Friday, December 30, 2011

Benefits of Teaching Abroad

You may have been considering teaching abroad for the culture, the change of pace, or simply to have your travel paid for. Here are some more reasons to choose this career path today:

1. The training is painless.
     A TESL certificate can be attained through a 100 hour course, and most schools offer evening/weekend sessions or online courses. The fees start at about $500 USD, and many schools have services to help with the job hunt.
     If you have some extra cash and want to start your travels immediately, larger ESL schools offer four week TESL training in exotic locations around Europe, Southeast Asia, or Central and South America.

2. You can be a student in your own classroom.
     Regardless of age, the students you teach will be excited to see a foreigner take an interest in their culture. Most will gladly offer tips about local foods to eat, places to see, and things to try.
     Young students can teach you a lot about pop culture or local slang, and simple conversations will give you insight into their family lives and customs.

3. A year is a long time…
     …to experience a whole calendar’s worth of festivals, holidays, cultural events, and seasonal foods. You’ll get much more insight than a single trip. Also, worldwide holidays like Chinese New Year or Christmas are a bit different in every country. You’ll get to experience a unique version of a familiar holiday.

4. It’s a crash course in cultural sensitivity.
     Most expats reach the “Their society makes ZERO sense to me!” phase at some point. It’s a normal step in one’s adjustment to a new culture. Getting past this phase of culture shock means opening your mind to new and unfamiliar things. Whether the traffic laws are driving you crazy, or new acquaintances ask questions that seem invasive to you, be patient.
     You’ll come to appreciate the ways in which this foreign culture operates. Most often, you’ll note customs that strike you as far more practical than those in your native country.

5. You’ll get an instant network of local acquaintances.
     Whether you’re teaching in a language centre or public school, you’ll be amongst colleagues who speak English. Regardless of their level of expertise, they’ll likely be keen to practice their English conversation skills with you. Not only will you have new friends, but your coworkers can help you navigate the area and its customs better than any guidebook.

6. You’ll be tapping into an excellent grapevine.
     A lot of good jobs, and general travel tips, are accumulated by word of mouth. By meeting other teachers, you can get advice about new destinations or jobs from people who have been there, lived that.

7. It’s a resume-booster, even if you don’t want to teach long-term.
     You might worry that this job will look like a blip on your resume. Even if your teaching experience consisted of sing-alongs and barnyard animal flashcards, don’t underestimate the skills you developed along the way. Communicating across cultural barriers, using leadership skills to conduct classes, and picking up a new language (even just conversationally) are great assets.

Source: Anne Merritt

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas in South Korea

There are many Christmas traditions in South Korea, including the Santa Penguins Parade and the Santa Factory which will warm your heart and prepare you for your leave.

From Dogo News:
Every November, the March of the Holiday Penguins marks the beginning of the Christmas Fantasy, celebration at the Everland Amusement Park in Yongin, just south of Seoul. To the delight of both children and adults, the dozen or more tuxedo birds waddled solemnly some in Santa suits, while other posing as reindeers with antlers sticking out from their backs, instead of heads. These of course are no ordinary penguins, but endangered African Penguins, also know as Jackass Penguins, thanks to their donkey-like braying call.

From Zimbio:
The Santa Factory is group of men and women that prepares and delivers gifts to poor people as part of a charity campaign.

Why Christmas states other traditions include: 
  • Department stores put on big displays of decorations. There's also an amazing display of lights in the capital city, Seoul. The lights are all over the city center including the bridges over the Han River.
  • Presents are exchanged and a popular present is money.
  • Santa Claus can also be seen around Korea but he might be wearing red or blue.
  • A popular Christmas food is a Christmas Cake, but it's often a sponge cake covered in cream brought from a local bakery! Or you might even have an ice cream cake from a shop like Baskin Robbins.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas in China

There are many things to love about teaching abroad. One of them is experiencing your culture through the eyes of a foreigner. Never is that more striking than when comparing the holiday songs you grew up with with those same songs in Chinese!

Here is a video of children in Hong Kong singing Christmas Carols. Look at the cute costumes.
Here is another video, complete with bells! This is more of a traditional pageant.

You can download 13 free Christmas songs here in Chinese. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Foreign English Teachers are Necessary

According to the Korea Times National, foreign English teachers are not only wanted, but are needed. Although the government has recently moved to reduce the number of foreign teachers, parents are arguing for them. The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education conducted a study that found that 62.4 percent of parents felt that native English teachers are necessary at local elementary, middle and high schools. 

More than half of [parents] also answered that foreign English teachers’ placement at local schools was effective and 67.7 percent said they were mostly needed in elementary schools.

Korean teachers were also positive about foreigners’ role as assistant English teachers. Most of the respondents said foreign teachers were most effective for areas such as speaking, listening and pronunciation.
However, the respondents limited the effectiveness of foreign teachers to academically well-performing students such as those in the high ranking (46.2 percent) or the top level (30.6 percent) categories.

Most of them also preferred the placement of native English teachers at only elementary and middle schools.

More than 81 percent of foreign English teachers replied that they believe students are satisfied with their classes. About 90 percent of foreign teachers also said they are making a contribution to improving students’ English proficiency.

Some students disagree. “I had a class taught by a native teacher in middle school but I don’t think the teacher was very helpful. Personally, I think Korean teachers are more helpful in preparing for exams,” said Chung Yoon-sik, a high school senior at Choong Ang High School. This may be due to differences in focus on subject matter, culture, or examination preparation. Indeed, many American students are taught in preparation for examinations on the state or national level. This competition can be more intense in Asian countries.

The majority of parents (62.2 percent) also answered that the ideal type of English teachers at schools are “Koreans who are proficient in English communication skills and good at teaching.”
“In the long run, we need more Korean teachers who are well-trained and have excellent English skills. We need to improve the English capacity and quality of our Korean teachers to meet the demands of students and parents,” an official from the education office said.

A parent of a high school student who used to run a private English institute said, “I think foreign teachers are good for students to get used to foreigners and learn their culture but they’re not that helpful to beginners because they don’t understand well. Learning for one or two hours a week isn’t too helpful for these students. The best case scenario is increasing the number of Korean teachers who are proficient in spoken English so that they can guide these students.”