One of the many reasons why I chose TaLK (Teach and Learn in Korea) is to determine whether or not being an ESL teacher is suitable for me. This program gives students in rural areas of Korea the opportunity to interact with the foreign teachers TaLK places in their schools. Depending on the school and region, teaching hours, number of students, and classes can all vary.
I get to teach afterschool classes for 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, except on national holidays. Teaching English to Korean students can be fun and difficult at times. They can be easily motivated to participate in games and activities with stickers or candies as prizes, or just good old competition to get them going. I don't find language barrier as a problem while teaching. It is only an issue when it is time to discipline the students.
My school arranged my apartment. I live with two other TaLK teachers who teach at different schools. Many others live on their own in studio apartments. Some live in teacher a dormitory provided by their schools. Very few have home-stay as an option. My roommates and I are lucky; our apartment is spacious and has a decent view, even though it's just trees and rice fields.
Outside of school, I learn taekwondo every week night with my roommates. Being there five days a week, I get to know the other students and the instructor very well. Some of the boys are not as shy and are willing to practice their English. Others are less inclined to speak. However, their listening is good enough, so that as long as we speak clearly and slowly, they do know what we are saying. We may not be able to communicate in just one language, but we manage to understand one another. Not only do we learn taekwondo,we also go on weekend outings with them. Everyone at taekwondo is pretty much acting as my family now.
My weekends are spent mostly out of town. I meet up with friends in Seoul or go to their cities. One of the main things to do, seeing all these different cities, is to eat the specialty food they have there. If you like meat and seafood and can handle spice, you will love Korean food. If you're into cultural trips, there are also tons of festivals held all over Korea throughout the year. With the bus system here, you won't have a problem getting to the places you need to go to.
TaLK is a great program for students in the process of obtaining their Bachelor's. Even if you have no experience in teaching, there is a month-long orientation before you start work. Other TaLK teachers are always willing to share their experiences and tips with one another. I have learned so much these past few months from my mentor teacher, Korean co-teachers, fellow TaLK teachers, and my students. I have changed since living in Korea. I have become more independent and outgoing interacting with the people here. It's been a fantastic journey so far, and I'm looking forward to my next term here.
Beyond the Blog
Interested in pursuing an international co-op work term? Find out more on the International Co-op website.