The QiRanger Adventures

Posts Tagged ‘Education

Teaching in Korea: Schools

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One of the questions I get regarding teaching in Korea is about what kind of school programs there are and how to get a good job. This is a multifaceted question, and I’ll try to break it down as easily and simply as possible.

There are two major teaching opportunities in Korea: Public Schools and private academies. While there are other teaching jobs available, the vast majority of individuals coming to Korea to teach English usually find themselves in one of these types of programs. Each has its own pros and cons, which I’ll cover below.

Public schools operate throughout the country and are generally regarded as a safer teaching option. This means there tends to be less issues with payment and contract issues. Most contracts are also during daytime hours and hover around 20 teaching hours per week. In addition, public schools tend to offer more vacation time and an up-front settlement allowance. However, there are some downsides. First, payment tends to be a bit lower than private academies. Second, since schools have long semester breaks, you may be asked to “desk warm” at the school (show up to work and sit for a full day with no work or classes to teach when students are on vacation).

Private academies offer a variety of work schedules ranging from mornings, days, afternoons, evenings, and split shifts. For the most part, you can find a school that teaches class when you want to work, so that you can maximize your free time. For example, I like having my days free, so I work evenings. Second, pay tends to be slightly higher than at public schools. Classroom hours vary, but can be up to 30 teaching hours per week. There can also be several problems at private academies. Some organizations are not above-board and try to cheat their employees by not abiding to the terms of the employment contract (longer hours, no overtime, late salary payment, etc.). This can be seen on several discussion boards. Furthermore, vacation time usually holds fast at two weeks per year. There are fewer problems when working for a large franchise, as they are very brand conscious.

When selecting the kind of job to apply for, really think about what age group you want to work with and what hours you’re willing to put into the classroom. Once you’ve done that, then you can start looking for a job. Probably the best way to get a good job (either at a public school or private academy) is to find someone online that likes where they are teaching and ask them how they got the job. The will usually point you to a recruiter and you can navigate from there. In some cases, you just might be in luck and the school will have an opening just for you.

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Written by Steve Miller

September 14, 2010 at 4:45 am

When you get it right…

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How mornings start...

I love teaching… I really do. As we start off the new term, I had a great moment last night. Long-time readers will remember that during the Summer Intensive session, I taught a custom speaking class. It was designed to assist elementary students gain confidence in their public speaking abilities. Two of those students were in my class last night as we began the first lesson in their new level.

Since the material is rather light for Lesson 1, I incorporated a brief lesson on public speaking. I did this for two reasons: 1) Students at this level are asked to prepare longer presentations in class (and I expect more out of them); 2) Twice a year we hold speaking competitions for children at this level and above.

The two students that were in my class were very happy to see that Topic #1 from summer class was the same as the topic I assigned for homework. They not only took time to convince the rest of the class that giving a 2-minute speech was easy, but also asked if they could use the speech they prepared from summer.

I was already proud of them for doing such a great job this summer… but this made me even more so.

Tonight, I teach my first science class. I hope these students are as open to giving presentations as these younger ones. I love science and can’t wait to immerse myself once more into its world.

Written by Steve Miller

September 7, 2010 at 7:03 am

One down…

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It’s hard to believe, but another term at school is coming to a close. Three months of education have passed and my students are all taking their mid-terms and finals this week. It’s really been interesting to see the changes that occurred in all my classes this term.

One of the more frustrated things I deal with falls within the realm of reading and comprehension. This mainly is due to the young nature of my students who don’t equate looking at a page and while the CD is playing as actually reading and listening to the material. The former results in students completing homework, but being unable to actually read the stories or answer questions about something they’ve supposedly read five times in the course of a week.

For the past three months, I did something a little different. Each class started off with an open-book quiz. I’d pick five questions related to the homework reading and give students five minutes to complete the quiz. Students that successfully answered all the questions correctly would earn an additional 20 points for their team.

By the end of the term, students in the higher level classes were consistently earning 100% on these quizzes. In cases where students scored less, it was because they didn’t do the homework at all. I’m quite pleased with the efficacy of my students and am looking forward to those that are advancing to the next level starting September 1st.

With the new term also brings some added responsibility on my part. For the past 15 months, I’ve been teaching reading comprehension and speaking (both of which I really enjoy), but I’ll be getting two, new middle school classes: World History and Science. It will mark the first time I’ve taught a subject based course in Korea, but I’m really looking forward to this new challenge.

Having a science background, I’m eagerly looking forward to discussing science and its application to the natural world. I fondly recall my time back in the 1990s when I had my own lab and taught Human A&P and Invertebrate Zoology. They were so much fun. Now I get to tackle a wider range of science topics, ranging from ecology to physics.

Then there’s the world history class. Oh, how I love history and bringing in relationships to present day situations to see how they’ve unfolded over the years. Furthermore, I love digging deeper into details to uncover the hidden stories to make events clearer. History is such a great format for story telling, I can’t wait to have a class where I can read, discuss, and present the wonder that is our world.

So as I leave you on this fine day, what was your favorite class in school and why?

Written by Steve Miller

August 26, 2010 at 8:06 am

It’s on…

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Bam!

For the past twelve working days, I’ve been teaching Summer Intensives (like Summer School). While I enjoy teaching, and in fact, got to write my own curriculum this time, what I really didn’t like was how it impacted my days.

