What did you say? Things your students say in Korean.

When I started at this school, I had NO IDEA what the children were saying to me. I work in a Korean playschool so the students only learn English as subject. My favourite story is of a day with the 5 year old’s just a month or two after I started. One of the boys said something to me and by the way he was acting, I knew he needed the bathroom. Unfortunately, the assistant wasn’t around so I just let him off and left the door of the classroom open. A few minutes later, he appears back with nothing on from the waist down. Turns out he needed a hand finishing in the bathroom and with no assistant, he just came back to me!

After that, I promised myself to get my Korean together so I’d actually understand what the students were saying and I did. I just listened to them and since they say the same things day in day out, I would write it phonetically, ask my co teachers and then learn how to say it properly. Here are the top phrases my students say;

  • 쉬 마려워요 (she mar yeah woh yo) – I need to pee
  • 똥 마려워요 (dong mar yeah woh yo)- I need to poo
  • 선생님………( sun saeng nim) – teacher
  • 연필 필요해요 (yun pill pil yoh hay yo)- I need a pencil
  • 지우개 주세요 (gee you gay juice a yo)- Eraser please
  • 색연필– (saeng yun pil) crayons
  • 아파요– (app pie yo) I’m sick/hurt
  • 어떻게 해요 ( oh dok a hay yo)- How do I do this.

Here are some phrases and words that you can say to the students;

  • 애들아! (yeah dra)- Guys!
  • 조용히하세요! (jo young he ha say yo)- Be quiet!
  • 어디 아파요? ( o d apa yoh) – Where are you hurt/sick?
  • 화장실 가다오세요 (hwa jang shil gat da o say yoh)- Go to the bathroom and come back.
  • 빨리! (bally) Quickly

Since we’re here to teach English, you should obviously keep the Korean to a minimum but in a a bind, these phrases may help. As ever, my Korean spelling could be atrocious so feel free to tell me any mistakes!

AXA Direct English Website for foreigners in Korea.

When you drive a car in Korea, your greatest barrier can sometimes be finding car insurance. Car insurance is mandatory in Korea so it’s really important to consider the brand and coverage very carefully, which is never that easy for foreigners.Recently, AXA Direct just opened up a comprehensive English insurance website!I checked it out and have all the details below. Thanks to the newly opened English website of a global insurance brand AXA,every service with car insurance is now available in English.

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What is AXA?

AXA is a global insurance brand with 100 million customers in 56 countries worldwide.

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Every year, global top 100 brands are chosen by reputable marketing institute ‘Interbrand.’

        AXA has been chosen as the NO.1 insurance brand for 6 years in a row.

How can you find them in Korea?

1. Go to axa.co.kr and  choose ‘English’ from the language tab on top.

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The English site appears.

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AXA provides quotes, service type confirmation, signing up and much more, all in English on the new site which makes it very accessible to expats in Korea.

On the AXA website, everything is readily available in English from contracts to claims.

Now choose your own insurance products and whatever else you need. Everything is in English so there’s no need to get help from a Korean.

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 The red button will “Get a quote in just 5 minutes”

In AXA English Website, even foreigners can easily get quotes

and sign up for their own car insurance.

AXA is one of the few companies in Korea to provide English quotes service online

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보험가입내역

Just enter your registration number (ARC), phone number, and car information.

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 Select your driver type, and then you see the lists of recommended packages that you can immediately subscribe to.

I timed the whole subscription process and it actually does take around 5 MINUTES!

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Also, you can just press “Request a Call” for any difficulties.

They let you book a consultation call with exclusive agents for foreigners only!

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My first year out driving in Korea, I got an overcharged insurance premium because I couldn’t understand Korean.

With a website like this the control is in your hands and you can get the insurance package that suits you. It’s very clear and easy to use and everything is available immediately.

As part of the service, AXA Direct will also provide emergency help in English so if you have an accident or break down or so on.

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They even have a hot-line dedicated for English speakers, providing accident report

and emergency road service. There is also an app available where you can report and accident or call the help desk.

