New Update



지난 방송 VOD 및 AOD Archive 관련 공지



 About Korea

 Work and Live

 ESL Teaching






How many people learn English globally?
   By Kenneth Beare,

Answer: It is estimated that over 1 billion people are currently learning English world wide. According to the British council, as of the year 2,000 there were 750 million English as a Foreign language speakers. In addition, there were 375 million English as a Second Language speakers. The difference between the two groups amounts to English as a Foreign Language speakers using English occasionally for business or pleasure, while English as a Second Language speakers use English on a daily basis.

These impressive numbers are driven by adult speakers around the world who use English to communicate in the workplace. It is a commonly held misconception that these speakers need English to communicate with native speakers. While ESL is required for those living and working in English speaking cultures such as the UK and USA, it is equally true that English is used as the lingua franca between nations where English is not the primary language. In a globalized world, the number of English learners around the world is only expected to further grow.

Before You Decide to Become an ESL Teacher
   By Kenneth Beare,

Becoming an ESL teacher offers a unique multi-cultural opportunity. Job benefits include: international travel opportunities, multi-cultural training, and job satisfaction. One of the biggest advantages of getting a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualification is the chance to work abroad while thinking about what you really want to do. Of course, there are some negative aspects - including pay. Here is a guide to what to consider before deciding to become an ESL teacher.

How Much Opportunity?
Before deciding, it's best to understand the ESL - EFL teaching market. Put simply, there is a lot of demand for English teachers out there.

Getting up to Speed on the Basics
Getting informed also requires a certain amount of basic understanding about how ESL is taught to see if it's a right fit. These resources provide information on the general challenges you can expect, as well as standard ESL jargon.

Take a Look at Some Lesson Plans
It's probably a good idea to take a look at some lesson plans to understand the process of teaching English to speakers of other languages. These three lessons provide step-by-step instruction for a one hour lesson. They are representative of a number of free lesson plans you can find on this site:

There's More than One Way to Teach
By now, you've probably noticed that there are a lot of materials to cover and a number of skills to learn. The next step in understanding this profession is to take a look at various ESL EFL teaching methodologies.

Pros and Cons
As in any field, it is important to first establish your objectives before working towards meeting your goals. The ESL/EFL field offers different levels of employment, from local classes given by volunteers, to fully accredited university ESL programs. Obviously the opportunities and required education for these different levels vary greatly.

English in Korea
The hakwan enterprise is a booming business in Korea, and English is the commodity of the century. The key to success is English, and everybody wants to learn it; Korea is a nation obsessed with this ambition.

On one hand, learning English is a valuable tool that will help individual Koreans improve their careers while helping the country to strengthen its position in the global marketplace. But at what cost to Korean language and culture? English has already infiltrated Hangul, the Korean language, with borrowed words and expressions—called “Konglish”—such as “hand pone” (cell phone) and “coppee” (coffee). The English phrases used range from hilariously unintelligible to embarrassingly raunchy. Some intensive English language camps are promoting Western values and cultural elements as part of their language education, which has raised the red flag of cultural and linguistic imperialism among language educators and those who are attuned to such issues.

Nevertheless, the reality is that finding a job teaching English in Korea is easy. What follows in this article will provide advice on negotiating and surviving a hakwan contract, suggestions for teaching practices, and glimpses into making a successful transition into life in Korea.

Hakwan Life

Many teachers are hired in Korea without qualifications for teaching—as in my case. To be hired in Korea as an English teacher your required qualifications are a four-year degree in anything while being a native speaker. The assumption is that because you speak the language you can automatically teach it. In South Korea, this perspective provides a wonderful opportunity for a teacher to live in another culture, learn a language, and broaden one's horizons, but it also presents unique challenges.

