Part 2 in a series about an instructor visiting students while Teaching English abroad
When I first started teaching for Oxford Seminars, my wife and I had recently returned from teaching English in Jeonju, South Korea. The prospective teachers who enrolled in my courses naturally asked me plenty of questions about my experiences there, and many were so impressed by what they heard that they decided to go to South Korea themselves.
A young man named Steven from the very first course I taught sent me an email after the final class session to ask me more questions about the process of finding a job overseas. He was eager to give South Korea a try, but he was concerned about finding a school where he would truly be comfortable working. During the course, I had discussed some tips to avoid getting stuck working at a problematic school, and he wanted to know how he could end up working at an English academy like the one where I had been employed. Besides taking advantage of Oxford Seminars’ Job Placement Service, it also occurred to me that I should ask my former director if they were hiring anytime soon! Surely enough, my academy had a vacancy at a time convenient for Steven, and they were more than happy to hire a recently certified teacher who came with my personal recommendation.
The director was so happy with Steven that she began to ask me if I could recommend more certified teachers for upcoming vacancies, and she hired five more of my recent trainees in the months that followed. The next summer, my wife and I planned to return to South Korea to teach at an intensive short-term summer camp in the small city of Chungju. We made sure to arrive a few days early so as to have a chance to visit our some-time home of Jeonju. Not only was I delighted to visit some old friends, Koreans and westerners alike, but I was also eager to meet up with all six of my former students. We met up on a beautiful July day at a city park famous for its enormous pond lilies that bloom in midsummer. Strolling down the paths and boardwalks, I heard how each had adapted to life teaching English there, both inside and outside of the classroom. Though each had their own favorite local dish, or ideal weekend activity, all were in agreement about two things: teaching English to children in South Korea was challenging, yet fulfilling work, and Jeonju was a wonderful place to live.
When I returned home that fall, I joked with everyone in my next Oxford seminars course that if they ended up to teaching somewhere interesting that I might just visit them too. Of course, at the time, I was mostly joking. Little did I know, however, that I would see one of the students from that very course the following summer when I took another trip.
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Written by Jeremy White
Jeremy White has lived and worked in several states and countries, most extensively as a TESOL instructor in South Korea. He has a master’s degree in linguistics and has taught Oxford Seminars courses in both New York and Minneapolis.