Do I need to learn Korean or Japanese to teach?
In order to be a language teacher in Korea or Japan you do not have to speak the language? In fact, most schools in both countries do not want their teachers using Korean or Japanese in the classroom. Schools often want an “immersion” environment in the classroom. At the same time, parents are paying a lot of money for their children to spend time with a native English speak speaking English. They don’t want a foreign teacher practicing their Korea or Japanese on their dime so to speak.
Many people in the world of ESL argue that the language learning process can be assisted more efficiently if a teacher is able to explain a vocabulary or grammar term in the student’s own language. There is definite validity to that, but most school owners or managers don’t really want to hear that. They run a business and the clients (parents of students) normally want the teacher to only engage the students in English.
Now it is definitely worth your while to learn Korea or Japanese if you plan to move abroad. Learning some of the language will make your quality of life outside the classroom far higher. You will be able to converse with locals and it will be easier for you to take public transportation and dine out at restaurants.
You don’t need to learn the local language to teach English, but you should try to learn at least some of it in order to make the most of your time abroad.
I wrote this several years ago (2011). It was originally part of a self-published eBook called Teaching in Asia: Tales and the Real Deal about teaching in Japan and Korea. I plan to share segments of this book here on Just Japan Stuff. Hopefully some of you will find the information useful.
Kevin O’Shea is the host of the Just Japan Podcast. He is also the guy behind JustJapanStuff. Kevin is a Canadian educator who lives in Kobe, Japan with his family.
Follow him on Twitter: @jlandkev