Teaching English in Daegu, South Korea!

Archive for the ‘Teaching & Learning’ Category

Teaching 3rd Grade with a Bee’s Butt.

As I start my second year of teaching, I feel like I need to be looking at things with a more critical eye. Really analyze what and how I am teaching now that I have the hang of things. So as I am watching the CD-Rom for the 3rd graders English class I start to realize…this shit is weird. I mean, of course I have noticed it before, but now I documented it.

Bandi's golden butt.

Tom Tom's grey matter.

This is my textbook for ya. To my teacher friends…don’t judge.


4 Day Weekend.

You can welcome me back. I have lost my way on my blog because I was unsure about what I wanted to do with it. After countless conversations with friends and hearing how they view their personal blogs- it made me think about how I feel about my blog. What do I want this blog to be?? I am no expert in teaching English, nor am I really knowledgeable about South Korea or even Daegu.  With those in mind, I have decided to just put my experiences on here for me and anyone who might care back home. This blog will be so special for me to look back on, so I must take care of it!


May 6- May 10th were holidays so we had a 4 day weekend! Not only did we have a 4 day weekend but we had the 5th of May off. How exciting, right? It was enough time to get away from the routine of school and life and do something awesome. Most of my friends had big plans like; traveling to another country, going to a festival, visiting a new city in South Korea…to name a few. SOMEHOW, with all of this time I managed to MASTER relaxing and doing nothing. I was soooooooooo good at it. I did do a few things tho- – –

Daegu Yangyeongsi Herbal Medicine Festival [Finally, something in Daegu…]

Ginseng. (© Matt Peszek)

More ginseng...from Matt..

This day marked the beginning of our long weekend and Erin and I were not about to pass up the opportunity to go to a festival in our city! Erin had the great pleasure of dog sitting Kiyomi, (our friend Kristen’s dog) for the whole weekend.

Wandering around the streets of the actual Oriental Medicine Street in downtown Daegu everyone was sure to put out their very best and most creepy looking ginseng.

: 0)

I haven’t had the pleasure of going to too many festivals here in Korea- most of the activities that were set up were for children.~ to be honest though, I would have really liked to do them…next time! There was one activity that we took full advantage of though…

After this SHOW we put on for everyone there were a couple more things to check out such as…

Mysterious Herbal Plant Tunnel...we weren't sure what to expect!

Kyomi, Erin and I all dressed in traditional clothing!

At the end of the festival we witnessed the strangest and possibly drunkest mascot we’ve ever seen. We saw him walk into the street and almost get hit by a car and then a stranger was trying to push him into the fountain!!

Daegu Oriental Medicine Festival 2011 Mascot.

Korea loves mascots. Every festival, even city in Korea has a mascot. I am not sure how these mascots are decided but I admire these people who dress up the costumes for each festival!

After the festival Erin and I headed back to her place for some Cinco de Mayo festivities. We made burritos, drank home made sangria and hung out with one of the coolest dogs in Korea…

I love Kiyomi!!!!!!!!!! Look at her!!! I am sorry to Kristen because I feel sooo creepy.

This was all in one day! Remember, that I had a 4 day weekend. We had to go to school the next day (May6th) but then Saturday-Tuesday we had off as well. My weekend started—back at school. Sports Day! It was the first really humid day of the year so far.

Sports Day.

Sports day could be compared to field day in the USA…but way more extravagant. Every class of students from 1st-6th performed a choreographed dance and participated in relay races. There relay races for the students, parents, grandparents and teachers! The day went off without a hitch. There was a strict schedule and everyone was on time, there were even announcers to keep everyone on track. Spirits were high in Nambu : ) I, of course, had no real role in the day so I just wandered around cheering and taking pictures.

The rest of the weekend was fairly uneventful. Sure, it was fun but I was not as productive as I wish I was. Like I said, I mastered relaxing. : )

It’s fun to be at the…YMCA…


I couldn’t help myself. I have been in Daegu now for about 8 months. For 7 of them Jeff and I have been taking Korean classes at the YMCA in downtown Daegu- right outside of Banwoldang subway station, exit 14.

The YMCA in downtown Daegu where we take our Korean classes.

When I started the class I didn’t know how to read hangul. Every word I wrote down an ‘English’ pronunciation right next to it.

For example:

이게 뭐야?

“ee-gay mo-yay-yo?”

What’s this?

There were so many processes that my mind had to go through that the actual vocabulary and grammatical structures that I learned, did not stick so much. Currently, I am in ‘2A,’ for advanced Korean speakers. This is not me, but since I finished all of the books before 2A- thats where I am. I have come along way since the beginning and I have my people from the YMCA to thank! I really enjoy taking the classes here and all of the staff are far beyond helpful! They are very encouraging and try to make 2 hours of Korean grammar twice a week from 7-9…a fun task.

My 1A class…back in September.

My teacher Boseon and I checking my homework. Jeh-poo in the background.

Our sweet little class. From the left Paul, Iskandar, Boseon, me, Jeff, and Jaiway.

As I said earlier, I am taking the 2A class. You might think “Wow, great job!” or “You go, girl!”- Whichever is your type of encouraging saying buuut…now its my second time taking 2A…First time around my class consisted of me and Jeff. It was AWESOME!!

