I lied to you all. But it was unintentional. Originally, my start date for teaching was pushed back to October. But then one of the schools suddenly lost a teacher (she was wait-listed for law school or something and a spot opened up so she made a break for it), and they could take me right away.
I arrived almost exactly one week ago to my very humble studio flat where I sleep next to the washer and shower in the bathroom sink. But it’s really not so bad– it’s just me and I don’t have that much stuff. I’m just a short walk from the subway and the school I’m working at is two stops away. There are some good restaurants, a convenience store, a small grocery, and a few other shops right around the corner from my house. Within a two block radius there are many other shops and apparently a movie theatre nearby, as well as some cafes.
The school is a rather posh private school. I work with first years in the morning 4-6 years old. In the afternoon I have a group of 7 year olds and and advanced reading group of 11 year olds. To be honest, I think that a fairly fluent Korean teacher could do just as well with the first years. I am teaching them extremely basic material like the English alphabet. However, it is reassuring for the parents to know their child is being taught by a native English speaker, apparently the idea is that they will be hearing “proper” pronunciation from the start which will be a good foundation for further studies.
My co-teacher is extremely nice and speaks English very well. In fact, she might be too nice– all the students definitely prefer her to me. They adore her; she has a very maternal vibe. It’s probably also because she understands everything they are saying which I don’t always. Because the kids are so young sometimes they will start crying and saying they miss their mothers.
The other teachers on my floor are pretty great. We went for Hway Shik one night and ate very large quantities of sizzling meat and raw vegetables. They’ve been very helpful at getting me situated and helping me figure out what it is I’m doing with these kids. I arrived last Sunday, started teaching Monday. It was brutal. The first few days are “orientation and games” for the new students, so I had to sort of make it up as I went. Now I actually have a schedule and breakdown for what I’m supposed to be teaching. Curriculums are so nice.
So I will be recording my honest experiences as a first time English teacher in the wonderful world of Korean private schools or Hawgwans. I will answer any questions you may have as well. Photos, anecdotes about racism in Korea, and post about yummy food all to come soon.