TEACH ENGLISH ABROAD: Read up On My amazing adventures as an ESL Teacher in South Korea & China For Over 5 Years!
Teaching English in Seoul was truly a blessing for two reasons. For one, it was an exciting travel adventure and I was exploring this popular Southeast Asian region like I've always wanted.
I visited grand temples such as Gyeongbukgong Palace that I couldn't believe were situated smack-dab in the middle of downtown. I ate kimchi and drank pro-biotic drinks everyday for lunch. I munched on street snacks and exotic seafood on Gwangjang Market and washed it down with Soju, a popular local alcoholic beverage.
I freestyle rapped on the corner with a group of local B-Boys. I partied at a jamming hip-hop club with a bunch of locals and expats in Itaewon until the wee hours of the morning. I saw loads of beautiful Korean women at every turn and I even followed Korean New Year's tradition by hiking to the top of a mountain to watch the sunrise.
And two, I was fortunate enough to survive my first experience teaching English abroad with flying colors. The students were not only well behaved but, luckily for me, had already spoke English at an intermediate level. Thank God! I taught general subjects in English as a normal teacher in the US would, organized fun and creative activities to teach the content, and even introduced them to popular children's games in the US such as Dots, Tic-Tac-Toe, and Hangman.
Each day we'd eat lunch together in the campus cafeteria while cracking jokes and chatting about a wide range of topics. At the same time I had the chance to cooperate with local Korean staff and work aside ESL teachers from across the world.
And this was what teaching English abroad was all about: experiencing new cultures, learning new languages, developing new skills, meeting people from around the world, gaining new perspectives, going on adventures, and enriching student's lives through language. Yep, I absolutely loved it!
In exactly one month I'd return to Los Angeles and share my experience in Southeast Asia with my family and friends, who were just as curious about the region as I had once been. After looking over all of the photos and videos I had taken, I realized that my introduction to the exotic world of teaching English abroad had not only been one fantastic adventure but a life-changing experience of which I knew I would return.
Over the next year and a half I'd work as a Site Manager for a non-profit homework, tutoring, and enrichment program servicing youth throughout inner-city schools in Los Angeles and Compton. During this period two things would occur: first, I'd discover early on that I really enjoyed working with kids. Next, I’d develop my management skills—overseeing students' progress, communicating with parents and staff, organizing activities—and further practice conducting myself in a professional manner, in a professional environment. Unbeknownst to me at the time, this development would play a major role in my progression throughout the ESL world, but I'll save that for later.
Time passed, and the longer I worked for the program, the more my appetite to return overseas as an English teacher grew exponentially. After all, I was only 24 years old, had experience working with kids, was nowhere near achieving my goal of landing a job in the film industry, and wasn't permanently committed to anything at home.
By August of 2011, I officially started searching for overseas ESL jobs and phase III of my journey teaching English abroad had officially begun.
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About the Author: Don is from Los Angeles, CA, USA and has served as an ESL Teacher & Foreign Department Manager in both China & South Korea!
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