My Teaching Experience in Public School in Jinhae, South Korea
This is my experience in public school. Living and working for one year in Jinhae, South Korea. Read this article, BUT make your OWN decision to come to South Korea or not. Get on the plane, make sure you remember nothing except this:
FORGET EVERYTHING YOU READ HERE.
Come with no expectations because your school, principal, vice principal, city, and everything else will be different. I teach middle school. Most Native English Teachers are in elementary school.
6 Reasons I Loved Teaching English in South Korea
The students have been the number one reason my experience in public school has been the best. Most of the students want to hear English from a native speaker. There are not many westerners in Jinhae. Sure you have some kids that aren’t interested in English but the majority want to learn, or maybe they are just extensions of their parents wants. Even when I see the disinterested students outside of class they are still very happy to see me, on average. For these students, I know that it is the subject they do not like or even school in general. If a Korean was standing in front of me for 45 minutes teaching Korean I would get disinterested too. Think about how you approached a foreign language at school.
- Coachable Moment: Do not take students’ disinterest in your class as a personal offense. Accept them for who they are and where they are in life. They are growing people who are trying to navigate a demanding school schedule while squeezing in K-pop in Singing Rooms(노래방noeraebang) and gaming out at The PC room(PC 방 bang). Don’t give up on them.
My Korean co-workers.
I had so much sensory overload on the first day when I was greeted by my new co-teacher at the education office. New country. New language. I wanted to make a good impression and not screw anything up. My co-teacher instantly made me feel comfortable half-a-world away. This continued when I got to school. The start of my experience in public school started off with many teachers going out of their way to make me feel comfortable. At this point, I did not speak ANY Korean. I was so thankful for any effort the Korean teachers were willing to make. Would I have greeted Koreans in the United States with 안녕하세요 (
annyeong-haseyo – hello) NO! However, with me in THEIR country that is exactly what was done for me. Everyone greeted me with English. My experience in public school only strengthened from there. Am I best friends with 40 of my Korean colleagues? No, but I have gotten to know a fair amount of them and they have made my life far better off than when I came here. I am absolutely going to miss them and I consider them lifelong family.
- Coachable moment: Always think the best of people, when possible. Making even small efforts go a long way.
My experience in Public School is Perfect for full immersion Learning Korean
I wish learning the Korean language was a higher priority for me. To take advantage of full immersion Korean you should take classes and study a decent amount before coming here. This will allow you to receive the full benefit and not waste any time with the generous Koreans who want to help you out. It is so easy to make friends if you show the smallest interest and put in a little effort.
- Coachable moment: Greet your coworkers in Korean and try to learn a few phrases. Sometimes I sit in the library after lunch and read preschool level Korean books.
- Do not be afraid to look stupid.(reminder to myself here to practice what I preach 2x)
- This will be extremely beneficial in making students feel comfortable in class. That is my main goal as an English teacher. Make students comfortable as much as possible so they want to speak English with native speakers.This student(my Korean teacher) clearly doesn’t think I have good Korean pronunciation
- WILL HAVE UPDATED PROGRESS ON MY KOREAN LEARNING. I HAVE THE PLAN TO EXECUTE ON MY BREAK. YEAR NUMBER 2 I WILL PRACTICE WHAT I PREACH
No Hagwon (private school) surprises.
Before coming to South Korea, I never taught in a classroom before. I never traveled to another country alone. Obviously, I never lived in another country. I had a lot of things to worry about and didn’t want anything to worry about with my contract. It is my belief that majority of hagwons are honest, but I did not want one of the few horror stories I read about to end up being my story. In my public school experience, my check enters my bank account every month and I am teaching the hours I signed up for. A few poor private school business owners steered me away from so much great opportunity. I have met private school teachers that love their job and their life in South Korea.
- Coachable moment: Keep things simple. Celebrate the small things you take for granted at home that are tough in South Korea. Celebrate the things that are easier than back home. You aren’t forced to stay here. Enjoy the journey.
Freedom to Teach
I believe a contributing factor towards happiness in life is the ability to create the life you want. Sure, I am told what time I have to come to school and am given some lessons I need to teach. However, I do not need to submit rigid lesson plans or listen to lengthy critiques. Unless I want them of course. In the beginning, it was tough because I wanted feedback. I asked for advice and wanted different points of view. Eventually, I got the hang of it and developed the mentality to take risks with my lessons. You are given the freedom to use trial and error. Use the freedom!
- Coachable moment: Take ownership of your own teaching development and strive to be a better teacher. Do I do this every day? No, once again I need to practice what I preach. However, I am doing this most days.
I am not required to teach grammar
Most of my classes I teach speaking and listening section. Some of my classes I have to put together my own lessons. These classes are more challenging but more rewarding when the students are learning and having fun. Grammar definitely drips into my lessons but it is never is a focal point. Some students I only see once every four weeks for 45 minutes. I am not going to spend those precious 45 minutes teaching grammar. The Korean English teachers make it a priority to drill in grammar. In my opinion, most of the students do not need another grammar policeman on their case.
Coachable moment: I try to volunteer as much as possible. However, if I am not putting an emphasis on this I fall into the trap of not doing this a lot. I need to practice what I preach more often
You can come to South Korea show up for school and coast.
Come to South Korea with a goal to grow yourself and knock off some massive goals. That is the mentality I adopted before coming here. There are other ways to approach this but those are the two extremes that I am familiar with.
Negatives to teaching in the public school versus the average private school
- Not having the flexibility to choose my location
- My class size is huge compared to private schools. At one school my average class size is around 30 and the other is more manageable around 18 students.
The positives list is much longer.
Just go with the flow.
Try to not take anything personally during your experience in public school.
The list of reasons why this is a great opportunity for you to grow as a person is long.
You get to fully submerse yourself in a different culture while getting paid.
Goodluck and let me know if you need any help or have any questions.