The QiRanger Adventures

Posts Tagged ‘Teaching

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

Borobodur: The Video Experience

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Nestled deep in the Javanese jungle, about an hour away from Jogjakarta is Borobodur, one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sight. It was constructed well over 1000 years ago and is still the largest Buddhist temple in the world.

Viewed from above, it’s said to resemble a tantric mandala and Buddhist cosmology. The entire structure was built from over 2,000,000 volcanic stones and pieced together without any type of cement. The structure was built on a mountain and constructed from the top down.

Along the lower levels of the temple, there are over 2,500 reliefs depicting Buddhist teachings and Javanese history. However, only a quarter have been deciphered. Also on the lower levels are over 500 Buddha statues. The hand position varies on each statue dependent on its location. On the upper most level are 72 Buddha statues inside honeycombed stupas.

It’s said that if you can reach through the opening and touch the hand of one Buddha (facing the morning sun) you’ll receive good luck.

Bongamsa: The Mountain Temple

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There are many Buddhist Temples in Korea. Most are open to the public every day of the year, but one is different. This is Bongamsa. It’s a special zen meditation center of the Jogye Order just out side of Mungyeong.

Nestled in the midst of rolling mountains and tall trees, it offers visitors a wondrous driving experience from Seoul to the base of Mt. Huiyangsan. However, if you’re planning on visiting this temple, make sure you arrive on Buddha’s Birthday, as it is the only day of the year it is open to the public.

There are buses available to the Temple, but if you can, I’d recommend driving, since it makes the experience much more enjoyable. The temple was founded in the 9th Century by Jijeungdaesa.