The QiRanger Adventures

Posts Tagged ‘General Thoughts

Teaching in Korea: Schools

leave a comment »

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

Living in Korea: A Vlog

with 7 comments

One of the questions I am most often asked is, “What is it like to live in Korea?” I find it incredibly hard to answer that question, since I believe you get out of life what you put into it. I hope this video does a better job showing what life is like in Korea, at least from my perspective.

Written by Steve Miller

September 8, 2010 at 7:52 am

When you get it right…

leave a comment »

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…

with 8 comments


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?

Independence Day

with 3 comments

Taegukgi Placement - Photo by Jo Miller

August 15th is celebrated as Korean Independence Day each year. I find the title a little strange, since most of the world celebrates it as V-J Day.

Victory over Japan Day (V-J Day, also known as Victory in the Pacific Day, or V-P Day) is a name chosen for the day on which the Surrender of Japan occurred, effectively ending World War II, and subsequent anniversaries of that event. The term has been applied to both the day on which the initial announcement of Japan’s surrender was made in the afternoon of August 15, 1945 in Japan and to August 14, 1945 in the United States when it was announced because of time zone differences in the Western Europe, the Americas, the Pacific Islands, and Australia, and to September 2, 1945 when the formal signing of the surrender was made. September 2 is the official V-J Day in the US[1]. The name V-J Day had been selected by the Allies after they named V-E Day for the victory in Europe. – Wikipedia

Each year as this time rolls around in Korea, public servants take to the streets and hang Taegukgis (Korean National Flags) on every lamppost. It serves as a powerful reminder that Korea exited from the brutal colonial occupational period. At my school this year, we took time to remember the events surrounding Japan’s surrender during the war.

All the events surrounding VJ Day mean a lot more to me this year after being in the Philippines and seeing where my uncle served and endured as a POW. It really makes you understand the sacrifices that so many made. Unfortunately, many younger Koreans don’t really learn what happened. That is a shame. It’s also a shame, that 65 years later, many Koreans can’t move past the colonial period. They are imprisoned within their own memories, waiting for apologies and compensation that will never come. To truly be free and independent, one must exercise forgiveness.

Written by Steve Miller

August 15, 2010 at 8:13 am

An honest review…

with 2 comments

It really is magic...

I have been using a computer for longer than I can remember. I think the first computer I used was back in the late 1970s and I have loved them ever since. For a long time, I used PCs, simply because I needed certain software and Macs didn’t offer me anything. Over the years, I liked, Macs, but really didn’t like their operating system.

That all changed when Apple decided to drop their old system and move to UNIX. For those not-in-the-know, Macs run an operating system that dates back more than 40 years. By contrast, Windows is roughly half that old, and is continually being gutted and changed. So each incarnation is a new product. Apple went with UNIX because there’s so much behind it. When you add in the Linux community, the programming resources become infinitely larger.

But the thing that always grated me with Apple was their mice. I hated the one button thing. I was always used to two, three, or more buttons on a mouse. When I first got my Macbook Pro, I opted to get the Mighty Mouse. It’s a Bluetooth wireless mouse with several options. It offered left and right clicks (based on sensor inputs), had a trackball, and side buttons. I loved it. I could do everything with it.

However, the biggest problem with that mouse was the trackball. It would always get gunked up. When that happened, you either couldn’t scroll one way, or even at all. After three years and countless cleanings, my Mighty Mouse’s trackball finally gave in. I needed to get a replacement. Since I like the Bluetooth aspect of my mouse (it keeps a USB port free), I needed to get another one. Apple’s only option is the Magic Mouse, which they introduced last year.

It’s sleek. It’s sexy… but only has one surface and effectively one button. It allows for left and right clicking and solved the scrolling issue, by using the surface of the mouse as a touchpad. But, I had grown used to using Spaces and Exposé with my Mighty mouse. What was I going to do? Go to YouTube of course.

I found several tutorials on how to make better use of the mouse. this lead me to MagicPref. It’s a free program you install on your system to manage the Magic Mouse. It offers far more customization that I’ll ever use, but it now allows me to use Spaces and Exposé by creating special clicking areas (middle click for Exposé and three-finger click for Spaces). I love it and highly recommend this free program for anyone with a Magic Mouse.

Written by Steve Miller

July 26, 2010 at 7:55 am

Travel Videos: Research

leave a comment »

I’m going to be brutally honest. Most people don’t care about your trip. You have to make them want to care about the trip. When preparing to produce your travel video, you’ll need to do research ahead of time to know what you’re going to see in order to capture the most spectacular images. This also helps you when it comes to editing the final version, since you already know what kind of story you’d like to tell.

For me, I use a wide variety of resources when researching my topics. I use Wikipedia, travel blogs, tour books, and the materials published by the actual location. This assists me in getting the big picture of my destination. From here, I can pick and choose what I want to focus on. Doing this ahead of time also helps you write your copy for the video (speaking parts). It also makes it easier to type up descriptions and blog entries.

But the most important aspect of research, is that it helps you craft an engaging and interesting story. Here’s an example: On our trip to Indonesia, we visited several places. A travel video showing Jo and I walking around Indonesia may be entertaining to our families, but not to a large audience. Picking out interesting things to go see and do ahead of time allowed us to have a better vacation, but also assisted me in choosing how to string together all the clips to tell the story about Indonesia that will inspire people to get out of their homes and book flights.

The more information you have, the easier it makes things… but in my opinion, you don’t have to use it all. Viewers want to be engaged… not lectured.

Next week: Filming

Written by Steve Miller

July 24, 2010 at 4:18 am