Is teaching English abroad, specifically in a country like Korea, cool? Yes, it’s cool.
Is it challenging and frustrating at times? Yes, it is. Does it make you want to go back home at times? Yes, that too.
By and large, though, being able to work and live abroad is an experience that not everyone has the option or fortitude to do. Even if it’s for only one year, it’s something that anyone should do if they have the chance.
Having the chance to do it these days is becoming just that – a chance. The global economy has decided to take a long vacation and many people are out of a job. Also, the countries that are in the ESL game are now requiring more of their teachers as the competition to succeed in English increases. Not only that, because of the increase in jobless individuals in English speaking countries, the sheer gene pool of applicants has shot through the roof, and along with the increased volume is the increase in credentials.
Going by the wayside are the days where any Tom, Dick, and Hank can just go teach ESL. Nowadays, teachers need experience, or a certificate of some sort – or BOTH.
There is a multitude of certificates to choose from like CELTA, TESOL/TEFL, IELTS, teaching licenses, and others. To teach in a country like Korea, you can get away without having a certification if you are open to private school (hagwon) jobs, but even they are slowly coming up the curve as they learn they can now ask for it and get it.
For Korea’s public school program, a TESOL certificate is becoming a mandatory requirement. More cities are asking for it, and some are even taking it a step further and asking for it to be done in-class (as opposed to online).
That said, an online certificate is still fine, and it’s something that everyone should look to obtain. It will prepare you for teaching ESL better than coming in cold. Some certifications require an in-class practicum and this will help get your feet wet at a minimum. When I taught my first class, it was my FIRST class. EVER. That was a perspiring endeavor to say the least.
Nonetheless, I went on to obtain a 120 hour TESOL certificate, a 50 hour Business English certificate, and a State of Florida Teacher’s License. It’s been a tough road, but worth it now that it’s all behind me.
If you want to teach abroad, it won’t kill you to put in a few months to get a certificate. You’ll find my words here are true in the long run.
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ESL, Travel, and Judo!