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!

CCTV in the classroom- pros and cons

The first thing I thought when I heard we were getting CCTV in all the classrooms was that the parents could access it and every day would turn into our very own drama. Thankfully, only the boss has access but it got me to thinking about the pros and cons of having cctv in the classroom. Before I talk about the whether it’s a good idea for my school, let’s take a look at some of the general pros and cons.

Pros;

1. Can prevent bad behavior- If the students know they are being watched, they might be better behaved. This might prevent bullying and intimidation. It can also prevent inappropriate behavior from teacher’s/ care givers.

2. Accidents- If a child gets hurt, the footage of the reason/cause can be seen.

3. Teachers-  Can use footage to improve on classroom management, problem areas etc. Teacher evaluations can be done using video footage.

4. Parents- feel more secure knowing that the classrooms are being constantly monitored.

5. Security- Students and teachers possessions are secure.

6. Protection- Teachers and students can be protected from false accusations.

 


 

Cons

1. Privacy- One could argue that CCTV in the classroom is an infringement of both the student’s and the teacher’s privacy.

2. Trust- Installing CCTV sends a clear message that no trust exists between the principal and teacher and between parents and school.

3. Performance- Constantly being watched might affect a teacher’s performance.

4. Parents- Turns already picky parents pickier.

5. While it might prevent bad behavior, it might also just encourage students to take their bad behavior to areas not accessed by camera.

6. Can lead to a “guilty until proven innocent” attitude.


We’ve all heard the horror of children and teachers being mistreated at schools around the world. It happens. Everyone has their own opinion on whether a school should have cameras installed. This blog looks at my situation here in Korea.

I work in a Korean Kindergarten that takes children from Korean age 4 (western age 3) to age 7 (6). In September, it looks like we’ll open a 3 year old class. We have over 100 students over 2 floors so that makes for a lot of little people walking around at any one time.

Parents tend to be extremely picky here. Everything from the condition of the chairs in the classroom to the temperature we set the air con to is questioned by one parent or another.

With this many students, accidents happen. The younger classes have an assistant in the classroom with the teacher at all times but even that isn’t enough to prevent a child falling or a fight or whatever. No matter how small the injury though, we are always the first ones blamed.

For this reason, I believe CCTV in the classrooms at our school can be a good thing. Parents can come in, see the footage and the situation can be solved faster than it could have been previously without the cameras.

New parents are put at ease when they discover the classrooms have cameras so it encourages them to send their children to our school over another.

One of our classes has also turned into a fight club this year. It’s very difficult to get through the class without at least one fight starting. For whatever reason, the children are woefully behaved in that particular class but when the teachers complain, the parents can’t possibly believe that their little angel could be capable of the things we’re had to witness.

Now, with CCTV, we can show them exactly what happened and hopefully do something to stop the bad behavior.

The cameras are only picture, no sound. If a parent was to review footage, they can only judge on the physical actions and this can be interpreted differently. One could argue that their child only behaved in a certain way because they were verbally provoked by another student.

However, most of the teachers feel that installing the cameras screams that the boss doesn’t trust us and as a result the atmosphere could be cut with a knife around here. Everyone is afraid to do anything close to fun for fear that it would be seen as a negative thing and used against them.

The school has turned into Big Brother. The second you walk off the elevator, there are cameras. The only place minus a camera are the bathrooms, the corridors and classrooms are all monitored. This is a great thing for keeping the children, the teachers and all our possessions safe. It also acts to deter any thieves etc that might be hanging around.

On the other hand, privacy is something that doesn’t exist here, neither does trust. At the end of the day, while this is a kindergarten, it’s also a business and money is the bottom line. My boss will do anything to keep a child here, I’ve seen that before. Parents don’t particularly trust us, and head office haven’t trusted us since day 1.

We’re only a week into this so I’m still on the ledge about whether this Big Brother style school is more good or bad.

*Everything in this post is my own opinion*

If you want to share your, leave a comment below.

 

 

 

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

wpid-20140306_152429.jpg

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)

wpid-20140306_153455.jpg

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………

Renewing my E2 Visa

*Update August 2014

The following are the documents required if you are renewing your E2 visa and staying at the same school;

  1. Signed contract
  2. ARC and passport
  3. Teaching schedule (provided by school)
  4. Business registration certifiate (provided by school)
  5. Tax statement certificate (provided by school)
  6. Housing contract (either you or your school will have this)
  7. 60,000 won

Tips;

1. If you can, book an appointment. And book it early. When I went online to book one, surprise, they were all gone so I ended up waiting two hours.

