Learn about teaching abroad

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Anky Chau knew she wanted to work overseas after she graduated, so after completing her psychology degree at Queen’s University, Chau spent a year and half teaching English in Yokohama, Japan.

“At first it was challenging, especially the culture shock,” Chau said. “But I found the teaching fun.”

“What I remember is connecting with people on a global scale. My best memories are of immersing myself in the culture.”

Chau taught for AEON, one of several companies organizing overseas teaching programs. For example, the NOVA Group recruits teachers on a one-year contract for its private English-as-a-Second-Language schools in Japan.

“You teach classes of a maximum four people... and work on confidence and listening comprehension,” said Stephen Fillmore, a NOVA recruit.

Fillmore said ESL students are linked based on language capabilities, so the same class might have a 15-year-old student and a 45-year-old marketing official.

Another company, Canada 2 Korea, places Canadians in both the Korean school system and private institutions.

Mike Sprenger, director of Canada 2 Korea, said teachers aren’t required to learn the country’s language.

“The Korean people are very kind and helpful and often understand English,” he said.

The schools and companies typically arrange and pay for or subsidize furnished apartments within walking distance of the school or train station. Teachers live with or near other teachers.

“You don’t know the culture, so it’s important to acclimatize and talk with people who understand what you’re going through,” Fillmore said.

Training is usually provided, although some companies require applicants to become “Teaching English as a Second Language” certified.

“There are prescribed steps for new instructors, but it’s flexible for outside material once you have experience and want to cater to the interests of the students,” Fillmore said.

Fillmore said teachers often use activities like games and role-playing.

“Variety is key,” he said. “It’s designed to be fun.”

Both NOVA and Canada 2 Korea have booths at the Career Fair, which takes place today from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the University Community Centre. Over 75 employers are attending.

A full list of participating organizations is available at http://career.uwo.ca/jobfair/jobfairparticipants.xml.

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