So you’re wondering about becoming TEFL Korea certified before teaching English in Korea? Awesome! It will probably be one of the greatest decisions you make in life and you will no doubt experience a fantastic adventure of growth & discovery, with a ton of fun thrown in for good measure. As you’ve no doubt discovered, embarking on such a grand journey requires various tough decisions. Things like urban or rural? Public School or private school? What do you value in terms of location, salary, benefits, weather & social life?
Certainly, one of the most important questions you will encounter: Do I need to get a TEFL certification? Check out various forums and websites and you will encounter all sorts of answers. And there will be folks maintaining that ‘hey, there are plenty of schools out there that will hire you without a TEFL certification, so don’t bother.’ But the bottom line is that if you want to get a great job and make the most of your experience in Korea, you need to be TEFL certified, and here are 4 major reasons why:
Let’s say you get on a plane tomorrow and jet off to Seoul or Busan to teach English without getting TEFL certified. Will you be prepared to teach 4-6 classes a day with 10-20 students each (or even more)? Would you have the skills to manage a classroom, explain the intricacies of English grammar, or even to communicate with your students who speak little or no English? What about lesson planning? In short, do you actually believe that you possess the skills to provide your students with a quality educational experience that will enable them to reach their goal of learning English? And do you believe that students have the right to receive instruction from a trained, qualified teacher?
A quality TEFL certification will provide you with training in all of the major facets of teaching English as a foreign language, including: teaching methodology & practices; classroom management; teaching the ins-and-outs of English grammar; cultural sensitivity training; lesson planning; error correction; use of audio-visual tools; and basic skills that will enable you to communicate with your students despite the language barrier.
Practicum: Any professional-level TEFL certification class will also incorporate a practicum (live practice teaching with actual ESL students) of 6-20 hours. This will provide you with valuable hands-on experience in a live classroom environment and will help you gain confidence and build your skills. Many employers in Asia and elsewhere only recognize TEFL classes that include a practicum.
Teaching will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life if you gain the basic skills you need to actually function as a professional English teacher. One of the great aspects of teaching English in Korea is that you don’t need to invest years of your life and tens of thousands of dollars in a fancy degree to do it.
Taking a quality TEFL class will provide you with the skills and qualifications you need to both get a great job and to succeed in the classroom. The vast majority of folks who teach abroad enjoy a great experience. However, one of the primary reasons why some quit their jobs and return home early is because they feel overwhelmed and under-prepared for the job – don’t let this happen to you!
If you were the owner of a language school in Shanghai, Seoul or Buenos Aires, would you feel comfortable hiring an untrained teacher with no experience to teach classes to your paying customers? Suppose you are a student – or the parent of a student – would you want to pay your hard-earned money to take classes from a teacher with no training or experience? Probably not.
The bottom line is that both schools and students want trained teachers with professional level skills as a teacher. As a result, the vast majority of English teaching jobs in Korea and around the world require a TEFL certification, including many major teaching programs and international schools who typically require a certification (unless you have prior teaching credentials). Even those schools that don’t technically require a TEFL certification are far more likely to hire a job applicant who holds a high level TEFL certification than one who doesn’t.
It is also worth noting that TEFL certified job applicants will typically qualify for positions at better schools with higher corporate standards that often offer the best salary, benefits and professional environment. Meanwhile, those schools that make a practice of hiring anybody who speaks English regardless of whether they receive training, are typically those schools with the lowest professional standards, which are often cheap when it comes to salaries and benefits. These are often the lowest quality schools that also care less about their students, as well as their teachers.
What if I am a certified teacher – do I still need a TEFL certification? Any prior teaching experience (especially at the professional level) or education degree that you possess will give you a leg up both in getting great jobs and with your comfort level in the classroom. That said, unless you have a degree specifically in the field of teaching English as a foreign language, it is still recommend that you get TEFL certified for two main reasons:
For more on this topic, check out this article!
This may fall under the umbrella of the previous point, but it’s important to note that getting TEFL Korea certified will typically prove to be very useful during the interview process for teaching English in Korea. Many schools will ask you straight up about how you might handle a hypothetical classroom situation. They may ask you about teaching methodology and in some cases you may be asked to provide sample lesson plans. In almost every interview, you will be asked about experience. And while you don’t have to have prior professional teaching experience, a professional-level TEFL certification will include practicum (live practice teaching) that will at least give you some live classroom experience and experience to draw on should it come up in an interview.
