Before you accept a teaching job abroad, you probably wonder what a typical day is like. Most ESL teachers focus on the adventures and the traveling, but what they tend to forget is that most of their time will be spent teaching English. This blog will focus on my experiences teaching in Korea thus far, and in particular what my typical day is like working at ChungDahm.
Where You Choose to Work Really Matters
I began teaching at Chungdahm two years ago and currently work at Songpa Branch in Seoul. I both teach and I am also a TL (Team Leader) to various instructors quarterly. Other than teaching, I help teachers improve the quality of their own classes and with any issues they may have at the Songpa branch.
Having come from a Korean public school background, I had plenty of questions about working for a private company such as ChungDahm. Questions swirled around my head such as: "How do I login on time?" "How does the tablet work?" "What do my teaching duties entail?" "Will someone train me?" "Can I make friends?" I decided to changed from public school to a hagwon, so that I could make use of my mornings to focus on my journalism career and study other languages.
A new job, a new country and a new culture can be rather overwhelming but with a little help and preparation of what to expect - your overall enjoyment and happiness of teaching English at CDL can be achieved!
Below I will go into detail about what my typical day of teaching at ChungDahm is like.
What Do I Do in the Mornings?
My mornings usually start at 9 am with some breakfast and reading emails. Around 10:30 am I will either go to gym, cycle along the Han River, swim at Olympic Park or climb Mt. Achasan. At about l pm I will begin my food-prep and get ready for work. Afterwards, I use my free time to prepare my classes for the day or catch-up on other work I may have. I usually leave for work around 2:30 pm, unless I have other commitments like meetings or workshops.
How Do I Get to Work?
One of the best parts of living in Korea are the great transport systems which are both efficient and cheap. While you can definitely take advantage of the transportation systems, I prefer walking to work, which takes about 30 minutes. One day a week I will bike and on the off occasion when I am running late, I will ride the bus that comes every 7 minutes. lf you live close to work I highly recommend buying a bike! It's a fun way to enjoy the outdoors and refresh your mind before class. Korea is one of the safest countries in the world, so you can happily walk to and from work without any concerns for your safety.
What Do I Do Once I Arrive At ChungDahm?
Chungdahm instructors have to login 20 minutes before class, which usually means either 3:40 pm or 6:40 pm. All locations are different, so depending on location management, the arrival time could differ. Most teachers at my branch arrive around 3 pm to prepare for class and check any updates or notifications they may have. CCTV meetings are also conducted at this time by your assigned TL (Team Leader), who will watch your classes and give feedback on them.
The earliest teachers usually arrive will be 2 pm for workshops and training or CCTV meetings with their TL’s (team leaders). On the off occasion, such as week 1, you might arrive slightly earlier to familiarize yourself with your new classroom and semester materials.
After I arrive at work, I login immediately, check all chat groups and emails, have a look at the teachers board, prepare the desks for the students, and print out all tests and materials I will need that day. I may also prep some more for my afternoon and evening classes, depending on my morning time management. Other times, I might just grab a coffee and chill with the teachers - chatting about project ideas or weekend activities.
What Is a Typical Class is Like?
During class I am fully prepped and ready to teach for three to six hours. The students usually come in around 3:50 pm and at about 4 pm I check their i-learning homework and hand out their Day 1 or Day 2 vocabulary tests. Once their tests are completed we begin with class, and every hour take a 7 minute break where I will either eat the food I prepared and chat to other teachers or sit in class and converse with my students. Class goes by pretty quickly and most of the time you need to adjust your class, so that students can learn the material within the allocated time.
What Do I Do Once I am Done Teaching for the Day?
At first, adjusting to a 4-10 pm schedule can be quite difficult, but once you get into a rhythm of going to bed at a reasonable hour, you will not feel so out of sync. On the nights that I finish at 10 pm, I will wind down class around 9:55 pm and walk or bike home afterwards. Then I will do some food prep and hop into bed around 12 am. I find that reading really helps to fall asleep at a reasonable hour. On the longer teaching nights my bed time is usually around 12:30 am.
On the days I finish my teaching day at 7 pm, I will either relax at home and catch up on my favorite TV shows, meet with friends for dinner and drinks, go to a café and study Korean, or catch up on some grocery shopping at the store. Most Chungdahm teachers will have at least two nights a week where they finish at 7 pm, so I try to use one of those nights to do something fun and the other to just chill at home.
Like I said before, all branches vary, so at my branch once in a while an instructor will have to perform homework class, detention class or make tests. These classes are for students who didn't complete their i-learning or vocabulary homework, or if they failed their Day 2 tests. This is usually conducted for an hour after class and there is a schedule that is fairly rotated among all employees.
I hope this blog has been helpful to give you a better idea of what working at ChungDahm Learning is like.
It is no surprise that Tijana Huysamen, a South African born Capetownian, avid traveler and travel journalist, fell in love with South Korea and its people. After Tijana arrived in South Korea in 2010, she had the opportunity to live in the heart of the Korean countryside. During her time spent in Chungnam province she learned to speak Korean, prepare Korean food and experience the humble nature of the countryside people. After a year break in New York, Tijana jumped at the opportunity to return to Korea again, and is currently working at the CDI Jamsil Branch, in Jamsil, Seoul. Read Tijana’s Aclipse blog to gain a unique perspective on Korea and her shared experiences and adventures both in a major city and in the countryside. Follow Tijana on Twitter @TeeAnni or email firstname.lastname@example.org to request more information on teaching in Korea!