When people are interested in working for ChungDahm Learning, many people do not realize that we also teach beginning level English courses. This is an interview with our senior April Institute (sister company of ChungDahm) instructor Erin Stuebben. We have been working together at the GangDong Branch for almost 3 years now.
Erin before we begin, can you tell us a little bit something about yourself?
I'm from a small town in Michigan. In college I did a study abroad program to Italy and from then on traveling got into my blood. I taught ESL in Southern Spain for a year before coming to Korea. I've been in Seoul for almost 3 years now at the same school and have made quite a comfortable life for myself.
What interested you into working in Korea?
My interest in teaching in Korea came from wanting to try a new challenge and see a new part of the world. I had friends from high school teach here and one was even still living here when I first arrived. That help me out tremendously to start to understand this new place and feel like I could fit in.
How were you introduced to Aclipse Recruiting? What was the process like?
My cousin actually told me about Aclipse recruiting. She is always sending me links for jobs that I should take and when I checked out the website I figured I would give it a shot. They were very friendly and helpful. They made it less scary to be moving to the other side of the world. They find the school that needs you and then they give you all the training you need to succeed at your new job. It was pretty stressful week, especially since I didn't have a backup plan if I didn't make it/didn't like it. But by the time I got to my apartment and had a minute to walk around my area, it immediately started to feel like home.
What does a day of an April Institute instructor look like?
I didn't start out as an April teacher, originally I was trained only for Chungdahm. But when our school brought in the program they talked me into trying it since all the little kids seemed to like me. The April program is very different from Chungdahm. Classes are 45 minutes long then you switch with your Korean co-teacher. Another 45 minutes then those kids go home and a new group comes in. It's nice having a co-teacher that can talk to the kids and their parents directly, especially since these kids are all 6-10 years old and still learning how to behave in the classroom. April takes a lot of energy and a lot of patience.
What are some of your best memories of working for the April Institute?
My best memories are of kids running up to me shouting "Erin Teacher!" Huge smiles, big hugs and so excited just to see me, even if I'm not their teacher anymore.
What are some challenges you think our readers should be aware of?
The most challenging thing about April is the hours. I work back to back classes 4.5 hours. There are 5 minute break times between class switches, but these kids are just so excited to talk to you that they don't really give you a chance to rest. Also, some days I have to teach a night time Chungdahm class, so that makes for a very long day. It takes a lot of caffeine and snacks to get me through those days. Another challenge is learning how to control the classroom so that you can at the very least get a controlled chaos. I figure if I can get them to be shouting in English then at least I'm still somewhat in control. It really helps to know that if I absolutely cannot control a specific student that I have a Korean co-teacher to help me out and back me up.
What are your future plans for yourself?
As for my future... I have no idea. Korea for the near future then onto another country. I'm thinking maybe Argentina or Chile. My plan is to keep traveling and teaching as long as I can.
Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to our interview. Erin has been a valued colleague of mine for the past three years and to see her grow as a teacher has been a rewarding experience.
Marc Gonzales has been living in Seoul working at the ChungDahm's Gangdong Branch for 4 years now. During those 4 years, he worked his way up from being a teacher and is now a faculty manager for that location. He majored in Finance and Marketing at the University of Nevada Las Vegas while working as a manager for a national bank. In his spare time, he enjoys outdoor activities like hiking the numerous mountains around Seoul and biking along the massive Han River. To know more about him and his adventures living in Korea, follow Marc on Twitter @geonmakku and on Instagram @geonmakku.