I know the life of an English teacher in South Korea may seem like all sunshine and sparkles and soju, but of course the only way we can afford all those sparkles is with that little thing known as a job. I find it a bit ironic that this blog is for potential English teachers, yet little of the content on here actually addresses teaching itself. So with that in mind, I thought I would share a few tips about teaching at Chungdahm. This one is dedicated to my boss Joe, who half-jokingly told me to write a teaching blog while shaking his head about the…sometimes questionable decisions made by the teachers under his watch.
First off, I am by no means a teaching expert. Like most English teachers in Korea, I do not have a teaching degree nor did I have any teaching experience before coming here. Since I have now been here for 18 month however, I feel like I have a general sense of some of the dos and don’ts that go along with teaching at Chungdahm.
Yes, you might be rolling your eyes at this one, because of course you need to know what you are teaching before you walk into the classroom. But you would be surprised how many teachers think they can just wing an entire class. Yes, the materials are already provided to you, so in that regard we have it very easy. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look over it carefully, since, believe me, students can totally tell if you aren't prepared. If a student asks you about a particular word meaning or how to solve a reading question, it would be wise not to return his or her befuddled look with a confused look of your own. Prepping thoroughly also means having any necessary materials printed off BEFORE class, so you aren’t scurrying off to the printer every two minutes to get an extra vocabulary list.
These kids are in school all day everyday, so the least you can do is bring energy and enthusiasm into the six hours a week that you spend with them. Especially with the middle schoolers, a dull and sluggish classroom environment is toxic, and a disinterested or seemingly uncaring teacher is just going to drag everyone down. The only way you are going to keep some of these kids interested is if you are interested, or at the very least appear interested. Try not to sit at your desk for long periods of time (if at all) during class. Walk around and literally get 2 feet away from your students when you ask them questions. Staying on your feet is a great way to stay engaged with the students, and it may even help you stay awake if you are not exactly well-rested.
Again, this seems self-explanatory and maybe even unnecessary to note, but I still find it pretty important. You should not be strolling into your classroom five minutes before the bell rings. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time before your students arrive, just to make sure everything is in order. I don’t think I need to say anymore about this one. I mean if you’ve ever had a job of any kind before, you show up on time and do what is expected of you. Pretty straight-forward.
Patrick Sheridan grew up in the quiet suburbs outside of Boston but always knew he wanted to explore the world. Studying abroad in Denmark while attending Elon University did not satisfy this desire, so after graduating in 2012 he decided to join Chungdahm Learning and teach English in South Korea. He loves wandering through the various neighborhoods of his city Daejeon, sampling random back-alley restaurants and attempting to communicate with the locals in his horribly broken Korean. He embraces everything Korean and looks forward to seeing everything South Korea has to offer.