Interviews with ESL teachers at Haeundae beach in Busan, Korea

The teachers here were interviewed on Haeundae, beach. Listen to these teachers share their advice, challenges, offer teaching tips, and talk about public schools and hagwons in Korea.

Here is a transcription of the video:

What's your name? Sheila.

Where do you come from? Chicago.

How long have you been teaching English? I just finished my ninth month... Well, I taught English prior in the States.

In a public school? Yeah, public third grade elementary. Then I came here to Korea and now it's middle school, all boys.

How do you like it? Love it. It's a very hard country not to fall in love with.

What has been the biggest challenge that you have had teaching abroad? Ahhh, I don't know if I have had that much of a challenge the most is when you're trying to get the kids to quiet down. Cause I work in a public school here and there are 40 kids sometimes. And it's sometimes hard to get them to quiet down. They're usually very attentive especially since I work in a public school and their grades counting and their behavior is a lot better.

How do you control them? Well, I used to take away their recess time (laughing). I would take away 5 minutes and they would meet me in the English room. I stopped doing that cause I don't like punishments. So basically I just talk to them ask them to listen and explain why learning English is important. I build a very good re-pore with my students. To get them to quiet down I just flick the lights on and off.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of teaching abroad? Do it. I don't know what kind of advice... Close your eyes jump in and enjoy every moment of it. It's not a difficult task. Be passionate. Keep your head in the game it's a lot easier teaching here than being an actual teacher in the States. I would suggest it. It's one of the best life experiences that you could have.

Do you have a favorite tip, game or classroom activity that you would like to share? Sounds strange, ahh, Hot Potato. Sounds pretty silly. Play the music. Whoever has it I ask an English question and they have to answer it. Like preview games. You got the music playing and then I wrap masking tape into a ball and then you have to throw it someone who has not answered or who has not had the actual ball. Then I stop the music and ask an English question. They answer and if they get it right they keep standing and if they get it wrong then they sit down. They tend to like that and bingo games. The more games you can find the better it is to teach them.

The end.

What's your name? Anne.

Where do you come from? Chicago.

How long have you been teaching English? This is my third year. I heard you have some experience teaching in a hagwon and a public school? Yeah, I did an English Village (hagwon) and a public school.

Which did you like better? Public school by far. The hagwon was horrible. English Village was like baby sitting. It wasn't teaching. I recommend public school.

What has been the biggest challenge that you have had teaching abroad? Being Korean American. Everybody expects you to speak Korean, but I don't. But at least people in Busan are friendlier than in Seoul.

Do you have a favorite tip, game or classroom activity that you would like to share? I usually play a quiz game to review, but there is a game called "switch, steal, lose". It's really good. You can use it for spelling, vocabulary questions or topic questions.

How do you play that? On four places of paper you'll write "lose", on four pieces you'll write "steal" and on the other four pieces you'll write "give". And then you'll write point increments. And then another four pieces with plus point increments. I divide my students into 6 teams because I have 36 students usually. Pin two teams on each other. Team one, team two. One students comes up. Usually I'll do a spelling word. So I'll give them a spelling word and the first person to write the word correctly puts the chalk down and picks a piece of paper out of the bag with the switch steal lose on it. And they get to either switch, steal or lose points with the other team. They get excited cause they like competition.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of teaching abroad? Come here with a really open mind. And don't think that the place or country is going to be anything like home. Be open.

The end.

What's your name? John.

Where do you come from? Clarion, Pennsylvania.

How long have you been teaching English? About two years.

How do you like it? It's been good so far.

What has been the biggest challenge that you have had teaching abroad? Adjusting to the culture I guess.

Do you have a favorite tip, game or classroom activity that you would like to share? Well there's this dart ball with like darts coming out of it. We have the marker board and I draw... Just ask comprehension questions and the students get to throw it.

What's on the board? I just draw a target with ten points on the outside with like 10 points on the outside with like 50 points in the middle. But I don't play that game anymore. I just use a point system and if they speak Korean I minus a point if they answer a question or do a good job in class I plus a point. It keeps students under control so that seems to work.

How's your housing? My housing is really nice. I have loft a nice living area, bathroom, kitchen it's pretty good.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of teaching abroad? Uhmm, be able to put up with a lot of bullshit. If you can handle the bullshit and stress then you will be fine. Just remember you are in another country.

The end.

What's your name? John.

Where do you come from? The US, Iowa.

How long have you been living in Korea? Like 22 months almost 2 years.

How do you like Korea? Korea is cool. I have everything I need, but the culture is a little difficult at times. It's nothing you can't handle, but it's always there. It's always over your head. You can always feel the cultural difference, but also similarities.

What has been the biggest challenge that you have had teaching abroad? You know really it's not that challenging. Just getting off the plane. Getting the gumption to leave your country and comforts. Also dealing with hagwons and that uncertainty.

Have you had any problems with your hagwon? My hagwon changed hands, it sold, so when a business changes hands there's always different rules to adapt to.

Do you have a favorite tip, game or classroom activity that you would like to share? Ahh, not really I teach university students so we don't play many games. We do a lot of free talking and conversation activities.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of teaching abroad? Be adaptable. Research your school. Research what you're getting into. Don't always believe your recruiter. Talk to the school. Talk to foreigners in the school yourself. Make sure it's a reputable school. And I would say apply to public schools before thinking about going to a private institution which is business oriented.

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