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You can also get help in relatively minor emergencies.

If you’re locked inside your car, if the car unexpectedly stops due to fuel shortage, flat-tire, dead batteries, or for any trouble situations, AXA will come help you.

This is all available from the mobile app.

Can you get a discount?

AXA provides a variety of discount programs with some items like mileage option or black-box registration. With a mileage option, you pay as much as you drive and get additional discount for driving less.

(10% off for driving less than 5000km , 5.6% off for driving less than 9000km)

Other programs include black-box registration discount offered to those who drive with black-boxes, and accident-free discount offered for those who drive accident-free for 3 years.

These 3 discount programs can be offered all at the same time, providing as much as 21.5% off!

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I’m delighted to finally have this service available for English speaking drivers. Click the link below and go find more about AXA.

www.axa.co.kr

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This posting was written along with the support of AXA Direct.

Registering for a race in Korea

I LOVE doing races in Korea but registration is usually in Korean so I thought I’d do a blog with some vocabulary and instructions.

 

1. First, decided which race you want to do. Head over to marathon.pe.kr. You should see this home page;

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2. Across the top, you’ll see the different tabs. You should press the second from the left. It’s called 대회일정 (tournament schedule). Then you’ll see this;

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3. Now you should choose the location you want. Races happen all over Korea. Personally, I stick to the ones in Seoul and there are always a tonne in 여의도 (Yeouido). Choose your own and click on the link to be brought to this;

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4. Near the bottom of that page, you’ll see a link. That brings you to the home page which is where you need to go. The home page might look something like this;

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5. Now you have to look for the registration are. Some home pages make it really easy and others make it a mission.  Look for 참ㄱㅏ신청 (Application for registration). When you click on it, you’ll probably see some of the following;

개인: Individual

단체: Group/team

신청조회: Inquiry

Click the one that suits you and then you’ll see a registration form maybe like this;

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Here is the vocabulary you need to know;

ㅇㅣ름: Name

생년월일: Date of birth. ARC first 6 numbers

성별/남/여: Gender/male/female

주소: Address

연락쳐: Contact number

ㅇㅣ메일: Email

참가종목: The race you’re doing. Half, full, 10km etc

기념품: Gear

사이즈: Size

쿠폰입력: Coupon details

입금ㅈㅏ명: Name of person who will send the money

비밀번호: Password

비밀번호확인: Retype password

확인/최소하기 : Enter/cancel

Once you click “enter”, you’re done. Just transfer the money into the bank account. You’ll find the bank details on the home page of the race.

About a week or so before the race, you’ll get your package with your gear, number and chip.

 

Apologies if there are mistakes in the Korean. Any questions, just ask!

 

3 ways to find an E.S.L. job in Korea

If you had asked me how to get a teaching job here three years ago, I would have responded with a list of recruiters. Now, the method by which teachers are recruited has changed. Lots of schools want to cut out the middle man so here is my list of how to get a teaching job in Korea;

1. Update your status.

Everyone has Facebook, right? Some people use Twitter. These are honestly some of the most powerful tools to get you that job.

Think about it. There are so many people who are either currently living and working in Korea or used to work here and still have contacts.  If you have 500 friends on Facebook and just one of them shares your status about wanting a job in Korea, how many people have you reached? Ask even friends of a friend to get in touch and keep an ear out for possible job openings.

My good friend Janet (http://janetnewenham.wordpress.com) has recruited 3 people for her school alone. She simply used the power of social media to get the word out.

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2. Search the web;

Some school try to hire directly so they advertise on websites like Craigslist and Dave’s E.S.L. cafe. . Recruiters also post here. There are also group on Facebook like  “jobs in Korea” that get a variety of postings from schools and recruiters you can look into.

 

3. Use a recruiter;

A quick survey on my Facebook page showed that people highly recommend;

1) Korvia Recruiting  – For public school positions.

2) Korean Horizons– For public school positions.

3) For South Africans, Teach Korea.

