How did TESL@TFLI prepare you for teaching in Korea?
My TFLI training put me on very sure footing for my teaching job in Korea. The lesson planning techniques, classroom management advice, and attention-holding methods have proven invaluable, and I have used them every day on the job. Interestingly, the lessons about international gestures and body language have proven to be just as valuable as classroom techniques during my time traveling and working East Asia, and has helped to smooth the way as I grappled with living in an unfamiliar culture.
What advice do you have for students who want to teach abroad?
Do your research and plan ahead! Different countries have different requirements for work visas, but most require an FBI background check as a basic part of the application process. Getting this clearance can take up to three months for the government to process, so take the time to apply for your criminal record paperwork as soon as possible if you are even considering working abroad. It’s well worth the $18 before you start your TFLI training so you can begin applying for work abroad soon after you finish your course.
What is your best experience so far teaching abroad?
The best experience by far has been getting to know the children I taught. In the course of a year, you can give them the skills and confidence that they need to really express their thoughts to you. My students were very creative and had interesting ambitions, and when they could talk to me about them I had a fascinating glimpse into their lives and thought processes that I did not really expect when I began my work with high beginner students.
Tell us an interesting classroom story.
During one of the two-week camps I taught during school break, I devised a game in which I explained the rules and then had little to no further input. My students really enjoyed it, and with a rule that a team lost points if I heard them speaking in their native language, they chattered in English for a full 90 minutes while I observed the game. Many of their sentence constructions were really unique–not incorrect usage, but word combinations that I had never encountered, and I gained new insights into my own language and its possibilities. I never expected that middle school Koreans would teach me new phrases in English!