…and on the third day, He rose again for an Easter egg hunt.

My how time flies. I’m three weeks into the second semester, still shocked by October’s encroaching presence and the struggles of balancing  unrealistic curriculum with elementary student comprehension (and attention) levels. But I’m pleased to report that the impressionable young minds of Korea are learning English, even if it’s just the ridiculous phrase “Do you want to party?”

Especially after last week, when one unit stood between my after school class of advanced fourth graders and their progression to the next text book: a “cultural lesson” on Easter.

Yes, Easter.

I raised my eyebrows in surprise as I skimmed over the target vocabulary words: Easter bunny, chocolate eggs, marshmallow chicks, jelly beans, basket, dye, yummy, and my personal favorite, toy lamb.

Easter. In September. You’ve got to be kidding me. I passively expressed my objections to my religious zealot of a co-teacher. As expected, she was horrified.

“You should teach about Chuseok,” she suggested. Chuseok, or Korean Thanksgiving, is a major three day holiday that honors the ancestors with food, family, and lots of traffic.

“But I’m an American. I don’t know anything about Chuseok.”

“But it’s in September.”

“Uh… I think I’ll stick with Easter.”

So much to my 11 year olds’ confusion, we learned the difference between die and dye as we transformed our brown hard boiled eggs into muted greens, blues, and reds. We practiced directional steps as we assembled paper Easter baskets to house our decorated eggs. We went on an Easter egg relay hunt that reviewed our prepositions with clues for hidden locations. We marveled over plastic eggs filled with candy and erasers that fit on top of a pencil. We went home excited to learn English, at least for the day.

Happy Easter, everyone.


September 26, 2010. Tags: , , , , . education, english, korea. Leave a comment.

I teach here.

You are cordially invited to join me on a “tour” of my school.  By tour, I mean look at some photos I took during my planning period. The video didn’t come out well. Maybe next time I’ll look for a Korean film kid  on Elance.

This is half of my school. It services about 1,000 kids, all of which live in the overly prevalent concrete monstrosities you see in the background. They surround the school (and Seoul in general). South Korea, a country about the size of Indiana, has a population of around 48 million people. Indiana, on the other hand, registers at about 6.5 million.  Land is a hot commodity around here.

The school is divided into two buildings: one for 1-3 grade, one for 4-6 grade. The Korean government does not require kindergarten so if a child attends a kindergarten program (which they will), it’s through a private company.

The  entrance way to the 4-6 side of the building (the administrative offices reside here as well, including the principal). I once made the mistake of asking if the flowers were real. They are. Notice that lovely full length mirror prominently displayed as you first walk in. Who says looks aren’t important?

Cubbies for all of the teachers’ shoes. Shoes aren’t worn in houses here and school is your home away from home…. I have my own cubby (bottom left hand corner) that holds my ugly and frumpy but free slippers.

This is the English hallway- all two classrooms. I’m all the way at the end. English education begins in the 3rd grade. The Native English Teaching Program varies from school to school. (Each school is autonomous under a loose school district. For example, there’s no uniform school year. Schools follow a similar schedule but the calendars are determined by the principal.) I teach 5th and 6th grade.

This is my desk and all of the appropriate things on it that make me look productive and professional. I work 9-5 Monday through Friday which is important to note because Korean kids go to school twice a month on Saturdays. I’m contracted to teach 22 hours per week. In addition, I have an advanced level “special class” that meets after school twice a week. That’s 25 hours of teaching and 15 hours of planning. But wait!  22 hours really means 22 classes and each class is only 40 minutes long. If you do the math, I’m actually teaching less than 17 hours per week. 23 hours of planning– that’s almost 4 hours per 40 minute lesson plan. Let’s just say there’s a lot of down time…

These are my fifth graders. They’re clearly thrilled to be learning English. Like any good elementary school, we’ve got inspirational messages on our walls reminding our students that “Dreams come true!”– especially if they involve one day working for LG or Samsung.

And this is what they’re staring at. Or not staring at. My school’s behind on the times. We’re an older school with a smaller budget. A lot of the schools are now furnished with flat screen TVs and touch screen white boards. I’ve heard rumors they’re coming over summer break…

May 13, 2010. Tags: , , , , , . Uncategorized. 3 comments.