Korea TEFL Tips From “Mike”

777429-south_korea_flag-seoul1.jpgA teacher who I’ll call “Mike” is currently hard at work in Korea, but took some time out to share some insight on finding a job, working, and living day to day in Korea. These tips are nearly completely in his words with only a few points edited for order or clarity:

  • Make sure you come here to work. You’ll work a lot. You won’t play much. Think 40-50 hours per week in the classroom with a bad schedule. It’s rough, but the money is good. It is NOT much of a “working holiday” here.
  • Research the company before you sign a contract and spend all your money to fly here. Try to talk ON THE PHONE to some English speakers who work here.
  • Bring a lot of patience. Korea isn’t a very difficult country to live in if you’ve traveled before, but it can and most certainly WILL be frustrating and quite lonely sometimes.
  • Bring at least $1000 USD to live on while you are here until you get your first paycheck. That could be more than 6 weeks after you arrive.
  • Ask a lot of questions during your over the phone interviews. There are LOTS of jobs here. That partially has to do with the fact that there are a lot of really bad jobs that people keep quitting. You’ll get a job here if you really want one. Make sure you find one that you feel comfortable with.
  • Keep in mind that Korea is a pretty xenophobic place. I have personally known several non-white teachers who have had trouble keeping jobs here, and it was certainly NOT because they were bad teachers. This is a country where image is very important and some institutes think that race is a good enough thing to judge people on. You might want to be prepared for that possibility. Ask direct questions about that to the company before you invest a lot of money in coming over if you think it might be a issue.
  • VERY IMPORTANT!! Bring ALL the deodorant you might need for the year. It’s really hard to find here. Also, you’ll probably want to buy some good shoes before you come, to last you the year. Between the language barrier, shopping culture, and different sizes, shoe shopping can be frustrating. Also stock up on bed sheets which are thicker than at home and slow-drying! Most other things are no problem here.