Hi there everybody!

I am looking for information about teaching English abroad. I have done some research myself, but I am hoping that some of the lovely users here will be able to add to my knowledge.

First, I suppose I should give a little bit of background on myself.
I am currently in my third year of studies in university. I am due to graduate in the spring of 2010, and afterwards I would like to teach English abroad before returning to Canada to complete a Masters degree.

I have spoken with some corporations offering recruitment services, as well as representatives of private language schools. These include:

  • Pegasus Recruiting
  • Teach English in Korea (recruitment services)
  • Nova
  • JET Program
  • Yes Youngdo

As you can see from my list, I have been mostly exposed to representatives from South Korea and Japan. These are the two countries which I am currently considering.

Now for the questions:

  1. Are there pros or cons for applying with a recruitment agency over the private institutions themselves? Which would you recommend?
  2. I have been told to apply at two different times, and I believe it was by the same school. I would like to confirm that I should be applying in late fall or winter of 2009/2010 for placements beginning in May 2010.
  3. I am interested in teaching English overseas because it has been a desire of mine since I was 14. I am also doing this in order to save up some money to help pay for my Masters degree. I have been lead to believe that I would be able to save a significant amount of money should I work in South Korea, but that I would not save any money if I work in Japan. Could somebody please confirm this?
  4. Before Nova went bankrupt, I was considering applying with them because they offered apartments for their teachers. This could be very important to me as I have never lived alone before. I can imagine that the culture shock mixed with a lack of experience living alone could cause problems if I had to deal with a landlord who does not speak English. Does anybody know of any language schools in Japan which have accomodations for teachers? Has anybody worked in Japan with a school that assists you in finding an apartment, but leaves you to fend for yourself when it comes to landlords, utilities, and such? If so, could you tell me about your experiences?
  5. The Nova bankruptcy scared me a little, especially due to the tales of teachers being stranded with no pay and no way to get home. Could anybody recommend schools in Japan which are very reputable and that they believe are in good financial standing?
  6. As I mentioned earlier, I am currently considering South Korea and Japan. If anybody has worked in both of these countries as an ESL teacher, could they give me reasons for choosing one over the other? I am asking for people who have experience in both because I would appreciate an unbiased opinion.
  7. I am interested in doing this for the experience. My Undergraduate major is Geography and my planned Masters degree is for GIS. As a result, I am debating if getting TESOL certification is worth the expenses if I only plan to stay overseas for one or two years. Does anybody have any words of advice and wisdom?
  8. I am very interested in culture and language, and I would love to have the option of learning Korean or Japanese while I am teaching abroad. Does anybody know of employers which give their teachers the option to participate in language and culture classes either arranged or recommended by the institution itself?

I believe that covers the questions that I have right now. As I read responses, I may have other questions to ask.

If anybody has any other opinions or recommendations, I would love to hear them!

Thank you, Sese.