Teaching English in Osan

Teaching English in Osan expands to ‘one foreign language for one person’ program

A program geared to teaching English in Osan is being expanded by the Osan Education Foundation, Gyeonggi-do, which is now running its ‘one person, one foreign language’ education program in 2022, a fun foreign language class with native English teachers, starting at Osan Information High School on April 4th.

According to the foundation, the ‘one person, one foreign language education’ project is a program that cultivates global talents in Osan by learning foreign languages ​​in a natural atmosphere in a fun and exciting way through student-centered classes by native-speaking instructors. Through the project, they are setting a goal so that any student in the school can naturally speak at least one foreign language.

Multicultural classes and foreign language classes (English, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese) are conducted for all elementary, middle, and high schools in this area of Korea. For this class, they have trained English teachers in Korea as well as native speakers from other countries since the beginning of the year, and as a result, a total of 24 native speaker instructors have been appointed.

The appointed native speaker instructors were active in regular subjects, creative experience activities, and free grade system (topic selection, club activities) classes for 4,425 students in 159 classes from 13 elementary schools, 9 middle schools, and 3 high schools in the district. The classes are designed to focus on play activities so that students can interact with native-speaking instructors and become interested in and learn foreign languages ​​and foreign cultures.

The foundation conducted a training course to strengthen the competency of native speakers and operated regular online and offline studies. In order to continuously strengthen the individual competency of native English speakers during class activities, they will not only provide appropriate educational operation, monitoring, and feedback, but also improve the classes through regular councils and evaluations in the first and second half of the year so that both students, teachers, and parents can be satisfied

In addition, following last year, the foundation plans to hold meetings in the first and second half of this year to strengthen the network between the foundation and English teachers in Korea and those teaching other languages and working in elementary, middle, and high schools.

Interested in teaching English in Osan or elsewhere in Korea? Send us an email or apply today!

English teachers in Korea

English Teachers in Korea See Funding Boost

English teachers in Korea and related internationalization concepts are set to receive a funding boost in Gangnam.

The Gangnam-gu government of Seoul announced on March 31st that it has secured KRW 31.2 billion in educational expenses subsidies for this year to nurture future talents with creativity and character.

The amount is an increase of 2 billion won compared to the previous year, the largest among the 25 autonomous districts in Seoul.

Sequoia Capital Money GIF by GrowthX - Find & Share on GIPHY

Teaching English in Korea Continues to be a Funding Priority for Gangnam

Education expenses include △8.1 billion won for building smart classrooms in elementary, middle and high schools △ 4.3 billion won for improving old school environments △ 5.7 billion won for ‘supporting customized education programs and vitalization of public education’ such as support for native English teachers in Korea to work in middle schools and △13.1 billion won will be invested in providing free meals to kindergartens, elementary, middle, and high schools.

In particular, the district will increase the number of schools that can receive education related to the 4th industrial revolution, such as coding, robots, and drones, from 22 to 27 this year.

It is also planning to support artificial intelligence (AI) and metaverse education, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) equipment and educational contents.

In addition, following the establishment of digital studios in elementary, middle and high schools last year, this year, equipment and software for distance learning will be provided.

Gangnam-gu mayor Jeong Soon-gyun said, “We will invest generously in nurturing future talents who will lead the era of the 4th industrial revolution by securing a solid education budget worthy of the reputation of ‘Gangnam, the leading education district’.”

Korean pronunciation issues

Pishee for Lunchee? – Teaching English in Korea


When you first start teaching English in Korea, you will undoubtedly come across a broad range of students with different pronunciation issues, resulting in English mistakes. And in some cases, you will swear and consider yourself to have a keen enough sense to write someone off as simply having a speech impediment.

Try as you might, you pull your hair out over a student who can’t aspirate an F properly or can’t seem to give up that habit of saying ‘chee’ after they pronounce any word ending in ‘ch’. You look into their eyes as you repeat over and over and see the struggle within.

Truth be told, they don’t have a speech impediment. Even if the student next to them or behind them seems to be able to utter words like ‘fish’ or ‘teach’ without any issues.

This goes back to how they first learned English pronunciation. You see, when Koreans are first introduced to English pronunciation, they are doing so from the phonetic expression in their own language. In the same way as we would romanize Korean until we learn how to read Korean and nail down the finer pronunciation edge when surrounded by Koreans whose pronunciation patterns can be more easily emulated. (I guarantee that the way you say ‘Hello’ in Korean (안녕하세요, Annyeonghaseyo) will roll off your tongue more fluently by your second month or even second week, once you have immersed yourself into the sounds of Korea and also once you learn to pronounce the Korean alphabet. Koreans learning English in Korea don’t have that immersion benefit as you do).