Normally, I don’t start work until around 4pm (sure I go in a bit early, but that’s my choice). Having morning classes and then going back in the afternoon, really took its toll on me, since I’m used to taking it easy in the morning and also having time to go into Seoul if needed. Plus, after putting in a few hours in the morning, grabbing a quick bite to eat, and then looking at returning to the office an hour later, really inhibited my language learning time.

Granted, I have not been all that motivated at learning either Korean or Hangeul since Jo’s been here. But that’s changing. I am really motivated to take some extra time out of my day and learn both languages. An emphasis will be placed on Tagalog, since we’ll be returning to the Philippines for Christmas/New Year’s and I really want to be semi-fluent by then. Granted almost everyone in the Philippines speaks English, but I really enjoy learning languages and want to be able to converse with those that might not be comfortable speaking in English. I’m also looking forward to resuming my Rosetta Stone and TTMIK series (I erased my previous account with Rosetta Stone and started from scratch).

As of today, I’ve completed one lesson in both languages. That sounds more impressive that it really is, since they’re both review for me (I’ve done them many times). What I really appreciated was having Jo by my side correcting every little pronunciation as I was trying my hat at Tagalog. I hope with her expert instruction, I can really wow her mother and sisters.

Question: If you could learn any new language, what would it be?

English Lesson: Reductions

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Recently, our school participated in an event where each class had to create a UCC (user created content). While my Summer intensive class was exempt, my students wanted to participate and decided on the topic of reductions.

Written by Steve Miller

August 14, 2010 at 4:00 am

Travel Videos: The Camera

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The Canon HFS11

Back in the US, there’s a little thing taking place this weekend called VidCon. It’s a conference, unlike any other YouTube gathering in the past, because it isn’t a gathering. It’s a professional development conference designed to help YouTubers make it big online. While I’m not big by any means, I do get a lot of questions regarding how I make my travel videos. So I thought I’d begin a new weekly series explaining the process.

The first in the series, as you can no doubt tell by the title, is about cameras.

I think of of the pitfalls people get into when they decide to make travel blogs or travel videos, is that they go out and spend a lot of money on a camera. I cannot more strongly disagree with that line of thinking. Sure, the better the camera, the more features and better the images will be. However, that doesn’t translate to having better content.

Really spend the time getting to know your camera. Changing the white balance, shooting settings, and other features may take time to learn, but in the long run, can make a huge difference in the product you produce. I’ve shot videos with my Canon HFS11 and my point-and-shoot camera. Both produce great videos. Only invest in a high-end camera when you want to take your production “to the next level.” That means, you want to be semi-pro. If you’re shooting videos to chronicle your trip, there’s no need for a $1500 camera. A regular camera will do.

Probably one of the most important thing to keep in mind when selecting a camera to shoot with is the filming rate. HD is all the rage these days, but isn’t a necessity. Choose a resolution that’s at least 640×480 and at least 30 frames per second (fps). This is key, since less than 30fps makes things a little hard to see when you’re moving the camera around. (Note: PAL is 25fps and Cinema is 24fps.)

If you do buy a regular camcorder, you may want to invest in a wide angle lens down the road. While these new HD cameras are great, sometimes shooting up close is quite difficult. for example, even with my long arms, it’s tough getting my face in-frame without a wide angle lens adapter.

If you have any questions, drop them in the comment section below and I’ll be happy to address them. I will not comment on brand recommendations, however. Most cameras will do the trick for everyday travel videos, and if you have specific questions about a model you’re interested in, I’m sure you this has the answer you’re looking for! That being said, if you have specific questions about the Canon HFS11, I’d be happy to discuss my experiences with it.

Next Week: Music

Written by Steve Miller

July 10, 2010 at 7:33 am

Technology

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I've been consumed by the Matrix! Oh noes!

For those that missed the update at the end of the last post, here’s the video link to the follow-up discussion on Red Names in Korea.

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Ah yes, technology. It is grand. I say this for a number of reasons. Most notably because it’s helped me significantly in three areas of my life recently.

First, since Jo is visiting family in the Philippines at the moment, I use a combination of text messaging and video calls to minimize the time and distance between us. While it’s not substitute for the real thing, I can assure you, being able to text a short message to her and get an instant reply makes a huge difference in easing the pain of being apart. Couple that with being able to video call on a regular basis, I feel I can survive this ordeal until I’m reunited with her in just over two weeks.

The second area that technology has helped me recently has been in the area of learning. I remember the first time I learned a foreign language. It was Spanish. I was trying to learn it with my father as he was preparing to go to Madrid for a business trip. We put on the record and listen along. Now I use podcasts and Rosetta Stone. As a result, I can effectively communicate with friends and locals here in Korea. It’s made my time here in Korea so much more amazing.

Finally, I’ve been amazed at the increase in technology where it comes to home video production.  I think the first time I wanted a video camera was somewhere back in the 1980s. My mother never was an avid hiker and I wanted her to be able to enjoy the scenery that my father and brothers experienced. I tried (in vain) to persuade my parents to get me a camera so I could document our experiences. While I may have failed back then to achieve that goal, I’m pleased that I can now give a glimpse of my adventures to the world.

How has technology improved your life?

Written by Steve Miller

July 8, 2010 at 7:54 am