I went to observe at the school. As it is a private school or "hagwon", my hours are 2pm until 10:30pm. Here is how it works: Education is very VERY important in Korea, so students are in school ALL DAY- literally. A typical school day for them starts at 8am and ends at 10:30pm. They go to regular school and then end their day (and night) with private English school.
Class of Chaos or Calm?
Korean students are very different from American students. How so? You may ask, picturing a room full of well-behaved quiet students with their arms folded on their desks, as they look forward eager to learn.
Not quite. In this "land of the morning calm," (the English name for the country) Korean students can be very loud and giggly. It is surprising at first how loud they can be. It is a normal thing for students to talk throughout the class period.
On the opposite spectrum, students can also be very shy and not confident with their speaking ability even if they are in fact good students and good at English. It is difficult for some of them, particulary middle school students, to speak out as they may fear making mistakes. In the Korean culture, it is very important to "save face" or not embarass yourself. It is not a good thing to admit if you do not know something. This may factor into their less-than-willingness to speak out.
Looking Forward: New Beginnings
Now that I am done with training, which took place in Seoul, I will be starting my first official day as a teacher in South Korea.
I am not sure exactly how to feel. The nervousness has passed (for the most part, unless I focus on it too much...) and I am now excited to see the students again and learn more about them as I try to making learning English fun for them, when they already are in school all day and may not really want to "learn" anything else.
I feel confident that I will learn a lot from them as they will learn from me. I will make it a priority to show that I care about them as people, not just as students. I will make sure they have structure and will expect the best from them. As I will be starting with just two days left of this week, it will be a good way to get to know them and get a little taste of where they are at and what they need and then I can more fully implement plans to teach them in the best way possible.
Excited to start, here goes!
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