Teaching English in Daegu, South Korea!

Archive for the ‘Korean Students’ Category

2011-2012 School Year.

The new school year started sometime last week…I think. My first English class was last Friday but the details leading UP to the first day of teaching are equally as interesting my teaching.

It all started the week of Feb 21st. It was a week full of deskwarming and last minute changes and surprises. Tuesday I heard that there would be a meeting with the new teachers who would come to meet the staff AND everyone else would get their assignments. I was anticipating this because I was getting a new contract co teacher and possibly losing my main co teacher.

I met a few new teachers who looked so fresh and wide eyed- ACTUALLY excited! It was nice and refreshing. One of them speaks almost perfect English- score.  Random awards were given to certain people for reasons I have no idea about. Finally it came time for announcing who was teaching each grade along with their class lists.

First grade was called and 2 teachers go up to the principal and choose an envelope from her hand.

Second grade- the same thing.

3rd grade- 3 teachers went up and randomly picked between the three different envelopes.

4th, 5th, and 6th all went through the same process. Wait, what?…the class lists are completely random?

Pick a card, any card type of a magic trick.

During my student teaching last year I was involved in the placing of children to the next grade. It was a careful and thoughtful process. We considered things such as special needs, personality and  structure of the classroom.  It was really hard, but in the end we both felt like it was a good place for the students. Watching how all homeroom teachers and students are completely random was really weird for me.  I felt like it was another example of how students are never really thought of in the equation of their learning.

I realize that because of the way that Korean schools are structured its impossible to go through a process even close to how my teacher did last year. (Korean teachers get new assignments each year potentially. It is usually up to the Principal and Vice Principal what each teacher’s assignment will be for the year. -people don’t apply for a second grade position, most like A POSITION IN DAEGU, then they get a 5th grade job at my school. )

I wonder what their reasoning is? I think that it does have a positive- it is COMPLETELY objective and random. No favoritism is played.

Should I be shocked? Is it really that bad? I just worry about students involvement in their learning on a day to day basis. They are rarely considered.

Anyways, they are all in their new homerooms and they are cute as ever. I saw a lot of familiar faces. One face that I didn’t recognize stared at me in the lunch room then got up and introduced herself. What a brave soul. I don’t know where she came from but I am glad that she is here.


2 new, 1 same. One new English teacher came to my school and I feel really lucky to have her. She is nice and WILLING to let me teach. Interested in my ideas- so far. Easy going and doesn’t believe that she has to be a hard ass to gain their respect. Her English is great and she has traveled around the world- including the USA!

Other new English teacher is actually the head teacher of the school. She is the third in command to the Principal and Vice Principal. It is a little nerve racking but she likes me, so I just have to keep smiling.


The textbooks are ‘updated.’ They are just so silly. The characters however, don’t have Korean English accents. Nami can now say “Is Peter THEre?” I’m so proud of her. haha

Below are the new English books for 3rd and 4th grade. This year is the first year that each school had the responsibility of choosing the new books. As opposed to every other year where EVERY SCHOOL HAS THE SAME BOOK. Thus, www.waygook.org was created haha.

3rd and 4th grade textbooks. ©Camtu

I welcome this new year and hope that all the hard work I put in these past 6 months show for something in the next 6 months!


I CAN teach. Wow, I needed an affirmation.

Winter camp was so much fun! While other native teachers were cursing their 1 week of camp I was “yes-uh”ing to 3 full weeks. It was so great that I didn’t want regular school to start back up…

After the feeling of success from week 1; I had 2 more full weeks. This is when the drama started to kick in. My winter camps were project-based. After I finished my first week of camp she told me that I should have collected all of the projects from the students to show the principal what we did. In addition to showing the principal another reason she said was so that I could keep it for an open class. At the open class I could put all of the materials out on a table to show people…

I said; “I can’t, they are not my projects to take. They belong to the students.”

Her response- “Well, I think that they would love to give it to you if you say something like ; “Who wants to be a helper of English?” “Who wants to give me your projects?”

Yeah, I am sure they would give them to me, but I don’t think its right to ask them. All they want to do is ‘please’ the teacher so they will comply and give them up. To me, taking their projects away from them says- this wasn’t really that important. This issue kept lingering but I found ways around it.

  • I asked the class who wanted to help make the same projects during their free time- but as a group. So it could serve as an example and it would display a couple different examples of student work. My co teacher was a little irritated and still insisted that I take their work but I stood true to my belief.

I don’t blame her though, the projects were pretty cool:

A book cover for a book displaying their likes and dislikes.

A family tree.








English camp!


Self-portrait. I look like..../ I like...








I like/ I don't like...


I don't like boys. Ohh 4th grade.





5th and 6th grade camp highlights…


Passport-6th grade.

Day of the Dead Art.

One example of the passport that we used to document all the “places” we went.




Self-portrait- 5th grade.

Self-portrait- 6th grade.

To the left-He decided to depict himself as dead in his self-portrait- “like grandfather!” he says.

To the right-She was a camper this week, but this girl saved my life as one of my teachers aids.





Musical chairs- 5th and 6th grade.


Musical Chairs to Colombian music while shakin’ our maracas. FUN!!

World Map- how we tracked where we were going in the world.

Now that its over and school has started back up I feel so much more confident teaching English. I think that the students now have confidence in me as well, and that means a lot. I look forward to Summer Camp!

Winter Camp. 영어 캠프

I’ve read about.

I’ve hear about it.

The stress.

The anxiety.

The madness!!!!