4) Star Teachers 

 

With using a recruiter, make sure they are actually IN KOREA. The exception seems to be Teach Korea. They are based in South Africa. According to a friend this is because there are very specific problems with getting all the documentation in S.A. and this recruiter is excellent at walking you through what needs to be done.

From experience, choose a good recruiter and then trust them.

* All the above were recommended by friends. If you have one that you’d like to share, please comment below!

 

 

Tips for surviving your first year in Korea

Two of my friends are getting ready to come to Korea. They asked me to write a blog on how to survive your first year here. It’s been a while since it was my first year so I took to Facebook to ask my friends. I was astonished at the replies I got back. There are so many things that nobody tells you before you come here. Hopefully we can sort some of that in this blog.

1. Language: Although English is widely taught and spoken by some people here, you should learn Hangeul. You simply won’t survive without it. And the best thing is that so many words are the same in English and Korean, you just need to be able to read out the Korean to understand.  You can learn your letters and a few basic words before you arrive. Although it looks super complicated, you can learn your letters in a number of hours. Here are some useful websites;

http://www.talktomeinkorean.com/

http://rki.kbs.co.kr/learn_korean/lessons/e_index.htm 

2. Culture: Know what’s expected of you in the workplace, when you visit someone, greeting people etc. A simple Google search will provide plenty of articles to read on this issue.

3. Supermarkets: The good news is that there are small supermarkets everywhere but for the bigger things there are two big supermarkets Emart and Homeplus (in Korean). You can buy everything from clothes to household items in these two places.

A tip is to buy with your card. I don’t know the ins and outs with this but it’s preferred to avoid the taxman.

Other tips from my friends include;

“You need to get stickers on your fruit on veg bag before you go to the register” (talking about loose items)

“Know the seasonal fruit and vegtables”

3. Transport: The bus, subway and train system here are excellent.

Subway;To make it easier for you, it’s a good idea to download the jihachul app so you can navigate the subway. system. You can figure out running time and waiting times for subways on this app. And yes, it’s in English.

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For those not living in Seoul, remember that the subway finishes well before midnight so if you live outside the city and you stay out, you should consider alternative transport home.

There is a jingle at transfer stations and end of line stations.

A Tmoney card is the name of the transport card in the Seoul and surrounding area. You can buy them for a few thousand won in most 7-11 and convenience stores. Then use the machines at the subway systems to load them with money or at a convenience store. The average cost of a journey can be calculated approximately using the jihachul app.

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Buses: There are different colour buses depending on where their destination is. Here is a site that explains just about everything transport related, http://www.kias.re.kr/sub06/sub06_06.jsp

You can also download the Seoul Bus app. Unfortunately, it’s in Korean but if you know the bus number you can check where on the route the bus actually is.

You can use your T Money card on the buses also or pay in small cash or coins.

Taxis; Taxis are EVERYWHERE. The regular ones are silver or orange. The should have a meter and the drivers information visible.

The black ones are more expensive. Supposedly they are more luxurious.

In Seoul, you can use your T Money card or a bank card to pay for the fare. You can also get a receipt. Outside of Seoul depending on the place, you can’t use a T Money card. You should have some cash to pay for the journey.

Here’s a nice little article on the whole thing, http://www.visitseoul.net/en/article/article.do?_method=view&m=0004007002011&p=07&art_id=39543&lang=en

4. Banks 

Everyone wants a bank account straight away because they come loaded with money. It’s always preferable to wait until you get an Alien Registration Card to do this. The main banks in Korea are;

Nong Hyup

Shinan

KB*B

KEB

Woori Bank

Some schools make you open an account in a particular banl to avoid transfer fees etc.

Banks are opened from 9-4 Monday to Friday. The exception are the expat banks like KEB who have branches open on Sundays for certain hours.  You should consider this if you have a 9-5 job.

At least 2 of these banks have excellent expat services (KEB and Shinan). You can set up internet banking and download an app on your phone to check your balance etc.

Most banks have someone that speaks English especially the ones with expat services so don’t fear going in alone to set it up.

KEB also have an account called an Easy One that will lodge money straight to your overseas account.

