Thursday, August 15, 2013

Teaching English in South Korea: TTG application timeline

We got an email this past Friday from the Teachers to Gyeonggi-do (TTG) program assistant about paying for our flights to Korea through the travel agent, and were told that we'd get our placements on Monday.  So this Monday I found out that I'll be teaching in Wangsan Elementary School this year.  If there is only one school with this name in the Gyeonggi-do region, then it's in Yeoncheon:

Yeoncheon

To help any future applicants of the TTG program (run by the ESL department at UW-Madison), I've kept a timeline of the application process.  At times it was frustrating that all of the communication was virtual (through email), and said communication unfortunately wasn't always the clearest.  There were a few times where if I had known deadlines/requirements up front rather than at the last minute, it would have saved me some panic time and needing to take off from work to obtain documents.  So hopefully this overview will help others get an idea of what to expect:

3/?/13 - Take passport photos at Walgreens

4/1/13 - Turn in application and interview

4/2/13 - Take fingerprints in the morning at the campus police station

4/5/13 - Mail fingerprints to DC

4/5/13 - Ask BK to write letter of recommendation

4/15/13 - Ask EE to write letter of recommendation

4/26/13 - BK shows me letter before he submitted it

4/26/13 - Never got reply from EE, so I email Spanish CC and ask her to write letter of recommendation

4/26/13 - Apply and pay for TEFL course

4/28/13 - Ask KF to write letter of recommendation

4/30/13 - Spanish CC shows me letter

5/08/13 - Background search is complete

5/13/13 - Receive background check back from DC in mail

5/15/13 - Send background check with the apostille application back to DC

5/28/13 - Walk some documents over to the ESL office.

6/1/13 - Receive criminal background check with apostille back in the mail

6/3/13 - Walk criminal background check to the ESL office

6/5/13 - Receive email saying all documents are due on June 10.  This is the first email I have received anything with that due date on it, so I panic because I haven't finished my TEFL course yet, and it takes time for the certificate to be created/mailed.  I decide to take off of work the following day to take the exam, instead of waiting to take it on Saturday as I'd planned.

6/6/13 - Take ITTT exam

6/14/13 - Turn in TESOL certificate to program coordinators.   I tell them that according to my records, this is the last item I need to turn in.

6/25/13 - Get email from ESL office saying I've turned in all my documents except the background check.  What??  Panic mode again, because I dropped this off in person three weeks ago, and said (three weeks ago) that I thought I'd turned everything in.  I respond, telling her the day and where I had dropped it off.  Hours later, I get a response saying they had it -- it was still where I had left it. Phew.

7/9/13 - Receive email saying that the office in Korea did not provide the UW office with the correct forms for 2013.  Could we please submit this updated health form and teacher eligibility (pay scale) form.  The original application instructions said that if you're claiming a pay rate for those who have taught English full time for a year (which I have, in Madrid), then one of your letters of recommendation must be from a coworker at that school (which I obtained and submitted).  But when we were asked to resubmit the teacher eligibility (pay rate) forms, I was told by the ESL office that if I wanted to try to claim one level up from the bottom, I would need proof of having taught English full time for a year (not just the letter of recommendation I'd already submitted, apparently).  I do have letters that prove my employment in Madrid.  They're written in Spanish and are at my parents' house in my closet.  Since I'm leaving the country in two days for a two-week trip, I use personal time the next morning so my mom can pick me up, take me home, I grab the two pieces of paper I need, and then she drives me back to Madison.

7/10/13 - Obtain letters from parents' house.  Scan them, translate them, and submit to ESL office.  Had I known a month ago (or back when I originally submitted the application) that this was necessary, I could have gotten the letters the last time I was home.

8/7/13 - Receive an email saying not to worry about not having received placements yet.  There was also a booklet attached with information about teaching in South Korea.  It's helpful, but I wish we would have received it back in June...

8/9/13 - Receive email saying the assignments have just arrived from Korea; they'll send them out on Monday.  We also receive information and are directed to call to pay for our flights.  I call the travel agent to book / pay for my flight.

8/12/13 - Receive teaching placements via email.  All we receive is the school's name in English -- no address.  This afternoon I happen to meet with a guy that taught in Korea two years ago.  His friend taught at the same school that I'm placed in, so he (by texting her) helps me find it on a map.  (Googling "Wangsan Elementary School" got me nowhere)

8/15/13 - Receive email stating that the consulate now needs an official university transcript to issue the visas.  This is a new requirement that wasn't communicated to our ESL department until now, so I order a transcript right away.
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