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When your friends leave Korea




Well, it happened.  Much earlier than I had anticipated, way earlier than I'd hoped, and so much earlier than I'm ready to understand.  It was bound to happen.  I had read many articles about it.  Most foreigner friends don't plan on staying in Korea for more than a couple of years, if that.  I just didn't expect my closest friend in Busan (in my neighbourhood, no less) to be leaving for good in 5 days.

A Take on EPIK Intakes: When to start?

Native teachers enter the EPIK program via one of four different intakes: Winter, Late Winter, Fall, and Late Fall. Regardless of when they start, all teachers receive the same pay and benefits; and no intake is reserved for hiring more or less experienced teachers.  So when it comes to beginning your year in Korea, objectively speaking, no time of the year is better than another; and one could argue it really doesn’t matter. But after giving it some thought, I’ve realized there actually are pros and cons to arriving with each intake; which really means (if you have the luxury and freedom to choose) it is important to consider when you’d like to embark on this adventure. To make the comparison easier, let’s generalize the intakes into two groups: Winter and Fall.


TREEt Others The Way You Want to Be TREEted

Not Just A TreeIt’s the classic golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. But in the East, it’s more like: treat elders and higher ranking officials the way you’d want to be treated if you were in their position, whatever it takes.

Whether it’s a matter of age or authority, hierarchy is of the utmost importance in Korea. At all times, younger or lower ranking people make concious efforts to show their superiors the proper amount of respect they deserve; from the way they introduce themselves to higher ranking people, to the way they acknowledge or address them, to the way they eat and drink with them–as well as…how they plant trees for them.


Age Ain’t Nothin But A Preference

Today’s article is written for the Reach To Teach Teach Abroad Blog Carnival, a monthly series that focuses on providing helpful tips and advice to ESL teachers around the globe. The host for this month is Rebecca Thering, and here‘s where you can read the rest of this month’s posts. I’ll be posting a new ESL-related article on my blog on the 5th of every month. Check back for more articles, and if you’d like to contribute to next month’s Blog Carnival, please contact Dean at dean@reachtoteachrecruiting.com, and he will let you know how you can start participating!


Haeundae Beach Holi Hai 2015

Taking Chances


Blackout Poetry (Part 1)

This week I did a lesson on blackout poetry with my intermediate level high school students! Normally the project is done with texts from newspapers, magazines or novels, but I was worried about the vocabulary being too broad/out of reach. I wanted my students to focus on having fun, being creative, and playing with the language, rather than looking up/learning new words. So instead, I typed up a batch of their weekly English essays, omitted the names, and returned them for use with this assignment! Not only did this assure that the vocabulary was appropriate, it also made the assignment more personal and interesting!


Actions Speak Louder Than Language Barriers

Today I received a wonderful compliment from one of my high school students. To give some context to the essay snippet below: I teach at a public boarding school where the students stay on-campus 5 or 6 nights a week. Most of them are from the area, so they can easily go home on the weekend. But some, like the student in this story, have to travel 4+ hours one way by bus, so they don’t go home nearly as often. It’s hard on all of them, but especially so for those who only see their friends and family once every few weeks or months.


My Renewal Decision and 4 Life Lessons That Helped Me Make It

After thinking heavily about whether or not to renew my contract with EPIK, I’ve decided to return home in August. Signing on for a second year would offer me several enticing financial benefits and mouthwatering travel opportunities. And I’ve had a positive experience at my school, where I would continue to work if I were to renew. But during my time in Korea, I’ve learned or re-learned four life lessons, and made some new discoveries about myself, that have persuaded me to wrap things up at the one-year mark.


Teaching English in Korea – General Q & A


To Renew or Not Renew – A Pros and Cons List

슬라이드1

 

To renew or not renew…that is the question…whether tis nobler in the waygook to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous English teaching…okay I’m done.

But seriously, the question of whether or not to renew your contract with EPIK is basically the biggest decision you’ll make once you’ve landed in Korea. There are pros and cons to both outcomes, and just like everything else in life there is no universal right answer. It’s totally subjective and dependent on your specific situation. But as the list below shows, there are still pros and cons to consider for both options:


RTBC Day Thirteen: What’s in your edtech toolbox?

So, I totally fell off the wagon with this 30-day reflective teaching blog challenge…which I started back in September or October of last year. But I’m BACK on board!

Name the top edtech tools that you use on a consistent basis in the classroom, and rate them on their perceived (by you) effectiveness.


Student Writing Sample: Goals for the New School Year

What are your goals for the new school year? Think of two large, general goals and three small, specific goals. Tell me what those goals are improtant to you and what you will do to achieve them.

“Fighting!” is a common expression of encouragement in Korea.


