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Teaching English in Bucheon, South Korea: Alumni Q&A with Taylor Ford
Written by: Taylor Ford
Last Updated: April 25, 2020
What is your citizenship?
What city and state are you from?
Somerset, KY, USA
How old are you?
What is your education level and background?
What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?
After graduating university I had no idea what I wanted to do and the only thing I felt passionate about at the time was traveling. Like most recent graduates, I did not have a lot of money saved up and had student debt. Teaching was a way for me to make money while traveling.
What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?
My concerns were if I'd be good at my job and if I'd make friends easily.
What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad?
My family was mostly supportive and excited for me, but they still had concerns for my safety and if I'd be able to adjust to life there without knowing the language.
Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy?
I chose to get TEFL certified because I knew it would look good on my CV and increase my chances of finding a job. After lots and lots of searching online, I picked ITA based off reviews from graduates and value for money.
Which TEFL certification course did you take?
Online TEFL Course
How did you like the course?
I enjoyed taking the online course. I learned a lot about what would be expected of me in a teaching position. The instructor was helpful and quickly answered any questions I had. The practicum was the most beneficial part of the experience because I got to observe real ESL classes and lead some activities once I felt more confident.
How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?
My TEFL training gave me a solid foundation to build on. I came into the job with experience leading ESL activities and lesson planning so I wasn't totally in the dark.
Which city and country did you decide to teach English in and why?
I moved to Bucheon, South Korea. I knew I wanted to be in Asia. I picked Korea mainly because they paid for my flights, rent, and a generous salary. They had a lot of positions available to new teachers like myself.
What school, company, or program are you working for?
I worked at Little America Language Academy.
During which months does your school typically hire?
They bring in new teachers sometime in February-March, so they start hiring a couple of months before then.
Did you secure this position in advance of arriving?
How did you interview for this position?
What kind of Visa did you enter on?
Please explain the visa process that you went through.
I don't remember all the steps, but I had lots of paperwork to fill out, I had to complete an FBI background check, and submit letters of recommendation. I also had to send my passport to the Korean embassy in Chicago.
What are the qualifications that your school requires for teachers?
TEFL certification, Bachelor's Degree, and a Native English Speaker.
What is the best way to apply?
Through a recruiter.
Tell us about your English teaching job!
I worked at a private language academy on Monday - Friday. My days typically started at 10AM and ended around 7:15PM. I got an hour break for lunch, plus 1-3 hours for planning depending on the day. In the mornings and early afternoon, I taught kindergarten students. In the late afternoons/evenings, I taught elementary and middle school students. My school got off one week in the summer and winter in addition to Korean national holidays.I made 2.3 million won per month, which is about $2,000. I'm not a big spender to I was able to bring home over $10,000 USD at the end of a 12-month contract.
How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like? Do you have roommates?
My school supplied me with an apartment. The first place I lived in was a really small studio. The second place I lived in was a little bigger and had a loft. They were both nice and within a 10 minute walk from the school. I lived by myself.
Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, travel opportunities, etc...
There are so many expats in Seoul. I found it quite easy to meet people and make friends. Seoul is a huge city and there's lots to do! I usually spent my weekends either on an organized trip for teachers, trying out the themed cafes, or out drinking with friends. I lived 30 minutes away from Seoul via subway. Their public transportation is simple to navigate and I used it all the time. You will never run out of things to see or do in Korea.
What are your monthly expenses? I don't remember exact numbers, so all of these are approximate. I did not have to pay for rent, so my only monthly expenses were my utilities, a wifi device for my phone, and topping up my subway/bus card. All of this was $250-$300 per month. I rarely paid more than $10 on a meal eating out, and didn't do much shopping or anything so I saved the rest.
How would you describe your standard of living?
I lived a very comfortable life in South Korea.
In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?
I could have survived on less, but I think if you're making over 2 million won, you should be very comfortable.
What advice would you give to someone looking to teach English abroad?
DO IT! South Korea is an awesome place to start.
After graduation from university, Taylor had no idea what she wanted to do with her life. At the time, the only thing she felt passionate about was traveling. She didn't have a lot of money saved up and had accumulated student debt. Getting TEFL certified and teaching English abroad was a way for Taylor to make money while traveling, so that's exactly what she did. She spent a year teaching English in Bucheon, South Korea, and has traveled extensively since then.
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