Interviews with ESL teachers in Busan, Korea

Here teachers on Haeundae beach in Korea talk about what they like about Korea, their challenges, their housing, offer teaching tips, advice and more on teaching in Korea.

Here is a transcription of the video:

What's your name? Sandra M. from Ireland.

How long have you been teaching English? I started in November so nearly seven months.

How do you like it? I love it. It's hard work. You don't get the holidays that public schools do, but I love the school and I love the kids.

What has been the biggest challenge that you have had teaching abroad? I think just being away from home and family and getting to know people here. I am the only teacher where I work, so it's quite hard to meet people when you are working from afternoon and sometimes I get home at 10 o'clock. That's the biggest challenge for me.

How do you like Korea? I really like it. I am used to traveling, so I love it. I think the language is a thing. I am taking classes, but that is quite difficult is you want to answer people's questions or ask for help. They're really helpful and if you are stumped they will just come up and help or get someone who speaks English. People are lovely the place is great, especially here at the beach.

How do you like your housing? Excellent. Really great. It's a modern place. It's a one room studio, so you have a mattress on the floor, a couch, TV, a kitchen and a bathroom. It's what I expected.

How did you get your job? Just through PusanWeb.com. There were hundreds of jobs there. I was looking for a while at Dave's ESL Cafe for a long while through recruiters, but nothing came up. I really wanted the Haeundae area and I was looking for a while. Then one came up. She sounded really nice on the phone and she was asking me more questions than the recruiters. The recruiters were just saying, "When can you start?" She was asking me some questions about my experience and I thought that was very good.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of teaching abroad? Expect to work hard. I was a teacher beforehand, so I know what's involved. I know there are a lot of extra hours involved. But when I was looking at the internet I found stuff like: make sure your apartment has a TV, make sure you get holidays. It is a teaching job, so if you are just out of university or you're taking a year out I would suggest that you take it seriously.

You're coming here and you want to give them a good example of a foreigner. A lot of foreigners just come here and treat it like, "Oh I am making money and I have free accommodation." So come here and take it seriously and enjoy it. Just take time researching into recruiters and hagwons and if it feels right then go for it.

The end.

What's your name? Marret.

Where do you come from? Minnesota, USA.

How long have you been teaching English? About a year and a half now.

Do you like it? I like it. It has it's ups and downs. I am at a Christian school, so it is a little different than a normal school.

What has been the biggest challenge with your job? The biggest challenge with my job has been that they are very Christian and I am not that Christian. They have there different ways of doing things: discipline and teaching styles, so that's probably been the biggest challenge since I am at a Christian school and not at a public school like everyone else.

Do you have a favorite tip, game or classroom activity that you would like to share? I play a lot of games and songs. I am at a middle school, so I try to play a lot of games like trivia and Jeopardy games to get them to speak a little more than just lecturing them.

How do you play Jeopardy? You have a power point and you create different questions, just like in Jeopardy and you give them the points and the categories. Then there's like 40 kids in a class - in my classes and you split them up into 7 different teams. Then they choose the points that they want and the category. And it works very well.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of teaching abroad? Ughh, maybe do a background check on other people who have worked in your school... Learning more Korean, before you come here. I tried to learn a little, but it's kind of hard until you are in Korea. Read up on the Korean laws cause that's important. The area where you live in go visit the police station because I have been attacked before so...

What happened? I was walking home one evening and he came out of the alley near my apartment. I kind of noticed him I ran up my stairs and he was chasing me. I got into my apartment and he broke the bars off my window and tried to get me. But he didn't. Just do your research about where you are going.

The end.

What's your name? Larry.

Where do you come from? Kingston, Ontario.

How long have you been teaching English? I just finished one year teaching.

Do you think you will teach for another year? I am contemplating it. Maybe teach for a couple months and then leave after.

What has been the biggest challenge that you have had teaching abroad? Just working with kids. They are the same anywhere. They have a lot of energy and you have to control them. The language barrier would be the most difficult aspect of trying to maintain order in a classroom. I teach in a hagwon though, so my materials are not enough to fulfill a whole class. I often do struggle coming up with creative things and keeping the class learning and entertained.

Do you have a favorite tip, game or classroom activity that you would like to share? I just love the easiest games as possible to play. I just write the alphabet on the board. O.k tell me all the animals that you can think of. Divide the class into two. Say we have A,B,C and he says, "ape" and the next kid goes and he says, "bear". Draw a little line so it's one one. And another kid says, "bat". So it's ape, bear, bat and they steal the points. And it's 3 nothing.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of teaching abroad? I'd say that you really have to come with an open mind. You can't expect this to be home. Everything is different. Everything. So you just have to come and be patient and relaxed with what you are going to have.

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