If you’re wondering what life is like being
an English teacher in Korea, then look no further than the English Program in Korea,
better known as EPIK. Not only does EPIK provide you with diverse, secure, and enriching teaching
environments, but EPIK also gives native English speakers the chance to learn from teaching.
From training programs to cultural experiences, EPIK has opened the doors to my professional
and personal growth; and the same can happen to you, too! So how can one participate in
and excel in EPIK? I’ll tell you how to be EPIK in just five easy steps. Step one is: Be Open!
From the time you apply, get on the plane, finish orientation, and head to your new city,
it’s important to be open. Be open to new people, the new culture, the new language,
the new food, and everything around you. It was so much easier for me to adjust and appreciate
Korea when I kept my mind open; especially when teaching. And EPIK orientation definitely
opened my mind to Korean culture. Be open, and don’t forget, be excited for this new
opportunity! Step two is: Explore Korea!
Korea’s size and great transportation system make it easy to travel the country, and even
other countries. I live in Seoul, which is always buzzing with activity, but I Iove checking
out other cities like Busan or Jeonju, where other EPIK teachers live and work. Explore
Korea, but don’t forget to explore your own neighborhood, too. Whether you’re attending
a festival, a palace, a park, or shopping, there’s always something new to discover every
day, no matter where you live in Korea. Step three is: Plan, Meet, and Teach!
The best and most important part about EPIK is teaching! Once you meet your co-teachers
and your students, it’s time to start planning your classes and teaching. Each school is
different. For example, I teach third through sixth grade at an elementary school in Seoul.
Some teachers with EPIK may teach just one or two grades multiple times a week, or even
teach at more than one school; but I teach a different grade each day with different
co-teachers at just one school. The level of English your students speak, and the teaching
style of your co-teacher, will vary, depending on your school. Collaboration and communication
are key to a successful co-teaching relationship. When my co-teachers and I aren’t teaching
the students, we’re learning from each other. And I think these relationships between my
students and my co-teachers are the most interesting and educational part about EPIK. You’ll also
have training and team-building with your school staff, which will help you get to know
them better. Many schools, including mine, have school events like Sports Day and performances,
which are fun ways to get to know your students outside of the English the classroom. And
yeah, sometimes elementary students can be a handful! But don’t worry–EPIK gives you
training in classroom management, lesson planning, co-teaching, and many more skills that will
prepare you for a positive teaching experience, even if you have little to no experience teaching,
like I did. Because of EPIK, I was equipped with what I needed to confidently work with
my co-teachers and develop my own unique teaching style. Step four is: Interact!
There are many ways to interact and get involved in your community. From language meet-ups
to cultural classes, you’ll meet many other foreigners at EPIK’s orientation, giving you
a network of life-long friends and professional contacts as soon as you get to Korea. Step five is….Keep in Touch!
It’s easy and comforting to keep in touch with loved ones from Korea, but be sure to
keep in touch with yourself, too. I’m still the same person I’ve always been, but I’ve
learned so much more about myself ever since I started teaching in Korea. Because of EPIK, my first year of teaching
English in Korea has been such a rewarding, fun experience. It can be challenging, but
as long as you remember to Be open; Explore Korea; Plan, meet, and teach;
Interact; and Keep in touch; your time in Korea is sure to be great. And you will most