Name: Luke Jones
Hometown: Porthcawl, Wales (UK)
Currently Living: Seoul
Job: Lecturer of TESOL at the International Graduate School of English
What are you doing right now?
I’m doing a couple things right now. First and foremost, I’m teaching at a university in Seoul; I do the speaking skills courses and I lecture in second language literacy development. I’ve worked here for about 18 months now and am really enjoying the experience.
I also opened a new website a few months ago, designed for English teachers already in Korea and those hoping to make the move over find reliable jobs and valid information about living and teaching in Korea. I’m working hard to build and promote it right now. Check it out if you want to and if you have any suggestions, please let me know: We Teach Korea (http://www.weteachkorea.com/).
And what’s your typical day?
I typically get up pretty early and work on We Teach Korea for an hour or so before work: replying emails, checking everything is running smoothly, etc.
I start my classes at 9 and they usually run until 1, then I spend the rest of the work day prepping for the up-coming classes and attending the occasional meeting.
When I get home I do a bit more on the website, and then just chill out with the lady or some friends, or get my my bike and go for cycle along the Han.
Where are you from?
I’m from a Porthcawl in Wales. It’s a really small town, but kind of close to Cardiff.
Why did you decide to move here?
I came here for the first time as a 21-year-old guy straight out of university. I didn’t know much of anything about Korea or TESOL, but I liked the sound of living somewhere completely new and getting some proper work experience while doing it.
Why do you teach?
I find it to be a very meaningful job. I like to think that I am contributing to society in some way.
If you weren’t teaching, what would you be doing?
Ideally, owning a small business by the beach in some tropical country.
What separates the good teachers from the bad?
In my opinion, good teachers never stop wanting to become better; they under go training courses frequently and are open to criticism and new ideas. No one is perfect and reinforced errors are so hard to notice yourself, you really need someone to observe you critically and be willing to reflect on your own teaching.
What were the hardest life lessons you had to learn while here?
This is not really specific to Korea; but if you want really something in life, get started on it right away and be fully committed.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about teaching abroad or living abroad?
Once you’ve applied for a job, I think it’s really important to talk to the school or the current teachers and find out as much information as you can before setting-off. Living aboard is an awesome experience and if you happy in your workplace as well, you’ll enjoy your time twice as much.
Do you have any passions or hobbies that you pursue abroad?
Nothing that I wouldn’t be doing at home really. I love cycling—I did the Seoul to Busan ride last summer and it was awesome—I’m into photography a bit, and I still manage to play a bit of football when I feel like it.
Can you tell us a few tips or tricks to help improve our classes?
Try to personalise each lesson for your students. What I mean by that is try to make every lesson as interesting and meaningful as possible; you can do this my adapting the current units in textbooks to fit the Korean context, relating the lessons to your students’ contexts, asking them to express their own ideas and thoughts about the topic in their own words, and so on. Personalisation makes language learning much more relevant to students’ lives and is an important component of the communicative approach.
What websites or books helped you when you first started? Which do you still use now?
Learning Teaching by Jeremy Harmer is a must read for English language teachers and Practical English Usage by Michael Swan is another great resource. As for websites, yours looks like it’s going to become a really useful site for teachers and students ☺
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