Your First Week As an English Teacher: Day 4

Amanda Segal, an English teacher living in a small town in South Korea and a world traveler, continues onto Day 4 of her 5 part series on advice and tips your first week on the job as an English teacher in South Korea.

This post is a continuation from yesterday from our friend Amanda Segal. She hails from Glen Ridge, New Jersey and is currently teaching English to high school students. While not representing the Western world, she enjoys making people laugh, going on spontaneous trips, taking long walks to new places, and going to the movies just to eat the popcorn. She blogs at:

The Arrival Store - Amanda Segal

6)  The Classroom- rumor has it that Korean students are very well behaved. While it’s been mostly true in my case, that isn’t everyone’s experience, so you will have to be ready to lay down some rules. If you don’t use a firm hand in the beginning it will be very difficult to get back control later! If your students are in high school, perhaps try making a list of rules with them (it will help them to practice their English, allow them to demonstrate maturity, and establish guidelines).

They won’t hate you for it, rules and restrictions are a regular part of Korean society, I’d say more so than in the States. In general, there are a lot of major differences between Korean and American schools in terms of the student-teacher relationship and the way Korean students are taught. I am currently working on another post about this subject because it is very important and probably one of the hardest adjustments for new teachers.

7) Co-teachers– This applies to public schools only. Your co-teacher may be anything from your best friend at school, to your translator in the classroom, or to a silent figure who sits in the back of the room while you teach. There don’t appear to be many guidelines for co-teachers and their role, so it’s kind of the luck of the draw.

You also may work with more than one co-teacher, some more helpful than others. No matter how you feel about your co-teacher(s), always try to compromise and make things work if a problem arises. In most cases, your co-teacher is just there to help translate if students don’t understand something and to help manage the classroom.

How co-teaching might feel sometimes.

Be aware that anything you tell your co-teacher will most likely become common knowledge among all teachers. There is a tendency to gossip. Don’t want everyone knowing about your wild night in Hongdae? Then keep it to yourself.

For public and private schools , understand that most Koreans don’t live on their own until they are married. Other teachers and your principle/director may not grasp the idea that you are comfortable being independent. Their concern for you might be great if you need help buying a cell phone or want someone to show you around, but if you want to keep your school and private life separate it may take some more effort. For example, if you’re sick and need to stay home, expect teachers to call and check up on you, or even try to stop by. In general, this shouldn’t be a huge problem, but be aware that you may have to set certain boundaries.

Click here to read Part 5