* I should note that other banks potentially offer the same service but I have my account with KEB. You should bring all the details of your home account for registration.

Bank Transfers; You can transfer money from your account to another Korean account  by using either online banking or going to a bank machine. It’s very easy and the machine has English language so you can’t go wrong.

Paying your billshttps://whatawaygook.wordpress.com/how-to/pay-your-bills-at-the-bank-machine-in-korea/

Insurance: Should you need car insurance, travel insurance, health insurance etc, you can contact the Samsung Insurance rep who can speak with you in English. You can reach him at byung625@gmail.com and his name is Byung. I have my car insurance with him and travel insurance and it’s always great value and he speaks perfect English.

5. Apartments; Apartments here are generally a one room or two room for single people. Unless you really luck out in which case you’ll have a few rooms.

You will have a washing machine and  heating to navigate in Korean but fear not, I already have blogs done on how to use them.

https://whatawaygook.wordpress.com/how-to/use-a-korean-washing-machine/

https://whatawaygook.wordpress.com/how-to/use-the-heating-in-a-korean-apartment/

6.Rubbish disposal; This is a tricky one. Every place and every housing complex has a different system. If you live in a huge housing complex, they have one day a week where everyone leaves out their rubbish. This rubbish is separated by recycling, food and other.

If you live in a random apartment this is how it usually works;

1. Go to the supermarket or local shop and buy the rubbish bags. The yellow ones are for food rubbish. The bigger ones (blue in my area) are for general waste. Then I also have recycling. I leave recycling out in a box or a paper bag.

2. Look on the street for other rubbish that is waiting to be picked up. Leave your rubbish here and it’ll get collected.

If you have a bigger item like a chair that you want to get rid of you can either 1) Leave it out and let someone else take it and use it or 2) Go to the supermarket and get a sticker for it. Put the sticker on it and leave it outside with your rubbish.

7. Post Office: The postal system here is extremely efficient and safe. If you wish to send something in country then just put the senders details on the top left corner and the receivers details in the middle. Then send it either the quick way or the regular way. It’s pretty cheap.

If you want to send something home, there are two options 1. Land 2. Air.

Land will take between 3-6 months to reach it’s destination. It’s cheaper than sending it by air and it’s good to send home clothes and other items that you don’t want but are in no great rush for.

Air takes only 7 or so days to get to the destination. It’s the fastest way to send things home.

The Korea Post website is in English so you can go ahead and check the rates and fees etc…..http://www.koreapost.go.kr/eng/sub/subpage.jsp?contId=e1010601

The post office is open from 9am-6pm .

8. Alien Registration Card

Your alien registration card is the card you get when you become officially registered with immigration. You will need this card for the following;

  1. Visit to the hospital
  2. Visit to the dentist
  3. If you’re stopped by the police
  4. Entering and leaving the country
  5. Opening a bank account
  6. Making a loyalty card
  7. Getting a phone contract

It’s so important. If you lose your ARC you must immediately report it missing with the police and then go to immigration and apply for another.

9. Expat websites and finding groups

There are some seriously useful websites out there for expats. I’ll list a few here;

http://seoul.angloinfo.com/

http://www.korea4expats.com/

http://www.iherb.com/

http://global.gmarket.co.kr/Home/Main

http://english.11st.co.kr/html/en/main.html

http://www.thearrivalstore.com/

For the teachers among us……

http://www.waygook.org/index.php?wwwRedirect

For the Irish;

http://iak.co.kr/

http://seoulgaels.weebly.com/

https://sites.google.com/site/busangaa/home

https://www.facebook.com/daegu.fianna.3

Also USE FACEBOOK! So many areas have their own Facebook pages. In my area we have Geumchon Crew, Ilsan have their own page and so on. You get the drift. Google it or Facebook it and you’re bound to find some groups.

10. Random tips;

You have the option on taking over a phone contract from someone who is already here. Keep that in mind before going off and starting one of your own.

Olive Young sells lots of foreign brand cosmetics.

Don’t open your gas valve all the way. Open it just enough so the meter turns otherwise you’ll have a big bill.