Yep, thats Korean class. haha

Yep, this is basically what class was like sometimes. Jeff and I just got to try out every new vocabulary word and grammatical structure carefree!

We use text books for our Korean class from called the Sogang series. I actually like the way that they are laid out and introduce a fair amount of vocabulary. The only down fall is you have to constantly see Andyshe.


Andy being the lost foreigner in Korea again.

As you can see, Andy is a major part of my learning Korean. He introduces us to new phrases so that when we are in a boarding house we know how to ask what type of rooms they have, haha. Although Andy is great, he is not the best part.

Andy hitting on Mina.

2A, the first time around. : )

Candid ; )

Our teacher Sagong Jin, is really an amazing teacher and person. She is studying to become a teacher and teaching people like Jeff and I in the evenings. She really enjoys teaching and you can tell!

OUR class!!! Sagong Jin, Jeff and I. This is our silly pose.

My notes- PROOF! I am learning!

Overall, I know that Jeff and I are both really satisfied with our time at the YMCA. We have made some great friends and learned a lot. If you live in Daegu and happen to read this blog- e-mail me if you are interested in taking classes!!

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!

20 3rd grade Korean Students. Me. 2 6th grade Korean ‘Teachers Aids.’ Ahh Winter Camp ^^

Winter vacation is over and done with but it was a whole mess of fun. The whole month of January and most of February Korean students and teachers are on break. Aside from the couple of teachers who come to the school to “keep it from being stolen,” no one comes to school. This is where Native English teachers come in handy. We are required to come to school everyday whether or not you have a class to teach. You might be asking yourself- what do you do then? Well my friend, welcome to Korea, where deskwarming is a part of our professional job. Many people have blogged about this before, my friend Erin talks of her deskwarming conflicts in her blog. Anyways, this is not the point- but I am deskwarming RIGHT NOW.

During Winter vacation I did not have to desk warm because I was crazy busy with my own winter camp.  I was given full responsibility for 3 weeks of winter camp. I would not have a Korean teacher there for those tough language barrier experiences. Well, I had a KT there twice a week, but…she saw it as my camp so stayed away. Whatever. I was determed to show my entire school that I can teach. Before WC started I got so many looks of pitty. “By herself?,” they would say. “Oh good luck.” “How will you discipline?” “How will you blah blah blah…?” The same way I do with every class- make sure they know what their expectations are. I had a week before WC started officially at school and I was busy rearranging the room from a rigid in rows type of feel to a group vibe.

One group. Yes they are still in rows.

Wall of helpful phrases. This saved my life- I used it too!

I was able to set up the room pretty much however I wanted. I wanted groups, stations and an accessible library. I set up a system for game check out and gave students about 30-40 minutes at the end of the day for some choice time.


My co teacher and my four 6th grade assistants helped me to compile this list of useful phrases. My co teacher wants to keep it during school- yay! So onward I went for 3 full weeks of camp from 9-12:10 every day.

Week1- 3rd graders. Oh boy was I nervous for the first day of Winter Camp. It’s not like I hadn’t overly prepared for it but I really didn’t know what to expect. I had prepared something for them to do when they showed up, so the students had something to transition themselves into camp. They all learned how to write their names in English by the end of the week because every morning they practiced writing their name about 10 times. The theme for this week was- me, me, me! Some highlights from camp can only be followed up by their adorable pictures. My words wouldn’t do them justice.

Tracing each other while studying body parts, they thought I was CRAZY for suggesting this.

Self- portrait from the beginner camp.

We had a nice batch of snow : ) We wanted to make a snowman together!

Don't be fooled. She wanted to throw that at someone.

Studying 'likes' and 'dislikes.'

I do not like what...

Oh, I don't like bags= bugs!

I know its crooked, but he does not like crows...he hates the sound that they make.

This song was learned about different ways to answer the question- "Hello, how are you?"

The first closing ceremony of Winter Camp.

I didn’t want this group to leave. By Wednesday we were all in a groove and I got to know them all a lot better! Even though we had a language barrier we all had our laughs and little class inside jokes. It was a nice feeling. I miss having one group of students to teach all day- makes me really miss Mrs. Taber and our 2nd graders last year. I didn’t have too much time to think about how much I would miss this group because I had to get ready for the 4th graders next week!

I Have the Best PenPals.

There are ups and downs about my teaching job here in Korea. Sure, I do wish that I had a little more freedom to practice things that I learned in my masters program. I want to be a better teacher but the curriculum and my coteachers don’t really allow for me try out new things and see how they work- so I don’t feel as though I am not growing as an educator : ( Needless to say, I find little successes in each day that give me hope that I am not destined to be a bad teacher for the rest of my life! haha

I have two 6th graders 정윤 and 수빈. These girls make my day when they are waiting for me in the English room after lunch to just talk. They like to use my stamp set that my wonderful sister, Colleen, bought me before coming to Korea.

Jung Yoon and my diary to each other.

The 'gift' part of Jung Yoon's diary.

We use the stickers next to our name every time we sign it.

Jung Yoon's signature with the sticker!

Our diary. : )

These girls are amazing and beautiful people. I will miss them when they go to middle school. Their next English teacher is very lucky to have them!!!