Teaching English in Korea: A note to new teachers

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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.
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A note to those who will be teaching English in Korea

It is hiring season again, at least for public schools that is. Hagwons are always hiring. This means a slew of new teachers will be coming in to fill up the vacant positions left by teachers leaving in February.

teaching english in korea: airport arrival

Are you one of those who will be teaching English in Korea?

Here are a few things to keep in mind on your arrival.

No Internet or cellphone

It is very likely that you will go for a few days, a week or even longer without internet or a way to contact your friends and family from within your apartment.

Don’t despair. And you won’t if you know your options and that’s why I am writing this post. There are many other ways you can reach friends and family back home and let them know that you have arrived in Korea safely.

Coffee shops
I find coffee shops irresistible. If you have a smart device, laptop, tablet or even cellphone that can receive wifi, by all means, bring it to Korea because you can use it at almost any coffee shop to contact family and friends back home.

Another option is to ask your co-teacher if you can use their internet at their house. They will be more than willing to help you.

As you will be without internet, so you will you without a cell phone because it takes time for immigration to issue you the documents you need to show to the phone and internet companies to get your services setup. However, once that process is started by your school, you can use the receipts to get everything set up.

Another alternative is to use the arrival store before coming to Korea. They will set up a cellphone for you before you arrive and other necessities.

Every little thing is gonna be alright

So don’t worry. Teaching English in Korea may start out rough but it gets a lot better once you get in the groove of things and you have your basic necessities in place.

After all you are in a brand new country you know little about and most of us don’t take kindly to change. But change is good and you will find that Korea is not that different from yours or any other country although the order of things and priorities might not be like your home countries. But that’s okay. You can’t expect it to be like home right, otherwise, you might as well stay home :).

Look at me for example, when I first arrived to Korea I went a week without a cellphone and no internet. But the coffee shop wasn’t far from my house. Not only that, I was terrified because I didn’t know what to expect. Yet, three years later, here I am, happy teaching English in Korea :). You can do it too, maybe you are not staying that long but you will quickly find out that Korea grows on you. It sucks you in. I didn’t plan on staying this long although I left after my first year, I came right back.

Somethings take longer to get used to but once you figure them out, you will be just fine. There are some things I still haven’t figured out but that’s okay. So keep your head up and try your best and like Bob says, every little thing is gonna be alright.


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  1. It’s likely that you’ll be able to pick up free wifi from inside your apartment. If you can’t, just head outside to a PC Bang or a coffee shop. Korea is super wired and you’ll be able to scam wifi off an unsecured connection somewhere.


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