Annie – South Korea
I am writing regarding my experience so far of teaching English in South Korea. I’ll point out straight away that I have no where near the experience level of teaching English as the other teachers I have read do. In fact I am just a babe in the woods who has been in Korea for a mere three months. Let me tell you about myself.
My name is Annie and I grew up on a farm in the South West country of NSW Australia. I met my darling husband Yohan when I was 19 and studying at university In Queensland. He is Korean. He was the first Korean I had ever met. When I first talked to him at our church, I had no idea where Korea was precisely, although I had heard about it from the show ‘Mash’. I related this to him, but of course he’d never heard of it. He had come to Australia from Seoul to study English and had just been enrolled in the university after his English studies were completed. Needless to say we were fascinated with each other and soon fell in love.
We were married in the new millennium, lived in Australia for a while while I completed my studies, then we moved to South Korea, his home. Now I am an English teacher, which is something I never quite imagined myself to be, but I have adapted quite well and am enjoying myself.
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I have recently finished teaching in my first contract which was with a university for a six week intensive English course for university students. I found myself to be the youngest and the only female teacher on the staff. I had done some tutoring as well as the TESOL course in Australia, but nothing prepares you enough for facing a class of nearly twenty watchful and expectant eyes in a large, echoing classroom. I’ll never forget my first class. I stepped into the sombre room and was confronted with the sight of a circle students all about my age. I am 23 years old. Up until that moment, the reality of teaching had not quite dawned upon me, but strangely, I plucked up my courage and faced the students now as their teacher. This very fact gave me courage and I quickly evolved into my new role. My heart pounded within me but I stepped towards them and raised my voice with a command I did not know I had. In those first few days of working there I also had an optional class given to me to talk about Australian life and culture. When I opened the door to go into this class for the first time, I quickly pulled back again as I had not planned on almost 60 students turning up! So I pulled myself together and walked in with supreme confidence and instead of the discussion style lesson I had planned, I ‘lectured’ by talking about the history and recent events happening in Australia. After doing that my confidence grew enormously and I felt I could now face anything.
These memories stand out most in my mind, as well as the way I grew to love teaching, the students and all the other teachers. This program was itself especially rewarding for all because it was a complete immersion program with absolutely no Korean allowed. The student’s level of English improved dramatically over the number of weeks.
Working at the small institutes is a little different because the English level is very low as they are children, but also the motivation is low as they are there because of their parents. I find that the best way to get the children to like learning English is to get them to really like you. You yourself are probably the only native speaker or ‘real life’ example of English they have. So by being a good teacher to them, I think this will have a great impact on their young, developing lives.
South Korea is a great place to live and work, especially if you are young and looking for adventure like me. I also have had the added benefit and experiences of being involved with a Korean family. They are all really loving towards me. I truly can say I have absolutely no problems whatsoever, and have learned so many things about people and life already.
I am only in the beginning stage of my life and career, but look forward to life with such an expectancy that I shall have a myriad of things to write about again in the near future.
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