Adventures in Teaching in South Korea – TESOL Grad Jugwinder Gill on his First Year of Teaching

sunny-gill-8Jugwinder Gill graduated from the TESOL program in 2015 and immediately moved to Korea to begin his very first teaching job. Here he shares some of his adventures and advice for the newly-minted teacher. 

Hello! My name is Jugwinder Gill and I’m a TESOL certified English teacher currently teaching in South Korea. I am presently living in a city called Icheon, which is about an hour away from Seoul, the capital of Korea. I have been here for almost 10 months, and so far, I have to say it has been extraordinary. Presently, I am having a wonderful time teaching young learners while exploring the country of Korea and all that it has to offer.

While I’ve been in Korea I have learned many things as a new teacher. I realized that the most important lessons come when co-teaching with another teacher. I have learned to be patient with my co-workers, especially because miscommunication happens regularly. I’ve also learned that it is extremely important that I always give every new person I meet the benefit of the doubt, because when two people come from different cultures, there will always be a need for different forms of interaction. Moreover, it’s not hard to notice that many Koreans are usually more curious of you more than you are of them. I’ve also learned to listen and balance my teaching with my school’s expectations and the national curriculum that needs to be followed.

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But besides school life, I have learned to try my best to adapt to Korea as much as possible. Koreans love to party, while also working long dreadful hours. So as a foreigner, I always try to trust my instincts, go with the flow and “do as the Koreans do”, whether at work or out socializing.

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The Three Resources I Can’t Live Without:

  • Waygook.org – A website dedicated solely for English teachers in Korea. It has a micro-blog where teachers can post threads, along with vast amounts of shared teacher-to-teacher material that has proven quite useful.
  • Pinterest.com – A great place to find something small to supplement a lesson plan. Also a great place to find arts and craft activities.
  • Youtube.com – A great site to find small videos to use and show and explain something new to students. I used a small clip from “The Nightmare Before Christmas” to show the my kids something scary when teaching them about Halloween.

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Advice for New Teachers:

If you’re lucky enough to come to Korea and work in a public school, please try your best to take advantage of the training that is offered to guest foreign English teachers. Most of the time, this is the only chance you will get to interact with experienced foreign teachers and get valuable feedback as well as additional information about other resources that you might want draw upon in the future. If you work as a public school teacher, you will have a standard curriculum to follow and this curriculum will keep you busy, so there is usually no need to add extra materials to your lesson plans, but having a few good activities will definitely help when you need them.. The simplest form of advice I would recommend would be to trust your instincts when planning your lessons and not to be afraid to cut things out when you think you’re running out of time. Always trust your intuition and you will find success as an English teacher. Good luck!

Thank you Jugwinder! We wish you all the best on your teaching journey! If you would like to connect with Jugwinder to find out more about teaching in Korea, you can contact him via LinkedIn