A Few Questions About ESL in Korea
May 22, 2009 12:54 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to be teaching in Korea soon, so I'm looking to ask people who have already done it (perhaps are currently doing it) a few burning questions. I've googled these questions extensively, but never found answers that were both unambiguous and current.

First, the matter of cell phones. I don't require anything fancy, but I'm hoping for inexpensive. What are your recommendations? Second, TEFL courses. I'm only interested in the online varieties. Are they worth it, and, if so, which companies do you recommend? Third, I would like to ship books and a few other things to myself on the cheap. Recommendations? Fourth, banking. Has anyone had experience with ING Direct, or similar? I would like to make it simple to pay stateside bills. Lastly, my goatee. Will it likely cause me any problems with my employer?

I'm sorry for the plethora of questions, but I'm leaving soon.
posted by Chasuk to Work & Money (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

(1) Where are you going to be? There's some good recent advice (including mine!) about getting a phone in Seoul here. Some of it applies nationwide. As for models, they change so fast that anything you hear now will be out of date by the time you get here! I haven't heard anything about one manufacturer being much better than another.
(2) I wouldn't generally recommend an online TEFL course. There's little in them that you can't gain from some online & offline research on your own. Your question reads as if you already have a job, so I'm assuming you're interested in taking a course to improve your teaching skills rather than your employability? If the latter, my advice is slightly different, but still doesn't include online courses.
(3) I assume from your mention of 'stateside' in the fourth question that you're in the USA. I don't know much about which services are best from there, but things do get delayed coming into Korea and you have to watch out for duty on valuables and confiscation of certain items (medicines, vitamins etc.)
(4) No idea.
(5) Probably not, but depends hugely on where you're going to be working. A Hagwon? A university? A state school via EPIK or similar?
posted by Busy Old Fool at 2:47 AM on May 22, 2009

You will learn a lot from Metafilter's Own stavrosthewonderchicken. He maintains a blog on topics like these.
posted by fake at 7:38 AM on May 22, 2009

I agree mostly with Busy Old Fool.

1) Don't worry about it. Deal with it when you get here. Get a used one and you won't spend much but you'll get something decent.
2) Don't do it. Buy a book or two about teaching English instead of doing an online course. How to Teach English by Jeremy Harmer is a decent place to start. Good books depend on whether you're teaching kids or adults. I teach adults and don't know very much about kids. In either case, an offline course can be worth it, depending on the particulars of the course.
3) You can buy English-language books in Korea, and Amazon delivers here (as does WhatTheBook), so you might not need to ship your books. It might be cheaper to buy them here.
4) You're going to pay a fee no matter what. You'll get a Korean bank account when you get here, which you can use to transfer money back home. I use Woori Bank simply because it's in the same building as my workplace. You can transfer money directly to your foreign back account (including ING), which you can use to pay your bills.
5) Probably not, but it depends entirely on your employer. Appearance is very important in Korea.
posted by smorange at 8:08 AM on May 22, 2009

You will learn a lot from Metafilter's Own stavrosthewonderchicken. He maintains a blog on topics like these.

Thanks for the plug! Actually, the other of my sites (where I rarely post, but there might well be some useful stuff for you there in the archives) where I talk about things Korea-related is OutsideinKorea.

In terms of the specific questions, I'd agree with the answers smorange and Busy Old Fool have offered.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:24 PM on May 24, 2009

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