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Old 08-24-2008, 05:41 PM   #1
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My plans continue to change and develop each week, and I'm thinking of teaching English. It seems to be the only solution to my financial problems that will allow me to travel and not go crazy working the crappy job (which I'm already well into) after graduation!
Sooo...I would absolutely love to hear from anyone who has had the experience of teaching English, especially in Asia. I'm a bit nervous to jump right in since I have no experience standing in front of a classroom. I'm thinking about teaching in China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan or Thailand, and going for a good benefits package. I've been doing a ton of research and there are so many choices!! I think I know what to look for, but am wondering about the perks and downfalls of the whole experience, in the classroom and out, and I'm maybe just looking for a little inspiration.
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Old 08-24-2008, 07:46 PM   #2
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I have a friend that just moved to Taiwan to do this a couple weeks ago, if you have anything specific I can ask her. But remember she's just getting started!
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Old 08-24-2008, 08:12 PM   #3
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Check out Dave's ESL cafe forums for what its really like. Not sure of the exact web address. Just google it.
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Old 08-24-2008, 08:27 PM   #4
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yeah I've been on daveseslcafe.com a lot, it's awesome! I guess I'm curious about how much the schools expect of you and how comfortable the workplace is.
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Old 08-24-2008, 09:15 PM   #5
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I taught in Japan for a year - absolutely loved it, had a blast and have so much to share. I don't have good internet connection tonight so I'll try to write more tomorrow.
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Old 08-24-2008, 10:08 PM   #6
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That's great! I spent a while on dave's esl forums, and they all seem to be fairly negative about their teaching situations, and are kinda rude to each other! Weird.
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Old 08-24-2008, 11:18 PM   #7
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I'll be interested to here your results and anyones experiences as well.

I did a bit of research and it looked like you can get pretty decent money in South Korea and proberly the rest of the asian countries. The only thing i didnt like so much is that most of the places the contracts were a year - I don't like the idea of being tied to a contract for that long if I absolutely hated it! So maybe try find somewhere with a shorter contract maybe 3-6months so you can see if you like it or not first?
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Old 08-25-2008, 10:10 PM   #8
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I'm not sure where to start and what to tell, so please let me know if there is anything specific you want to know.

I taught English at GEOS which is a chain of private English schools in Japan. I worked 5 days (tues-sat) a week and taught mostly adults. I had about 6 kids classes a week (from 3-13 years old). I had my own classes (wasn't an assistant like the JET program) which had from 1-7 students per class.

GEOS organized my apartment and provided all basic living needs(futon, kitchen stuff, washer/dryer, ect). I did pay monthly rent, which was subsidized since I lived near Tokyo, and bills. Japan is expensive and it is really easy to spend your whole pay check but there were also many people who were paying off student loans and sending money home. I was able to save enough to travel for a few months after and be unemployed looking for work for 3 months when I got back - I saved a lot.

Teaching had its ups and downs like every job but overall I loved it. GEOS provided teaching guides for all of their books and most teachers inherit props and lesson plans from the previous teacher. I learned so much about Japan, the Culture and the people through my students. I also had a lot a cool opportunities through my students (tours of tea plantation, Tokyo Disney tickets, road trips).

About the contract - they do make you sign a year contract, but people break them all the time. So if you do get there and you're miserable, you can leave - they don't want a miserable teacher, it's not good for the school.

Japan is amazing. I don't even know where to start, so please ask all the questions you want. I always tell people I can talk for days about Japan. Everything is so different, which makes it so fun. If you've seen Lost in Translation, it's pretty spot on.
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Old 08-25-2008, 10:16 PM   #9
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Thought I should pass on what I know about Korea too. Most people I know who have taught in Korea teach only Kids. The schools are like an after school program. Most Korean kids go to all sorts of different 'after school programs' each week.

My friend who taught over there had no guidance on how or what to teach. He basically just was thrown into a classroom the day after he arrived and was expected to teach. Some people may love that but it can be totally scary too.

