Meet Marek Krawczyk, a young and adventurous guy from Ludlow, Massachusetts in the USA. He has been living and teaching English in Daejon, South Korea for 3 weeks now and in the words of Marek, “I have found Daejon to be pretty awesome so far”.
Marek’s typical day as an English teacher in South Korea
His typical day includes a lot of free time in the morning as his classes only commence in the afternoon. This allows him to hit the gym, do some shopping, relax and get ready for the afternoon’s teaching. Marek teaches for 6 hours each day which is followed by several follow-up phone calls with his students’ parents in the evening.
South Korean locals and co-workers
Marek is the only Western teacher at his school, making the cross-cultural experience all that more intense but as he states, they are incredibly helpful and have assisted him setting up everything and are always around to lend a helping hand if he needs anything. South Koreans tend to all be ever-so hospitable and welcoming to Western expats, especially one’s colleagues and co-workers.
The Hagwon teaching environment
As Marek teaches English at a Hagwon as opposed to a public school, he isn’t required to create his own lesson plans but instead makes use of the English book material provided to him by his school. English teachers at private schools in South Korea can also substitute book material with other various English learning activities by making use of certain themes, as Marek notes, such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chuseok (South Korean Thanksgiving), etc.
Expat teachers are usually placed in the same communities, making it super easy to make some new friends and find some fellow expats from the Western world.
Forming bonds with your students
Marek explains how “forming a bond with your students is always hard at first because they’re used to the previous teacher and they really miss him or her” but this is easy to overcome and it will soon be you that your students become used to and will miss when you are gone. Like he mentions, the best way to form bonds with your students is to “be understanding, speak slowly, introduce a lot of activities, and just be positive. Giving them high fives, giving them candy when they get the right answer. It’s not as much pushing the curriculum forward, it’s more about teaching them how to speak.” Being an English teacher at a South Korean Hagwon, your lesson plans will primarily focus on teaching your students how to speak and communicate in English. There is far less emphasis on English grammar as the South Korean teachers will focus on this. As he explains when teaching English to your students, “you are going to teach them how to pronounce, speak, and read” in English.
The South Korean teaching adventure
Flying across the world to live and teach in a country whose culture, language, and customs differ quite greatly from the Western world isn’t the easiest thing to do. However it will be one hell of an adventure and, Marek explains, you will grow greatly as a person. You’ll have a lot of time to reflect on your life and actions as well as how your culture impacts those around you.
Marek’s advice to those looking to explore the Eastern world
“Go on an adventure, do something different. I mean, teaching half way around the world is definitely an adventure and, it’s not going to be easy but it’s definitely going to be a lot of fun!”
Thanks for sharing your first impressions of teaching in South Korea Marek. We wish you all the best for the remainder of your stay in South Korea!