Any high-quality TEFL certification organization should provide free, lifetime job search guidance to all students and graduates to assist them with gaining employment teaching English in Korea and/or teaching English online (which is a great way to gain experience and make money even before you head abroad, or to supplement your income once you arrive in Korea). Adventure Teaching may provide you with the guidance you need to get a great job teaching English in South Korea. There are also 80 countries where you may want to teach English later and you will need resources about that. Things like hiring seasons, interview procedures, visas, hiring requirements and more. Getting a job in other continents will all have different processes than getting a job in Asia.
At International TEFL Academy, all of our students and graduates enjoy lifetime access to comprehensive job placement assistance that includes personal assistance from expert advisors. Such as access to hundreds of pages of job boards, school listings, & resume templates; 500-page job search guidance manual; live & recorded webinars; and how-to-get-a-job guides for dozens of individual countries. In addition, our students are able to connect with 25,000 alumni in 80 countries through exclusive channels on social media. Plus connect with others at exclusive meet-ups. Or share their stories in articles, videos and across ITA’s social media channels. These kinds of resources can make the difference when it comes to ensuring a great experience teaching English abroad.
Deciding to get TEFL Korea certified is one decision – deciding what TEFL class to take from which school is another. The key is to understand that not all TEFL classes are the same. There are internationally recognized standards that you should look for when looking at your options. Here are the basics:
Luckily, Adventure Teaching and International TEFL Academy have teamed up to provide you with a great option to take ITA’s 170-Hour Online TEFL Class. Widely regarded as the top class in the field. Taught by university professors (with overseas teaching experience), the class includes a 20 practicum and 150 hours of coursework. Highly interactive with live webinars and videos, designed to accommodate those who are working or going to school full-time.
To learn more about the course and how to register, please check out this link and fill out the form.
By John Bentley – Senior Editor at International TEFL Academy
Teaching in Korea can be insane. In either a good or bad way. Whether it is all the common English mistakes in Korea or cultural nuances and bizarre customs. It’s really what you make of it and the mindset you adopt. We are all faced with the same dynamic situations but because of our respective upbringing and life experiences, we all observe and process things differently. A very common way we like to look at living in Korea is that if 10 teachers were faced with the same situation, you’d have 10 different opinions. Context, culture and nuance matter more than you may think!
But the craziness can get you into trouble if not properly checked. What the heck am I going on about?
The word ‘Crazy’, itself, is sure to drive you crazy in Korea.
You see, the Korean adjective equivalent of ‘crazy’ or ‘insane’ is 미친 (mee-cheen). Which, in Korean, is a borderline or full-blown swearword. Think of someone saying to you with a straightface that you are a psycho and need to literally be institutionalized. Heavy stuff. If you ever hear two Koreans get in a screaming match, you’ll be surprised how much the Korean word for ‘crazy’ gets spat out.
So you can imagine when an English teacher comes to Korea and laughs it up with kids in class and says ‘ha, ha, you are so crazy!’, you might see the class exhibit a mixture of gasps, awkward silences and a few rebellious types laugh out loud.
A few days later, you might then be confused when pulled aside by your school director or head teacher and asked to not use the word ‘crazy’ in any context, even though you may talk till you are red in the face that you are a native speaker and insist that the use of the word in the context you used was intended to be in jest.
Aren’t I the native speaker here?
You are not debating on the use of the word in English and how it is used in Western countries. You are in the middle of a debate on how the word is transliterated into Korean and usually by Korean parents who don’t speak much English but know enough to show some concern when their kid comes home and says the word ‘crazy’.
If found in this situation, don’t make the use of the word ‘crazy’ your personal hill worth dying on. There are a lot of common English mistakes in Korea that are so widespread, they will burn you out if you take it upon yourself to battle all of them. Just focus on making a difference in your own students and correcting the bad habits bestowed on them by other English teachers who came there before you.
Better yet, be mindful of this in class and even counsel the kids against using it while in Korea in case you hear them say ‘crazy’ to each other and have obviously picked it up from the last teacher who wasn’t as culturally savvy as you are shaping up to be.
And certainly don’t revel at the fact that they are breaking out in laughter upon hearing you say ‘crazy’ just as a cat would go nuts when smelling catnip. And ESPECIALLY if you say something like ‘crazy boy’ or ‘crazy girl’, the Korean equivalents of which are right up there with Korean swearwords. They aren’t laughing because you are funny. They are laughing because you’re openly being naughty in their eyes. And this WILL get back to parents at some point and cause your director to have to do some delicate explaining to prevent those parents from dropping the kids out or at least switching to a different class. And you might not ever hear about any of this at all and be left wondering why the head teacher or director doesn’t greet you with the same enthusiasm as they did before.
