A New School Year…Sort of…
For those of you who don’t know, my wife and I both work as native English teachers in South Korea and love it (mostly)! After being here a year and teaching at the middle school level, we both decided to switch to elementary schools so we could gain more understanding and experience in teaching a wide range of ages. The school year is set up differently than in our native U.S. The first semester in Korea starts in March and goes through the end of July, then there is about a month before we start the second semester at the end of August. The school year finishes up around the third or fourth week of December.
Accordingly, we’re about six weeks into the first semester and I’m FINALLY finding time to put up a few pics of my school and classroom:
Here is my evil desk. It’s evil because it’s built for people with shorter legs, and my knees cry out in pain at least once a day from banging up against the edge of the desk.
And a sweet panorama of my classroom 🙂 Click to view larger.
The strange wall in the back divides the room between the classroom and the English experience zone where we have different stations so the students can practice using English in real-life situations. Thus, there is a small hospital room, a restaurant, bookstore, and clothing shop.
I teach six fifth and six sixth grade classes twice a week each, and each class has around 25-30 students, so I have around 350 students, which may seem like a lot, but it’s about 400 less than I had last year in middle school! Korean students begin officially learning English (as mandated by the office of education) in third grade, but many parents start sending their children to after-school academies to learn English as early as kindergarten. Therefore English competence is fairly high in Korea, and it could easily be said to be the country’s second language.
Each homeroom teacher brings their students to my English room for a forty minute lesson of which I lead and teach in full English for about 80% of the lesson. My students English ability is right on par, so many of my eleven to thirteen year-olds can interact in English during the lesson with relative ease. The other 20% of the lesson is followed up by the Korean teacher helping the students sum up the day’s language goals with a practice activity.
As they move up to middle school, the lessons increase by five minutes to forty-five, and per our experience in middle school, the native English teacher leads the entirety of the lesson in English.
Overall, we’ve had positive experiences with teaching in South Korea, and the one thing that makes it all worth it are the awesome relationships we get to have with the students. They make teaching so much fun!