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.

Trusting Yourself and Letting Go – Teaching English Abroad in South Korea

By: Krystle Radtke

I used to wonder what it was that compelled a person to leave behind everything that was familiar and move to a strange new place. I marveled at the courage and fortitude that it must have taken for someone to pick up everything and move to a new country, especially one where they didn’t know the language. But when the time came for me to make the decision on where to live, I found that the answer was much easier than I had anticipated earlier in my life.  

The Key to a Native's Heart - Lessons from Teaching English in Korea

By Jack Spilman

High over the Pacific Ocean, there’s a man – a resolve so sturdy and a lust for adventure so strong, he feels as though he could hold an entire country in the palm of his hand, molding and manipulating it at will.

Maybe he’s on a different plane. And while he plays with his ball of country clay, I’m curled across three seats, discretely wiping a tear as, at this moment, I’ve just now realized that I’ve left it all behind, and still can’t justify why.

That was then, this is now.

10 Lessons I Learned from My Students While Teaching English in Korea

By Megan Tighe

The funny thing about being a teacher is, you are schooled just as much as your students. As I approach my one year anniversary as an English teacher in South Korea, I can’t help but reflect on all of the lessons I myself have learned. Coming from a business background I was, quite frankly, clueless about what to expect in my new career.

While I gained confidence through my teaching practicum for the International TEFL Academy’s Online TEFL class, I had never set foot in a traditional classroom as a teacher before. I was worried my students wouldn’t learn, open up to me, or even understand me! Thankfully, none of those initial fears came to fruition. And while my students (hopefully) remember the lessons I’ve taught them about letters, numbers, and colors, here are some of the lessons they’ve taught me.


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.



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!

Why Teach English and Live Abroad? Why Not?

By: Thomas Gronemeyer

My name is Thomas Gronemeyer and I want to teach English abroad for several reasons.  I have lived abroad in Austria and I was able to travel through Europe along with improve my German while I lived in Austria.  I want to teach English in South Korea for some of the same reasons.  I would like to not only travel all through Asia while teaching in Korea I would also like to learn Korean.  I love to travel and I also love to learn about different cultures and learn different languages.   All of these reasons are why I would like to teach English in a foreign country.

My Time On The Unbeaten Path - Teaching English Abroad

By: Joseph Van Dorn

I had done it.  Four years of excess units, summer school, and all-nighters had finally earned me two degrees on polar opposite sides of the spectrum.  Armed with a degree in biology and in English, I was determined to make my mark on the world.  My ultimate goal was clear, inspired by growing financial tensions within my university.  Due to a struggling economy, my school had to cut several budgets within the university, forcing administrators to prioritize certain programs over others.  An avid research university, my school targeted several programs within the humanities, stripping away language requirements, cancelling classes, and limiting the funding available to the faculty.  Departments were reduced, and some were even merged with each other.  As the administration decided that the humanities were not as valid as the sciences, our department felt the blow of the front assault of these cuts.

Teaching English Abroad: What’s in it for you?

By: Tommy Joiner

The single most important thing in the world is to lead a life that is truly fulfilling.  In order to live a satisfying life, one must strive to add to his or her experiences in a way that is productive, both to the individual and also to those around that person.  Teaching English abroad provides an opportunity for a person to redefine themselves and work towards achieving the life of their dreams.  Whether you just graduated from college or are simply looking to change things up, teaching English abroad can help propel your life forward in a variety of ways. 

Picking Up Peter Pan Syndrome - Teaching English in South Korea


By: Michael Geer

Sometimes it just hits you.  It hits you like a slap in the face, a ton of bricks, or a bolt of lightning in a clear sky.  Just all of a sudden...


"I'm living in South Korea!" This realization has hit me a number of times since moving overseas, occasionally I even say it audibly when this epiphany appears.  It's happened on my way to school when I look around to see my town surrounded by mountains instead of cornfields.  I've been hit by it while hopping onto the subway in Seoul, and while strolling down the beach in Busan.  I can't help it when it comes, like waves warmly washing over me.  It shoves aside all the stress and banalities of my everyday experience.  It lifts me up and opens my eyes, really opens them, and when it hits me I laugh.  Sure as the sun rises, I laugh!  Every time!