Teach in Asia

by Kevan Hudson
(South Korea)

How to teach in Asia

My advice is as follows:

Firstly, try to get some teacher training through a TESOL or CELTA certificate program. Or by getting a Bachelor of Education Degree. Some local ESL volunteering can also be very helpful.
The experience will make a big difference and hopefully lead to you getting a better job.

Secondly, be aware of cultural differences. You will learn very quickly that students are often the same in most regards, but that some differences can hinder your teaching. For example, it is very important in Korea that I do not single out students to answer questions in front of large groups. Losing face is very important and to get a wrong answer in front of others will often cause a student to become withdrawn.

Thirdly, be open-minded. You will learn about many new things: language; culture; food; etc. Your students will appreciate your interest in their culture, food, history and language. With me I am very interested in food, history and geography.
Fourthly, try to make local friends. They can be the source of much joy, as with me, and much help.
And last but not least: good luck!

Teach in Asia -- What training would you recommend that they get before leaving home?

As mentioned before an ESL Teaching Certificate Program or an Education Degree can be very helpful. They will give you experience and maybe even help you land a dream job!

Teach in Asia -- What challenges have you faced living in a foreign country?

For me the biggest challenge has been language. I am not very good at learning languages and I am very lazy in this regard too. However, my strength is making friends. I have made friends everywhere I have been in Asia (through travel and work). Being a Native English Speaker is certainly a blessing. Thanks to the British Empire and the culture of the United States so many people speak English nowadays. In addition, I really enjoy trying new foods, learning new history and seeing the beauty of new places. Having these interests has greatly reduced my challenges.

Teach in Asia -- Japan:

I understand you have been to Japan and will go there again, what did you see and do in Japan?
How was it? How does Japan compare with Korea--where you live and teach?

I have been to Japan twice. The first time, 1984, when I was 17 years old. It was a great experience. I really enjoyed visiting the beautiful cities of Nara and Kyoto. In addition, I remember that all the High School girls were too embarrassed to look at me and my brother. I guess we were just too tall and handsome.
The second time was December 2009. I met two good friends and I had an awesome time! Even though I caught a cold my five days were fun and interesting. The highlights were:

1. The clean streets. Very impressive! If I saw some garbage I was shocked!
2. The polite people. Tokyo people are much politer than Vancouver people (Vancouver is my hometown) in public places.
3. Small cars were very common. Too many people in Canada and Korea drive those horrible SUVs.
4. I saw many people, especially young mothers with their children, riding bicycles. And the bicycle parkades were very impressive. I am an avid cyclist and hiker.
5. No Godzilla attacks! Where is he hiding these days?
6. No earthquakes! The only time I want the earth to move is when I meet the woman of my dreams.
The biggest difference between Japan and Korea for me was the behaviour of people in public places. Japanese people are very very very polite in public.
Koreans are so-so.

However, to learn written Korean is much easier than written Japanese. The Koreans have hangeul, which is an easy to learn alphabet. I learned hangeul in about three to four hours.

Teach in Asia -- Any other advice for teachers planning to teach in Japan or Asia in general?

Travel, travel, travel.
Take advantage of the ability to easily travel to many places in Asia.
North America (Canada and the USA) are far from everywhere.
Japan and Korea are close to China, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, South Asia and closer to Australia and New Zealand.
I have had many great trips to China, Japan and Vietnam so far. I have plans to visit the rest of Southeast Asia soon and to see more of China.
Also, I have been to every province in South Korea and almost every famous place. Much easier to do than all the provinces or states in Canada or the USA.

Also, do some volunteering during your days off or your vacation time.
Been there, done that, and thoroughly enjoyed it!

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