As Competition Grows, More Teachers Turn to TESOL

BUSAN, South Korea – With the recent cuts of teachers by the Seoul Metropolitan Board of Education and in Gyeonggi-do, there will be a plethora of teachers looking for a job this spring, suddenly finding themselves without a place to teach.

With the recent, and future cutbacks which are planning to happen around the peninsula, the competition for jobs is going to be fierce. 

As prospects become more bleak, and being in a job market saturated with teachers, anything you can do to make yourself more attractive to employers is a plus. Gone are the days when just setting foot on the peninsula, degree in hand, could guarantee you employment.

More and more teachers are getting their TESOL certifications to help beef up their resume, while at the same time improving their teaching skills in the classroom.

Going abroad to get your TESOL can be an expensive prospect, so why not do it here? The locally owned-and-operated TESOL Alliance is the only certified TESOL program in Busan.

TESOL Alliance was formed three-and-a-half years ago by CEO Fabio Suh, who has lived and worked on four continents around the world. Along with Vancouver native Education Director James Lochhead, the two have teamed up to offer Korea’s only TESOL program specifically designed for foreigners, by foreigners.

The 120-hour long course provides teachers with practical insight into the second language classroom as well as English education’s theoretical underpinnings. They are also the exclusive operators of the Asian EFL Journal TESOL certificate in Korea – one of the most respected TESOL certificates in the world.

The course, which is done through e-mail assignments as well as on-site class lectures, has over 1,500 graduates since it was started. Suh explained that most Internet certification programs fail to provide any real methodology and techniques which can be used in an actual classroom setting. Their program is designed with teachers in mind, but that’s not to say everyone will complete the course.

“Actually, the failure rate is about 20%,” according to Suh. “Just signing up doesn’t guarantee a pass. We want our students to become better teachers in the classroom.”

Suh said that having an internationally recognized certificate will help teachers seeking positions both here and abroad. For those teachers with the EPIK program, the financial benefits of completing the course are immediate – usually about $100 a month.

Lochhead, who was taught under Professor Rod Ellis, a leading theorist on second language acquisition, designs activities that are easily adapted to any situation in the classroom.

“We enjoy a student-centered classroom environment, which teaches the fundamentals and practical ideas for the classroom,” Lochhead says.

Other benefits of the program include a website for online resources, a built-in network of teachers to communicate with, classes available in Busan, Daegu and Seoul, special guest lecturers, the chance to have credits transferred towards an M.A. TESOL at select universities around the world, and a great opportunity to experience quality professional development.

“Having a TESOL certificate definitely increases your marketability as a teacher, and taking a TESOL program gives you a chance to meet others and exchange ideas,” says Brad Serl, President of the Busan KOTESOL Chapter.

For those of you who are looking to upgrade your teaching skills, and increase your marketability in the international teaching market, TESOL Alliance is your first place to start.



“Not coming from a teaching background, my eyes were opened during this course to the  unlimited possibilities within an ESL classroom. I have taught ESL for 2 years, and it was so nice to be able to finally put some theory behind this ‘teaching’ I had been doing. One of the painful things I find with teaching ESL is needing to fill the time or fill awkward silences. This course, however, showed me how to take even one worksheet and develop it into an entire lesson plan. One that is fun, involves everyone and can be used at many different levels. I feel the concept of task-based teaching, which is taught extensively thorughout the course, is highly useful and successful. Since the course I have been able to stretch out my students textbooks by simply making extended lessons beyond the book itself. I feel like my students are more interested, and they can see that I am putting more effort into the classrooms.

The course covered many other important areas, such as grammar, how to deal with games and make them relevant to your topic, giving feedback, and how to utilise different resources. The course itself was very organised. The venue was great and the lecturers were prepared and informative. I felt like I could approach any one of them and ask questions. The follow up has been great, too. Response to emails is quick and helpful.

Overall I would recommend this course to anyone wanting to better themselves as teachers. Even if you have taught ESL for years, I feel there will be something you can learn from this course.”  – Lindsay M. (February, 2010)

“The course I attended in Seoul was fantastic! Great lecturers made classes informative and fun and you can really improve your level of teaching by adding more dimensions and understanding to your lessons.” –Shane N. (May 2010), Chungbuk National University

You can find more information on their homepage here, or email [email protected], or join their Facebook group


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