The QiRanger Adventures

Posts Tagged ‘ESL

The Pick-up

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Today was the awards ceremony for the most recent Korea Brand UCC Contest. Unfortunately, due to my work schedule, I was unable to fully participate; however, I did manage to make it out to Seoul for a while today and meet with the fine folks at the Presidential Council on Nation Branding.

At first I declined to attend the ceremony, not because I didn’t want to meet everyone, but because it takes about 90 minutes to get from their offices back to Dongtan. Since the ceremony was going to be at least an hour, it meant there was no way for me to be at their office and miss work. My solution was to go early (with their permission), and they agreed.

As this was my second award, both parties were eager to put faces with names. When I received my award certificate, it was also shared with all those in attendance that I was a repeat award winner.

It was great to finally be at their offices and mingle with other award winners. There’s an incredible amount of talent in Korea, and the contest brought out the best in everyone. They announced two more contests for the remainder of 2010, and I might enter them as well. For now, I we’ll see how my free times stacks up.

As mentioned on YouTube, I thought I’d answer some of the most common questions regarding my travel videos. I’m going to do that now, since I’ll be delivering my computer to UBASE on Friday for a hard disk upgrade, and I’m not sure when I’ll get it back. Couple that with SeoulTube 2010 and Chuseok (추석) next week and I think you’ll see that I’ll be away from the Internet for some time.

So here are those commonly asked questions:

How long does it take to make a travel video? On average, the 4-minute videos I produce on YouTube with a travel theme take a full day of editing. Meaning that it may take 8 or so hours to produce the 4-minute program.

How do I choose where to go? This is really more of a team effort on Jo and my part. We both love to travel and see as much as we can during the time allotted. This means researching our destinations and scouring over maps to see what may be interesting and off the beaten path. Once we have an idea of where we want to go, we set about researching the Internet and consulting tourism organizations and books for details.

Are my videos scripted? Not really. Based on my research, I know what bullet points I want to cover, but rarely do I actually write out each line.

As always, thanks for reading and commenting. If you’re in Korea, I hope you have a great Chuseok and I’ll see you soon!


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.

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

It’s on…

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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?

Teaching in Korea: The Name Game

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Teaching in Korea is a wonderful experience. What makes it special for me is the kids. I find most to be so much fun, I have to continually remind myself that I have to teach them something each lesson. But one thing that still has me confounded, even today, are the rules with names.

Sure most children in my class have English names. Hell, I have one class with four students named James. But there is an unspoken rule that no one ever tells new teachers when they start working in Korea: be careful how you write names on the board.

In the United States, a teacher can use any color write one’s name. Writing a student’s name on the board in blue or black ink is normal in Korea. However, an instructor must avoid using the dreaded red marker.

In Korean culture, among children, writing a name in red represents death. It’s as if you’re writing the name in blood and encouraging death to arrive on the student’s doorstep. I find this really odd, since official documents are all signed in red ink.

When you go to the bank to open an account, transfer money, or take out a loan, the documents are stamped with the name of the person in red ink. My immigration documents are all stamped with the official’s name in red ink that approved the form. All awards and certificates I’ve received in Korea, have the company and the president’s name stamped in red ink.

I don’t understand the disconnect between the childhood superstition and the adult practice of signing documents in red. I’m currently trying to research the issue, since I find it so puzzling, but in the meantime, teachers take note: do not write a student’s name in red!

UPDATE: Within a few hours of posting this video on YouTube, I received a pretty good answer. In times of old, red ink was only used by the King to sign official documents. Hence the use of red ink today on the stamps. When someone died, they wrote their name in red. Both symbolized death. In the first case, that you swear to the deal or oath you’re making with your blood and life. The second to signify that the person had expired. Stamping or sealing a name did not have the same connotation as writing one’s name; therefore, that’s why children react the way that they do.

Written by Steve Miller

July 6, 2010 at 12:01 pm

A Volcanic Excursion…

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Check out our adventure!

Friday night!!!!

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The first week of work is nearly complete… only one more class and then I get to go home and spend the weekend with my lovely wife. This week has been full of changes, for a number of reasons.

First, it is the start of a new term. While I have a large number of returning classes, I have about three new classes. This requires me to spend a little time with the students in order for them to understand my expectations in class and to make sure they can succeed and advance to the next level. It also offers me the opportunity to identify any potential problems in class. I’ve decided to make a few changes in my classes this term, most notably having a test each day. This is because most students don’t do their reading homework. Hopefully, this will instill within them to actually do the work their parents are signing off on.

The second change is that I have received a promotion at the school. After one year of teaching, the powers-that-be have moved me up to the Head Native Teacher. It’s a position I’m looking forward to carrying out this next year, since our teaching staff (on the Native Teacher side) is rather small. In addition to my regular duties, I have a few supervisory ones, but in all, the additional work (and pay) even out. I can’t wait to see what the year brings.

This weekend. Jo and I will be attending a Templestay. Well, I hope. I’ve managed to get another cold, and I’m not feeling 100%. I’m not sure if I want to be up in the mountains, eating porridge, and roughing it. There’s something to be said about sleeping in until noon when you’re sick. I also would like to spend a little more time editing the next vacation video, and I have been asked to do a vlog video as well. This is on top of all my other work. So much to do… so little soju to get it done with.

One last thing… I was really moved when I returned to teaching this week. A large number of my students were genuinely happy to see me and forbid me ever to take a vacation again!

Have a great weekend!!!!

Written by Steve Miller

June 12, 2010 at 12:00 am