Tag Archives: middle school

3 days left . . .

23 Feb

Wow!  I can’t believe that this is my final week in Korea!  What a blast it has been!  Tomorrow is my last day at my school en then on Saturday is goodbye Korea.  This past week I have had and still get many panic attacks about packing everything and seeing everyone!  It’s hectic!  But amidst all this craziness I still had time to reflect.  Coming to Korea was something that I’ve been wanting to do for quite some time and I am still amazed at how quickly the time has flown by!  Korea is the third country I have lived in and by far the most challenging.  But all in all it was a fantastic year.

I was placed at a, how would the Koreans put it, ‘notorious’ school in a very poor area.  My area and middle school has been referred to as the Harlem of Daegu.  So yes teaching at one of the worst schools in Daegu was, let my put it this way, challenging.  I wanted to give up.  I wanted to pack my bags and go home.  But I didn’t.  I stuck through.  And that to me is a great accomplishment! Yes you might think how hard can it be to teach English to some of the most intelligent people on the planet, and in one of the best education systems in the world.  Well, I experienced another side that spectrum.  The majority of my students will not go to High school.  My school has one of the lowest academic ratings in the whole city and the kids’ behaviors attest to that!  My year started off pretty bad with the whole apartment saga, and then one of the students threatened another teacher with a knife.  Not the best introduction i’d say! I mention these things because I’m giving myself a pat on the shoulder.  Well done, you did great!  And I did.  I was a great teacher and the kids (well most of them) really loved me.  It was tough, really tough, but I made it through and now I am a stronger person.  I grew so much this year and that my friends, as MasterCard would say, is priceless.  I learned so much about myself and what I can accomplish.  I managed to live in a country where I don’t speak the language, am not to fond of the local cuisine and had my issues with the whole culture shock.  But I managed, no in fact I flourished.  Even so that I started to get really fond of Korea!  Not that I would want to live here permanently but Korea definitely has it’s up sides!  And there are so many things that I will miss dearly!

To my co-teacher I would like to say thank you.  She stuck by me and was always there when I needed her.  To all my new and amazing friends, damn, I’m gonna miss each and everyone of you so much.  It’s amazing how close you can get to someone when you are all experiencing the exact same thing.  If not for all my Epiker friends I would not have made it through this year!  And then to my school I would like to say, so long suckers!!!!!!!!!!  I will definitely be doing cartwheels in my heart tomorrow when I leave the Faksan behind!  But I will  wipe a hypothetical tear (i’m not much of a crier) when I board that Singapore Airlines flight on Saturday!

Korea, even with our love hate relationship I will never forget you or what I have learned this year.  It has truly been one of the greatest years of my life and I will cherish this experience forever.  To my fellow Epikers who decided to stay behind, good luck and enjoy every minute.  Before you know it your time here in Kimchiland will be over!  To the other Epikers returning to their ‘normal’ lives, the best of luck to you and I wish you all great success (Borat voice) upon all your future endeavours.

Korea, you made me laugh, you made me cry, you me scream and you made me jump!  I will never forget you!

Kimchi, to you I want to say, you can suck it!  I never want to see, smell or taste your ugly face ever again!

Cheers from Kimchiland!  It’s been good, real good!

Hallo Halloween!!!

28 Oct

I have always ben a sucker for this holiday!  Well not always, but as a kid watching American movies I always had a fascination with it.  I wanted to be part of this holiday!  So to make up for the lack of ‘trick or treating’ I love going to Halloween parties.  Last year Nicola and I were Zombie brides:

and the year before that I was also something dead!!!  It is so much fun!