Teaching English in Korea through Korean Alphabet

For instance, English textbooks written in Korean plus Korean teachers of English will teach English phonetics through Korean phonetics. And as you can imagine, they don’t always match up very well. That’s why when you hear someone say ‘Pish’ when they mean to say ‘Fish’, mentally, they are trying to pronounce with their muscle memory learned long ago, which would have been ‘피쉬’ (pee-shee), which is the closest way to contort the Korean alphabet to something that will sound similar. Or in case of ‘Lunch’, it would come out as ‘Lunchee’, which would be derived from ‘런치’. Broken down into romanization: 런=Lun and 치=Chee.

Some students learned this way and have somehow found a way to kick that habit. Perhaps from traveling abroad, having an English tutor or from binge-watching Friends on Netflix. But that shouldn’t cause you to frown upon the one’s who are still struggling with it.

Instead, it might be good to meet them halfway by accepting that they are thinking in Korean while trying to speak English, and go up to your whiteboard and literally write the Korean phonetics that are stuck in their heads, such as 피쉬 and 런치, and modify the pattern by omitting theㅣvowel at the ends of the words. It won’t take effect right away but will eventually help deconstruct the phonetic pattern until new muscle memory is formed.

Try it out and let us know how long it took for your student to kick the habit!

Teaching English in Korea Salary

Truth about Your Teaching English in Korea Salary

With teaching English in Korea, anything is possible!

Who doesn’t want to travel after graduating from university? Drink tea in China, ride a scooter through Vietnam, live like a local in Seoul… talk about the dream. But with student loans and other debt, that dream can seem pretty challenging to fund. But if you were to consider a teaching English in Korea salary, then you are one big step closer to that dream of living and working abroad!

Enter teaching English in Korea!

If you’re a recent grad ✅
with student loans ✅
who likes to travel ✅
Your teaching English in Korea salary could be your perfect opportunity to see the world while paying off your debt.

How much can you save on a teaching English in Korea salary?

Short answer: A LOT! Firstly, we’ve broken down how you can save money while in South Korea:

1: Free Housing

Every school in the country provides their foreign English teachers with accommodations, which means you can say goodbye to spending half your paycheck on rent.

So, curious about what this could mean in real dollars? We’ve compared average 2018 rent prices for a studio apartment in some of our favorite international cities to give you an idea. This is the kind of money you could be saving per month by teaching English in Korea, which includes free accommodation.

Vancouver, BC, Canada $2,100 CAD // $1550 USD (
London, England £1,700 // $2150 USD (
San Francisco, California, USA $2,400 USD (
Melbourne, Australia $900 AUD // $630 USD (

Teach English in South Korea Salary

2: Great Salary

Most Korean schools offer contracts in the range of 2.2-2.5 million KRW per month (depending on your experience), which works out to $1900-$2200 USD per month (and as much as $2900 CAD or $3,000 AUD).

Let’s think about the perks that make this an incredible way to save:

No Rent

Of course, when you don’t have to subtract rent from your teaching English in Korea salary, you can make less money and still save more.

Let’s look at an example. Meet Jenny, a recent University graduate working an entry-level sales job in London. Her salary is works out to $32,000 USD and she shares a flat with a friend:

Working in London Teaching English in Korea
Monthly salary $2,700 USD $2,300 USD
Rent payment $1250 USD $0
Total after rent (take home pay) $1,450 USD $2,300 USD

The bottom line?

Jenny could be saving almost $1000 per month simply through free housing in Korea. That money could go straight towards paying down her loans!

Low Tax Deductions

Country % Income tax deduction based on $25,000 USD annual salary Income lost to tax per year
Korea 3.3% $825 USD
Canada ~ 20% $5,000 USD
New Zealand ~ 15% $3,600 USD
USA ~ 13% $3,200 USD

*note: the ~ values are based on hypothetical situations. Rates vary by region and factor in many costs and circumstances.

As you can see, taxes in South Korea are low. Because of this simple fact, the potential savings are huge!

3: Cheap Travel

How many recently graduated twenty-somethings DON’T have the travel bug? We get it. Adventure calls!

