Working with words: Teaching is a tough job that might be right for you

TOEFL instructor Park Jong-uk teaches a class at the International Foreign Language Institute near Ajou University. (PHOTO: Han Jini)

TOEFL instructor Park Jong-uk teaches a class at the International Foreign Language Institute near Ajou University.
(PHOTO: Han Jini)

Many students attend language institutes. The more students that attend, the more instructors that are needed. Park Jong-uk is one of them. He works as an English instructor at the International Foreign Language Institute near Ajou University.

Park knew he wanted to become an English instructor since he was a university student. He attended university in the United States, which made it easier to study TOEFL. He tutored part-time and found that he enjoyed teaching. After graduating, he came to Korea to become an instructor.

Park has worked at the institute for about two years. He teaches TOEFL classes and is content with his job. He finds TOEFL interesting and enjoys analyzing and teaching how sentences are made.

Teaching is difficult, and Park sometimes thinks his job is more than he can bear. “Because I have all TOEFL classes,” he says, “I don’t have enough time to prepare for them on weekdays and always work till late. Plus, my job doesn’t pay very well.” Lessons don’t always go smoothly either. “I get embarrassed when I give my students wrong information, and they point it out. I feel bad when students tell me my class isn’t worth taking.”

On the other hand, his successes make all the effort worthwhile. “When my students enjoy English and are able to follow along, my heart is filled with pride. When their English skills improve, I am really happy.”

Over the past two years, Park has met and taught many students. “I’ve realized that teaching is not an easy task,” he says. “I may be just a private educational instructor, but I am not just sharing knowledge. I’m also sharing life experiences and ethics.”

If any Kangnam University students are interested in becoming English instructors themselves someday, Park has the following advice: “The job has to suit your personality. This is the most important thing. The next important thing is to improve your English skills.” Even with this, motivating students to study hard is difficult. “Having a way with words helps a lot.”

Jini Han

Major: English Literature I'm from Suwon. I want to be an English master. Interests: watching movies, listening to music, singing, meeting people, taking pictures, and traveling.

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