Aside from my experience during a four week TEFL course in Thailand–Samui TEFL, a program I highly recommend–I had never taught before coming to Korea. Surprisingly, teaching experience is not a requirement to teach for the English Program in Korea, you just have to hold a four year degree in, well, anything. I was a bit nervous during the first week or two of teaching here, however I’ve settled into the daily routine and am finally getting the hang of it…I think. Midterms are next week, we’ll see how their English scores are (yes, elementary students in Korea take midterms).
I teach at two different schools which first sounded quite overwhelming to me, but it actually adds some variety to my week and let’s me experience both a small school and a really small school. I have one co-teacher at each school that aids in teaching and interpreting. My main school, Namshin Elementary, is just a five minute walk from my apartment making my commute a breeze. I teach there on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. My day starts at 8:30 am and wraps up at 4:30, however my hours spent teaching in the classroom vary each day. This semester at Namshin I’m teaching grades 4 – 6 and have about 24 – 29 students per class. On my busiest day I teach 6 classes, on my quietest day I teach just 3.
My second school is Daejang Elementary which is about a fifteen minute car ride north of Eumgseong. The 6th grade homeroom teacher lives in my apartment complex so she kindly gives me a ride when I teach there on Wednesdays and Fridays. Daejang only has 43 students in the entire school, so my class sizes for grades 3 – 6 range from 5-8 students which I really enjoy. I’ve actually been able to learn all their Korean names.
When I’m not teaching my day is spent lesson planning, desk warming (code for look busy when you don’t have anything to do) and playing volleyball with the other teachers and principal. And by volleyball I mean the kind where it’s totally cool to kick the ball over the net and score a point. Lunchtime, which I thoroughly look forward to everyday and do in fact miss on the weekends, starts promptly at 12:10 each day. Even though I don’t know what I’m eating sometimes, I will say the meals are delicious and healthy (more on that later). Just the other day I was told by my vice principal that I have excellent chopstick skills. Now I just need to work on my Korean language skills, as I never would’ve understood the compliment had it not been translated by my co-teacher.
One of two English classrooms at Namshin.
View of the schoolyard with my apartment building in the background.
Namshin Elementary School
“Emily Teacher” by my artistic students at Daejang.
My afternoon “cup” of coffee…instant coffee, a Korean favorite. Mmmmm.
Grade 5 at Namshin, watching an informative video.
Grade 4 girls, working on their English name tags.
Grade 4, working on their English name tags.
Grade 5, busy with an activity.
The stairs leading to the English Center at Namshin, complete with English idioms.
The “Book Cafe” in the English room at Daejang.
The office I share with my co-teacher at Namshin. It has windows!