Source: http://allearsenglish.com/interviews-united-states-behavioral-interviews-english/

Brad received his undergraduate degree at New York University in 1984, and spent the next 15 years in the business world focused on sales and marketing. After spending a year testing the English teaching waters in Korea, he returned to the USA and got a Masters degree in TESOL from Seattle University in March 2001.

What's that supposed to mean? I don't get it.

  • 1
    At first I down-voted because this idiom is easy to find (general reference) but then I realized that the presence of "teaching" might make it more difficult to understand. But the website deities don't let you change your opinion after a certain amount of time has elapsed.
    – TimR
    Dec 8, 2014 at 12:44

2 Answers 2


In American English (but it may be universal for all I know), speakers will often take an idiom such as "to test the waters" and, when applying the idiom to the situation at hand, they will insert into it an adjective in order to link the idiom explicitly to that situation:

To test the teaching waters.

Water under the political bridge.

A drop in the budgetary bucket.

A linguistic axe to grind.

I do not endorse the practice. I'm just pointing it out.


The idiom is ' to test the water(s)' and it figuratively means 'experiment to see how successful or acceptable something is before implementing it.'


In the literal meaning 'to put your toe into water to see how cold it is'


So it means here 'I spent a year in Korea in order to see if Korea is nice place to be a teacher or meets my expectations as a teacher and after that I will decide if I will teach in Korea'.

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