Within less than 24 hours of arriving to Busan, a coastal city in South Korea, I managed to schedule an immediate interview for a job teaching English at a summer camp. I had been looking around to see if there were any positions for part time teaching gigs on mykoreanfriends.com and Craig’slist. Sure enough, there were a handful of ads requesting for native English speakers to teach at a school 2 stops away from Haeundae beach (one of the most popular beaches in Busan). I contacted the person who had posted the ad and they responded right away. The next day I met with the school and they gave me a tour of the beautiful facility that looked brand new and had a great view of the ocean at the top of the roof. I could feel this was a good match and hoped they would hire me for the day they needed me. Sure enough, they emailed me back letting me know I was hired to teach their elementary class.
Before I left to teach my first summer camp, I felt those first day of school nerves and didn’t know exactly what to expect. I knew what I was going to be doing with the kids but wasn’t quite sure how they would respond. I had never actually taught a class before in my life! Only given presentations in classrooms to middle school and high school kids. I have never taken a TEFL class and don’t even have a certification. The closest thing I’ve done to teaching a class is the time I gave a training session at a retreat on recruitment fundamentals. I held my breath as I braced myself for my first, and potentially last, day of teaching English.
Before class was in session, I had the chance to talk with the other teacher who was going to be working with the kindergarteners. He was originally from Canada and had been teaching English for a little over a year. He was definitely prepared for teaching kids, even though he had more experience teaching adults. I took notes and guidance from him as he pulled out a container of jelly beans and told the kids he would give them each a jelly bean as a reward for good work and behavior. He also brought a bouncy ball so when the kids looked bored or losing energy, he would play a quick game with them using the ball to pass and practice saying each other’s names. We then split up and it was my turn to teach the elementary aged students.
I was instructed to watch over the students and help them fill out worksheets that they would then glue to a poster board to show off their research on dinosaurs. After passing out the bland worksheets, I anticipated for the 10 and 11 year olds to revolt and conspire together in getting out of doing any sort of work. Their eyes were fixated on the Legos, which they were going to have a chance to play with once the worksheets were finished. Yet to my surprise, the students snapped out of their Lego trance and obediently listened to me. They would ask me to check their work and were eager in learning how to correctly spell volcano, eruption, and other new words they had learned. Afterwards, they worked on their stop motion movie scenes using Legos and told some very creative stories about the dinosaurs they had just studied. I couldn’t believe how easy this gig was and that I was getting paid 20,000 won ($18 USD) an hour!
My overall thoughts after looking up English teaching jobs and being hired to teach at a summer camp for one day is that if you’re a native English speaker, you can easily find a job or a part time gig in South Korea very easily. The big cities such as Seoul, Icheon, and Busan are always hiring and not only will they provide a grand salary, they will also give you an additional stipend for housing and some will even pay for your round trip airfare. Not bad! If you’re looking for an English teaching position in a unique country with a great location, I would definitely recommend searching for a job in Busan. There’s many beaches to go to, the transportation is reliable (making it easy to get around), the cost of living is inexpensive (depending on which area you choose to live in), and the city is lively.