teaching English in South Korea

14 Things to Expect Teaching English in South Korea

If you’re about to begin a new journey teaching English in South Korea, you may be a bit nervous about your first few weeks. It’s normal to be a little anxious and to wonder what to expect.

Most teachers love their experience once they get settled into their new school. Keep reading to learn more about some of the things you can expect at your new school in Korea, so you’re better prepared.

14 Things to Expect when Teaching English in South Korea

1. Your students will be very excited to see you! Students get especially excited about a new foreign teacher. If you’re showing up for your first few classes, expect lots of excitement and questions. Your students want to get to know you!

2. You’ll be expected to participate in special functions. Sometimes, you may be asked to attend a special school event or teacher dinner, especially during your first couple of months. This is a great way to participate in the culture and get to know your Korean co-workers. Don’t skip out on these gatherings.

3. Expect for parents to be very involved in the school and the education of their children.

4. Some things may seem strange. At first, some everyday routines or tasks may seem odd, but you will get used to them with time.

5. You’ll meet co-teachers with different teaching styles and preferences. Expect to work with a variety of co-teachers. You’ll learn that some have a particular teaching style or preference.

6. Get ready for lots of bowing! Your students will regularly bow at you to greet you and show respect. You probably should also bow to fellow co-workers when you see them.

7. Expect varying English levels. When dealing with both students and co-workers, expect to see a wide range of English ability levels. You’ll learn ways to better communicate with those who struggle with English.

8. Bring a toothbrush. You’ll notice students and teachers brushing their teeth after a meal. You might as well improve your dental health, too.

9. Bring your toilet paper into the bathroom. In many schools, toilet paper is not in the bathroom. Instead, you bring it into the stall with you. Check this first to avoid an uncomfortable situation.

10. Learn to go with the flow! Some things will be given or told to you at the last minute.

11. Your students will likely be exhausted. Students go to public school during the day and then later attend academies, so it’s normal for them to be tired.

12. Napping at your desk (when you’re not in class) is perfectly acceptable in Korean culture. If you really need to catch some zzz’s, you can do so.

13. If you’ll be eating meals at your school, expect to eat with the students. You will also eat the same meals that they have.

14. Expect to be addressed by your first name or to be called “teacher.” Students don’t address teachers as formally as you may expect.

Teaching in South Korea

Being a teacher in Korea can be a lot of fun! The above tips can help you better adjust to your first few weeks teaching at your new school!

Do you agree with our list? What else do you think new teachers should expect when teaching English in South Korea? Leave a comment below.

WE TEACH KOREA: Teaching English in South Korea

We Teach Korea is the best site for TEFL jobs in South Korea. English teaching jobs are posted daily, as well as blog posts about living and teaching English in South Korea.

Written By Natasha Gabrielle

Natasha is a travel blogger, ESL teacher, adventurer, and sometimes runner—currently living abroad and teaching English in South Korea. She blogs about living and teaching in South Korea as well as her travel adventures. Find out more about her and her travels at www.livelearnventure.com

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