete an FBI background check
Write an essay about why we were interested in teaching English in South Korea
Create a lesson plan
Complete a TEFL course of at least 100 hours. (Matt and I both completed our courses online. I also completed a practicum at an elementary school in Nashville in their ELL program and volunteered as a tutor with the Nashville Adult Literacy Council.)
After being accepted to the program, we were also required to complete a 17-lesson pre-orientation online course.
That being said, do I feel qualified? Hmmm. I think I’ll wait to answer that until I actually get into the classroom.
Do you speak Korean?
I could list all the words I know here, but I don’t want to scare anyone (Tamara!). I know a few basic words and have been studying Hangul, which is the Korean alphabet. Again, I’m told it is not necessary to know Korean to be an effective EFL teacher. We also will be working with a Korean co-teacher who is bilingual.
Where will you be living and teaching?
We know we have been placed in Gangwon province, but we won’t find out our exact location, school or grade levels until the last day of our eight-day orientation. Matt and I will most likely be placed in different schools because each school generally only has one native English teacher. Our schools will provide us with a furnished apartment.
Are you nervous about North Korea?
Yes and no. I read the news reports and pay attention to North Korea’s threats and actions. I’m aware that South Korea has increased its military alert level because of North Korea’s recent nuclear tests. I don’t think the North would take action against the South and risk destroying its own country. I will continue to follow the news and will register with the American Embassy to receive travel warnings.