What do you do in Korea?
I teach. And yes, it is a real job. When we left South Africa I felt that people were thinking teaching in Korea will be one long holiday. It is hard work. It is frustrating work. It is humiliating work. Most of all it is just teaching. Nothing more, nothing less. When you are a teacher, there’s nothing better in the world. All the frustration, humiliation and hard work is worth it when a child smiles at you or tells you that they like something for the first time in their lives because you were the one teaching it.
Where do you work?
I work at a Government English Camp. The School is called CBFLIS, which is short for Chungcheongbuk-do Foreign Language Institute for Students. It is run by the Chungcheongbuk Province Department of Education and has a few sister schools across the province.
Where is this camp?
The actual facility is located on Nongdari-ro, a stretch of road between two towns called Jincheon and Munbaek. The actual school grounds are huge and include two other educational facilities not affiliated with our school. The only thing we share is the cafeteria and the outdoor gym.
So, English Camp? What does this mean?
A camp, in essence, is like summer school. It is and educational facility which tries to balance fun and learning in an environment which is a bit more relaxed than your actual school. Children come to the camp throughout the year, and we have about 10 weeks during the year in which we do not have any students, but still work on preparing for next programs and creating new materials.
What programs do we offer?
Throughout the year we offer a variety of programs which all aims at teaching English on different levels.
Family Weekend: One day program aiming at beginners English for families.
Moving Camp: We go out to rural schools and teach basic English to Primary School Students.
CE: Creative Experience one day camp where English is taught through creative methods such as cooking, arts, crafts, and music.
One Day Camp: Moving Camp in reverse, instead of us going to rural schools, the school will come to us for a day.
Hand-in-Hand: A short one day program aimed at teaching English to students with special needs. Students with learning and physical needs come to our camp for the day.
BC: Basic Course. This one-week overnight program aims at teaching students basic conversational and situational English.
ABC: Advanced Basic Course. Same as the previous with added activities such as skit presentation and Golden Bell Quiz. The program is one week long, and students sleep in the dormitories.
IC: Intensive Course. A level up from ABC where students are taught both conversational, situational and subject related English. The program is two weeks long, and students sleep in the dormitories.
AIC: Advanced Intensive Course. This is the highest level of English taught at our camp. All subjects, situations, and activities are aimed at producing fluent English conversion and writing skills (on par with their age). The program is two weeks long, and students sleep in the dormitories.
GI: Global Internship. This program is aimed at students in their final year of school who has been identified by the government to partake in an exchange program with Australia, Singapore, and New Zealand. The program is two weeks long and consists out of the same structure as AIC.
What duties do I have?
Homeroom (USA readers) or Form teachers (UK) or Register Class teacher (South Africans) is the first duty of any day. During this 10 minute class, you check that students did their homework and whether anyone feels ill etc. Part of homeroom is to keep your class in order, do activities in ‘Club time’, rehearse skits/presentation etc. When you do not have a homeroom class (2 out of the 8 English teachers), you will be busy marking the journals of all the students during homeroom related activities.
The next duty will be teaching either your core/subject class or a situational class. My core classes are English and Environmental Science. My school is real easy on you choosing your core class. You have to prep four lessons, submit the lesson plans, ppt slides and other materials for the workbook for approval, but once they’ve been approved you have free reign.
Situational classes are set according to the school facilities. Our situations are Clinic, City Center, Library, Game Room, Nature Room, Hollywood, Hotel, and Restaurant. Each situational classroom is fully equipped to simulate a real life experience.
Other duties include things like hosting quiz shows and scavenger hunts. Every teacher has to work two nights per 2-week program and night duties include things like Welcome Party (first night), Indoor sports, Yoga, Quiz nights, Game Appreciation etc. Every teacher has one lunch duty per week.
Smaller duties are things such as orientation and helping students settle into their rooms, unpacking belongings, searching for contraband items and introducing yourself on stage. Sometimes we hand out awards and certificates on last day of camp if the director is absent.
During some programs we do an interview with students at the beginning of the week and then again when the program is finished. This is used to evaluate progress. We also grade some materials such as writing contests, essays etc.
What does it look like?
Our building is divided into two parts- the Educational building and the Administrative building. The teacher’s housing is on the fourth floor of the educational building and the student’s dormitories are in the administrative building.
Our classrooms are spacious and bright, and we get to decorate it whichever way we want. Obviously, it looks like a unicorn vomited all over mine.
All and all I think that I landed at a good school. I get to teach things I am passionate about and have access to loads of materials and good resources. Yes, like any job it has its ups and downs, but at the end, you have to take stock and decide which outweighs which and what makes you happy will ultimately win.