Thursday, March 13, 2008

Teaching in Korea

Pretty much sucks. That's pretty harsh, and it's only my fourth day - but it's not too far off. Most days I teach five different classes. It's set up like this.

9:30 - 10:50 - seven-year olds
10:55-12:15 - four/five-year olds
2:40 - 3:20 - 3rd/4th graders
4:10 - 4:50 - 3rd/4th graders
4:55 - 5:35 - 3rd/4th graders

This is a picture of my school - it's the building in the middle with the radio tower behind it. The picture below nicely captures the Pizza Hut on the first floor.

The absolute worst part of my day comes during the 80 minutes I have to spend with the four and five-year olds. On Tuesday, I walked into the room, and they cried, for 80 minutes straight.

Let me back up a second. I got into Korea on a Sunday night, caught my own bus from the airport to the city center, where my boss picked me up (late of course). I got into my disgusting apartment - later post to come - at 9 pm. My boss said, oh by the way you have to teach tomorrow morning at 9 am. Nevermind the promised orientation, acclimation, or training.

I'm a pretty relaxed guy, but I was thrown into a classroom full of Korean students, having absolutely no grasp of teaching or Korean. The so-called "curriculum" was a list of three books that took about 20 minutes to teach. Here I was with 60 minutes, seven students, no ability to communicate, and nothing to do. Yea, I was screwed.

Over the past four days, I've gotten pretty used to most of the classes. The afternoon students at least understand when I'm yelling at them, so they listen now. Those classes are only 40 minutes which makes them pretty tolerable. I've figured out the seven-year olds enough to plod on through. But today, I had the four year olds for 80 minutes, we built legos, for 80 minutes. How do you teach when they can't even understand you are supposed to be teaching them?

Most days - I just take it one step at a time. I can handle just about anything, and now with the four-year olds, I see myself as a day-care supervisor. Let's see if they provide some training if the ever get mad at me....

Ok well that's enough complaining about the teaching. I think the recruiting agency I went through was fine, but I think there just isn't much emphasis on training teachers to be successful at my specific school. For those thinking of teaching abroad, beware of empty promises. It's now become pretty much and in-and-out job. I'm currently taking my lunch break at home...

Also, below is the customary "first day of school" picture.

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