Adopting this kind of mindset will also impress your director and they’ll be more inclined to cut you a lot of slack or go to extra lengths to be more accommodating to you while you are employed with them.
Ever experience students or co-workers reacting to your use of the word ‘crazy’ in class? Let us know how you perceived it and how they responded by cautioning them against the use of that word while in Korea.
Looking for more insights into correcting common English mistakes in Korea? Check out our other linked articles!
Is it possible to add some adventure to your teaching career without moving overseas? For decades, educators have travelled to countries all over the world to teach, giving them the opportunity to see the world and experience different cultures while still doing the job they love. Asia, Europe, Africa — the world is a treasure trove of adventure and new experiences for teachers with a passport and a bit of gumption.
While most teachers think of countries in far flung corners of the globe for adventurous roles, you don’t have to look quite that far. In fact, the opportunity to get the same kind of experience without having to cross any international borders exists right here in Canada — you just need to adjust your compass, due north!
Teaching in northern Canada is an option that often flies under the radar for educators looking to broaden their background. In particular, northern BC offers the perfect blend of unique cultural exposure, an authentically wild environment, and rewarding teaching experience.
One such place is Tsay Keh Dene — a small community located in northern BC about 500 kilometres north of Prince George. If you’re an enthusiastic, patient, and open-minded teacher with an interest in learning more about Indigenous culture, this could be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.
Tsay Keh Dene School—named for one of the Sekani Bands of the Northern Interior of British Columbia—is a certified First Nations Schools Association (FNSA) campus. Here, approximately 50 students grades K-12 study the British Columbia curricula in small classes.
The school shares its name with the community it’s situated in. Located to the north of Williston Lake, Tsay Keh Dene is home to about 250 people and is serviced by the RCMP, a nurses station, and a small store.
Despite being a bit off the beaten path, teaching in northern BC has the same qualification requirements as the rest of the province. Teachers will need to have their Bachelor of Education, and either have, or be in the application process of obtaining, a BC teaching license. And, of course, all teachers are required to pass a vulnerable sectors criminal reference check as well.
Teachers at Tsay Keh Dene School can expect to start with a one-year contract making between $60,000 and $90,000 CAD based on experience.
Teachers work Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Holidays include three weeks at Christmas, two weeks for Spring Break, and two months of summer holidays. The school will pay for teacher’s flights from any point of hire in Canada up to Tsay Keh Dene at the beginning and end of a contacted teaching period, as well as flights to Prince George to start both the Christmas and Spring breaks.
Living and teaching in northern Canada is an experience unlike any other. Northern communities tend to be remote, with smaller populations and fewer amenities than most people are likely used to. While a bit of culture shock is expected, an open-minded and adventurous teacher can expect to settle in quickly.
Someone who loves nature and being outdoors will thrive in a community like Tsay Keh Dene. The natural landscape of the region lends itself well to sports and activities like hiking, mountain biking, skiing, swimming, fishing and snowmobiling. Internet and satellite TV are available for those quiet days in, but you’ll have to get comfortable without your cell phone, as there are no cell towers in the area.
Despite its northern latitude and elevation, the region’s climate is relatively mild. On average, the winter temperatures sit around -10 ˚C, and 10 ˚C in the summer (that’s that average though. On warm days in summer, you can expect the highs to hit the low 20s). You can expect snow from October to May, with December and January being the heaviest months. Packing the right wardrobe for the northern climate will be the key to staying comfortable throughout the year.
As for the cost of living, your teaching salary will take you far in Tsay Keh Dene. $150 per month is enough to cover your rent, internet, and satellite TV, with all other utilities being covered by the school.
Because of the remote location, food is purchased by the school in Prince George and shipped up by truck. In the coming school year, the school will begin serving hot breakfasts and lunches, working in partnership with local hunters to ensure wild meats and traditional meals are made available for students and faculty. This will provide a great opportunity for teachers to develop a deeper appreciation for the local Indigenous customs.
Ultimately, people who are respectful of different cultures and are open to learning the customs, histories and stories of local groups will make the most of their time teaching in northern BC Communities like Tsay Keh Dene have ways of life that may feel distinctly different than what you are accustomed to. But, if you’re the kind of person who looks to embrace new experiences and you’re keen to learn something new, teaching in northern Canada will enrich your life and leave you with memories that will last forever.
If teaching in northern BC sounds like an opportunity you’d like to learn more about, send us an email at [email protected].
If you’re ready to apply for a teaching position, visit our online application page. Start teaching in three easy steps.