Name: Jonathan Carter
Hometown: Windsor, Ontario, Canada
Currently Living: Geoje (Okpo-Dong)
Job: Jinmok Elementary School Native English Teacher
What are you doing right now?
I am currently reviewing past lessons with my students as it’s the end of their school year and I want to test how well they’ve retained pass material.
And what’s your typical day?
My typical day involves arriving at school, reviewing my lessons for the day to ensure I have everything necessary for a successful day while making small talk with my co-workers. I teach four to five classes a day where I lead games and activities that involve listening, speaking, writing or a combination of any of the three. I will then eat lunch and prepare my lesson plans for the following day with the remainder of my workday. After school, I typically like to relax with video games or going out with my friends.
Where are you from?
I am from Windsor, Ontario, Canada!
Why did you decide to move here?
I decided to move to Korea in order to obtain personal and professional experience. I have a degree in Social Work and would like to focus on child welfare. Teaching individuals and groups a common goal, while dealing with a severe language barrier is an amazing experience and I wanted to gain more skills that I could later transfer into future career opportunities. In addition, I love traveling and have been to parts of Central America and Europe but have not had a chance to see Asia due to cost. Living here would give me opportunities to travel to countries I most likely would not have had the chance to normally.
Why do you teach?
I think teaching (or working with kids in general) is one of the most meaningful things you can do because children are so vulnerable. I believe if children are nurtured properly at the earlier stages of their lives that they’ll be better situated to be successful and happy in adult life. As a teacher, you have so much contact with children and can help shape their morals, mannerism and overall outlook on life and if I can positively impact one of my students lives I know all my hard work will be worth it.
If you weren’t teaching, what would you be doing?
If I weren’t currently teaching I would most likely be living abroad in the UK working some form of Social Work job and traveling Europe with my free time.
What separates the good teachers from the bad?
I believe the main determinate that separates the two would be how much a teacher connects with their students. If a teacher takes the time to get to know their students and is able to form a connection with them that it opens a door to more learning opportunities. I noticed that at the beginning of my teaching life here that my students were more hesitant and less confident; however, currently after forming a connection with them, they are much more comfortable and participate often.
What were the hardest life lessons you had to learn while here?
I don’t think there were many, but living in a foreign country and not speaking the language has definitely taught me a better sense of independence and problem-solving.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about teaching abroad or living abroad?
My advice would be to simply do it. This experience has been amazing and has given me so many memories and opportunities I could have never had before and I recommend it to everyone.
Do you have any passions or hobbies that you pursue abroad?
I have been more passionate about languages here and have been attempting to learn Korean. I can currently read and write it, but actually understanding it has been difficult. I hope to get better over my time here.
What would you be doing if you were still in your home country?
I lived in Windsor prior to my move here, but if I stayed in Canada I probably would have moved to British Columbia or Alberta and be working a child welfare job.
Do you want to add anything else?
Just that this has been an unbelievable experience and I’m extremely happy with my decision to come here.
Can you tell us a few tips or tricks to help improve our classes?
Just to make them as fun and visually impressive as possible. The more fun or the better they look the more attention you’ll receive from your students.
What websites or books helped you when you first started? Which do you still use now?
I have and still continue to use “Waygook” and “Korshare.”Korshare is a smaller website similar to Waygook but is free compared to Waygook where you have to pay to access its content. Both have been helpful for receiving materials or advice from other current or former ESL teachers.
What are the go-to tools that you think teachers should buy to improve their class? I’ve found that a set of mini-whiteboards work wonders for young learners. What about you?
I too have invested in creating whiteboards for my students, but other than that I have a bell where for every ring the students clap their hands. It’s been helpful for calming my students when they’re rowdy and my voice is gone!
What's your go-to game for the types of activities you lead in the classroom?
I don’t really have any “go-to” games as I like to keep a lot of variety in order to keep things fresh for my students. I think keeping things constantly new and exciting will help keep my students’ attention and therefore help them learn more.
Any specific advice for Canadians teaching and living abroad in Korea?
I wouldn’t say this advice is specifically tailored towards just Canadians but the best thing I can say is to not be afraid. If you allow yourself to fully immerse in Korean culture and connect with the locals you’ll really enjoy your time here.
Geoje is a really unique place! Have you had an interesting experience there or do you have any stories you'd like to share?
Geoje really is an interesting place to live as it’s an island in the southern part of Korea. I’m a big fan of hiking and this place is fun of amazing trails that overlook the ocean and natural landscape of the island. I was originally skeptical of moving to Geoje, but very happy with the decision now.