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Teaching abroad: a WHS teacher’s experience

The+Gyeongbokgung+Palace+in+Seoul.
The Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul.

The Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul.

The Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul.

Carolyn Girard, Print Editor-In-Chief

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For anyone who is debating or pursuing a job in teaching, there is a way to travel abroad while gaining quality global experiences in a multitude of countries. For Woodhaven High School teacher Mr. Mackley, that’s exactly what he did before coming to WHS.

 

Teaching abroad can be a variety of different types of teaching, but the most common one is teaching language as a second language. Teaching English  is a very high demand, especially in Asia where the job market is very high.

 

The majority of all countries require a legitimate TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL  (Teaching English as a Second Language) certificate, preferably in-person courses (but they can also be done online). However, some countries such as Korea do not require a TEFL certificate.  Many TEFL agencies like the International TEFL Academy or Ninja Teacher offer world-wide locations and various options of classes ranging to around $1,000-2,500. Most countries also require a bachelor’s degree (in any study) but there are exceptions on rare occasions.

 

Mr. Mackley graduated from Wayne State University in 2009 and had studied abroad in Munich, Germany. He attended an in-person TEFL course in Windsor through the International TEFL Academy. Soon after he decided to move with friends to South Korea, where he took up a position teaching English in Korea during the 2010-2011 school year.

 

“Teaching ESL gave me some valuable teaching experience, and it was a nice trial of the career before I decided to continue with teaching as a career. I learned a lot from the work culture of Korea. For example, adults are very respectful towards one another. I learned to have a great amount respect my superiors, including different handshakes according to one’s status,” said Mackley.

 

Depending on the country, some schools cover accommodation, travel expenses, healthcare and other amenities such as Wi-Fi. Recruiting agencies often hook up new English teachers with schools that have co-teachers to assist them in the classroom and in-country support. Traveling abroad is cheaper in continents like Asia or Europe where public transportation or flying is significantly cheaper. Each country has it’s own special holidays and bonuses, like China, which gives their teachers a month long paid vacation for the Chinese New Year. Thailand also has a holiday called “Songkran”, their version of New Year holiday that includes the Songkran festival, which includes the world’s largest water pistol fight.

 

“I only taught in Korea, but it was similar to Germany in many ways. I loved the subways and public transit. It was very cheap and easy to get around. I also liked how dense my neighborhoods were. Anything I needed was a walk around the corner, and most of my friends lived within a few minutes of my apartment. Koreans are very respectful, especially to teachers. I was one of a handful of teachers in a city of half a million, so it was like being a celebrity sometimes,” said Mackley.

 

After a single year in Korea, Mackley moved back home to America. Though it was easy for him to adjust to work and school, he wishes he would have spent more time abroad. Mackley plans to travel abroad again someday, preferably during retirement.

 

“I would absolutely recommend this experience. I wish I could continue traveling and teaching, and might do it again someday. If someone is interested in experiencing another culture, learning a language, living on the other side of the world, or just postponing “growing up” for a year or two, it would be a great experience,” said Mackley.

Various foods at the market in Seoul.

The river park in downtown Seoul.

The neighborhood in the morning.

The neighborhood at night.

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