Teaching English in Daegu, South Korea!

Archive for the ‘Patience’ 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!

Bomb Drills and Serious Threats of Attack…

Bomb drills at schools, bombing of an island, serious threats of attack…still not a big response from my fellow Korean teachers.

(For brief information about North and South The Telegraph has an easy to follow timeline: North Korea’s Conflict with South Korea- Timeline )

In my previous post I mentioned how when the attack on Yeonpyeong Island happened the heightened sense of danger was a stand still. I am not sure if because I am not Korean, they do want to worry me or think illy of Korean’s. They definitely don’t want me to feel unsafe. I am left feeling confused and wondering what they are really thinking. I might feel more safe to know that I wasn’t the only thinking that “shit just got real.”

Today (December 20, 2010)

Headline: Breaking World News

UN Security Council Fails to Reach Accord on Korea Crisis.

“UNITED NATIONS — The UN Security Council failed Sunday to agree a statement on the Korean military crisis and Russia warned that the international community was now left without “a game plan” to counter escalating tensions.

China rejected demands by Western nations that North Korea be publicly condemned for its November 23 attack on Yeonpyeong island which killed four South Koreans, diplomats said.

About eight hours of formal talks by the 15 nation council and private discussions, which brought in the North and South Korean ambassadors, ended without accord.

“We were not successful in bridging” differences between the parties, Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin told reporters…”

So, what do I do? I hear bomb drills that happen at my school buttttt…they don’t ask me to participate. I spoke with other NET’s (Native English Teachers) and their part in the drills was much more active than mine. Alex Pickett said that he was escorted into the basement of his school during a drill. I can’t help but be jealous. Now, today as I am updated by Google about news alerts about Korea I am paranoid every time I hear a plane or helicopter. I think I am hearing them more than usual…

So I will leave with the attitude of a Korean and just ‘see what happens.’

BBC News: South Korea to begin exercised near border with North.

❤ Paranoid Shannon in Daegu…

Buying Make-Up at Homeplus

Early one morning I was getting ready for school and I noticed that my mascara was in need of replacement so I thought; “I’ll head to Homeplus.” At Homeplus I went to the make isle. I was taking my time scoping out what they had and the prices attached as I started to notice that there is a woman who is looking over my shoulder. I got a little uncomfortable and turned around- saw that she was wearing a uniform- a Homeplus uniform. “Oh, she works here,” I thought. I found the mascara that I wanted but couldn’t find it anywhere. I just had the sample in my hand searching. Not a moment too soon the woman with the Homeplus uniform came and…said something in Korean and grabbed a different mascara. I just simply agreed out of convience for me- sure why not I’ll take it. She reaches into the drawers below the make up- ‘oh of course!’ Then she proceeded to grab a giant box and LOCK the mascara away in it!


Inside of the box is what I want to buy. She added in some wipes- that was nice.



Side view and the giant lock.



Bottom view.


I don’t know why I was so fascinated about this, but really I think it is a little strange. So different from running down to Rite Aid to pick up some mascara! I would have never guessed.

For those of you who don’t know what HomePlus is- I am sorry for your loss. HomePlus is like an amusement park. It is very similar to E-Mart but more giant. Go to this girls blog http://seoulsarang.blogspot.com/2009/03/homeplus.html – if you have any interest or further inquires about HomePlus. She does a whole post showcasing what you could get and honestly, how fun it is haha.

In other news, it only took the IRS from late July until now to send me my residency certificate for a total of around 70 days. My oh my. Jeff got a letter from them around the same time I got my certificate that said that he had information missing!!! It took 2 and a half months for them to tell him he had information MISSING! ahh.

*Cross your fingers that I get added to the Korean Blog List ^_^ Also, congrats to Lana for being on the list!!!! That is so cool!!!! I can remember when her and I were checking EVERY. SINGLE. BLOG. on the list to find out anything we could about teaching here 🙂


P.S.S. THANKS EPIK for pushing the date to October 31st to finish the online courses! Originally they were due by January and now I must actually work and learn “how to group students.” I went to school for this already!!! Today I learned that- “Before you come to Korea- you should try Korean food. Have you ever had Korean food before? Bibimbap is a traditional Korean food that is not spicy.” First of all, I have had bibimbap and I have had spicy bibimbap as well!!! True EPIK fashion they are making things more confusing than they need to be. Thanks EPIK,

love, shannon


I finally have internet…now that I have internet I just want to be on facebook and do useless things with my time haha. I know that I must keep this blog up!!! I have to let the people I know and love back home know I am alright (thats you Grandma!!)

