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I Won't Share My Oreos

As you get older, birthdays get...complicated. It used to be so easy. Cake and candles, invite your friends over, a pile of presents, rinse, repeat. But now that I'm older, it's more of an annoying obligation that anything else at times. It feels as if I'm expected to have a party, expected to go out, when often all I want to do is stay home with a pizza.

Weekly Quote Collection: Shaking my Sausage

My students are constantly saying either hilarious or amazing things, so I'm going to start posting highlights here on a weekly basis. This week was...quite the week.

During a 1st year class:

"Teacher! I'm shaking my sausage every day!"

"Me too teacher! I'm very long sausage!"

Someone had taught them the term "johnson" as well, so there were plenty such jokes as well. Another boy came up to me to ask "Teacher, what is 'Johnson'?" I managed to choke out, while trying to hide my laughter "It's...a boy has..."

"Ah, okay okay. Thank you teacher."

I accidentally wore burgundy tights and a red coat and an orangey scarf today, so the comments about my color choices were common. The best, though, happened during my last class of the day today.

Lessons For The Teacher- What We Learnt To Expect When Teaching In Korea

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We came to Korea to be teachers, to help children to learn. Turns out that working as an English teacher in Korea has taught us a lot of things too: lessons in leading, discipline, understanding and eternal patience (ok, still working on that last one…). And, we’ve learnt that school in Korea is completely different than in England; would you ask about a teacher’s relationship status in the UK? Most probably not. In Korea? It’s one of the first questions you’re asked (and repeatedly asked again, and again, and again).


RTBC Day Eleven: The teacher becomes the student

Reflective Teaching Blog Challenge – Day Eleven: What is your favorite part of the school day? Why?


RTBC Day Ten: 5-4-3-2-1

Reflective Teaching Blog Day Ten: Share five random facts about yourself. Share four things from your bucket list. Share three things you hope for this year, as a person or an educator. Share two things that have made you laugh or cry as an educator. Share one thing you wish more people knew about you.

Five random facts:


RTBC Day Nine: Flying Solo

Reflective Teaching Blog Challenge – Day Nine: Write about one of your biggest accomplishments in your teaching that no one knows about (or may not care).

Part of being an English teacher in the EPIK program means working with a co-teacher in the classroom. However, this past week I was faced with the challenge/opportunity of teaching not one, but TWO classes all on my own! And get this: the students and I both survived, and maybe even thrived!

In the minutes before these classes, part of me was absolutely terrified to stand alone in front of a room full of students who barely understood a word I said. I dreaded the process of presenting vocabulary and explaining activities without my co-teacher being there to come to my rescue. And I almost had to sit down at the thought of how I would discipline the students if trouble came along.


RTBC Day Eight: What’s in your wallet?

Reflective Teaching Blog Challenge – Day Eight: What’s in your desk drawer and what can you infer from it?

Ok, you got me. This post isn’t about my wallet. Here’s what you’d find in my desk drawer(s) if you were to open it(them) at the moment:

 

Unused binder clips – Tells you I don’t like clipping things together, apparently.

Keys – Tells you I find the contents of my desk to be very precious, or at least worth locking away each night.

Tooth brush and tooth paste – Tells you Koreans take dental hygene very seriously (they brush their teeth after EVERY meal).

Tax exemption forms – Tells you I’m trying to keep Uncle Sam’s share of my earnings in South Korea for myself.

Plastic plates – These actually go with two suction cup/sticky balls I’ve used in class. Tells you I like to play games in class!


RTBC Day Seven: My Co-Teacher

Reflective Teacher Blog Challenge – Day Seven: Who is your most inspirational colleague? Why?

Me and my co-teacher!

Me and my co-teacher!


In Ulsan (Cups Song – South KoREMIX)

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: my most advanced first year high school students singing a revised version of the Cup Song from Pitch Perfect! Enjoy!


RTBC Day Six: Teaching Mentors

Reflective Teaching Blog Challenge – Day Six: What does a good mentor do? Explain.

Regardless of what field you’re working in, everyone should have a mentor. And it doesn’t matter where you are in the span of your work life either. Whether you’re at the beginning or the end of your career, you’re never too old to benefit from the wisdom and experience of someone else!