The biggest issue? Travelling is expensive. As I’m sure you are aware, if you’re an Instagram travel influencer (those people have seriously got it figured out), travelling can be costly.

When you teach English in Korea, though, you kill two birds with one stone: you get to make money while you’re travelling.

And once you’re in Asia, travelling between countries is cheap and easy!

Seoul ✈ Tokyo, Japan: $200 USD roundtrip

Seoul ✈ Hong Kong: $250 USD roundtrip

Seoul ✈ Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam: $330 USD roundtrip

Seoul ✈ Bali, Indonesia: $400 USD roundtrip

Teach English in Korea Salary

Most Korean schools offer 10 vacation days PLUS all national holidays, which means you can bet you’ll have time to travel around Asia for a much smaller price tag than if you went from North America.

You’ll be able to live in South Korea, travel to amazing places on your holidays, and still pay off more loans than you would elsewhere.

How to budget with your teaching English in Korea salary

Sounds pretty enticing, right?! However, don’t get us wrong – if you come to this country to teach, you can’t spend like crazy and think you’ll have put a huge dent in your loans at the end of the year. You still have to budget well and spend responsibly.

We’d highly recommend checking out Well Kept Wallet for some FANTASTIC tips on how to budget well.

Let’s look at two possible scenarios for two people with contracts at the same school in Seoul, both making 2.4 million KRW ($2,100 USD) per month:

Spendy Sally (AKA The Girl Who Pretends Her Debts Don’t Exist) Saver Sam (AKA The Budget King)
Income per Month $2,100 Income per Month $2,100
Housing FREE! Housing FREE!
Utilities, Taxes, Phone, Health Care, Pension (The boring stuff) $350 Utilities, Taxes, Phone, Health Care, Pension (The boring stuff) $350
Food $800

She decides to live it up and eats out a ton, barely cooking for herself

Food $200

He cooks for himself most nights, only eating out every once in a while

Shopping $500

She can’t resist that new outfit

Shopping $50

A few new items every here and there

Travel $400

She takes a weekend trip somewhere in Asia every month!

Travel $600

He travels a few times during the year (average $100 per month).

Balance (end of month) $50 Balance (end of month) $1,400

Both Sally and Sam were making $2,100 per month, but Sam was able to save over $1000 of that because he budgeted well.

So, since Sam was a wise little guy, he was able to have the adventure of a lifetime and pay off a good chunk of his loans.

There’s a clear winner here, though, and that you should not be like Sally. Be like Sam. Use budgeting tips from pros like the Well Kept Wallet and being debt-free will come way more quickly.

Teach English in Korea Salary

You Should Probably Do This

Getting out of debt quickly can feel like an impossible task. However, if you put some fiscally responsible practices in place with your teaching English in Korea salary, you’ll be able to experience a new culture, travel, and pay off significantly more loans than you would back home.

Remember, the faster you pay off your loans, the less you pay on them overall. Interest is real, folks. You don’t want to mess with it.

Apply today to get one step closer to maximizing your teaching English in Korea salary

So, paying off debt and having the adventure of a lifetime is definitely within your reach. We’d love to support you through the process – and taking the next step towards your adventure abroad is EASY!

Importantly, follow the link below to fill out our quick application form (it takes less than 5 minutes) and we’ll be in contact with the next steps!

4 Reasons Why You Should Be TEFL Korea Certified Before Teaching

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:

1. Get the Skills You Need to Succeed as a Professional English Teacher in Korea

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!

TEFL Korea

2. TEFL Korea Certification Will Qualify You for More Jobs, Better Jobs & Higher Paying Jobs

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:

  • Most employers still require a TEFL certification as a matter of policy. It is the qualification with which they are most familiar and most comfortable.
  • Like most fields, teaching English as a foreign language requires a specific skill set and knowledge base as well as teaching practices and methodologies. Teaching English grammar to Chinese businessmen or Korean school children is a totally different animal than teaching high school physics or 5th grade social studies. However, becoming TEFL certified will give you the skills you need to succeed in your new environment abroad.

For more on this topic, check out this article!

TEFL Korea

3. Getting TEFL Korea Certified Will Assist You Immensely in the Interview Process

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.

TEFL Korea

4. Korea Job Search Guidance & Alumni Support

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.

TEFL Korea

So What Kind of TEFL Certification Do You Need?

