Expat in Korean

Meet Keith: Korean-English Writer & Teacher

Wake up. Learn languages. Be happy.
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Today, let’s meet our blog writer who is working as an English teacher in Korean. You probably have read his blogs about Korean learning already!

🎤Q: Tell us about yourself:

💡A: Hello!  My name is Keith. I’m an American who has lived in South Korea off-and-on for a while. I’m a university instructor, and I really enjoy my job. Living in Korea has been a wonderful experience for me.  I love the ocean, the mountains, the food, and the variety of things to do in Korea (especially going to the unique cafes).  I’m continuously studying Korean and learning about the culture. I hope you have a chance to visit Korea! It’s a great place.

🎤Q: Why did you choose to teach English in Korea?

💡A: When I was deciding to teach abroad, I considered several different places: Latin America, China, and Korea. After doing a lot of research it seemed like Korea was a good fit for me. It’s a developed country with good education, health care, decent salary, and affordable cost of living. Plus, I knew someone who was living here, and I had a Korean friend from high school. My friends gave me a lot of information and showed me pictures of the beaches in Busan. That was enough to make me commit. 

credit to timeout.com https://www.timeout.com/busan/things-to-do/best-things-to-do-in-busan

🎤Q: What did you wish you knew before moving to Korea?

💡A: I wish I knew how much having a master’s degree can help you advance in your career. When I first started teaching, I had only a bachelor’s degree which is enough to get you standard ESL teaching jobs. However, if you want to continue your teaching career into more lucrative and established positions, you need an advanced degree.  I spent time getting a TESOL Certification and then a master’s. It was a great decision, but I wish I had done it earlier. 

🎤Q: What have you learned from your Korean students?

💡A: It sounds cliche, but I feel that my students have taught me much more than I have taught them. I’ve been fortunate to teach mostly young adults, so they’ve provided my valuable insight into Korean culture, food, the language, etc. Korea has a unique culture that is built on social hierarchies, which has always fascinated me. Learning the intricacies of these social standards and how Koreans think has been valuable.  

🎤Q: What is your advice for those who want to teach in Korea? Do they need to learn Korean before they go there?

💡A: My advice is to not come with any expectations and be flexible.  Many newcomers arrive with ideas of what should and shouldn’t be. They become frustrated when it does not match their ideal. One thing I’ve learned is that if you can be flexible, it will be returned to you in the future. Also, expect to be treated as a novelty when you first arrive at your school.  Koreans are still fascinated by the differences in appearance and behavior of foreigners. You may feel like you’re an “edu-tainer”, but it doesn’t last forever. 

As for the Korean language, I would recommend learning the basics and getting a handle on introductions and phrases.  But don’t go out of your way to be proficient the moment you step off the plane. Learning the alphabet, sentence structure, and common verb-endings are more than enough to get started. Just take it one day at a time. If you can say anything, most Koreans will be impressed. So don’t feel pressured. 

Did you enjoy reading this interview? Let us know in comments! Check out some of Keith’s Korean learning articles here:

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Pamela Agada
Pamela Agada
9 months ago

Thanks for the advice, been looking into starting my Masters’ will jump on that right away. Who knows what might be in store for me in the future.

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