My name is Romy Darius and I am from the city of Toronto, Canada. I graduated from York University with a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and obtained a TESOL Certificate and this past August, I decided I wanted to teach English in Korea. The opportunity to teach students abroad intrigued me due to my love of teaching. I have never lived outside of North America, so this was my perfect chance to not only gain experience teaching, but, to engage in another culture and make a difference in the lives of others.
My journey to Korea started on a humid summer day in Seoul. After six long months of preparation, I had finally arrived. As soon as I arrived, I was whisked away to to a hotel in the Gangnam district of Seoul where I would stay during ChungDahm's training week. Once there, I met with my training week roommates and we shared our excitement about the impending training week. On Monday, we went through, what I can only describe as, a medical assembly line. A quick prod here, blood test there, eye exam here, and so on. After we received our final results, we were herded to the Chungdahm Training Center.
Training week was one of the most intense weeks that I have ever experienced. From the outset, our Chungdahm trainers laid out our expectations for the week ahead. We were given training a packet that included our mock teaching schedule along with the Chungdahm methodology. Despite the challenges of training week, our trainers provided us with the tools and resources necessary to pass. This included example videos of mock teaching as well as assistance after hours. One tip that I would give potential candidates is to study and learn the methodology.
After a grueling, jet lag filled week of studying, I passed the training upon which I was immediately taken way on an express bus to Jeonju, Korea to meet the staff at my new branch at Chungdahm April Institute. Jeonju is a city located in the southwestern part of Korea. With a population of an estimated 600,000 people, it is the capital of the province of North Joella. Jeonju is also one of the oldest cities in Korea and is famously known for its Bibimbap and the Hanok Village. A hospitable welcome ensued when I met with my branch manager and the staff who welcomed me with a dinner. After dinner, my branch manager escorted me to my new apartment which is a standard one bedroom fully furnished with a bed, television, refrigerator, air conditioner, and a washing machine. I was also pleasantly surprised that wifi was also included in my boarding package with my branch.
The Jeonju branch of Chungdahm April is tailored for younger students ranging from early elementary to middle school ages. My high level of confidence during my first week of teaching was possible because of training week. As I rigorously planned my lessons for my EC4,Bridge and Birdie classes the weekend before my teaching debut, I knew how to proficiently approach the methodology. Meeting my students for the first time diminished all of the nervousness and fears that I held prior. I had every class introduce themselves and name their favorite food. Once the students realized that I genuinely wanted to get to know their names, they responded eagerly. By building a connection with my students, I was able to maintain their attention throughout the lesson and complete my first week of classes with minimal hiccups due in part to planning my lessons and asking for input. Whenever I had questions, my head instructor, along with the other Instructors, provided assistance and tips on future lesson planning as well as classroom management. Although I am still adapting to life at Chungdahm, every day that passes I am constantly improving as a teacher.
In the end, I successfully navigated through my first two weeks in Korea because of proper planning and a positive attitude. Essentially, training week and my first week of teaching proved to be the most challenging yet rewarding weeks that I have experienced. As a new teacher, my final piece of advice is to work hard by applying the 5 P’s of success; Proper Planning, Prevents Poor Performance. I hope this blog has proven to be helpful to all the potential ChungDahm teachers and helped ease some of the fears some may have about training week.