Winter English Camp. NET’s are responsible for this camp, and I guess for the first time ever the Korean teachers do not need to be at the camp. Interesting for me since I teach 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th grade in elementary school. I rely on my Korean co-teachers to help with understanding and to get the blank stares to go away. For 3 weeks I will be solo, ‘teaching English’ to 3 groups of 20 students; all of whose English proficiency differs widely.

First thing- I was told I need to make a schedule for Winter Camp. Soon that turned into a schedule and a booklet. This booklet I thought was just an outline, something to show the principal that I was working on it. After two days of working on it, I found out that it was the workbook/guidebook for the camps. Shit! I have to make 3 workbooks in 1 week!!! Each different levels and differing subjects. I could do nothing else but panic. For a week, I lived, ate and breathed in Winter Camp. I did not do my homework for Korean class, I did not go to the gym- I just planned, planned and made a workbook!!!!!!!!! Somehow, I pulled it off. Friday night I finished and e-mailed it to my co-teacher.


9:00-9:20 Routine, Key phrases and Vocabulary

9:20-10:20 Teaching subject (“class”)

10:20-10:40 Snack and Break time

10:40-11:00 Story time

11:00-12:10 Game/ Movie/ Choice time/ Free time/ Arts and Craft- whatever!

I had a hard time deciding how to divide the time and kinds of things to do. I found this blog- Kimchi Icecream and she talks about how she set up her Winter Camp. She brought up great points like; it is 4 hours of English. They are not used to such a long time having to think in English. I wanted there to be time to be free, less structured. I know that they wont be used to it, but hey, they wont be used to just having me as their teacher either! A lot to get used to haha.

Below I have given a couple examples of my workbook. I found out that I get paid for making sheets for camp. Strange incentive- “We want you camps to be fun but we will pay you if you make worksheets.” ??? Where is the logic. The catch is- it is capped at 10. I made 3 workbooks 1 17 pages, 2 19 pages. intermediate and advanced are very similar but still!!!

The front page to my workbook. : )

Table of Contents and the Camp Rules. I left space so that they could put examples or maybe even some sort of translation into Korean to help remind them.

Example of the layout of the book. This is the intermediate book Day 1.

Although I am ‘finished’ with the workbook, I have a long road ahead of me. I plan to use this workbook as only a guide. I would be bored to death if this was the only thing we were doing. They will be doing more interactive lessons and to appease my co-teacher I added a little box at the end of lessons so that they could record in some way what they learned. I want them to making something with their hands- not doodling in a workbook.

The Issues:

Other teachers at the school have expressed how “concerned” or “worried,” they are about me at English camp. I am not that concerned- I am way more excited. All of this “worry” is giving me a complex and making me feel like I should worry more? I have done camps for years. I know how to run a camp- let me try it people! Stop projecting your fears onto me. My co-teacher doesn’t want to plan or have much to do with the Winter Camp but her stressing about WC is stressing me out. She asks me nit picky questions like; “What will you do when a 3rd grader is doing (blank) and another is doing (blank)? What will you say exactly? What will you do exactly?”

Seriously? I can’t plan for that, all I can do is put in place an infrastructure that the student will KNOW what will happen to them if they do (blank) and another does (blank.) I think it will be a breath of fresh air for them to have some sort of consistency at school.

In short, I am super excited about Winter Camp and everyone else can get an ulcer while I am getting stickers and glitter. After Winter Camp I am off to a Daegu orphanage and then to Beijing for Lunar New Year : )

Happy Birthday to my dear friend; Merlyn!!! : ) Miss you and love you!

Also, Happy late Birthday to; Candi and Seany!! ❤ you and miss you two as well!!

Korean kids and their middle fingers.

Ok. Call me over sensitive but when people flip each other off I am slightly offended. My Korean co teachers…’oblivious.’ Recently, it has been a growing epidemic to catch students flipping each other off from across the room, drawing middle finger signs on the English room’s desks. All of these things they think they are being clever but no, they are not.

This is what they draw on the desks!

Does this sign mean the same thing in Korea as it would in the U.S.? If not, I am over reacting…but I don’t think it could have many more meanings….

Does anyone else have this problem? I don’t tolerate this behavior! I don’t care if they choose to do that with their friends, that is fine, they are 13 they will do that. Please, just refrain from doing it IN FRONT OF ME! In front of me, in English, when I only get to see them for 40 minutes a week! Come on!

I think its interesting the remorse they seem to have when I catch them and I ask them not to do that in here. Maybe they have that look down so much because they know all the teacher want to see it. Not me, don’t put on a show for me!

Yesterday, this middle finger phenomenon was taken a step further in a 6th grade class. One girl brought in the class picture of her class- taken on a field trip of some sort. As I am scanning all the smiling faces and peace signs ALL OF THE SUDDEN IN THE FRONT ROW 3 BOYS WITH BOTH OF THEIR MIDDLE FINGERS UP!!!!!!! WHAT??? No one else has noticed that?!!?!?  So when one of the boys walked in he came near me and I said:”Oh! I wanted to talk to you.” He begins to turn around and says “Oh! Fuck!”

Before I go on, this a 6th grader. I know I shouldn’t be irritated because when you’re a kid you learn all the bad words before you would ever want to learn; “That’s too bad,” but I had a point to make with this kid who is continuously disruptive and his bad attitude is contagious.

I told him: “Don’t say that! Don’t say that to me or in this class room.” He just walked away. I am ashamed of doing this but…I tattled and told my co teacher! She brought him over and spoke to him in a low calm voice in Korean for about 3 minutes. When he walked away all she said was; “He does not know what is he is saying.” THATS BULLSHIT!!! HE KNEW THE RIGHT CONTEXT TO USE THE WORD!!!!

Don’t play that game son.