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:

  • At least 100 hours of coursework (equivalent to a full-time 4-week intensive in-person class or a part-time equivalent online);
  • At least 6-20 hours of practicum (live practice teaching and observation with a non-native English speaker. Not role-playing with fellow TEFL classmates);
  • An accredited curriculum from a recognized, independent organization within the field;
  • Instruction provided by a qualified instructor(who has an equivalent to a Master Degree in TESOL or related field);
  • Yes, you can take a legitimate professional-level TEFL online that is the equivalent of a top-level in-person class;
  • As mentioned, it is also recommended that you take your TEFL certification course from an organization that provides comprehensive job search guidance.

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

Times Terrace - English Cafe

Dongtan sees more foreign teachers in Korea working in shopping malls

As Korea’s department stores and shopping malls increasingly fight for the attention and wallets of young Korean parents, these shopping venues keep expanding their culture center offerings to include more English education and even the development of kids cafes staffed by foreigners teaching English in Korea.

As we recently reported, Lotte Department Store has become aggressive to enter into this kind of business and now the Times Square shopping concept owned by Kyungbang is starting to bring English teachers in Korea to their environment.

One area in particular is the hot district of Dongtan, located with Hwaseong City, south of Seoul and just west of Osan and Suwon. Last August, Lotte Department Store open up a new location in front of Dongtan Station, and since then, that shopping mecca has been booming thanks to its family-friendly concept that includes an ‘English Kids Club’, attracting 1500 visitors a month since opening and a ‘drawing cafe’, likewise garnering the attention of 1500 aspiring young artists per month.

Times Terrace is connected with a residential complex as well as a Home Plus, and will be home to ‘Sesame Street Run and Play, an English kids cafe where native English teachers take care of kids, and a kids lounge that is considered to be the largest among department stores in Korea. Activity-based cafe, ‘Champion the Energizer’ will be further innovated and a baby food cafe will also be introduced.

Common English Mistakes in Korea - Crazy!

Common English Mistakes in Korea – Crazy!

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.

Common English Mistakes in Korea – Apt to Drive You Crazy!

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.

Common English Mistakes in Korea - Crazy! 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!

Common English Mistakes in Korea - Hi/Hello

Common English Mistakes in Korea – Hi/Hello

When teaching English in Korea, you can often come across common English mistakes in Korea ranging from the bonafide wacky stuff like someone saying ‘I’m so hard’ in the wrong context to even the slight and subtle ones such as simple greetings.

Wait, how can someone screw up saying ‘Hi’?

Well, it is not a screw-up per se, but there is the Korean mindset and usage behind it. As most Koreans think in Korean as they are speaking English, you should notCommon English Mistakes in Korea - Hi/Hello just listen to what they are saying but also what they appear to be thinking.

Korean language uses honorifics in their words and sentences that vary depending on the relationship the speaker has with the listener. For instance, a grandchild would not say the Korean word for ‘Hello’ in the same way as the grandparent would say it back to the grandchild. Same with the student and teacher relationship. Even if the teacher is younger than the student. Role matters more than age. Case in point, my Korean brother-in-law is younger than me but as soon as he married my sister-in-law (who is older than me), I had to modify my communication to where I had to speak honorifically to him from that point on. Because his role changed to where he was in the more senior role due to his marriage to my sister-in-law. Confusing, right? Don’t worry, we can get your head around honorifics in a different article.

Common English Mistakes in Korea. Crossing the big divide between ‘Hi’ and ‘Hello’

Point being, in the vast majority of cases, any time a kid sees you and greets you with a ‘Hi’, it’s no big deal. But there are some parents who are sticklers when it comes to honorifics to the point where they sometimes transliterate the honorific into what they assume to be the English equivalent despite English not really having honorifics aside from tone or in a few cases like ‘Can I go to the bathroom’ vs ‘May I go to the bathroom, please?’ These parents can sometimes lecture kids into extending Korean honorifics over to English equivalents.

For example, ‘Hi’ in Korean is normally associated with ‘Annyeong’ (안녕), a greeting almost exclusively used between kids, close adult friends, an adult addressing a child or when a teacher is addressing a student (particularly kids), etc. Whereas, the more honorific ‘Annyeong-haseyo’ (안녕하세요) is sometimes associated with ‘Hello’, and thus may inadvertently carry the cultural implications over to the English greeting.