Over the past week I have been very busy. I am starting to know some students names, but it will take me time because there are A LOT of students. So far, I have a made a 1st grade friend…she speaks fluent English haha. In her family they speak Korean and English.


Since I am the first Native English teacher in this school I don’t think that they really know what to do with me. They also don’t want to give up control of their class. They are thinking; well this ‘teacher’ has an American accent and we want our kids to as well so lets make her just repeat things. I just want them to know that I love planning, I love teaching and I will waste away if I can’t really do that. That is all I will say for now. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

*Last week I had the opening dinner with my school. I was feeling really sick that day- the “air con” was really getting to me and I had a cold. I couldn’t control my sneezing and runny nose. We went to eat sam gup sal- yeah…I am nervous to even say what it is but it was freakin delicious. I have been thinking about it ever since. At the dinner, it was very formal and it was a chance for me to put all of my Korean etiquette to the test!

  1. Turn your head away from your superior while drinking an alcoholic beverage.
  2. Hold the cup with two hands while you are being poured a drink by a superior.
  3. Take things and give things with only your right hand if not both. If only one, you must must must have your left underneath your right hand. (You will notice that EVERYONE does this everywhere- I learned it from a Family Mart ^_^)

I may of offended some people though because I was feeling so sick and I declined the invite to go sing at a Norebong. I know I know…but seriously- I couldn’t do it. I went home and slept from 8:00 to 7:00 am the next day. It is exhausting listening to Korean all day ahha. Seriously, don’t under estimate the power of confusion that drains you at the end of the day.

  • A couple of the young teachers came with my co teacher and I downtown this weekend. It was really fun, they are so nice to me! They text me and want to hang out. I feel really lucky to have really nice teachers at my school- really welcoming and so flattering. My face is not so small but thanks for saying it anyways : ) teehee Thanks to Hyuny and Jamie who have taken me under their wing and want to make me happy and comfortable!

The English Classroom is a sight to see. The Korean education department really has put a lot of effort into English in the schools. This year Daegu is the only city that made sure that EVERY school has a native English teacher. That explains why half of the orientation was going to Daegu haha.

English Zone. Yep, its a touch, LCD screen. No biggie...



Upon moving here Jeff and I were hopeful that we would be close. It is true we could further away from each other…but it is interesting how close all of the other couples are- but not us. “Within a 5 minute walk,” other couples say. We say “40 minute walk.” We need to get bikes because a 3,000 won taxi ride will add up. I love my apartment now, I had some issues over the weekend with some..err…plumbing but it is fixed now and I am okay. I am attempting to find places around me that I will frequent. Lana will understand- that I want to become a regular somewhere!!! Coffee shops don’t open until later because Koreans drink coffee at night? Its totally strange to me that I can’t go on my way to work to get coffee.

Front of my apartment building.

Me in front of my apartment building!!

It’s been a good time since we have gotten to Korea. Is it sad that already after 2 weeks I have had some moments where I am thinking- “what the hell did I sign up for?” Jeff is being really positive and reminding me that its not Phyllis’s classroom with those 2nd graders who no one could ever replace. *sigh* He is right. I have met some great kids here…but I can’t tell you how depressing it is to not talk with them. I can’t carry a conversation with anyone because we don’t speak a common language 😦

We went out to dinner with friends this weekend at a nice family establishment! haha Chicken upon chicken upon chicken.


I took the subway a lot this weekend…its insane. It is a mall- not like little shops, its a freakin mall inside a lot of these subway stations! Like I need to buy some nicer clothes because Korean women are always dressed up and I look like a scrub so i might as well just take a subway to a subway station and shop haha. Who needs to go above ground?

Disco Ball and everything!!

Until next time know that the typhoon is headed for Busan and passing through Daegu…tonight and all day it has been very rainy : )

Jeff and I happy because we got to wear our rain gear...I know I know Jeff has an umbrella...we had to slightly fit in.


I think I am in Dalseo-gu. Yes, it may seem silly to say think but I am being very honest. I just have the attitude that I will be okay and I will find out more and more as I continue on with my process. Sure, I may not know where I am right now but soon I will know where I am and where things are in relation to me. Like…I know that Jeff is about a 40 minute walk from my apartment to his. His school is much closer to me than him.

Anyway, I got to Daegu on Thursday in the late afternoon. I was very tired from listening to drunk people at Jeonju all night long so I slept on the bus. We met our co teachers at the Daegu English Support Center- I think thats what it is. I met my coteacher and another administrator from my school. My coteacher (Yun) is the sweetest most nicest person. As we are driving to the school I find something out.

I am the first Native English teacher to teach at this elementary school. My oh my. That is a lot of pressure.

