Teaching in South Korea: My Journey from TEFL Course to Classroom

By: Cassandra Simons

Life before TEFL in South Korea

This time last year, I was just an average college graduate and teacher. I worked at a school that felt like a family: the teachers I worked with were incredibly close and I knew I had a good support system (both professionally and, in some cases, personally) away from home. While I will never try to say that I am a perfect or amazing teacher, I think I was pretty good at my job. I did what I needed to do, and then some. My students could expect to see me at their sporting events and at their concerts and performances; my Special Olympics athletes could expect to see me at almost every practice and escort them to every tournament. I attended faculty and department meetings as required and tried to help out in any way I could.

I lived in the same town I had gone to college in and had an amazing group of friends that stood by me through thick and thin. I knew the regulars at my favorite pubs and restaurants. I had worked at several businesses and knew many of the locals. Life was good.

Then the words every teacher dreads came along: Your position won’t be renewed due to district budget cuts. I was not a tenured teacher, nor did I have much seniority in a school where many people had taught for 10+ years. All of a sudden I was in a position I hadn’t anticipated: no guaranteed job prospects for the next year; my roommate was moving to the other side of the country and I couldn’t afford rent on my own; and bills to pay with no substantial source of income. I decided to move back home with my dad for a few months to figure my life out.

Teaching in South Korea: How Living Abroad Heightens the 5 Senses


By Megan Tighe, International TEFL Academy graduate

One fateful afternoon in Chicago, I stumbled upon the International TEFL Academy. I enrolled in the Online TEFL class and knew that my lessons had only just begun. While there are many things I have learned in my six months as an ex-pat, one thing stands out to me: I am keenly aware of how important my five senses are. I don't normally take every day to think about how taste, smell, touch, sound, and sight affect my life, but as an ex-pat I do. Listed below are the ways that each sense has been heightened for me, and could be for you, in South Korea.

 

Taste:

This one should be the most obvious - Korean food tastes different than western food. But beyond that, western food in Korea tastes different than, well, western food. I have an insane sweet tooth, but Korea has sweets completely backwards, in my opinion. Corn dogs dipped in sugar, churros dipped in spaghetti sauce, and red beans covering bingsu (shaved ice) are all considered Korean treats.

While it may take some getting used to the Korean palate, you will find there are lots of new tastes you will come to love! I myself have become a sucker for Korean BBQ, hotteok (Korean pancakes), egg bread, Korean pears, soju (essentially, vodka), and makgeolli (rice wine). Get ready for the craziest taste buds ride of your life!

Consider it an investment. The BEST MONEY I spent this year.

"Detroit, Michigan is having a hard time economically at this point in time. Jobs aren't as readily available as they were even five years ago. International TEFL Academy is a sure bet in this economy."

So says William Butler, a 29-year-old from Michigan, who graduated from International TEFL Academy's Chicago TEFL Certification Course in July, 2012.

Below is a reprint of an entry from William's journal posted on Sept 10, 2012, that details his experience taking his TEFL class and landing a job teaching English in Korea.