school life

Bread Cake


Sometimes, when teaching in a foreign county, you have to fudge the details a little bit.

I'm in the middle of English summer camp at the moment. Today was "cooking day." At the request of Coteacher, I had to come up with something "western" for the kids to "cook" that didn't require cooking equipment or expensive western ingredients. 

My first instinct was to make sandwiches, but deli meat is nonexistent. I gave Coteacher PB&J as an option, but she said peanut butter was too expensive (nut allergies seem to be less of an issue here).

So I thought fine, lets just have them pile a bunch of random stuff on top of bread.

 Behold, the invention of "bread cake."

First Lesson Idea for New Teachers in Korea


I get a lot of questions regarding lesson planning.  A lot of hopeful ESL teachers wonder what direction they should take regarding their lessons and how to go about making them.  There is really no absolute answer for this.

First Lesson Idea for New Teachers in Korea

 First Lesson Idea for New Teachers in Korea

I get a lot of questions regarding lesson planning.  A lot of hopeful ESL teachers wonder what direction they should take regarding their lessons and how to go about making them.  There is really no absolute answer for this.


Heart-Warming Video of the Day

As much as I gripe about the daily grind of teaching, it's still one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had.

Katie (승아) is one of the brightest students I have. Recently, she's been coming in for about half an hour every day after school to talk to me. We started watching (school appropriate) music videos for English songs, and she decided she wanted to learn this one. I hope the finished product warms your heart as much as it warmed mine.




Vacation Time is Coming

My current contract ends in late August which means summer vacation falls within the current cycle.  In EPIK we receive 18 days vacation to be split between winter and summer breaks.  It all works out well because those are pretty close to the actual number of days available after summer or winter camps are finished.  The way it worked out this year, I have 8 vacation days available for summer.  This break I knew it was time to get away and actually go on vacation.  When I first arrived in Korea, THAT was a vacation in and of itself.  Traveling abroad.  New surroundings.  Foreign land.  Vacation!

Two years later, Korea is now my home away from home and time away is needed.  I think any long-term foreign teacher needs to get away just to recharge the battery a bit.  I love Korea - don't get me wrong.  This experience has been the greatest.  Sometimes though, the "Korean'ness" of Korea can get a little too Korean and you just need to check out for a while.

Smells Like Preteen Spirit

Spring is in the air. So are hormones.

Seemingly overnight, my 6th graders have transformed from hilarious, intelligent, focused young boys and girls into.. dun dun dun.. PRETEENS.  There are hormones everywhere. Oh god, the hormones. I swear I'm going to start breaking out just from being in their presence.

Today is a perfect example. I made the 6th graders a new seating chart (at their request, I might add) and implemented it today. I know them well enough to be able to seat them by ability, putting the strongest students next to a weaker student so the weaker gets help and the stronger gets to reenforce his/her knowledge through teaching. I also always sit them boy-girl, because after the initial awkwardness it usually serves to balance the room out and keep anybody from getting into too much trouble.

7 Reasons You'll Love Teaching Abroad


Running into UNESCO volunteers
People who travel abroad to teach English do so for many different reasons.  Some are paying off debts, some want to learn about a culture they are interested in, some want to meet someone, others for the increasingly popular "gap year" experience.  The list goes on.

Extra! Extra! South Africa Invades Local Korean Newspaper Club!

Busan's finest
My students don't love me anymore. I'm ok with that...I think. But apparently they've grown tired of interviewing me for their newspaper club. So much so that they asked me to bring in a new ME to feature in the school's newspaper.  It's a tough transition, but I'm managing.

The Mighty Korean School Computer

All you have to do is ask around to teachers in Korea about their computer situation and you'll likely get the same answer.  They're BEAT!  I was not left out of this either.  For 4-5 months of my first year I sat in the back of the classroom to use the even older computers to check email and whatnot because the one at my desk was shot.  That meant I couldn't do anything for lessons other than worksheets.


If you know about teaching English in Korea you'll know that the sight of more paperwork to a student is like Kryptonite. 


So this was a frustrating time for me in the classroom.  My school finally swapped out the dead PC for another computer and it seemed to be working fine until about the end of last semester - around December 2012.  It started moving at a snail's pace and I pretty much couldn't do a dag nabbit thing with it.  A simple task like playing an MP3 was too much for it.

What Welcome Gift to Bring to Korea

When I was preparing to come to Korea, one thing I heard a lot about was bringing a welcome gift for the school that I would be assigned to.  The only problem was - what should I bring?  As I did so often, I read all the blogs and watched all the YouTube videos to get opinions on this topic.  There were many ideas ranging from bringing nothing to bringing a bottle of booze!

Now I don't know your opinion on any of this, but I certainly had my reservations about bringing alcohol to school.  Not only would it be my place of employment for a year (now going on two), but it's also a place full of little kids.  I just didn't feel comfortable with the whole concept of showing up with some whiskey for the school principal the first day.  I certainly wouldn't do that in any other workplace, so why would I do it in a foreign school of all places?  It sounded a little absurd to me, and it really is.

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