Have you ever watched the film ‘The Truman Show’? If you have, you might recall a young Truman Burbank (played by Jim Carrey) wanting to become ‘an explorer, like the great Magellan’ only to have his bubble burst by his teacher, who claims that he’s ‘too late. There’s really nothing left to explore’.
In a way, it is true that humankind has been to every single corner of the globe and, with advanced technology, everyone is now able to learn about faraway countries and their culture even without being there and experiencing it first hand. However, there are a few countries that remain wrapped under a blanket of mystery and charm, leaving you wanting to know more and to understand it better.
South Korea is one of these fascinating and mysterious countries. If you are planning to visit this incredible country to see its beauty with your own eyes, you might be considering online English teaching as a way to finance your travels. Job flexibility is what allows a large number of teachers to earn money from anywhere in the world doing what they love online. If you’re new to this idea, the tips in this article will hopefully help you take your first steps in the online English teaching world.
#1 Pack the right tech
If online English teaching is what is going to support your travels, you need to make sure you have the suitable equipment to plan and deliver your lessons to the highest standard possible. However, having suitable equipment doesn’t mean spending a fortune. Also, keep in mind that you want to travel light, so avoid unnecessary devices.
You will need a reliable laptop and updated software – there are plenty of deals around for these, and some apps are even free! Additionally, it’s worth getting a pen drive, where to save your go-to, last-minute lesson materials, just as a backup plan. Another useful gadget when teaching online is a good set of headphones. As you will be teaching from different locations, you want to reduce your background noise to a minimum – headphones will come in really handy.
#2 Choose your accommodation depending on your needs
When travelling on a budget, hostels might seem the ideal choice to keep the costs as low as possible. However, hostels offer hardly any privacy: you would be sharing your room with others and the communal areas are often very noisy.
Book in advance to find low-cost deals with hotels or Airbnb accommodation, and consider private renting if you are thinking of staying for a longer period of time in the same area. Remember to check the speed and reliability of the WI-FI before you place a booking – your lessons depend on it!
#3 Minimalist packing – aka travel light
If you’re usually the kind of person who tends to over-pack when going away, on this occasion, you might want to rethink the way you select your items. Pack your ‘necessary stuff’ first, like laptop, headphones, pen drive, and two or three items of clothing for your lessons, for example. Then, choose a few outfits for touring and travelling, and one or two for the occasional smart occasion. Finally, don’t forget your nightwear.
South Korea is famous for its long, warm, wet and muggy summers and its short, freezing, snowy, and clear winters. Sporting the ‘onion look’, by wearing different layers of clothes, means that you’ll be able to take off (and put back on) some of the clothing depending on the temperature of your location.
#4 Plan your travelling days
Although the public transport system in South Korea is exceptionally good, you should plan when you travel carefully. Ideally, avoid teaching on the day you travel, to make your experience as stress-free as possible.
Always check the news in advance (and then on the day) for any traffic-related issue or any other unexpected circumstance that may become an obstacle to your travels.
#5 Draw out an itinerary
Following your instincts is great, but it can become a recipe for disaster when you travel, especially in a foreign country. Before you leave your home country, do your research and decide what you would like to see and do while in South Korea.
If you are a foodie, you can’t miss the Gwangjang market, the oldest street food market in Seoul, and Jeonju, a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, also known as the ‘taste city’, in the west of the country.
If you love art, history, and culture, there are plenty of museums, old temples, open space events and festivals to immerse yourself into, like the Kimchi festival or the Boryeong Mud festival.
#6 Be mindful
South Korea is an incredible country to visit that will leave you gob-smacked, and it is also very safe, even for a solo traveller. Nevertheless, travelling far away from your own country, to an unfamiliar place where you can’t speak the local language and surrounded by a new way of living, can be daunting. Homesickness and culture shock could be lurking and be ready to get you when you least expect it. Avoid them by getting in contact with a few expats – many of whom might be teachers of English as a foreign language – and become a part of their large community.
#7 Online English teaching platforms
A way of familiarising yourself with South Korean culture is to teach English online to Korean students before you leave your home country. They are keen learners and hard workers, besotted with the English language – they will certainly help you get a glimpse of their culture before you get there!
Here are some of the best online platforms to teach English to Korean students:
- Ringle – it focuses on Business English. This platform has a very flexible timetable for your lessons and it doesn’t require you to guarantee any minimum teaching hours. In addition, it provides you with ready-made teaching materials. Each lesson is 40 minutes, which equals to an hour of work, with 10 minutes before the lesson for preparation and another 10 minutes after for feedback.
- Englishunt is an educational publisher, but it is also a company that offers distance learning, now expanding from South Korea to China and Japan. This platform is very popular among government employees and those of multinational companies. However, as an Englishunt teacher, you would be teaching all ages, from adult professionals to young learners.
- Other companies are Tutoring, Global LT English, GMNY, Bok Tutors, Carrot Global, and Skybel. If you are interested in teaching for one of these companies, do your research as their teachers will need to meet different requirements.
A word of wisdom
Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) is an exciting and fulfilling career, whether it be online or in person. If you decide to embark on this adventure to fund your travels across South Korea, you will certainly not be disappointed. You will discover a fascinating and charming land that combines modern cities with ancient traditions and you will experience a new culture among friendly people eager to show you what South Korea is all about.