Tag Archives: South Korea

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.


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.


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.


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

Teaching in South Korea – Part II of a Blog Post by TESOL Grad Michael Delapaz



A continuation of his last post, Michael Delapaz shares his resources and tips for teaching in South Korea. 

What was the most recent article/book/blog you read for PD?

https://theteflshow.com/2016/11/08/is-having-a-foreign-accent-in-english-a-bad-thing/  “Is having a ‘foreign’ accent in English a bad thing?” – The Teflshow Podcast

This is something I’ve said jokingly in the past to my adult English learners:

“Canadian English is the best to learn because it is a mixture of both British and American English.” When it comes to teaching pronunciation, it is typically Standard British English or General American model that we teach our students. In a nutshell, we want our students to sound ‘native-like’. This podcast takes` a critical look at the assumption that more ‘native-like’ pronunciation is better.


What four TEFL resources you can’t live without?

1) http://www.perfect-english-grammar.com/  As someone who hates grammar and has difficulties sometimes finding grammatical explanations, this website has been a saviour to me. Not only does it give simple explanations of grammatical points, it provides numerous printout exercises at varying levels of difficulty for free!

2) http://www.azargrammar.com/materials/FWG_TOC.html   Teaching grammar and making it interesting for language learners can be challenging. Thankfully, Suzanne Woodward’s Fun with Grammar provides hundreds of communicative activities that is free to download.

3) https://www.espressoenglish.net/english-tips-blog/   As a proponent of “real world English,” I always take time to read posts from this blog. I occasionally share the helpful tips and advice on improving English skills with my students on my Facebook page.

4) What I learned from the UofT TESOL Program.   I’m very thankful for what I learned at the UofT TESOL Program. Whenever I need help with curriculum development or lesson planning, I always refer to Lindsay’s lectures. When I have questions about methodology, I review the notes I took in Marijke’s classes. When I have problems about grammar, I look back on the lessons from the Grammar course. And whenever I need inspiration, I always remember Carolyn’s words of wisdom.


What one piece of advice would you give someone just starting out?

Know your audience! Building a rapport with language learners is one of the most important things in all of my classes. I feel many of my students have enjoyed my classes because I took the time to listen to their opinions, and structured lessons to their wants and needs rather than “going by the book.” That’s why I always take the time to do some sort of Needs Analysis at the beginning of each term.

It’s also important to connect with your learners. Make your classroom a comfortable place for them to be in. Stress that EVERYONE makes mistakes, including the teacher, and they shouldn’t feel bad about it. Remind learners that it is THEIR class, not yours. Reinforce the fact that you are there to help them, and encourage them to help each other.

I usually don’t enforce the traditional teacher-student dynamic in my classes. Don’t get me wrong… I still maintain class structure and management. But if you’re teaching adults, please DON’T treat them as children. Be yourself!

I’m proud to say that I maintain some sort of relationship with many of my students, whether it is them asking me some advice about IELTS or liking a picture on my Instagram. Just taking some time to know your learners can have a positive impact on their learning experience and your career as an ESL teacher.

Thanks for sharing Michael! If you would like to connect with Michael or any of our other graduates, you can do so through LinkedIn

Teaching in South Korea – Part I of a Blog Post by TESOL Grad Michael Delapaz



TESOL Graduate Michael Delapaz is currently teaching in Gimhae, South Korea. In the next two posts he will share with us some of his adventures, his recommended resources, and best practices for Teaching English overseas.

I am currently living in Gimhae, South Korea where I work as a GNET (Guest Native English Teacher) for Gimhae City Hall. I mainly teach at two elementary schools, but also guest lecture for the Gyeongnam Province Office of Education. Gimhae is a small city with a population of about 330,000 people. It is located in the south-eastern part of South Korea, next to the second largest city of Busan. Busan International Airport is located on the outskirts of Gimhae, which is very convenient for to take weekend trips to neighboring Asian countries. (Just this year, I’ve taken 7 trips overseas with 2 more planned before the New Year.)

Travelling in Shanghai

I’m a teacher at two elementary schools, one located in the city and the other in the countryside. I work at my main school, Yeongun Elementary, four days a week and once a week at Ijak Elementary. Occasionally, I am asked by the Gyeongnam Province Office of Education to give lectures to Korean public school teachers on methodology and to help improve their English skills. I have also given lectures to fellow GNETs on methodology and my experiences in Korea.


Differences between Teaching English in Canada vs. South Korea

1. Salary and Benefits – I’m  just going to be honest about this… One of the reasons I decided to come back for a third stint of teaching in Korea is the salary. Before coming back to Korea, I taught adults at international language schools in Vancouver and Toronto. Although I thoroughly enjoyed my job, the payout could have been better. Working for a public school as a GNET provides the following guaranteed benefits:

  1. $2400-$3500 CAD/month salary
  2. Health insurance coverage
  3. Enrollment in the National Pension Plan
  4. Return flight to your home country
  5. Furnished accommodations
  6. Various financial bonuses

Making friends and enjoying the country!

2. The Purpose and Utilization of English Education (Accuracy vs. Fluency) –  When I first teaching in Korea in 2002, the primary focus of the “native” English teacher was to improve students’ English test taking skills. Although strives have been made to focus more on the practicality of English, the importance of achieving high scores on standardized tests, such as TOEFL and TOEIC, remains. In Korea, high standardized English test scores determine who gets the job, who gets admitted to the prestigious university, which high school you go to, and which middle school you go to. In most cases, these standardized tests place less emphasis on speaking skills. Thus, more focus tends to placed on test taking rather than practical use of English.


3. Job Market and Qualifications – As most ESL teachers in Canada know, the job market is very competitive and finding that “perfect” job is somewhat difficult. EFL is a huge business in Korea, and it can be easy to find a job here. There are numerous jobs available in various contexts: kindergarten, public school, private institutions, international schools, college and university, business corporations, military, etc. For many of these jobs, all you need is to be a “native” English speaker with a university degree.

Thanks Michael! Stay tuned for another post from Michael on his must-have resources and advice for teachers just starting out.