Finally meet Harry, who will also be heading to South Korea with Teacher’s Friend’s full relocation package. Harry was about to move to Vietnam just before the pandemic.  After completing the theory for his government accredited, international TEFL course with Teachers Friend he has decided to move to South Korea for a year before heading to Vietnam in 2023. He will complete the practical part of his TEFL course while on the job.

Over Harry…. :)

My name is Harry and I am a literature graduate living in the North West of England. After graduating and looking at what was on the job market for graduates like myself, I’m sure you’ll agree that many entry level creative jobs were centred in and around London. No disrespect to Londoners, but I was not keen to dive straight into the hustle and bustle of the capital and join the daily grind!

I decided to go home for a minimum of a year while I thought about my other options and what I wanted to do. I’m sure you’ve been there, when your kind of stuck in a rut and not sure what to do next?

I got a hospitality job (like many of my friends!) and was looking forward to travelling in South-East Asia after a year of saving up funds, which was surprisingly easy to do once I put my mind to it. Then of course, as you know, the pandemic struck and I was stuck at home (both a blessing and a curse) for the foreseeable future. It wasn’t exactly my dream job come true!

When international travel looked like it would never happen again, (and I wanted to bang my head against a brick wall) I thought about the prospect of teaching English in a different country. As I’m sure you can imagine, this was a much more exciting prospect! I’m sure you have often looked out of your office window and imagined being some place exotic, doing a job you actually enjoy, I know I have! I looked online at what was needed for teaching in different countries in Asia, and while there was a mind field of completely confusing and contradictory information out there, I got the impression that getting a TEFL course was kind of a big deal if I wanted to start a new life abroad.

I found Teachers Friend after many hours looking online for TEFL and TESOL courses. While there were some cheap ones online, they didn’t look like they were as thorough as the course offered through Teachers Friend. Of course, everyone likes a bargain, but I felt when moving abroad to another country to teach a room full of students, I did want to feel a little like I knew what I was doing! What finally settled me on choosing this course was that it had full accreditation from the Australian Government and offered a lot of job assistance for wherever you wanted to teach. Perfect!

Originally I had thought that I would teach in Vietnam but due to the uncertainty of the pandemic, it was looking like Vietnam would not open its borders for a while so we were advised to start looking at other countries in Asia. That’s what I love about Teachers Friend, it is really flexible and Georgie has been on the journey with us. It was great to know that we had here with us the whole way, helping us make decisions in these crazy times.

South Korea was one of those options and I was very interested, seeing as the country is very modern and developed. After seriously considering South Korea, I began to see the influence of Korean culture all over. I saw it rising in popularity in Netflix dramas like Squid Game and on the radio with artists like Peggy Gou and Park Hye Jin, all of which I have thoroughly enjoyed. I am excited to engage more in the culture of this country as what I have tasted outside of it has got me super excited already! It’s funny how once you set your mind on something, you begin to see it everywhere.

So, my adventure has begun and I’d love you to follow me on it.

TESOL course

I have learned a lot on the TESOL course seeing as I had no prior experience of teaching already; the education I have received will be invaluable to starting my career in teaching English. Apart from learning a lot about how to plan lessons effectively including making achievable aims and objectives for students, I have learned a lot about how to be a “good” teacher. Being a “good” teacher is a lot more than just knowing your stuff. The course has taught me that asking the right questions is very important (to make sure the students understand what you have just taught them) and about setting the classroom tasks within the zone of proximal development – where the level of difficulty is enough to challenge the students but not too much where they might feel discouraged. Learning about educational theory was very interesting as well as learning about the mechanics of the classroom, so I was able to understand why certain methods of teaching were in place and the findings that influenced their creation. Some parts of the course were tricky because the subject was something new to me but assistance from my TFV tutor Georgie helped me with any parts I was struggling with and helped me to complete all the assignments. Having a personal tutor is one of the best things from working with TFV, not only do they give you quick assistance when you are struggling but they keep you updated with any changes in their organisation or organisations they are partnered with so that you are always up to date on everything. Aside from the teaching course that they offer, TFV offers a relocation package too. This package includes help in securing you a job in the country of your choice and guidance through the Visa process, as well as interview help and any other questions you have about the whole relocation move!

I have loved learning about all the different learning styles and the learning theory that is present within the teaching methodologies used in TESOL. The course is great in educating students about the necessary knowledge as well as offering extra curricular sources that offer more about a subject. The guides in the course about all the different modules were very interactive and offered a wealth of information needed for a first time teacher, great in my case! There is no shortage of techniques in how to control a classroom or conduct a reading exercise for example.

Parts of the course were quite tedious like learning how to properly create a lesson plan and how precise the instructions should be and also double checking the material to make sure it definitely is at a suitable level for the students that you would be teaching for. Looking back though, this is something that I had no prior experience with and is a new skill I have learned during the course. This is something that is definitely not as tedious now and I think will become easier as I settle into a teaching position.

How do I feel about moving to South Korea?

Moving to South Korea is both nerve-wracking and exhilarating! It still hasn’t hit me yet that I am going to be making such a big move from my home country to a different country with a totally different language. When I get the start date for my new job, I think it will hit then and I will start having to book the flights and say my final goodbyes. What scares me the most is the language difference, even just being able to introduce myself as well as just navigate the basics of life in shops or restaurants. I am trying to ease this fear by learning Korean, which is not as tricky as I thought it would be! There is only one alphabet and only 24 letters to learn, which puts me at ease.

I am scared that I won’t settle into my new job but I think this is natural before starting a new career. I am also excited to start my new job! Being this a new way of life for me, I am excited to have professional job experience, and in a new country as well. Not only am I stepping up my professional work experience, but I am stepping up my experience of living in a different culture. It can seem overwhelming at times but this depends on how you look at it. I am going to have to learn a lot during my move (teaching is one thing and living in a different country is another) but I am excited because I think it will be so rewarding and I think it will have so much to offer me once I am over the fear of moving somewhere new. My new life is going to be challenging but it will be one that forces me into new experiences that build character and create amazing memories for the future!

Written by Harry for Teacher’s friend.