In 36 days (as of this post), I will be starting my teaching adventures in South Korea.
My thoughts and emotions have been all over the place since I got the scholarship offer last night. I’m extremely excited to embark on this new adventure, but also slightly panicked that it’s coming up so soon!
My thoughts all day looked a bit like this:
“Oh my God. I’m going to Korea. I guess I didn’t bomb that last interview after all. Man, I need to apply for my visa now. I can’t wait to eat Korean food every day. Mmmh Bibimbap. I hope my apartment’s not sketchy. I wonder what the guys are like there. Ahhh, what if the kids are terrible? I hope they’re great. And I hope I don’t suck at teaching. What do teachers wear? Maybe I need to buy some new clothes. Is there Tinder in Korea? I should start learning Korean soon. Bulgogi.”
I have less than 6 weeks to prepare for my 6-month stay in Korea. The panic is real.
Now for all your questions…
What program is this?
The program is called TaLK (Teach and Learn in Korea). The official website explains it as:
“…a unique scholarship opportunity for undergraduates who are seeking a personal, professional and educational experience in the Republic of Korea.”
Here are the requirements to apply:
- must be a graduate or current undergraduate student with at least 2 years of academic completion from an accredited post- secondary institution
- must hold current citizenship from one of these following major English-speaking nations: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand
For more information on the program, just visit the website I linked above. 🙂
What was the application process like?
My application timeline:
- Beginning of May
- I started the preliminary online application.
- May 11th (a.k.a. my birthday)
- I was notified that my online application was accepted!
- Step 2 was to send in all the required documents to the local recruitment office.
- Documents included a printed out version of my online application, a lesson plan, my official school transcript, two letters of recommendation, a copy of my passport, and a criminal record check with an apostilled seal.
- May 23rd
- I received an email to schedule an interview with the local recruitment office.
- May 26th
- I mailed in all the required documents.
- May 27th
- I interviewed with the local recruitment office.
- June 17th
- I received an email to schedule an interview with the coordinator of the head TaLK office in Korea.
- June 27th
- I interviewed with the head TaLK office.
- June 28th
- I received the acceptance email!
The whole application process took about two months for me. I was surprised to hear back so quickly because my interviewer had said that it could take up to two weeks to hear back.
Were the interviews hard?
The first interview consisted of questions like:
- “How did you hear about this program?”
- “What made you want to apply?”
- “Why do you want to teach in Korea instead of another country?”
- “Do you have any teaching experience?”
The second interview was a bit harder.
- “Are you in good health?”
- “Do you have any tattoos or piercings?”
- “What do you know about the TaLK program?”
- “What does the acronym TaLK stand for?”
- I feel so dumb because I seriously bombed this question. My mind suddenly went blank, and all I could come up with was the first letter. I seriously thought I failed the interview because of this…Moral of the story: Know by heart what the acronyms stand for so you don’t experience a brain fart like I did!
- “What do you know about Korean culture?”
- “What do you think are some differences between your culture and Korean culture?”
- “What is the riskiest thing you’ve done?”
- “What makes you stand out from the other applicants?”
- “Why do you think you’d be a good teacher?”
- “What would you do if some kids were being disruptive while others were trying to learn?”
- “What would you do if only two kids showed up to your class?”
- “What would you do if the older kids thought they were ‘too cool for school’?”
- “What would you do if your school wanted you to teach more hours than noted in your contract?”
- “What would you do if Koreans stared and pointed at you?”
- “If you were planning to leave for a trip Friday, and your school invited you to a dinner that night, what would you do?”
Those are just a few of the questions I was asked. I don’t remember exactly how they were phrased, but that should give you an idea of what you should know. I’d DEFINITELY recommend reading through the TaLK website a few times and brushing up on your knowledge of Korean culture.
Honestly, I was pretty ill prepared. (I’m generally not very good at preparing for interviews…) Luckily, I remembered enough about the program and already knew a lot about Korean culture.
Where will you be living?
I will be living in a rural area in Chungnam Province.
Why are you moving to a rural area?
With the TaLK program, they only place you in rural areas. If you’re really set on living in the city, I would apply to the EPIK program.
I was originally planning to apply to the EPIK program. However, they’ve made it a bit harder to get into now. Not only do you need a bachelor’s degree (which I have), you also need a TEFL certification (which I don’t have). You don’t need the TEFL certification if you have a bachelor’s degree in English or education.
Did you get to pick where you wanted to go?
No. I was asked what my preference was, which I responded “Incheon”. I picked Incheon because it was close to Seoul. However, I wasn’t set on getting a specific placement. I knew I would be happy with whichever placement I got.
Do you need a teaching certification for this program?
No. However, I’m currently doing a cheap online TEFL course. This is mostly just to help me as I have never taught before.
Are you Korean?
Do you speak Korean?
Unfortunately, no. I’m planning to learn at least the basics before I go.
When are you coming back?
The program starts in August and ends in January. I’m not sure when I’ll be back, though…My plan is to continue traveling after the program ends.
Can I come with you?
Uhhhh…..let me think about it.
So I hope that answers all your questions! If not, don’t hesitate to drop them below.
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