So obviously with Halloween approaching I had no choice but to incorporate it into my lessons.  Because my second graders have speaking tests this week I did their Halloween lesson last week.  With my first graders I did the Halloween Bomb game that I made (on my lesson Page).  With my afterschool class I have been doing Halloween the whole month of October.  We covered absolutely everything!  It was great!!!!  So this week was the last time I saw them before Halloween so I arranged a Halloween party for them.  I went to Homeplus and bought two pumpkin candy buckets for dirt cheap.  I asked them to bring lots of candy with them to class that day and they did.  I wanted to make each of them a candy apple but my little supermarket down my street only had like 10 apples.  So I decided to only make seven and give them to the winning team.  We played a super fun game where they had different tasks to complete.  The team that lost was really not happy so I decided to make it fair Korean style I would have to let them settle it with a round of Kai Bai Bo (Rock Paper Scissors).  The winning team was super excited about their apples.  The losing team was heartbroken.  One girl started to cry.  I could not tell if it was real or not because Korean females are VERY melodramatic in general!!!  After the game I made them go trick or treating.  In pairs they knocked on the classroom door and as I opened I taught them to say ‘trick or treat’.  They had so much fun and so did I.  It was a first I think to all of us.

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Happy Halloween from kimchiland!!!

Summer Camp week 2

30 Jul

My summer camps finished today!  I must admit that I am going to miss it.  It was really great!  It is so much easier to work with a class of less than 20 kids!  And the kids also had so much fun!  Today when I told them there will be no more summer camp they all said “ah teacher sad very very sad!!!”  So thats great.  it was really rewarding.  My school has also been so great this past two weeks.  They let me leave at 12:30.  Most other schools where the NET has to teach summer camp at their own school had to sit it out until 4:30.  This will be the case for me next week though.  I don’t have any classes and there will be no other teachers at school bu I have to sit there and deskwarm!  We are only allowed 8 days of paid leave in the summer break, and that is why English teachers in Korea are such Facebook junkies!  But there is still a bright side to all of this and it’s that I only have to go in at nine!

This week in summer camp I had so much fun.  With my grade ones I did a movie project where they had to create their own movies.  I gave them topics and they had to construct a story board, write the script and act it out!  I filmed them and edited their video’s, and today on the last day of the camp we watched the movies.  The kids were really embarrassed when they saw themselves on the screen.  Some of them even hid under their desks!  My school also ordered pizza for them and we had a nice little farewell party.  The kids were so excited about the pizza they freaked out.  Most of them took out their cellphones and took like a million photos of the pizza’s.  They texted their family and friends about it.  I am teaching in a very lower income area so I’m guessing Pizza is not a common thing!  I am definetly going to miss these past two weeks.  But on the bright side it’s less than a week before I will be indulging myself in everythng that Thailand has to offer (more on this nextweek).

Summer Camp movies

Group 1

Topic: We are going to visit Shrek

Title: Keeping Shrek


Synopsis: There are three Powerrangers, Knifeman, Gunman and Shrek.  The Powerrangers and gunman have to protect Shrek against the evil Knifeman.  That’s basically it.  Although their movie is my favourite, their story is very basic.

Group 2

Topic: The dragon goes to the moon.

Title: Dragon to the moon.

Synopsis:  This is a rather complicated story and I only got it after the third time they did it.  Two kids discover a dragon in the forest.  The dragon wants to hide and go to the moon.  When the kids discover the dragon they immediately take pictures of him and in fear of being exposed the dragon agrees to take the kids to the moon.  The kids get onto the dragon’s back and they fly to the moon.  The kids’s parents see their children with the dragon on their way to the moon, so the father decides to phone the Moon Rabbit.  In East Asian Folklore (Korea and Japan) it is believed that there is a rabbit that lives on the moon that makes rice cakes.  Also the rabbit is supposed to fight off evil spirits of some kind.  It’s a rabbit because the shadows on the moon has the shape of a rabbit.  When the dragon and the kids arrive on the moon the dragon eats one of the rice cakes and  the rabbit kills the dragon.  Very good story and truly imaginative.

Cheers from Kimchiland, can’t wait until winter camp!!!

Lesson – Guess Who

24 Mar

Guess Who?

This is a lesson that I did with my 3rd grade middle school students. They really enjoyed it! I gave them a handout that with 15 different cartoons on depicting various occupations.