Although maybe not a glaringly common English mistake in Korea, next time you hear a child saying ‘Hi’ to you vs another one saying ‘Hello’ to you, you shouldn’t be bothered by it too much but instead, be mindful that in the Korean mindset, they have stepped out of the teacher-student relationship and could therefore be somewhat disrespectful. But it could be one overlooked clue in diagnosing if the student is actually disrespectful in general so you can modify your teaching approach with him/her. On the other hand, if a student consistently opts to greet you with a ‘hello’ and the Korean bow when they enter or leave the classroom, you could read more into that where the parents may likely be overextending Korean honorifics into English and English situations, which could complicate their learning and understanding of the language and situations. Being polite is fine, but as Korea has a labyrinth of Confucian references in its language and culture, that should be avoided completely when learning a new language and the culture behind it. Otherwise, loads of miscommunication are bound to surface in a wide range of situations later in life when communicating in English.

So in those cases, you could take the initiative to inquire with the student as to why they prefer to interact with you in the way they do and if they are indeed appearing to wrap English in a Confucianist blanket, in which case, you might want to consult with a Korean co-teacher on how to adjust that perspective the student may have.

Have you ever received any odd questions from a Korean before that made you wonder what they may have been thinking in Korean before the English came out of their mouth? Let us know in the comments and we can help wrap your head around it!

Korea’s E2 visa requirements being challenged

“I speak English well and I can teach well. I also have certifications. But why can’t I teach English at school? What really matters?”

The requirements for teaching English in Korea have traditionally been quite inflexible but a little hope on the horizon exists as some foreigners seek to challenge those rules.

On Feb. 28th, a 36-year-old Ugandan humanitarian resident who met with the Hankyoreh at the ‘Friends of the Immigrant Center’ office in Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul asked, “Why can’t I teach English?” The Constitution of Uganda has designated English as the country’s official language. School classes are taught in English, and English is used in official events such as those involving mass media and public institutions. Mrs. S (redacted to ensure her anonymity) has had hopes to teach English in Korea, having been educated in English for 17 years, including a college course in accounting. However, the Ministry of Justice declined to approve an E-2 (English teaching visa) visa to S, as she was not from the 7 countries where English is her native language (USA, UK, Canada, South Africa, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand).  Not convinced, S filed a constitutional complaint to the Constitutional Court in January with a friend of the migrant center, arguing that the standards were unconstitutional. Lawyer Yeji Lee, who represents S, wrote in the claim, “It is discriminatory treatment without a rational basis, and it infringes the right to equality.”

S, who came to Korea in 2011, applied for refugee status, but was not accepted, so she stayed as a humanitarian sojourner. It was difficult to find a stable job with a humanitarian sojourn visa that could only allow for one to engage in simple labor. She was hospitalized for years with musculoskeletal problems after hard physical labor on farms and in various factories.

Korea classroom

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

However, the Immigration Office that informed that it was possible to obtain a certificate said to S last year, “You are not eligible for teaching English in South Korea,” and was not subject to receive an E-2 visa. This is because the Ministry of Justice’s standards for visa issuance stipulates that only Indian nationals who have signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with seven countries whose native language is English are allowed to work as English assistant teachers. However, among the seven countries, South Africa does not use English as the mother tongue, but it is still deemed as the official language.

Regarding the visa issuance criteria, the Ministry of Justice said, “In order to achieve international standardization of English education for Koreans, after consulting with relevant ministries, it was designated by comprehensively considering culture, customs, pronunciation, and people’s preferences among English-speaking countries. In 2001, we started issuing a conversation instruction visa only to the citizens of that country.”

Requirements for Teaching English in Korea Long Overdue for Being Relaxed

Japan’s Native English Language Teaching Assistant Program (JET) allows native English language assistants to work in schools who are not only from one of the seven countries, but also who are from countries where English is the official language, such as the Philippines, Singapore, Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago. The system was introduced in 1987 in Japan, which accepted only nationalities of four countries (USA, UK, Australia, and New Zealand) as native English language assistant teachers, however, since then, the country has steadily expanded its teacher qualifications to various countries. Mae-Ran Park, a professor at Pukyong National University (Department of English Literature) said, “When Korea first introduced native English language assistant teachers in the 1990s, they modeled the program after Japan’s JET program.” Professor Park said, “In English education academia, the notion that even non-native speakers can become good teachers if they have subject expertise, teaching methods, English proficiency, and cross-cultural communication skills is the prevailing theory. That said, I think it is time to reconsider such standards governing teaching English in Korea.”

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