Teaching Abroad?

Hey all.  I’ve been considering teaching abroad in a variety of places for the past couple years.  Basically since my buddy Josh linked me to Gaijin SMASH (now called Gaijin Chronicles).  I was still in college then and it seemed like a genuinely fun thing.  Teach English to Japanese kids.  Even if Az had horror stories it would still be an experience.

That kind of faded after graduation when I decided to try and get my first big girl job.

I’m still waiting for that to happen, by the way.

I decided to focus on my writing.

That worked out wonderfully.

I decided to go back to taekwondo.

That worked out wonderfully.

But I’ve still been trying to find a steady source of income.  I really do have to scrape to get by. I’m well below the poverty line.

Every few months the idea comes back up.  Teach Abroad.  It haunts me a little.  You know, sitting around…and then BAM! I’m looking up teach abroad programs.  And then the next week I forget about it and move on.  And then my martial arts school had a new instructor join our ranks last year.  Our new instructor had taught in Korea.



So it’s been biting my brain again.

Teach abroad…or not…

Anyone out there actually taught abroad?  Can you tell me what your experiences were like?

~LL Lemke



5 thoughts on “Teaching Abroad?

  1. Do it. I taught in South Korea for a year. It was amazing. Now, not going to lie – it can get pretty lonely when you’re on the other side of the world and away from your family and friends. But — and I cannot stress this enough — it is absolutely the COOLEST experience in the world. You get to immerse yourself in a new culture, with new friends, new food, new places, etc. I had actually intended to teach in Japan, but then I found out that it was much easier to get a job in South Korea, so, being the lazy individual I am, I went there instead. And I don’t regret it for a second. Plus it pays really well and they pay for your housing and airfare. All in all, great experience. I 100% recommend. Do it!

    • I was actually looking at the programs in South Korea too. Mainly because I do taekwondo – which is a Korean martial art. I could try and scrape enough money together for this coming fall – or I can save up and more comfortably try for next fall. And the main reason I was looking into South Korea was because it was a lot easier to get into…apparently we are both lazy folk.

      What age group were you placed with? And how was the actual teaching? Did you have to get TEFL certification?

      Sorry for the questions, you have caught my interest!

      • Lol no worries. I taught at Avalon English Academy, which is a pretty big private school chain there. I was with kids ages 10-16. The actual teaching was pretty good. With public schools you have a co-teacher who is Korean, but at private schools you teach your own classes, which is fun. I taught reading, writing, speaking, and listening. I did a three weekend TOEFL/TOESL certification course through Oxford Learning, and they hooked me up with the job I got.

        My main warning to you is that if you look into teaching at private schools (called “hogwons”), they are businesses, so sometimes they have sketchy practices or go bankrupt. When you interview for a job, make sure you ask to speak with a foreign teacher working there. They can give you the downlow on how things actually go at the school. I really enjoyed my time at my school, although apparently the school actually went downhill rapidly after I left and closed six months later. So … do your research before you accept any jobs! 😀

        • 10-16 is a pretty huge age difference – but it must have been quite fulfilling. Yeah…most of the posting I’ve seen so far have said you work with a co-teacher. About how large were the classes? How proficient were they in English?

          Good to know – thanks very much for the information! I’ll have to talk to my friend who taught in Korea as well. I know she taught in Seoul.

          Only a few more questions – promise! What would you say was the best part about teaching abroad? The worst (other than the obvious of being away from things you love for a year)?

          • Again, private school, so the classes were smaller than you would get in a private school. It went anywhere from two kids to fifteen kids. They ranged from knowing only basic vocab to more or less fluent in English.

            Best part about teaching … definitely interacting with the kids. They were just so awesome, and even though they messed around a lot they were just really sweet and fun to spend time with. Some kids were less awesome than others, obviously, but there were some classes where I would be genuinely excited to get in there and start teaching, which made the whole job worthwhile. The worst part was … I guess it was trying to navigate the oft-times bewildering chain of command. Sometimes my head teacher would come in and introduce a completely ridiculous policy, like, “Start the class with a ten minute quiz”. And we would respond that our classes are only 50 minutes long, and that there’s no point in giving quizzes because we don’t even GRADE the kids — they just pass/fail the semester based on a level test every three months — and the head teacher was like, “Nope. Do it.” And then we’d do it for a week, and it wouldn’t work, and he’d come back and say, “Okay, so don’t do it anymore.” Mind-boggling, I tell you.

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