2. When you arrive, grab a number first and then go and get your revenue stamps. That’s what the 60,000won is for. It’s extremely annoying and time consuming to wait for two hours, be within 3 people of the top and they walk up with no stamps. The signs are in English people! Get your stamps!!!!!!!!

3. Note. I almost wasn’t allowed renew at the office I went to. You must go to the immigration office WHERE YOUR HOUSE ADDRESS IS, NOT YOUR SCHOOL ADDRESS. I found that out when I went up but I stated that after waiting 2 hours I wasn’t leaving without my renewed visa. This is super random and obviously a new rule because last year it was all about the school address. Again, if in doubt, call immigration before you go.

4. Immigration laws are set to change next year and the documents required change like the wind so please do not take this post as the absolute gospel of what is required. Be responsible and call immigration on 1345 before you go.

 

Original Post…….

Going to immigration is, for me, like visiting the dentist. I  don’t want to have to do it but I know if I don’t, I’ll be in trouble. So with just 2 days until my current visa expired, I took the 2 hour drive to Suwon Immigration. Why did I go to Suwon when there is an immigration office in Goyang? The school I work for has their head office in the Suwon area and since I’m registered under them I must visit Suwon immigration. If you think I have it bad, imagine the foreign worker in the school in Daegu. They got the short straw. After a three-hour wait today, it took less than five minutes to extend my visa. I hand her all my documents and the conversation went like this;

Immigration worker; You change school?

Me: No

Immigration Worker; No? You’re good. Here you go.

(Looks at the documents in a somewhat confused manner,scribbles on the form,writes the new date and waves me off)

I was simply renewing the visa to work in the same school. Here is a list of the documents you will require;

  1. An original, signed contract
  2.  A business registration ( supplied by your school)
  3. A teaching schedule ( supplied by school)
  4. Your alien Registration card
  5. Your passport ( but they really only took a quick glance of mine)
  6. 3 Revenue stamps.
  7. Application Form (at the immigration office) (You’ll be checking Extension of Sejourn)

You can get the Revenue stamps at the immigration office. They cost 10,000won and you need 3. Make sure to bring cash but there are atm’s available if you need them. In the Suwon branch the stamps can be bought at the little counter beside the stairs. There is a sign in English that says “Revenue stamps”

I arrived at the office at 2.30 and thought that going a little later would mean fewer people. I was wrong. I was number 460 and they were only on 330. So I was in for a long wait, surprise surprise. This wasn’t my first time to the Suwon branch, it was my third and everytime I went at different hours of the day. There are always huge numbers of people there. I have friend who teaches public school and went to Goyang immigration last week, made two visits and was in and out in under an hour both times. So I guess every branch is different.

If I had a recommendation after today it would be this,

1) BUY YOUR REVENUE STAMPS! I wouldn’t have had to wait 3 hours if all 130 people before me had brought their revenue stamps with them. Instead they got to the counter and had to then go and buy them and return. Waste of time.

2) Fill out your application form. Again, I cannot tell you how many of the 130 people ahead of me turned up to the counter with a blank application form. FILL IT IN!

3) Make an appointment. You can make an appointment at http://www.hikorea.go.kr/pt/index.html. I did of course try this myself but it kept saying that I couldn’t. So I rang immigration who told me to install some security program, reboot and do it again and it still didn’t work so I took my chances. I’ve heard from my friends that an appointment gets you in and out in 20 minutes so it’s worth it.

4) Bring entertainment. I actually had a lot of fun people watching, but be prepared to wait. You should also have some snacks. No point in going hungry.

5) I would highly recommend going in the late afternoon if you’re going to the Suwon branch. By 4.30 there were only 80 people in the queue and by my turn at 5.30 they were down to 50. Closing time in Suwon is 6pm.

6) Always check with immigration what documents you need. Things change all the time. You can call immigration on 021345 and speak to an English speaking representative who can tell you what you need.

So that’s me. A legal E 2 holder until September 2014. Here’s to another great year of teaching, blogging and generally having a great time! Leave your comments below!

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!