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Joined: 14 May 2005
Age: 33
Gender: Male
Posts: 1,520
Location: Florida

22 Jul 2013, 3:03 pm

Does anyone have experience teaching English to ESL students, or students in a mostly non-English-speaking country?

I ask because I'm studying for a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification on top of the Bachelor's degree I'll be finished with in a few weeks and an additional certification I'll have by the end of the year. I am hard at work looking for jobs in the field from credible and reputable employers.

Is anyone else here TEFL-certified, or going to be in the future? Has anyone here taught non-English-speaking students as a job, presumably in a foreign country?


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Joined: 26 May 2013
Age: 48
Gender: Male
Posts: 17
Location: Alberta, Canada

23 Jul 2013, 9:34 pm

I'm in my sixth (cumulative) year of teaching ESL in South Korea. I think there or both pros and cons about teaching ESL in Korea for someone with AS.

Pros: Since you probably won't speak the language, you aren't expected to manage relational tasks related to teaching that can be difficult for Aspies (such as counselling and dealing with parents). Your job will mostly consist of preparing lesson plans and teaching lessons to students. Also, quirky behaviour that may stand out back home will be more likely dismissed because you are a waygookin (foreigner) and are expected to be different anyway. Plus, education is far more highly valued in Korea than in North America, so you are likely to have a higher percentage of brainy students with whom you can build a rapport. The macho culture just doesn't exist anymore. Most Koreans value intelligence over confidence here, so it's a much better fit for someone with AS in that regard. You will probably be asked to design an after school curriculum as well. This can be a good opportunity to put your interests to use in the classroom (have an origami day, a medieval theme day, a sci-fi theme day, a rock music day, etc.). Sure, not all students will be interested in the same things you are, but there will be some.

Cons: The public school system in Korea is starting to wind down their foreign teacher program, and it may come to an end in the next 2-4 years. If you want to make this a permanent career, you're going to need to get a Master's and teach at a university. Also, Korea is a very monolithic culture. Many Aspies tend to be non-conformists. Although - as I mentioned above - quirky behaviour may be dismissed because you are a foreigner, the monoculture can be very stifling to live in. Also, it's a very crowded country. You get squished and bumped often, especially on the bus. Plus, there is not much of a sense of personal space or privacy, to the point of many people being obtrusively nosy. Small children can be extremely touchy-feely, so I teaching kindergarten is (obviously) not recommended.

Finally, remember that it probably won't last more than a couple of years and you're still going to need to find work again when you get back home. So, if you're in your 20s, I say go for it. It will be the experience of a lifetime. If like me you're pushing 40, I wouldn't recommend it if you are currently working. It's not worth having to go through the whole interview process all over again when you return home.