Teaching in South Korea

In the next in our occasional series Another Day in the Life of ... David describes a day teaching in South Korea.

Annoyhaseyo! Hi! My name is David and I have been in South Korea for nearly three years now. South Korea has about 50 million people and I'm sure that you all heard of Samsung, LG, Kia, and Hyundai, as well as Jin and Sun on the TV show Lost! I started teaching when I first came here and since I really enjoy living here in this country I decided to stay and live for another few years in this country's strange but interesting culture. Let me describe a day in my life.

My alarm sounds off at 8. It's not that early but my wife is already ready for work as she gets up an hour earlier. She's a teacher too but focuses only on company classes while I dabble in teaching mostly kids. I have some breakfast (imported cereal, mostly Newman's Own) and a cup of tea, and then get ready for work.

These days it's pretty chilly out, usually going below minus 4 degrees, so everybody wraps up with their scarves and thick fur coats. There was some snow yesterday and my students asked me in excitement if I had experienced the first snow. Christmas isn't a big deal here so only big stores have Christmas trees and decorations outside their stores. The first snow in Korea is very much a couple event. If you are with your partner at that time then you will be happy. Some couples even break up because they missed the first snow!

My first class is at a kindergarten from 10~12. I teach about 20 to 30 kids per class for 20 minutes and thus I have 6 classes. I teach at a different school every day and I'm driven there by my manager. The kids are usually very excited and bursting with energy when they see me so I try and get them to focus that energy onto the art of learning English! There are lots of "good job" and high fives in these classes and they are a laugh to teach.

After those classes I go back to my apartment and have lunch with my wife. We mix it between Korean, Japanese and western food. Koreans usually have rice, a type of stew and side dishes for every meal including breakfast, but we wouldn't dream of it. Some days we have Korean food but other days we could order some Japanese sushi or pizza. Lunchtime is the only meal that I have with my wife every day because of our schedules, so we always make it a little special.

When lunch is finished I wash up and then prepare for my next class, which is at a private institute where I work part time. It's a relatively new school which doesn't have that many students yet, and I see a new face everyday. I teach there from 3 to 8, and have 5 minute breaks between each class. I have about 6 to 8 in every class and the materials are supplied by the school. The kids are elementary students for the first two classes and then the rest are middle school and high school students, arranged by their language ability. One class in particular is extremely good and shows some great potential, but that's because two students in that class are going to live abroad in a
month's time.

When I finish I get the bus back to my house and relax. My wife is back about the same time and we spend the rest of the evening talking, watching TV and preparing for our classes tomorrow. If I have enough energy then I will study some French or study TEFL but usually I leave that until the weekend! Lights out at 12!


Photo provided under Creative Commons Licence by Mike Pecirno via flickr

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