Bring a huge towel with you.

Go to cineinkorea to find out what movies are showing in a theatre near you.

Just go with the flow if you have no idea what’s happening.

You can call the tourist information people on 021330 if you need some help.

In the deep winter, don’t leave your heating completely off if you leave for over a week. If your pipes freeze and burst, your entire floor will have to be taken up and replaced. No one wants that………..

Never trust the green light when crossing the street. Pedestrian crossings are out in the stupidest of places so always look left when crossing and don’t take the chance if it’s a bus approaching.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

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*If you want to add something to this list, leave a comment below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stories from inside the classroom.

There are days at school when the students annoy me so much that I want to walk out the window and take my chances. But other days, they are so funny, I almost can’t remember the bad days.

I’ve learned so much from the students and whether they learn anything is beyond me. When first I started at this Kindergarten, I didn’t speak much Korean. Since it’s a Korean kindergarten and I’m the only foreigner, I wasn’t too long learning!

One day at the start, I had a five year old class and no assistant. Everything was going really well until this boy kept repeating something to me in Korean. I had no clue what he was saying so I just ignored him, hoping he’d stop. But he didn’t, he got out of his chair and made a gesture which made it quite clear that he needed the bathroom. I let him out and three minutes later, he’s standing at the door, butt naked holding a piece of tissue! Of all the days not to have the assistant!

 

I’ve learned that no matter how close to five the four year olds are, you probably shouldn’t give them scissors. I learned this the hard way. To be fair, they get scissors in art and other classes so I thought it was a fairly ok idea. I just let them off to cut the paper and when I turn back around one child is holding a clump of his hair. My only thought was ” I am such a failure”.

That’s a thought I have every day though. When one child is spread eagled on the table and another looks like he’s going to use his pencil as a weapon, I feel like a failure.

Sometimes, I can’t help but wonder what the children are thinking about when I give them a task. Today, their task was to draw their family. Ryan called me over and said; “Teacher, this is what people look like on the inside”

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He went into some serious detail about how the blood works with the veins and arteries so I looked at him and said “What does this have to do with your family? It’s my father”, he replied. Insert a shocked silence here.

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Just when I think I’m getting through, I realise I’m totally not. The above is supposed to say “This is my father” etc. But the student just did it phonetically, as in Korean so it ended up as “deesmebab” Quite clever if you turn the B’s around. At least he’s making an effort.

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This picture is the “family” of another student. I think that’s him in the middle, the dominant male. I have no idea who the other people are although the person on the right yielding what looks to be an axe looks a little malicious.

The most enjoyable time of day is just after lunch.  The children line up, class by class and brush their teeth. Since the staff room is on the 3rd floor where the four year old’s hang out, they are who I see most of. It is the funniest thing you’ll ever see. They get toothpaste on their faces, in their hair, on their clothes, they let it fall on the floor and then pick it up and brush their teeth, everything. If they eventually manage to brush their teeth, they “rinse” their mouths with water. This means the water ends up on the mirrors, on the floor, they just drink it, they spit it at each other, they try to talk with the water in their mouths, everything. At the end of it all, most of them have soaked themselves and their clothes have to be changed. Funny times.

You should see what happens when they get to play soccer in gym class. The gym teacher throws the ball to them and they try to kick it. What actually happens is that they just miss the ball and then they can’t figure out where it is so they run in circles looking for it. It cracks me up!

I know I’ve made it out that I work in a jungle or somewhere but we have a lot of fun and despite what I actually think, they do learn English!

 

 

The dentist.

I hate the dentist. The very thought of going there makes my palms sweaty and my stomach turn. I don’t even know why. I’ve never had a particularly bad experience at the dentist but as soon as the word is mentioned I feel slightly sick.

In Ireland, the dentist, like the doctor were only places you went when you actually, desperately had to. Not exactly a great way to be but each to their own.

These days, in the state of being an actual “grown up”, I’ve had to be more pro active about such things so I’ve been to the dentist a few times.  I used to use a dentist in Paju but it didn’t get the most positive reviews from my other friends and nobody spoke English there so I decided to try somewhere new.  .

