more on the day to day of teaching at my hagwon

Rereading my first post I realize that I didn’t provide too many details about what my day teaching at my hagwon actually consists of, so I will do that more in this post!

I should mention that my school has field trips for the kindergarten once a week. I go with them every other week and get the morning off on the other weeks (when the other foreign teacher goes with them).  I have gone on two so far. The first was basically a train ride trip. We rode the train for  about 40 minutes to another nearby small town them walked from the train station to a park and had lunch. Kimbap rolls are the Korean equivalent of sandwiches in terms of their portability. The school cook had made enough for everyone. Kimbap has different things like carrots, pickled radishes, egg, etc. rolled into rice with seaweed on the outside kind of like sushi but not.

After we ate lunch, the kids played in the park for a bit. They all thought it was really funny to catch dragonflies.

The second field trip was to the farm of the couple who owns the school. The kids had planted watermelons there in the spring and we picked them. There were three little ones. Then we went to a park by the sea and had a snack. I didn’t bring any food for myself but was completely stuffed by the end because all the kids gave me food. Koreans are very generous, especially with food. There is one girl in the afternoon classes who’s probably nine or ten. She gives me food or candy everyday. It’s so cute. They really get a kick out of seeing the foreign teacher eat some of their food. Anyway, this park had a bunch of fountains and sculptures that the kids played on after we ate.

As for the day to day of teaching, like I said before. It’s not too hard. I only lead the class with the kindergarteners 2-3 times per week and it’s not for more than an hour at a time, and so far my Korean co-teacher has been with me almost every time. I’m not sure if that is because I’m new or not.

The hardest class I have is called “phonics.” It’s like an actual class with the 6-8 year olds.  It’s hard because they are huge! There’s like 17-18 kids in both of these classes (like most of my afternoon classes, they alternate every other day meaning I get one group of kids one day and another the next). I teach this by myself but a Korean teacher comes in for 15 minutes or so near the end just to yell at the kids. Sometimes it’s a battle to keep them in their seats and not talking. Mostly they just get up and trade pencils with each other. These kids are so hard into stationery it’s truly a sight to behold. I regularly have to break up fights over erasers. Anyway, I will get them to sit back down in their seat, then one second later they are back up. The hardest thing is I know they are not doing it to be bad, they are just filled with energy… and some of them are not ready to be in a real “classroom” environment like this class.  Having said that, though, it’s really just a few kids who give me trouble, while the rest are great.

The Korean teacher who comes into this class to yell at the kids is not the one I usually work with so I don’t know her as well as I know the other one, but I nevertheless have a profound respect for her scolding abilities. She has perfected the disappointed tongue cluck and disgusted face. She is a maestro of the tirade. All of the Koreans yell at the kids sometimes, but this teacher truly elevates it to an art form. The language barrier makes it difficult for us foreign teachers to discipline them, so I am grateful when the Korean teachers help out. I am currently working on my strategies.

My classes with 9-12 year olds have their own set of problems and rewards. They are old enough to know that they should not talk in class while the teacher is talking, so if you tell them to be quiet, they do. But they are also still very excited and enthusiastic, so they talk to each other a lot anyway. They are really sweet kids and even though none of them are super advanced in their English studies, I can relate to them in different ways than I can the little kids. The older kids get excited to tell me things sometimes so they try hard to figure out how to say it in English and help each other. It’s really cool to see!

On the whole, the kindergarteners understand much more than they can or are ready to articulate. And since they started learning English at such a young age, most of them understand English a lot better than the older kids. Mostly when they try to communicate something in English they’ll say something like, “Teacher!” then point at another kid and say, “cry!” meaning that the kid they’re pointing at is crying. They learn so fast, though! I’ve only been here 4 weeks, but I have already been able to witness how fast the little kids pick up things. It’s crazy!