Derry to Korean in one easy lesson

Ciara McLaughlin
Ciara McLaughlin

Anyone who can speak English can teach English.

That’s the simple theory behind i-to-i, Ireland’s top Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) specialists.

Ciara McLaughlin

Ciara McLaughlin

Derry woman Ciara McLaughlin took them at their word a couple of years ago - and is now working in South Korea teaching children to speak English.

“I have many friends who have taught English all over the world and they always spoke very highly of their experiences,” Ciara explained.

“I love travelling and experiencing new cultures, so becoming an English teacher in a foreign country seemed like the perfect opportunity.”

Nicola Moroney of i-to-i says heading abroad to find paid work is an increasingly attractive option for people struggling to get work at home.

“As well as a lifetime qualification, it’s a chance to experience a whole new lifestyle change in a way no tourist could ever dream of,” she said.

“As well as placing teachers in China, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Indonesia, Japan and South Korea, we also offering teaching internships in China, Thailand and Poland.

“They are ideal for a first time traveller or TEFL teacher who wants to dip their toe in the water and see what the craze is all about.”

Ciara, 30, has been teaching in Korea for almost two years.

“I arrived in November 2009 and have been teaching ever since,” she said.

“My first job was working at a private academy teaching elementary and middle school children how to speak English.

“I completed my contract in December 2010 and went back to Ireland for a month.

“Then I returned to Korea at the end of January this year to take up a new contract teaching English to adults.”

Ciara, who is from Feeny in Co Derry, went to St Patrick’s High School in Dungiven and completed her A levels at St Patrick’s College in Maghera.

She then went on to the University of Ulster and did a BA Honours course in Business Studies.

Degree level education is required for teaching English in some, but not all, countries.

Ciara completed a 20-hour weekend course with i-to-i in Belfast before heading out to Korea.

“Then once I had been there for about six months I decided to finish the course and completed another 80 hours of online study.”

The 20-hour classroom courses run by i-to-i are the introduction to teaching English as a Foreign Language courses.

The organisation has been operating for eight years and trains around 15,000 people a year, many of whom go on to complete more extensive online courses.

“There’s an endless amount of jobs in teaching English jobs and teachers will always be in demand,” said Nicola Moroney.

“It’s perfect for people with a yearning to travel abroad, and who want to work in paid employment away from home.

“It’s a life-changing experience.

“In conjunction with our TEFL courses we also ooffer a jobs abroad service helping our students find paid work throughout Latin America, Asia and Europe.”

Although Ciara is in Korea to teach English, she can’t help but pick up a little Korean along the way.

“It didn’t take me long to pick up the Korean alphabet and I can speak enough Korean now to get by,” she says.

“You learn how to do things like ordering food in a restaurant or giving directions to taxi drivers or for general greetings.

“For example when you walk into a shop it is polite to say ‘Anyeoun Ha See Yo’, which just means hello.

“Or ‘Kam Sa Hap Ni Da’ which means thank you.”

Teaching English as a Foreign Language has become a way of life for Ciara and once her current contract expires, she is aiming to continue working abroad.

“I will be working in Korea until the end of February next year and after that I’m going to travel to visit some friends in Australia and New Zealand.

“Then I’m hoping to return to Korea or possibly another country to continue to teach English.”

i-to-i is based in Dungarvan Co Waterford and offers courses all over the country. For more information visit their website