From Korea to TEFL Barcelona 

When I first enrolled at TEFL Barcelona, I’d already finished one year of teaching English in South Korea, in Suwon. I was twenty-three, and I really thought I knew a lot about teaching. My main reason for going was simply to see Spain. That was eight years ago. As I look back on that time,  I now realize how much TEFL Barcelona has helped to shape and anchor me as a teacher.

The actual course was incredibly helpful. In Korea, there are some schools that will provide you with an online TEFL program before you start teaching. However, there is nothing like physically being in a classroom with your students and receiving helpful evaluations from your classmates and instructors. The instructors encouraged our creativity with English lessons but were deft at helping us keep our lessons fundamentally sound.

I learned a lot about preparing lessons as well as staying relaxed if my lesson did not go as planned. Of course, the best part of it all were all of the wonderful people I met in my course! Who would have thought I would have made lifelong friends in a one-month TEFL Program?!

Back to Korea


Many of my classmates had plans to stay in Spain long term. However, I went back to Seoul with a job to teach kindergarten.  After a few months of teaching English in Spain to adults though, this was a massive adjustment. If you have never traveled here, Korea is filled with after school English academies called “hagwons”. Parents spend thousands of dollars on their children’s English education, and the pressure to succeed is high. Even now, with the economy experiencing slow down, you can still walk down a street in Seoul and see multiple English academies in a single building.

The Korean education system is strongly influenced by Confucian culture. In other words, parents want their children to learn English from you, but they want you to teach English in the Korean way. Initially, this style was often at odds with what I had learned in TEFL Barcelona. It left me wondering if I’d wasted my time.

More Versatile Than I Thought

Years went by, and yes, I realized that I wasn’t a kindergarten teacher. However, I’ve found a home in teaching elementary school for the past several years. TEFL’s influence hadn’t dawned on me until I was asked to train a coworker of mine. I realized as I evaluated his teaching and gave him pointers, that I was indeed passing on core tenants I had learned years prior in Barcelona! My training had never left, it had just adapted to the culture I was living in.

Outside of school, my TEFL background helped me in my church’s homeless outreach ministry, where we gave English lessons at the local shelter. It’s also helped on mission trips to Japan, where I’ve helped coordinate English camps for neighborhood kids as well as done college outreach at Kyushu University.  From elderly homeless people to young Japanese college students whom I’ve just met, the skills I developed at TEFL Barcelona have helped me to develop great relationships with my students.

This coming October I will be leaving Korea to go back to America. Though I will be trying a new career path in filmmaking, I am forever grateful to everyone at TEFL Barcelona that helped make this chapter of my life especially sweet!

By Michael Maneage

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