Yesterday, I went to a place called Star 28 in Ilsan, La Festa.  My friend Ian recommended it to me as they could communicate in English. After getting terrifically lost (how many 5th floors can there be?), I eventually found it and what greeted me when I walked in was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. The waiting room had  huge couches, tables and chairs, a computer and magazines to keep you going while you were waiting. The receptionist signed you in and had you filling out the forms as if you were simply buying a new pair of shoes. After waiting there for a while, they could have pulled all my teeth and I wouldn’t have cared.

Eventually I had to see the actual dentist. They brought me to a private room and took some pictures of my teeth. Small talk was had before the nurse explained a little about what they needed to do. I must note here that she told me in Korean and for the most part I understood. In fairness to her, when I didn’t understand she just phrased it differently so I did.

The dentist then came to do his own examination and then we sat and had a great conversation (in English) about what he was going to do. Then the nurse took over and told me how much it would cost, how I didn’t have to pay it in one go and how it would maybe take two visits. She then finished by telling me that I needed some scaling but because I have National health insurance, it was free.

The regular filling was 70,000won (48euros) and the more advanced work was going to cost me 100,000w.(70 euros) I really wanted to say “that’s it? 170,000 won (118 euros)?

Worst thing about the experience is that when you’re having your work done, they put a cloth over your eyes so you can’t actually see what’s happening. In some ways, it’s a good thing and in others it’s bad. To hear the drill or whatever freaks me out but I just practiced some reels in my head so it was all over before I knew it. And painless. I went home and did my usual run before eating dinner.

I have one more appointment next week and now I’m not so terrified so I’ll happily go in and keep my smile smiley and leave knowing that I’ll still have money in my wallet!

How to use a Korean washing machine.

You’ve come to Korea, you have a job, apartment, things are going swimmingly until…………………….you need to wash your clothes. And then you see this (minus the carpets);

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Excellent. You throw your clothes in and then you see this;

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It’s all in Korean and you don’t have a clue. Well fear not. I have translated the words to make it easy for everyone.

급수; Water Supply

온수; Hot Water

냉수; Cold Water

물높이;Water level

;High

중;Middle/medium

저;Low

코스; Course

표준;regular cycle

이불; duvet and bed clothes

절약; Economic cycle

울;wool, fragile cycle.

불림; Soak

세탁; Wash

헹굼; Rinse

탈수; Spin dry

전원; on/off

동작; start your cycle

일시정지; Pause.

So you simply press the big buttons until the light shows beside the  option you want. Every machine has the buttons designed slightly differently but they always mean the same thing. Also, since my Korean is middling to so so , I might have made mistakes. Apologies if I have and be sure to point them out so I can fix them.

1st week of the new term.

This isn’t my first new school term. I’ve been teaching here  long enough to know what to expect. As a kindergarten teacher, the first days of the new term bring out the best and worst in every child. It’s an adventure to say the best and in my opinion these first few weeks are the most important. It’s your chance, as a teach to get them into a good routine and good habits in the classroom and hopefully they’ll learn a bit of English along the way.  Students are generally one of three types;

1. The usual suspects– Have been in the school for several years already, possibly since they were 4 and now at 7 they’re well used to the teachers, classes, layout, expectations etc.

In some ways, these children are the hardest to teach because any bad habits or behaviors they have are almost impossible to reverse. This year, the English program focuses a lot on speaking so I spent all my free time this week making rules which we talk about every day and eventually the leader will talk about it. So far we’re only having problems with numbers 1,2, 3 and 4

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2. The new students– These are students who have already gone to kindergarten for  a year and are now at our school. Generally they are 6 years old and luckily for me they can recite their ABC’s and know what their name is etc.

3. The very new students– These are the 4’s and 5’s. These are the criers. The children who have no idea where they are, why they’re here or what’s actually going on. Sometimes, I wonder if four year old’s should even be sent to school. It is next to impossible to keep their attention, that’s if you managed to get in the door without putting the fear of God in them with your golden locks, blue eyes and white skin. Tears is a good word to describe these classes. Full of tears. And if your class is after lunch, you can expect most of them to be asleep on the desks.

