Teaching English in Korea

It’s the her warm Irish accent that fills the room first, followed quickly by her strong sense of humour. Marian McHugh is certainly not a TEFL teacher any student would be likely to forget in a hurry.

In an exclusive interview, Marian and I sit down to talk about all things TEFL and the three years she spent working in Korea.

Marian soaking up some sights

Straight to the point, she emphasised the importance of acquiring a TEFL certificate before heading out to your country of choice.

“It’s important to have that qualification in the bag before making plans to move out,” she explained. Marian felt that gaining a CELTA qualification was exceptionally important. Her incentive was rather simple, the more qualifications the bigger the pay packet. The more qualifications a teacher has in South Korea, the more they get paid, however this does exclude those courses completed online.

“CELTA is an investment,” Marian exclaimed.

However, Marian also felt that the cost of this investment should be factored against how long you plan on teaching for. “If it’s just a year, you could be more flexible with your qualifications.”

TEFL certificates don’t come cheap and that’s certainly a factor that many new teachers consider.

“Ultimately, it depends on why you’re going out to teach.”

“Is it to better your career, for an experience or for the country’s culture.”

If culture is the main reason for heading to a particular country, the Marian strongly recommended doing a lot of research before hand. “You need to really understand the culture you’re about to become a part of, as some cultures aren’t as compatible as others.”

Research was an area that Marian continued to stress the importance of, “don’t accept a job straight away.”

Seoul’s Skyline at Dusk

Many of Marian’s colleagues accepted jobs before fact checking the institutions appropriately. “It can be as simple as searching Facebook groups and other social networks in order to work out if the placement is everything it is meant to be and more.”

So there we have it, Marian’s 3 R’s: research, research, research. 

After living in South Korea, Marian has now moved to Wales where she is pursuing a Master’s degree in Magazine Journalism.



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