Before stepping foot in a classroom, most recruitment programs (i.e. EPIK, JLP, etc.) will provide you with a full week of orientation. So what does an orientation week actually entail? What sort of things will you learn? Read on to find out more about our orientation with the Jeollanamdo Language Program (JLP)!
After arriving at the airport, we were ushered onto a charter bus and taken to our orientation destination, the Shin Yang Park Hotel in Gwangju. It took us about 4 hours by bus to reach the location. JLP basically rents out all the conference rooms as well as a few floors and the dinning room in the hotel for the entire week. If you applied with a significant other or friend, you should be placed in the same room. However, if you are taking on this endeavor solo you will be required to share a room with another teacher. Don’t fret, in our experience everyone was super friendly and just because you’re rooming with someone that doesn’t mean you have to be their best friend!
A few things about the hotel:
- As with most hotels in Korea, the hotel gym and swimming pool are not free. You will be required to pay about $30CAD to use the facilities for the day.
- It’s a little bit outside Gwangju’s downtown area so you’ll either need to take a cab (which can be ordered at the front desk) or the bus (number 1000) to get there.
- It’s quite close to some great hiking trails so definitely check those out if you have the time!
- Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all served free of charge. However you will have the option of visiting the city centre to buy your own dinner if you want to.
Now on to the content of JLP Orientation Week: The week was comprised of various workshops, guest speakers and info sessions that were all aimed at preparing us for our new jobs. On the first day we mostly dealt with finishing up the remaining paperwork and getting an introduction to what we could expect out of life in Korea – super helpful if you’ve never been here before (like us!). We also got a great introduction to teaching and how to introduce yourself to your students for the first time (something we were both really nervous about!).
The following days consisted of a visit to the local hospital to complete a medical assessment (which if you fail could result in serious consequences on your prospective job!), a Korean history lesson, workshops on how to teach elementary/middle/high school students, how to manage a classroom, a traditional Korean music lesson and a field trip day to Jeonju for a traditional Korean cooking class and crafting.
Later in the week we also had to prepare a short (20ish minute) mock lesson to present in front of our peers. We were told to tailor the lesson towards the level we would be teaching and we were given feedback both from the other new recruits and the facilitator. Although the time was limited, it was nice to have the opportunity to grease the teaching gears before getting in the real classroom.
On the final day, we packed up our bags from the hotel (and don’t forget to give the key back, which Jordon obviously, 100%, definitely didn’t forget to do!) and had the chance to meet our new co-teachers. After the initial greeting, we sat down for lunch with them before jumping in their car and driving to our new home for the year!
Overall, the orientation week was quite useful. The info sessions did a great job with teaching us about Korean culture, what to expect and what the teachers and students will expect from you. We found the history lesson quite interesting, the free food was welcomed since it would be a solid month before our first paycheck, and the chance to meet new people were great.
Hopefully this brief overview of what to expect during orientation will help give you a little bit better of an idea of what sort of things you’ll be doing during your first week in Korea, becoming a new English teacher. Good luck!
If you’d like to see a copy of our JLP Orientation Schedule (August 2016), click here!
Have you ever taught English in Korea?
Are you thinking about it? Feel free to use the comment section to ask us questions!
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