This is my experience in public school. Living and working for one year in Jinhae, South Korea. Read this article, BUT make your own decision to come to South Korea or not. If you get on the plane to come here, remember NOTHING here except this:
FORGET EVERYTHING YOU READ HERE.
Come with no expectations because your school, principal, vice principal, city, and everything else will be different.
I teach middle school which is different than most. Most teachers are in elementary school.
playing heads up as an icebreaker
I teach a variety of English lessons which depends on the school, grade level, English level and co-teacher specific needs or wants.
Please contact me if you have unanswered questions.
My public school year is divided into two semesters.
- March – August
- September – December
After each semester I teach an English camp. What is an English Camp?
- 5 days of class for 20 students who want or their parents want them, to practice their English.
- 4 classes that are all in a row.
- Create my own English lessons from scratch.
- I have complete freedom to teach any English lessons I wanted.
stealing cookie dough from students
student: “Teacher don’t eat that you will get cancer.”
English camps can be challenging but rewarding when things go well. I hope next year I will be given the same freedoms. It seems to vary school by school.
Mistakes = Progress
I started my contract on December first. It was an awkward time; end of the school year. I was thrown into teaching the winter camp without knowing my students English level very well. Not ideal, but I learned a hell of a lot without much pressure. The only pressure I felt was self-induced. My co-teacher made me feel extremely comfortable and allowed me to go through my own progressions.
Coachable Moment: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Everyone does. When you do make mistakes, handle them gracefully. Know-it-all teachers are no fun, luckily I realize I don’t know it all so I don’t have the challenge of pretending otherwise. In my opinion, most Korean students are terrified of making mistakes. Show students by example making mistakes is not only acceptable but encourages. You can only speak perfectly if you go through all the progressions by making mistakes.
Cough Cough – I need to take my own advice in my learning Korean here.
March through August
Most of my English Lessons came from the textbook. Students were motivated by achieving a high score on their exams. They knew they would see this material again. I taught most students once a week, but some classes were on a rotating schedule. Rotating classes were met only once for 45 minutes out of three weeks. Craziness in my opinion. How am I supposed to help them on their English journey? For those classes especially the goal was not increasing their English ability but to all them 45 minutes to hopefully have fun and get motivated by something other than grades.
I taught the listen and speaking or the conversation activities part of the textbook. The Korean English teachers handled all the other work. The classes I met every week I was able to squeeze in my own lessons every now and then. In the beginning, Way Gook was/is extremely helpful. A forum where English teachers come to upload lesson plans. If you are pressed for time and lack inspiration in creating your lesson this resource is great to lean on.
BE CAREFUL with Waygook.
- Some lessons lack structure and have spelling mistakes.
- Sometimes, waygook is a black hole of complaining.
Coachable Moment: Get in. Get out. Otherwise, you will find yourself losing 30 minutes to reading nonsense.
September through December
I created my own English lessons for 90% of my classes. Some of these classes I only met once every month so it was difficult to really get any type of cohesive flow going with them.
The approach I took when creating my English Lessons.
- Try to make it as fun as possible
- Positive reinforcement as much as possible
- Connect with the students on topics they enjoy
My classes are segregated into boy classes and girl classes. The girl’s classes were easier to get engagement and all the boys wanted to talk about was the PC Bang. This brings me to a goal for next year. Veg out in the PC room playing Overwatch. Partly to get material to talk with students, but also to recover something I loved doing growing up. VIDEOGAMES.
Coachable Moment: I am assuming you aren’t a tenured teacher. Use what you do have to your advantage. For me, I like sports so whenever possible I tried to play with students as much as possible. Bring Western culture that you encounter in your daily life back home to the classroom. Short video clips like Conan worked tremendously.
Blending in western, Korean, and human elements that are universal is the key. Next year I will be playing in the PC Room and I will tie in lessons that will get my male students engaged. MASSIVE GOALS.(sarcasm)
update: Teaching at an all girls school so looks like the PC Room lessons are out.