RTBC Day Five: Welcome to my classroom!

Reflective Teaching Blog Challenge – Day Five: Post a picture of your classroom. Describe what you see, and what you don’t see that you’d like to.


RTBC Day Four: What I love about teaching

Reflective Teaching Blog Challenge – Day Four: What do you love about teaching?

In the classroom, the teacher has to be able to roll with the punches of the day, and should always be open to responding to the students and circumstances in front of them. By taking advantage of an impromptu teaching moment, however small, new connections with the material can be made where previously there were none.


One Year Later

The traditional gift for a first anniversary is paper, so I guess after I write this I'll print a copy and frame it. What I'm trying to say is, a little over one year ago, I arrived in Korea. The modern first anniversary gift is a clock, which seems apt as the time has passed faster than I realized. A year already? Are you sure?

I've been looking back through old posts, and it's a relief to see that my feelings about the country haven't changed that much:

RTBC Day Three: Room for Improvement

Reflective Teaching Blog Challenge – Day Three: Discuss one “observation” area you would like to improve on.

TimeAt the end of most of my lessons, I’ve noticed there usually isn’t enough time to properly go over the day’s content. Somewhere during the phases when students are practicing and producing the language for themselves, I lose the last 5 minutes of class that I originally intended to use as review time. When I notice this happening, I usually choose to forgo the review and just allow students to finish the production activity. If I did move onto the review, I feel like I’d be cutting them off early or stunting their absorption of the material.


Which Disney princess would make the best co-teacher?

tumblr_nbyvp6UoQK1rmdodwo1_500Snow White – Her childlike innocence makes her perfect for working with elementary school kids. She gets them to whistle-while-they-work during even the most mundane of tasks, like tidying up the room or studying grammar. And if she can wrangle 7 dwarfs, you know she’s got to have mad classroom management skills. Just don’t let the kids try to give her any apples.

 


RTBC Day Two: Video Games in the Classroom

Reflective Teaching Blog Challenge – Day Two: Write about one piece of technology you would like to try this year, and why. What are you hoping to see of this edtech integration?

Mario Kart. League of Legends. Grand Theft Auto 3 and FIFA 3 Online. I polled my middle and high school Korean students a few weeks ago and these are their top favorite video games. This year I would like to use all of them in the classroom in some capacity.


RTBC Day One: Teaching Goals

Reflective Teaching Blog Challenge – Day One: Write your goals for the school year. Be as specific or abstract as you’d like to be!

In no particular order:


The 30-Day Reflective Blogging Challenge for Teachers

Today I stumbled across this fantastic website: teachthought.com. While it only offers a few articles specific to ESL teachers, the rest of the content is still very applicable in some way or another!


Harry Potter: The Boy Who Taught English in South Korea

Back when you first decided you wanted to come to South Korea, breaking the news about your teaching-aspirations to your family was very emotional.


Teaching Tips – Coupon Reward System

One of the things I really wanted to do this year was to create more teaching related content on our blog and youtube channel. In the beginning of the year I did a 5 part series about How to Make Your EPIK Job Awesome, which I hope you check out if you haven’t already! Since then I’ve done a few other teaching tips and videos about my summer camp. A lot of you have requested materials from my camp, so I am going to be working hard to start sharing materials with you all, starting with this post!


3 Tips for Earning Student Respect

Let’s be real about this whole teaching gig. If you’re a teacher in the ESL world, chances are you’re probably in the same boat as me, and I’m no different than the thousands of other ESL teachers doing their thing abroad as I write this.

We are generally not at the same level as the native teacher at the school to which we’re assigned. There, I said it.

I want to stress “generally” because there are certain circumstances where an ESL instructor is, indeed, the ruler of his or her classroom kingdom. Universities, international and private schools, and probably some others may call for the ESL instructor to hold total responsibility for their classroom and students. Not to mention the administrative tasks that go along with the role.


Spaghetti Alphabet?

