Edit Blog Post
Published: September 17th 2007
After dozens of games of Go-Fish, hundreds of WAYGOOK SARAM!'s, and pounds of kimchi consumed, my stint as an English teacher in Korea is *sob* over. I won't go much into the ~technicalities~ of the English business in this blog as Jenni Jen wrote a fabulous guide here
but if you want any insight on the sub-legal aspects of the English biz I would be glad to offer advice ^_^
South Korea is a magical fairyland where people pay you $50 an hour to chat at Starbucks and the only "qualifications" you need are to be young and white. I got plenty of that and I figured I'd save just as much money if not more in Seoul as I would back home working at a restaurant, so I spent this summer teaching English in Korea. And I did make $$$ :D How to Teach English in Korea
There is a hierarchy of the desirability of English teachers. White people are generally preferred over PoC, females generally preferred over males, young people generally preferred over old people, standard N. American dialects have the edge over other English dialects, and if you have blond hair and blue eyes that's just icing on the
if you can't quite make the army cut
cake. It made life easy for me, but it's wrong and it sucks. Even if you don't fit into this "ideal" version of a Native English Teacher™ you probably won't have that hard a time finding a job. And we need you desperately, y'all got to ~*~shake it up~*~ over there.
I taught all ages, from kindergarten to corporate. They all have their positives and negatives, but I loved all of my classes :3 Kindy
My kindergarteners were FLY AS HELL. I probably would have done that job for free because it was so much fun. I was laughing the whole time I was there. However it is exhausting and you have to put 100%!e(MISSING)nergy into it. My limit was 2 hours. I know this puts my blog's "omg cute Asian kids!" level into the stratosphere but: My kindergarteners The littlest kid who had no idea wtf was going on
lol :3 My kids all had English names and for one of the kids they were aiming for "Robert" and didn't quite get there so he had the name "Robot" written on his schoolbooks. Heh.
If you do decide to teach kindergarten I
highly recommend this game
. My kids loved it and they need to run around every once in a while. Hagwon
- Korea's infamous English cram schools. This one's real hit-and-miss. My kids were mostly awesome but you do get the occasional disciplinary case. I recommend investing a class period or two teaching Go-Fish
, my kids loved it and it teaches question form. Corporate
- I had some pretty high-flying students. It was a bit scary at first because, well, nobody takes me seriously at home so I'm not used to conversing with CEO's, but it's actually not that bad. Just be confident without being arrogant, talk about how much you like Korea, and listen to what they want. If you're lucky they'll take you out to traditional Korean food (way different from regular
Korean food- it involves the paper walls and sitting on floors and beautiful Korean women bringing you dish after dish) I definitely miss being wined and dined by Korean businessmen 😞
Most corporate English classes are for conversational English- there is no better resource than Breaking News English
. Our favorite was the Congo the chimpanzee artist article- there is a fun roleplay if you have a class of 6
or so. If you are looking for a textbook I liked the Interchange series. Bonus topics for conversational English (if you need to spice things up):
- Did you know Korea has four (4) distinct seasons?- Just smile and nod
- Japan. Oh lawd do most Koreans hate
Japan. I know the history and I kind of get why, but they tend to take out their rage on strange subjects. For example, Dokdo Island
. If you are lucky you will see one of your students wear a fabulous shirt that has "world famous Professor Snoopy" pointing to a map of Korea that says "DOKDO IS LAND OF KOREA". If you are feeling suicidal stand up in front of your class and say "Dokdo belongs to Japan". Also, the Sea of Japan doesn't exist in Korea. It is the East Sea. Just FYI
My favorite subject, however, was Apolo Anton Ohno. When I first came to Korea I kept hearing his name and it sounded vaguely familiar... If you can't remember, he is an American speed skater who recently won Dancing With the Stars
. He is also the anti-Christ in Korea. Long story short, he was involved with
a crosstracking incident during the 2002 Olympics, and the South Korean skater was disqualified and lost the gold. Koreans are adamant that he pulled a "Hollywood action" stunt and death threats poured in. To add insult to injury his father is a JAPANESE AMERICAN, making Apolo 1/2 JAPANESE and surely this is a sign of continued JAPANESE HEGEMONY! I tried to explain that poor Mr. Ohno was only 19 or 20 back then and that I'm sure like most young Americans he felt little to no interest in the motherland. Anyways, bring up the subject if you need to start a debate. This article
might help you get a feel for the politics over there. Life in Korea
I had fun in Seoul. I spent most of the time working but I did get to go out to Gyeongbokgung and Itaewon (the "foreigner neighborhood" which is kind of lame becaues so many foreigners act like they're STRAIGHTOUTTACOMPTON when they're there but you can get some tasty non-Korean food) etc, and there are some pretty neat bars and noraebangs (karaoke rooms) around.
Surprisingly, Seoul is TravelBlogger central! I got to meet: stickyrice
, & Jenni Jen
Changing of the guard ceremony
exciting ^_^ Proxemics
I thought this was veeeery interesting- I'm from Oklahoma, where we must have the largest concept of personal space in the world, with probably a 3 foot radius personal space bubble. So I'm quite claustrophobic. You have to get over that pretty quick when you move to a tiny little mountainous country with 50,000,000 people. Anyways, for the first two weeks in Seoul I would cringe any time someone ran into me (which was constantly) and apologize profusely when I accidentally touched someone. And I kept running into people because, unlike in the US, in Korea people tend to stick to the left hand side when walking. After awhile I adapted to the "it's 6 PM at Gangnam Station and I WILL fight with this little old lady to get on this completely packed subway >:o" mode and life was sweet. But when I came back to Oklahoma and was so used to walking on that left hand side and getting cozy with strangers that during my first week of class I prompted so many "oh sorry"'s whenever I walked by people. It was pretty funny ^_^
What to bring:
*Cold Medicine. I
didn't because I figure I never get sick but of course on that germy germy plane ride I did catch something and was left to self-medicate with Korean cold medicine. I took a picture of the ingredients:
Is that supposed to be English? Yeah, it didn't work too hot. However, if you do need medicine in Seoul the pharmacy in Gangnam Station did sell some version of Tylenol Cold and the pharmacist lady is so nice.
*Bras. Don't want to get TMI
here but I went bra shopping 1 time in Seoul and it was a horrible, horrible, traumatic experience. Unless you like frilly A-cups with 3 inches of padding, bring it all with you.
*Unless you weigh 95 pounds, clothes. I didn't even try to go shopping. First off, women's clothing in Seoul tends to be in the ~princess~ style which involves a) glitter b) frills c) lace or d) all of the above. At the gym they give you workout clothes to change into and out of so they can do your sweaty laundry for you (v. nice) and I wore the XXXL size. Assa!
*SHOES. K-women rock them 4" heels and
there are stalls selling shoes all over for very cheap. Unfortunately there is nothing over a size 8 or so US. I tried to go shoe shopping a couple with absolutely zero success and ended my search forever when a guy said "Korean sizes only" >:[ he could have just said "no!".
*Big Red- the gum is pretty gross in Korea Fan Death
A distinctly Korean phenomenon. It's a killer
. I sort of started to believe in it after the 3rd person warned me of the dangers of sleeping with a fan pointed at my face :o Soccofield
Koreans are kind of obsessed with Wentworth Miller, star of Prison Break
, so he's in lots of ads around town. I ain't complaining.
Anyways, it was a great experience. I'm back home at school learning how to be a real
English teacher. I'll probably go back next summer ^_^
Tot: 1.035s; Tpl: 0.06s; cc: 35; qc: 161; dbt: 0.0845s; 1; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.7mb