This is how is looks during quiet time (i.e. no students)

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Here are some of the conversations I’ve had this week;

Me; Good morning!

Student 1…………………………………………………………………………

Me: Hello! What’s your name?

Student 2 Hello! Nice to meet you (there is hope after all)

Me; How are you?

Student 3; How are you?

Me; How are you?

Student 3; How are you?

Me; Yes, how are you?

Conversation continues in this fashion for a long while.

Me; 안녕!

Student 4; 엄마!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *TEAR TEAR SOB SOB*

Me; Hello!

Student 5; Happy!

Me; Hello! How are you?

Student; ……………………………………………..(.just strokes my arm and looks into my eyes.)

Taking a break just consists of hiding in the teacher’s room listening to the hysterical crying and sobbing.

Today, I came to school and there was a tv crew doing a program with the father of one of our students. When the students saw the activity, zero work got done.

Home time cannot come fast enough………

The “not so positive” things about teaching in Korea

I got a comment on my blog today about a post I did on Paju and teaching in Paju.  The person wrote that “it was the most positive thing I’ve read so far”. Hearing this makes me happy that my experiences are encouraging other, but it also got me to thinking that I should do a blog about the “not so positive” things about teaching in Korea.

I don’t want this to be negative, just things that you should think about.  Because when you come to Korea, it’s not all sunshine and roses, especially at the beginning, so you should think about these things first.

1. You are just “the foreign teacher” to your school;  Many people think that when they get here, they’re going to be a big deal in their school.  In some cases maybe this is true but in most cases it’s not.  Many schools, especially the hagwons only hire foreign teachers because it’s more impressive to the parents.  An English education by a native speaker is seen as better than if taught by a Korean.  And remember, if your school is established enough chances are that you are just one in a whole line of “foreign teachers” that they’ve been through.

2. We do things differently here; Schools in Korea do things differently to schools back home.  The education system is different.  How the schools treat their teachers is different.  The students are different.  So instead of getting frustrated and angry that things here are not the same as at home, just remember, it’s different.

3. You will never understand what the other teachers are saying, even if you know they are talking about you;  You will go to meetings that are in Korean, go on teacher outings where everyone speaks Korea, listen to a parent complain about something to you…..in Korean.  Even now I don’t understand what the teachers are saying.  It’s just the way it is.  Personally, I usually think it’s a great thing because then I don’t have to worry about giving my opinion or defending myself and my teaching.

4. Parents think their child is the only child you teach; This is technically the same as point 2.  The parents are different.  At my school, we just had a mother, complain to a home room teacher for 11/2 hours about everything.  And I mean everything, like a bit of dirt on the teachers apron and that her child’s chair wasn’t the prettiest and how, even though the mother was complaining, the teachers shouldn’t treat her child differently.  Yes, they are the types of parents in Korea. It’s also worth mentioning here that some parents almost expect you to parent their children for them.  So develop a thick skin and the ability to let things in one ear and out the other.

5. Learn to hate the word “why” and love the word “maybe”; As I said, we do things differently here, so when your co teacher tells you to do something that makes no sense whatsoever, always best to learn to smile and nod instead of saying why.  Because we’re never going to change their way of doing things so just play along with their mad notions and ideas. Otherwise, we are at risk of becoming the “why” parrot.   Also, as I mentioned before, Koreans love the word “maybe”.  You should know that by “maybe” they mostly mean definitely yes.  So maybe you should learn to embrace and love that word.

6. Get used to surprises; You must learn to love surprises, they come at you everyday.  “Surprise, you have no classes until 2pm and yes it is only 9.30am so you can just sit at you’re desk and look foreign”. “Surprise! Today is photo day! Oh you didn’t know?”  Surprise! No one came to school today…..nobody called you? Eh no!” Surprise, surprise, surprise!!!!!!

So folks a few things here to think about. Add more if you can think of some!