I'm sure there are more organized schools than the one he was at. In Korea, the cost of living is so much lower, people generally are able to save more money. Also the company pays for your tickets to and from Korea.

I visited Korea and had a blast but was so happy that I was living in Japan. I love Korean food. My favorite restaurant in Japan was a Korean BBQ.
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Old 08-26-2008, 05:47 AM   #10
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Thanks for the info Mushroom22.

How old were you when you did all this?
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Old 08-26-2008, 11:08 AM   #11
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Thanks so much mushroom!!! sounds like a lot of fun. Were you generally comfortable with the kids? (are you a pretty comfortable speaker in the first place?) Did they respect you or was it difficult to settle 'em down sometimes? And how was teaching adults? I would think that would be a little more intimidating, as they may want a much more structured class than younger kids.....
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Old 08-26-2008, 11:31 AM   #12
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I was 23-24 when I was over there.

As for Kids, they had their wild moments but it was pretty easy to get them to settle down, like any group of kids, you just had to find what worked for each class. I usually had a favorite game that I let them play at the end of each class if they were good. Or had an ongoing competition that included points. Kids classes were active too, we would be up running around, doing relays so they got some energy out.

My youngest class of 3 3y/o, the mom's sat in the class with me. That was scary at first but was so nice to have them there when the kids got distracted. There was some singing involved, and I'm by far the wrost singer in the world. And we used flashcards, puppets and picture books.

Like I said the resources were wonderful and the students all understood that it took a few weeks for a new teacher to figure everything out.

I am pretty comfortable in front of people but I was SO nervous when I started teaching. I had a 3 day overlap with the previous teacher, which helped but I still remember the feeling I had my first day alone. I made some mistakes and taught some bad classes at first but overall it's pretty easy to get the hang of. It's nice that the class size was small.

The students are so kind and they are shy too. So it takes them a few classed to get used to your accent and teaching style too. A lot of my students had been taking classes for a long time and had gone through several teachers, so they know the routine. In general Japanese people are shy and have very little confidence in their English.

They love to get to know you, your life and where you are from so it's nice to have little warm-ups to get to know everyone each class. All classes adn students were different. I had a few classes where the students didn't really care about the lesson and just wanted to chat in English. We basically used the lesson as a topic starter and just went from there. Other classes wanted more structure, which was easier b/c the text books were laid out with a lot of structure.

If you have more questions, keep asking away!
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Old 11-05-2008, 08:44 AM   #13
 
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My boyfriend and I are planning an open ended trip starting in 2009. We decided to start off in the east and work our way west, Aisa to Europe kind of thing. This sounds perfect for us. How much money were you able to save? what do you think the chances are that we could both get teaching jobs?? any info would be welcome. thanks.
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Old 11-05-2008, 01:17 PM   #14
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Wow thats some great info mushroom! Its great to hear some info from someone we kinda actually know rather than just randoms!

I have been looking at so much teaching esl stuff for korea over the past couple of days - I am proberly going to fail my exam because of it!

Some of the observations I have made through looking around seem to be that it is relatively easy to save money over there so long as you aren't drinking every night - same at home i guess! Since your accomodation and flights are taken care of it is a pretty good way of getting to see and experience a different part of the world - provided you can work with kids as I believe most of the jobs are teaching in kindergartens.

I have heard that you don't really have to set out a lesson plan before every lesson as it changes so much and that you only have each group of kids for a lesson a week and they have a native korean teacher for the other lessons so your job is more to get them speaking english and if you can have a bit of fun doing that then it makes it more enjoyable for both you and the kids. Whether this is what it is actually like is a different story i'm just saying what I have read over the past few days.
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Old 11-05-2008, 01:18 PM   #15
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ohh and to answer the question above - if you both have degrees i think its pretty easy to get into teaching in south korea - not so sure about other places though
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