Through Oxford Seminars, I was connected to several job placement agencies according to my preferred locations. I ultimately decided to go forward with their recommended public school recruiting agency, who in turn connected me to the Gyeongsangnam-Province Office of Education in South Korea. This decision proved to be one of the best ones I’ve ever made as I ended up staying in Korea for 3 years!
I was placed in one public school for the first 2 years (and a second school was added in my third year), in the city of Changwon/Masan and taught grade 3, 5, and 6, as well as the infamous “English Camps” during the vacation holidays. One of the reasons I stayed for as long as I did was due to the amazing schools that I taught at; my co-teachers and other teaching staff truly made me feel at home and went out of their way to help me whenever I needed help. Building relationships with your coworkers is, without saying, pertinent to how well you will fare in this type of job and can make or break your experience, particularly when you haven’t yet mastered the host country’s language. There are horror stories out there that might scare you regarding difficult co-workers; however, it truly is dependent on you and how you respond to what-may-be difficult personalities and/or adversity in general. As such, to avoid any potential conflict, I normally had quick meetings with my co-teachers a week in advance on the upcoming lessons and discussed how we’d conduct them. As for the “English Camps”… well, you’ll have to experience that yourself and find out, but as a preview, it is easily the most entertaining type of lessons to teach for me!
Regarding life (outside of work) in Korea… it is unlike anything I have ever experienced before. Korea is a beautiful mountainous country that you can hike to your heart’s content, for those mountain-lovers out there. Besides that, Korea also has some of the best beaches and historical sites that you can visit and gain historical/cultural knowledge during your free time. One of the best things about Korea (and something that I still marvel at every time I think about it) is the public transportation system; everything and everywhere is just a bus/train-ride away! Therefore, be sure to make some good mates – most of my best mates are from the original cohort that also came at the same time as I – and make the best use of your weekends! (Don’t forget to be social during your orientation day and make friends there!)
Ultimately, this experience – teaching abroad – is extremely unique and can be really rewarding, regardless of whether you decide to teach in Korea like I did, or somewhere else in the world. For those of you who took the same journey as I did, I hope it was as amazing as mine; for those who are thinking of the next step in your career or life, I truly recommend for you to “go for it!”
Truc is a Canadian teacher based in South Korea. She graduated Oxford Seminars in 2017 and went on to teach in S. Korea until 2021. During her time there, she met many wonderful students, as well as co-authored a teacher’s guidebook – “Today’s English Activity” – published by the provincial Ministry Office of Education (GOE). Such experiences inspired her to continue on the path of education and she is currently pursuing a M.Ed program in Canada.