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How to Make Your EPIK Job AWESOME #3 – Make Your Office Comfortable

This is the 3rd post in a 5 part series about how to make your EPIK job awesome. This tip is more straightforward but surprisingly causes new teachers a lot of grief, especially if its unexpected. You will be spending a lot of time during the hottest and coldest days of the year sitting at your desk. Here are some tips to help make your office more comfortable!


How to Make Your EPIK Job AWESOME! #1 – Use and Learn Korean Manners

This is my 3rd year of teaching public school – at the same school! I’ve loved my school from Day 1 and I feel so so so amazingly lucky to work here. You hear horror stories about public schools too, not just hagwons, so I basically won the Korean job lottery! Working at the same school has also given me the opportunity to observe and learn a lot more about the way Korean schools are run. Now that I’ve been at this school longer than many of my coworkers, I’ve also been able to compare how teachers treated me in my first year when I had no idea what I was doing, to now, as someone that can converse with them in Korean or English and adheres to Korean manners. This makes new teachers feel comfortable around me, and they see me as another respected staff member and not just “the foreigner”. This is so important in how you feel about your job and your time spent in Korea. I know it has made all the difference to me.


Frozen

Spoiler Alert:  If you haven’t seen Frozen yet, crawl out from under your log and do it, or read on at your own risk.

“Is it ‘Do you want to build a snowman?’ or ‘Do you want to make a snowman?’,”  my hapkido instructor asked me last week, genuinely interested in the grammatical intricacies of Disney’s newest blockbuster, Frozen.  At that point I knew that if my 관장님 (Master), a forty-something man with no small children, had seen and loved the film, that it had taken a firm hold on the minds and imaginations of the Korean public.


On “2.5 Oyajis” with YouTube’s Japan Vlogging King, Gimmeaflakeman

If you are interested in traveling and teaching in either Korea or Japan, your search will ultimately lead you to Gimmeaflakeman.  Victor is possibly the most recognizable figure in J-vlogging, so it was a pleasant surprise and honor to be asked to be part of his show “2.5 Oyajis”.

Along with Hikosaemon, also of Japan, the two lead a periodic show where they interview characters who live abroad as they do. They share stories and insights and provide for an entertaining but highly informational show. It was great to chew the cud for an hour with them covering topics such as South Korea’s relationship with Japan, my North Korean heritage, and North Korea in general.


A fun activity to do with my kindergarteners is something I call...



A fun activity to do with my kindergarteners is something I call “mixing animals.” I ask my students what their two favorite animals are, and we combine them, or as I tell them, “mix them together.”

Often the children pick insects (e.g. butterflies and dragonflies), but there aren’t any rules. I do recommend helping them when naming their new creature, or you’ll end up with “buttham” which is the combination of a butterfly and hamster.


An activity I like to do with my kindergarteners is a pizza...



An activity I like to do with my kindergarteners is a pizza craft. I have cards with various vocabulary, such as pepperoni, onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, cheese, dough, and tomato sauce. This is a breakdown of the activity:


11 Months (and One Day) Later

I used to eat at home a lot more than I do now.

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Hi, Ethan.

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The Law of the Land

Sometimes kids lock horns with each other in  surprisingly intense ways. The epic battle over the empty seat.  The squabble over who turned in their work first.  The showdown over who gets to write the answer to question number 7 on the board.  In America, the teacher is usually the go-to mediator for such disputes.  As the adult in the room, he or she gets to make any and all final rulings with regard to classroom policy and procedures.  

However, here in Korea, there is a god higher than that of the teacher’s authority, a totem so sacred that to defy its judgment would be like spitting on the taeggukgi, the symbol of what it means to be South Korean.  This arbiter is exacting, lightning quick, and utterly beyond reproach.  It does not play favorites, nor is it swayed by tears or pleas or even good behavior.  Its word is law, and every student unquestioningly accepts this as truth.  


Children in Peril

Many of my children never realize just how close to their own demise they come as they test my patience and faith in humanity in the classroom.  Having survived a dozen years in the classroom, most of the time I can let their behavior roll off my back–after all, they are just kids–but some days the urge to kill threatens to break my composure.  Yesterday was one of those days. 

Here, presented for your amusement, are my pedagogical frustrations in blog form. No children were harmed in the creation of this posting….yet.

If another child thrusts another paper into my face, I swear to God I  will rip it into tiny pieces and force him or her to EAT every last bit of it.  Is it too much to ask a child to calm down long enough to turn in work in a civilized manner?  


Anti-Education and My 50% Success Rate at Answering Korean English Exam Questions

So, I am an Englishman flown in to South Korea to help educate their young in English.  In my school my level of English is obviously unmatched (I am English after-all) so why is it I am so bad at answering English exam questions in Korea?

Perhaps I only ever get asked about the tricky questions, or maybe I am just a dumbass, but it turns out that I am right about 50% of the time in my estimation.  In many ways it is embarrassing, why can't a reasonably well educated native English speaker, from England, who has spoken, read, listened and wrote in English all his life, answer questions correctly in a country where the overall level of English is poor (this is not a criticism, just simply that English is not their first language)?

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