Due to the wide disparity of hakwan quality, and the individual personalities, nationalities, and backgrounds of the teachers, there is no such thing as one “typical” experience of teaching and living in Korea. Many teachers come to Korea with an open mind and a willingness to be flexible. These teachers often find a niche, even as foreigners. They survive the initial, painful stages of culture shock to create a fruitful life in Korea for years. Others can’t even make it through their first year and do a “midnight run,” breaking their contract and leaving the country. Many teachers get caught up in the drinking culture of Korea, and fall ill, or worse. These are factors that you, the teacher, can control. This is important, because there will be many factors that you cannot control.

It is also important to remember that these expectations are very culturally-centered and should never be taken personally. The first time you are asked on a Friday morning to work a weekend—or told that you will be meeting parents first thing Monday morning—it can be difficult to know how to respond. Communication between teachers and directors can be strained by these differing cultural expectations as well as language barriers. The key is to remain calm and try to find a solution that works for everyone. Sometimes it means doing a little extra, and some times it means knowing when you’ve already done enough.

Ways to deal with misunderstandings, disagreements, or sickness:

When misunderstandings or disagreements arise at work, always express your willingness to do what’s best for the students, but explain your needs as well. You may compromise, but make sure you don’t compromise too much, or you will end up feeling resentful.

If you become seriously ill, go to a doctor and get it in writing. Then talk to your director or supervisor immediately. Explain your situation but do not accuse or pass judgment on how they run their school. Ask them if there is some way you can lighten the work load so that you can regain your health. The focus should be on your health, rather than on what they are doing “wrong.”

Teaching and Students

What goes on in a hakwan classroom varies from the established curriculum based on English language texts. Texts vary widely in accuracy and cultural appropriateness, including having the teacher play hangman with students in English and calling it a lesson. Some hakwans provide detailed curriculum, while others let the teacher do as she or he pleases. Depending on your level of experience and confidence as a teacher these scenarios can be either positive or negative. Hint: Find out the nature of the curriculum before you sign a contract.

In stark contrast to elementary school kids, middle school students are very serious-minded in Korea. In middle school, the hardships of the examination system and pressures for entering a good college bear down on them. Their public school classes are lecture-oriented, and the students are the receptacles of knowledge from books and teachers (a strong Confucian ethic). The communicative, discussion-based classroom is not so common in Korea, which can pose a challenge for any language teacher. However, this pedagogical approach is changing with a focus on spoken English, which in turn is driving the need for native English-speaking teachers.

Some pointers for inexperienced teachers in Korea:

Write in a colored marker your class rules on a poster board and bring it to classes. Explain what the rules mean (sit in your seat, do not yell, raise your hand, etc.) and have the class recite the rules together. Make a game out of it, turn it into a competition (Korean kids live for team competitions).
Take advantage of lesson ideas from online resources such as Talk to other teachers in and out of your school to share ideas. Supplement the books your school uses with your own ideas and those you get online—and write all those ideas down! You may impress your director with the additional activities that the entire school can use.
Be patient—remember that this is a different culture and the children are going to be boisterous. If you have a true “problem student,” ask one of the Koreans in your school for advice.
Instead of yelling when they get out hand (which is very tempting and often is the only way to be heard above the din), stand at the front of the room, completely silent, and just watch them with your “teacher face.” One of them will notice you, and hush the others until the room is quiet. Works like a charm!

Working with adults has its own challenges—it is often more difficult for adults to learn a second language. However, they will work hard, and if you keep things fun and social, you may learn quite a bit from them, as well.

Enjoying Life in Korea and Beyond…

Here are some tips for making your time in Korea meaningful:

Make friends with other foreigners who share your interests and who are not out to party every night of the week. You will comfort each other, share teaching ideas, and be sounding boards for when things get tough. Often such friendships can last well beyond your time in Korea.
Make Korean friends! Experience the culture as their guest. You will feel less of an outsider after you’ve been welcomed into their homes and lives.
Learn some Korean (hangul). You will get more out of your experience, and Koreans will be delighted when you attempt to communicate in their language.
Accept invitations for social gatherings with your co-workers. This is how Koreans do business, and it will forge better working relationships as well as new friendships.