I explained to them that they must listen to a voice clip where I will describe the cartoons on the handout. I also gave each cartoon a name. Their task is to match the name with the right cartoon. They had to write the name of the cartoon and its occupation, eg. Dan the Doctor. I had to play the voice clip twice and most students got everything right!

After they completed the handout I gave them a puzzle containing all the words we had just done. For some other reason they are really excited about the puzzle. By the time everybody was done with the puzzle the period was over.

Here is the powerpoint i made for this lesson!
Guess Who

Here is the Video clip i showed them that described the cartoon characters”

Have fun!

Back to School!

23 Mar

I have been an English teacher now for almost a month. Up until now, I must admit, things were going better than expected. My general phobia of children kind of faded and I think I might be enjoying this gig! Yeah, yeah I know that the reason for coming to Korea was to be a teacher.

It has been confirmed by various sources that I’m currently teaching at a badass school. My school’s reputation exceeds it and the teachers here have a constant struggle with the kids. And believe you me I’ve had my days where the kids drive me insane. There are general discipline problems here and most of the students have given up. Many of them know that they won’t be going to high school so why bother?! Also in the extreme cases many parents have surrendered to their kids. One of the kids here actually physically attacked his mom. Another one was caught smoking and when the teacher confiscated his smokes, the student actually demanded them back from the teacher. Never in my life … With all the glitches and my permanent hoarse voice am I really enjoying it. When the students are participating and actually achieving something there is a great sense of reward. And because my school is in a very poor area many of the students have never been exposed to any foreign culture, so I feel truly honoured sometimes to be able to present it to them! In my previous post I commented on the punishment in my school but I have now come to the realisation that at this school the teachers have no choice. The parents aren’t doing squat to discipline their kids and some students are stealing the opportunity from other students to learn in a peaceful and good educational setting.

My school is one of the smaller middle schools in Daegu with about 300-400 students. My school consists of two buildings – the main building and the cafeteria. The main building has 5 floors. There are three English centers at my school, but I only teach in two of them. Both on the fifth floor – and to this day I have never used the lift. All the classrooms are equipped with a computer and internet access and also a big flat screen TV. Welcome to Korea. The English centers have a complete multimedia system, including a sound system and an interactive whiteboard that works with the computer. Crazy! Here in Korea teachers seldom have their own classrooms. Teachers rotate between classes and rather go to the students. All the teachers are based in the teacher’s office, where each teacher, including me, has a desk with a computer. This is all the lesson planning and blogging is done! I start working at 08:30AM and the fist class of the day is 09:00 AM. School goes until about 4pm but I have to work until 04:30pm. There is an hour of lunch but it is regarded as a working lunch. Go eat your lunch but come back and continue working. I have 19 regular classes a week and now also two after school conversation classes on a Monday and a Wednesday. Although Mondays and Tuesdays are a bit crazy the rest of the time I have about three classes a day. This gives me a lot of time to just hang in the teachers office and do whatever. Sleeping in work hours seem to be the norm as all my co-teachers have taken a nap at one time or another during my month here. Even my vice-principal took a lengthy nap the other day. I haven’t been so exhausted that I needed to rest my eyes, but one of my friends actually fell asleep facing her co-teacher.

And that is how it is to be back in school as a grown up!

Here are some pics from my school!

Dynamic Korea (you would think)