It Takes A Village

Starting last week my school moved to its new, permanent location about 20 minutes outside the city. The campus is absolutely huge and beautifully tucked into the valley of some small mountains with a distant view of the ocean (pictures to come later)! However, it makes for a bit of a longer commute and especially for me, since I don’t have a car, a slightly more complicated journey to and from school.


The Beauty In the Ugly

Gajisan - Yeongnam AlpsWoody Allen is quoted saying, “Eighty percent of life is just showing up.” But after coming to teach English and live in South Korea, I’ve come to believe it’s about much more than that. One-hundred percent of life is about showing up with the best version of yourself.


A cross-country endeavour!


10 Reasons Why Ulsan Rocks!

With only about 1 million people calling it home, Ulsan is not the biggest city in South Korea. To many, it’s also not the most “happening” place. But, as I said previously in a similar post, there are still a number of things that make it a GREAT place to live!


Peace out, Pearson!




With an hour and 20 minutes until boarding this feels entirely too surreal.  In the car ride over I had all these terrible feelings that something bad might happen, but really it's all been pretty smooth sailing thus far.  I woke up at 3:30 AM and figured I should probably put a face on.  Not being used to my parents' new bathroom, my bronzer slid off the vanity and smashed on the floor - but did not break.

Vlog Entry #12: Student Video Projects

In another post I explain a little bit more about how these awesome videos came into the world. So if you want to learn more, you can check that out. Othewise I’ll just get out of your way and let you enjoy yourself!

A comedic introduction to some of the sports students practice at my school.

 


How 20% of the School Day Got Me 100% Success

Presenting Their ProjectsThe leaders at Google believe that people are happier and more productive when they spend 20% of their time at work on a personal project, something that interests them, gets them fired up and invites the creative juices to flow. So, for part of Winter Camp 2015, I gave my students the opportunity to do just that! For two weeks they worked one hour each day on an independent project of their choice, and finished by presenting to their classmates. The only catch was that they had to use English in SOME WAY. From creative music videos to a detailed analysis of different educational systems arond the world, they produced some amazing work!


“Shake It Off” Music Video Contest Winner


Wait for Me Until I Become You

Recently I’ve been giving my students mini essay assignments each week on various topics to improve their persuasive and creative writing. Below is the work of one of my strongest students. I asked him to write a letter to his future self in the year 2020. Check it out! It’s pretty great!

future

Dear myself in the future,

Hello, myself. I’m yourself. Precisely, I’m yourself in the past. I heard you’re 23 years old. Though you are older than me, I will not treat you politely. I have many questions. Most of all, what is your college? Seoul University? Really? You did a good job. And, did you go the army? Where? Katusa? Oh, I think you’re very good at English.


Picky Eaters Can’t Be Choosers

5 ESL Games for All Levels and Ages

As an ESL teacher working with middle school, high school, and adult students, I am always on the lookout for games that are fun and appropriate for a variety of skill levels and ages. Below is a collection of games that I’ve found to meet those standards! If you have any ideas of your own, questions, or feedback, feel free to leave them in the comment section!

1. Dots

IMG_1884Materials: Paper with pre-drawn dot grid, pens/pencils, dice


The only thing to fear is change itself…. Wait…

It was only temporary…but…last week, in the immortal words of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, my new Korean life got totally flip-turned-upside-down. Now-I’d-like-to-take-a-minute, just-sit-right-there-and-I’ll-tell-you-how-I….how my…forget it. How things changed.

Long story short, part of my Winter Camp involved me teaching at an elementary school reading camp for a few days before going back to teach at my regular middle/high school. Sidenote for those not in-the-know: a winter camp is a  two-three week period between regular semesters where kids come to school anyway to study more. The camps vary in theme and content, sometimes being determined by the school and other times by the Native English teachers. Generally speaking they’re supposed to be lighter and more “fun,” but in the end the kids are still there to study and learn English.


I’m Ready for My Close-Up: An Interview with TLTalk

A few weeks back I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Janeth Ignacio for her up-and-coming blog, TLTalk! You can find the interview, which covers everything from culture shock to teaching ESL, here. Enjoy!



Vlog Entry #11: Fall School Festival

Each year, on a Friday in October or November, public schools all over Korea host something known as Sports Day or School Festival. Students spend the day playing games (or in my school’s case, trying a bunch of different sports) and making crafts. Meanwhile, the teachers retreat to the adult cafeteria to enjoy a variety of tasty Korean dishes and several bottles of rice wine. Then, in the afternoon, everyone gathers to watch group after group of students perform their favorite songs and dances.


Progress Report


Tough TEFL Love


The Double Whammy

This past week marked my third full month living in South Korea, and nearly-third full month of teaching middle and high school ESL. Up until now, pretty much all of my blogging efforts have gone toward recounting the many wonderful, new and exciting things that I’ve seen and done. I’ve hiked some killer mountains and stood in awe of glorious views. I’ve biked to the beach and back, soaking up the sun in the Korean countryside. I’ve been to several festivals, gone


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