Expat in Korea: 6 Ways to Deal with the Communication Problem

Just for you

Everything you need to know about teaching English in Qatar

Qatar is one of those places many people forget. This article covers everything you need to know about teaching English in Qatar.

Where should I go to teach English: Taiwan or Thailand?

When it comes to teaching English abroad, Asia is one of the best places to find a fantastic job...

What do you want to know to teach English in Japan

Teaching English in Japan is one of the most beautiful experiences you will have if given a job. You will gain more than a job.
ESL Tate
I have been an ESL Teacher for more than 15 years and a Teacher trainer for the last three. Now I help new teachers start their journey traveling and teaching English abroad.
Do you like what I write?
Buy me a coffeeBuy me a coffee

As an expat in Korea, all too often we all get caught in the web and find ourselves in the middle of a communication problem that could have easily been averted if someone just spoke to the English Teacher.

It happens way too often and if you have taught or have been teaching as an expat in Korea, then you know exactly what I am talking about.

expat in korea: communication problem

Just yesterday I was told that I need to turn in 11 lesson plans for an extra class I have been teaching to increase the English level of the middle school students who are new to the English language. I was not told about this at the beginning of the class that started two months ago. All it would have taken is someone saying, ‘Hey English Teacher, you will need to turn in the lesson plans that you have to make up yourself because there is no textbook for the class on this and this date’. And I would have been like ‘okay’. Simple right? I guess not.

Here is the best part though. Since this is an extra class, I was also told yesterday that without the lesson plans, I will not get paid for the class. The pay is not based on the much improved speaking level of the students. Not the many power point presentations, phonics, skits, role plays and games I have come up with for the kids that are in my flash drive under extra class. It is solely based on the piece of paper that shows how I taught these lessons.

That’s not all yet

You know the best part! The office of education not only had informed the Teacher responsible for the class about requiring the lesson plans when the class started, they also reminded her last week that those lessons are due this week by the end of yesterday. And I saw her more than twice last week.

And as if that’s not enough, all of the teachers at the school who also do extra classes do not get paid unless we all turn in the lesson plans together. And I have been wondering all week why some of the teachers were a bit on the not so nice side and I come to find out today from my Co-Teacher (in the high school since I don’t have one in the middle school) I was responsible for keeping them from getting paid because of the lack of communication that I was unaware of.

And although we found out who was responsible for holding on to the information without passing it onto me, making me look like I am not doing my job, the damage is done. And I am the one taking the fault because no one said anything. My Co-Teacher in the high school can’t do everything. She is the one that tells me things in the high school and since the middle school is more or less none communicative, problems like this arise.

But I keep my cool. I am a stickler when it comes to communication and getting things done. Some have even called me a perfectionist at times. And for the most part, my co-teacher has come to understand and appreciate this about me. Getting everyone else on board is tough.

There are a few things to remember if you run into this problem with your school. I guarantee this will happen to you, if not already.

Being an expat in Korea, here is how to handle the situation

1. Keep your cool

Don’t get upset. There is nothing worse than anger in situations like these. Instead, focus your energy on what you can do now to remedy the situation. Talk to your co-teacher or anyone else who speaks English and explain that you had no idea.

2. Try not to point fingers

Save face for whoever messed up and do not call them out. You don’t want to tarnish the relationship because you will at some point need them for something. Plus you want a good working atmosphere, don’t you? And remember, whenever you point a finger, 4 more points back at you.

3. Do what they ask

Focus on the solution and not the problem. We all know what the problem is and they know deep inside that they messed up so there is no need to remind them. Instead, spend a few hours and fix their mistake, they will thank you later for it.

4. It’s all a big joke

Don’t take things like this too seriously, you might have a heart attack. Especially in schools where this happens on a weekly basis, your blood pressure will be through the roof. Luckily for me, this only happens every couple of months. But it’s always fixable, many problems are fixable.

5. Don’t stress yourself

It’s very easy to stress over things like this and understandably so. But whether you stress or not, the situation will still be there. My grandfather used to say this about alcohol: alcohol is like religion, it’s both the problem and the solution 🙂 silly old man. I miss him!

Good to Read: Teaching English in Korea: A note to new teachers

6. Smile through it all

My co-teacher always wonders why I never get upset with the kids or anything around here. I tell her that everything that happens here is a temporal temperance as my gramps would put it and because of that, there is no need for me to exert myself over the trivial things. And I just keep smiling and soon enough everyone starts smiling and a potential blood flow increase situation becomes less so. We talk, we fix it and we move on.

Be positive and try your best to look at the good side of things. 1. You are an expat in Korea making money, 2. seeing new things on a daily basis, 3. making lifelong friends, 4. making a difference in a fellow world citizen’s life, 5. and pretty much getting paid to travel. What is there to be stressed about?

Whether your school talks to you or not, it all shall pass. I mean, it would be great if we as foreign teachers/expat in Korea were included in a lot of the things we are excluded from but you can’t have it all can you! So when you run into a situation as I describe above, think about the six reasons I have listed just above this paragraph then follow the other six ways of dealing with the situation and EVERYTHING LITTLE THING WILL BE ALRIGHT!

So keep doing your job and making a difference in the best way you can. Being an expat in Korea may at times be a struggle because of communication problem, but you can always ignore, fix and move on from the small nuisances.

Was this aritcle useful to you? Maybe you could

Buy me a coffeeBuy me a coffee
- Official partner -Accredited Online TEFL



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get updates on the latest news, offers and more. 15387 readers can't be wrong!

Follow us on


I need help with

Job Search

Teaching Tools

Making Money

Online Teaching

TESOL Programs


Books by ESL Tate

First Time In Korea

The hilarious E-book and novella about the life of an ESL Teacher in South Korea. A small town, not many English speakers and the events that followed are shared in this book.

Make $$ Teaching English Online

Coming soon - July 30th. Pre-order now

- Advertisement -Leave the Grind Behind

Latest Articles

3 TEFL course deals online right now!

TEFL course deals are the best way to get certified in a cost effective way. Being able to study and practice what you learn improves teaching

How to start a teaching blog that makes money?

Blogging is the best way to start earning when you are not in the mood to do a 9-5 job to earn money. The...

The best interest yielding bank accounts for teachers

Saving money for your kids' future is the best token of love that we can give to our children. Like all other fields of...

How to become a full time online writer?

The online writer is of huge demand in the internet market. The people want a writer to write their website content so that they...

How to find good teaching material online

Teaching your students through the books is getting pretty much old in today’s fast forward moving world. It’s hard for the students to carry...
- Advertisement -

More Guides Like This

- TEFL partner -