17 Mar

So here is my take on what is referred to as DYNAMIC KOREA. Now I do realise that I’ve only been in this country for a month and that I will continue to learn and experience the culture as time goes on. Nonetheless I believe that first impressions about new places are very important, because once something becomes familiar, the experience will never be the same as the first one! Korea, a country that changed over the last 60 years as a country known as the place of the morning calm to something somewhere in the area of the country of the morning stampede, Koreans firmly believe in the saying Dynamic Korea! Now clearly my definition of dynamic and the Korean version seem to be antonyms! For instance, during the whole hospital saga, it was clear that Nicola needed to be hospitalised. Now you have to understand that the mere thought of entering a hospital freaks her out not even mentioning being admitted. So the whole day on Monday we had to wait at the hospital until a bed became available. There never did. So we were informed to return the following day so that she can be admitted. Guess what, no beds available on Tuesday again. Now we asked if it is possible to be transferred to another hospital. NO! So then Nicola had to see the Nephrologists again. We were very clearly informed that the specialist doesn’t see patients today but our case is a special case and that he will come down all the way from the 11th floor to see us. Dear heavens forbid that the specialist has to use a lift to come down to the second floor. As if it is our fault that they admit a patient to hospital without checking to see if there are any beds available. So the specialist showed us Nicola’s test results and then out of nowhere announced that it is no longer necessary for her to be admitted. She just has to go in today to get injections and an IV and from then on she can take antibiotic tablets. So when we were done at the hospital yesterday (my school was very nice and gave me the afternoon off to take her to the hospital) we waited for Nicola’s co-teacher who wanted to come and see her at the hospital. After explaining to her multiple times that Nicola is not being admitted she insisted to come to the hospital and meet us there. So waited f her to arrive. She offered to collect Nicola’s medication at the pharmacy and take us home. This was a very nice gesture and I really appreciated it! Now the search for the pharmacy is a whole other story. There are loads of different pharmacies near the hospital each with a different speciality. So thanks to our splendid medical knowledge we found the correct pharmacy in no less that 2 hours! Jeepers! In the end we got the medicine and headed home! Nicola is recovering well and should be back on her feet by Friday! Thank you to all for the great messages!

Now some of my other great experiences of Dynamic Korea include mistaking already boiled eggs for fresh eggs. I do not eat boiled eggs, they gross me out. So last night I went to the supermarket to buy some food. So I bought 6 eggs. Big was my surprise and disgust when I tried to crack them open and realise that they are boiled. I can’t even imagine the expression on my face. Luckily the GS25 is just around the corner so I ran and bought fresh eggs.

Now since day one at my school my co-teachers all have told me that my school is very bad. Not the teachers or so but the school has a bad reputation. I am teaching at a middle school. Even the surrounding middle schools know that my school has a very big discipline problem. My voice is hoarse at the end of every day because I do not like using the microphone and I have to raise my voice constantly. Anyhow, the way in which the kids at my school are being disciplined has made me very uncomfortable at times. Now although our schools in South Africa are not allowed to enforce corporal punishment it does happen. But jeepers, nothing to this extent. Sometimes the methods are hilarious, but then other times it is just mean, and although my students frustrate me sometimes it is a bit harsh! So the other day I noticed a student entering our office and talking to my co teacher whose desk is next to mine. I was busy preparing a lesson and did not pay much attention to the student. So when the vice principal approached me to go to lunch with him I immediately moved my chair back. My chair hit the poor student who was now kneeling beside my chair. I noticed that he had his head in the bin so I assumed he was sick. When I returned from lunch a half hour later the student was still there with his head in the bin. That was his punishment. In last week I needed my students to take notes in their notebooks. As half the class did not bother to bring their notebooks from their homeroom’s (I teach in the English centers) my one co-teacher got really angry. She told all the students who did not have their notebooks to stand up. She walked to each of them and pulled their cheeks so hard that some of the girls started crying. That was harsh, I did not know what to do or where to look, so I just wrote something on the board. Almost every day about 2 or three students receives a beating in the teachers office in front of everybody. But today was the worst. This girl was complaining about something to the P.E teacher and she was crying like a baby. So after about ten minutes of listening to this foreign moaning another male teacher brings a boy student into the office. The teacher grips the student with his fist and pushes him into the office that he almost stumbled over my desk. Then suddenly the boy tried to run away because the girl was given instruction by one of the teachers to beat this boy. Obviously he had done something bad to the girl but once again jeepers. Its like a cockfight in here! She continued to hit him on the head with her fist whilst all the teachers watched. Dynamic Korea – I think not!

Being submerged into a culture such as this one is a great experience but at the same time a very frustrating one. There are things that gross you out and other things that conflicts with your values. I am not here to change the way Korea functions, and I’m not even going to try. Do I understand how and why some tings happen here? All I can do, I guess, is watch and learn more!

Cheers from dodgy Korean alley!