I recently realized that I am a complete hypocrite. Well, in all honesty I've known this for a while, especially when it comes to giving advice, but I had the fact practically thrown in my face the other night. As a teacher of a foreign language, I'm constantly trying to stress communication over perfection. By which I mean, it is more important that you can talk to someone, get your point across, even if your grammar is barely grammar and you're speaking mainly in nouns and hand gestures. Were you able to buy the coffee you wanted? Did they answer your question? Laugh at your joke? A+

My students, and I think most language students, struggle with the desire to be perfect. Often, when I ask my older students a simple question that I know they understand, I'm still met with...silence. Averted eyes. Maybe if we don't move she can't see us.

ELT Live 2 - Hows, Whats, and Whys (or why nots) of class websites

  

ELT  Live Webcast#2
 Hows, Whats, and Whys (or why nots)
of class websites and other online resources. 
September 2, 2014


Participants
Sunny Lim's profile photoStafford Lumsden's profile photoRobert Dickey's profile photoRob McTaggart's profile photoJeff Lebow (you)'s profile photoElizabeth Anne's profile photoDaniel Cross's profile photoDaniel Craig's profile photo

Links Mentioned


Hooked on a Feeling

I love beginnings. First day of the new year, first day of school, first month in a new apartment. There's this sense of possibility, this sense that now you can finally do all those things you meant to do. You can change the things you meant to change, get going in a different direction. I have a really bad habit of getting...lazy toward the end of something. If I'll be moving in a month or two, I have no motivation to organize my apartment. If the semester is about to end, I have no motivation to rearrange my classroom or find more interesting lessons. I know it's a terrible way to feel, but alas, I'm stuck in the brain I'm in.

4 Years in Korea – How Korea Has Changed 2010-2014

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but July 13th marked 4 years in Korea for us! We’re a little bit late on celebrating this, but with our Youtube milestones and summer vacation, we didn’t want to overwhelm you guys with too much of the same thing (that thing being awesomeness hehe)!


Obong English Festival 2014

One of the events I dread the most at my public school is the English speech competition. Kids reading memorized speeches most of them didn’t even write, about boring topics, with robotic hand gestures? No thank you. I’ve always hated judging those, because it just feels so disingenuous and unproductive. But this year, the administration at my school had the good sense to change things up! Instead of an English speech competition, they decided to host an English Festival! Sounds fun, right?


Summer English Camp Report Day 1: The Power to Make Anything Chicken

One of the hallmarks of teaching English in Korea is the often dreaded summer and winter "English Camp". What is an English Camp, you ask? In it's most basic form, a camp is a combination of daycare and conversation club. It's like English class minus any serious studying. If you plan it right, it's actually really fun.

Now, the name camp is a bit misleading. Before I started teaching I always thought of camp, especially summer camp, as a place where you go for a week or longer and stay overnight and whatnot. In the Korean school system, though, it's just a name for extra classes in various subjects. Cooking camp, guitar camp, English camp, science camp, you name it. Some camps go on for most of the vacation, while some are only a few days long.

How to prepare for English Camp


Why did you come to Korea?

After "What's your name?", "How old are you?", "Do you have a boyfriend?", "Why not?" and "Do you know Dokdo?", one of the most common and weirdly challenging to answer questions I get in Korea is "Why did you come to Korea?" Why Korea, and not some other country? Why would you fly halfway across the world, leave everything familiar, and take a job here?

Well? Good question.

Before I came to Korea, I'd been considering both Japan and Korea as possible destinations. Thanks to a dumb mistake on my JET application (postmarked by and received by are VERY different, kids), Japan fell out of the running pretty early. However, that doesn't mean that there weren't plenty of reasons why Korea felt like a good choice.

 1. Food


Some lovely things

Being enough of an idealist to want to instil a sense of empowerment in my students, along with ownership of their own learning, I’ve been carrying out periodic learning reviews during this semester. These have basically asked students to reflect on their learning and my teaching and the results - whilst undoubtedly valuable - have also been apt to bring me down a peg or six at times. There was the kid who just scrawled TOO DIFFICULT all over his paper, or (worse) the one that wrote ‘I’m so sad I can’t speak to my friends in your class, because your class is too hard to me ㅠㅠ’. ‘ㅠㅠ’ are characters in the Korean alphabet used to represent crying eyes, and in this particular instance they initiated the appropriate response in me.


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