My school:

It looks quite big (compared to the schools I taught at in the US.) It is 3 buildings each 4 stories high. Around 300 students. I kept telling her that it was a big school and I was so amazed. Then I talked to Jeff whose school has over 1000 students. Holy moly. It has a great energy about it though, the staff has been welcoming. So welcoming that one of the office staff gave me Korean work books to learn the language haha. I don’t have any pictures of my school just yet :/

My  MAIN co teacher:

She is great. AMAZING! She really thinks about what I might be needing or wanting and helps me get to a point where I am not uncomfortable anymore. She really wants my Korean to get better too haha. She has done such a great job at introducing me to the staff and involving me in meetings. I think that it is good that she saw that I have a Masters in Education because she just finished her Masters degree as well- so she knows what I am capable of. I am very thankful to have her and hope that her and I can have a healthy relationship.

My other co teachers:

Grade 3 teachers




Grade 4

All my OTHER main co teacher





Grade 5:

My main coteacher.

Grade 6:

My main coteacher.

Soo…I have quite a few.

My Teaching:

I teach Monday through Friday from 9-12 and then Wednesday and Friday 3:00-3:40.

I teach 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade and 6th grade. Oh did I forget to mention that twice a week I teach English to the TEACHERS IN THE SCHOOL? What??? I am so nervous about that. I know how to teach children but not adults- perfect example is Shouka..he didn’t really learn anything from me haha. Monday morning I will be on the morning announcements, yep, they have a TV broadcasting system that will go to every room in the school and I will introduce myself. My co teacher told me “just look cute, see you Monday!”

My Apartment:

When I first moved in, I was horrified. My co teacher said that in Korea when you move out you don’t clean it- it is the person who moves in, its their job. SO it was my job to clean up after this nasty guy. I wore flip flops around my apartment the first day. The next day I got some cleaning supplies and 5 or 6 hours later I was prancing around my apartment barefoot. I am very happy in there now…now if only it was near ANYTHING at all…

Entrance way with the shoe cupboard.

The apartment.



My Sanity:

I am slowly gaining it back, so I think I will be okay. Wish me luck in finding Youri and Blake tonight downtown.

Filing for the 8802: US Tax Residency

Okay. So we leave in about 20 days and I just received an email from my recruiter about the 8802 tax form for South Korea! Yikes! It takes 45 days to process (and thats good.) This process was confusing for me because taxes…yeah right. I don’t get it. So with phone calls to the IRS and visits to my grandma I was able to figure it out:

This is how I filled mine out, maybe it will help somebody out there who is having trouble sifting through the 12 pages of IRS directions.

Applicants name: Pretty straight forward- Your name.

Applicants Tax ID number: Social security number.

1. Applicants name and TAX ID number if different from above. Same as above

2. Applicants address during the calendar year for which certification is requested, including country and ZIP of postal code. Permanent Address. So for this one I had a hard time because EPIK keeps things like where you will be living a secret until you get there. So I called the IRS and told them my perdicament. They suggested that I just put down my permanent address and have whoever lives at that address (my parents) send me the documents when they come. Really what they want is somewhere to forward the 6166 documents to. (the 6166 is the residency certificate and you get that once you turn in your 8802.)

3a. Mail form 6166 to the following address. Same as above or permanent address. This was also confusing to me, but was cleared up by calling the IRS again! They said to put the address in either or and just state “same as above or below.”

3b. Appointee information: If you have an appointee- a person who is responsible for your taxes, which in my case is my grandma and she works for the IRS so her information was provided. It is not necessary to have an appointee.

4a. Applicant is: Individual and a U.S. citizen.

5. Yes. 1040. I filed a 1040.

6. No need to fill out anything if you checked “Yes” above.

7. Calendar year: 2010. The IRS said that after December 1st, we have to file another one for the year of 2011.

8. Tax period: 200912.

9. Purpose: Income tax.

10. Statement: Name, SSN, is a US resident and will continue to be throughout the current tax year.

11. Number of certifications you need. Find South Korea and next to it put a number value. You can get up to 20 and still pay $35. Beyond 20 you pay $5 extra.

12a. Total number from all columns: #

13. Amount of money due:

That is it! Make sure you sign and date it! This is how I filled mine out, it will probably differ slightly depending on who you are and how you file your taxes. If you filed them late then I think you have to attach a copy of you taxes to this form. You can pay online and fax it or mail it. Now that is submitted my family will mail it to me when I am in South Korea.

Below are some IRS sites that have a bit more of information:

http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f8802.pdf – The 8802 form.

http://www.irs.gov/instructions/i8802/ch02.html -Some instructions about how to fill it out.

http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/international/article/0,,id=122559,00.html -To understand what the 6166 really is.