Starting to Grow

Over the past month we have about a 50% increase in attendance. When you start with a low number than it’s not too impressive to add that percentage, but we are happy to be adding students. Seems like everyday we are changing the schedule and adding new students. We have started a new afternoon class as well which I get to teach. And Rachel is now tutoring a girl 2 days a week in the evening.

Unfortunately with growth comes more responsibilities. Seeing the school get established and get it’s feet on the ground is incredible. It’s fun to be a part of. It will be fun to see how big KCIS Dangjin is 5 years from now and know that God let us be a part of starting that. But for right now, we are definitely struggling to not get worn out. When we first started, handling only a few students was manageable. But now being at school from 8:45 am to 7:00pm seems a bit stressful (we do get about 2 hours in total of breaks). Hopefully we are close to hiring more teachers. We continue adding students and the general vibe is that the increase will continue. So who knows, maybe we will get more help soon. On Monday I finished a 6-day on-and-off fever that never quite reached 103. We’ve had teacher’s sick quite a bit this year and even in the hospital. Didn’t realize helping to start a business was so physically demanding.

On Tuesday I did start teaching a Mom’s English Class. Don’t ask me how I got elected to teach the class. Believe me, I was terrified of the idea when I was first told. The class only runs for 50 minutes 2 times a week. It actually should be fun since I will be able to do cooking classes and art classes with the class. I will be teaching them basic English conversations they can have with the children as they do different activities together (i.e. cooking, cleaning, shopping). My afternoon elementary class also got pushed back to 5:30-7:00 because it worked better for the students and our school can open up more time slots for new classes. Sounds like we will be having an afternoon Kindergarten class that would bring in about 8 more students.

Lots of fun happening as the summer starts here. We now have 16 enrolled in Kindergarten and 19 in Elementary classes. All of us are definitely staying busy and trying to stay healthy.


A Tribute to Korean Mothers

In honor of the recent Mother’s Day holiday, I have decided to write a tribute to Korean Mothers. Koreans do not actually celebrate Mother’s Day. They have Parent’s Day on May 8th, Children’s Day on May 5th, and Buddha’s Birthday on the 8th day of the 4th month in the lunar year (which happens to be May 10th this year). So we have 3 major holidays within 6 days of each other. Parent’s Day is not celebrated very much but Children’s Day and Buddha’s Birthday are huge. We have both of those days off from school which is really nice.

It would be very difficult to understand what exactly we have to deal with as English teachers if you do not understand Korean mothers. Koreans are very competitive. Getting into a good middle school and high school are about as hard as getting into a good college in America. So the mothers push their children very aggressively to study and practice. Korean mothers brag a lot as well which makes life even more difficult. If one mother is bragging about how good their kid is, then the other mothers push their kids even harder. These poor children end up getting overworked because their mother does not want to look bad. From the mothers’ perspective, if their child does not turn out perfect than they are viewed poorly.

We have even had Koreans tell us that Korean mothers are insane, so I do not feel too bad about writing about them. Because the kids get pushed to study so much, they turn out to be pretty smart, well at least book smart (ranked 2nd in the world in education behind Norway of all countries). English is one of the 8 or 9 main subjects taught at Korean public schools so most children know some English. In fact, one of the test for determining how good of a high school they go to is an English test. So the parents push their kids to learn how to take that test. The only problem with that is that the students don’t actually learn how to communicate in English, only how to take a test. And the Korean government knows that is a problem, but they do not know how to change that.

Our hagwon is focused more on the conversation side of English than on the written side. The curriculum we use helps student listen to and speak English instead of just take a test in English. The curriculum works great if you can wait a little bit to see results. But Koreans want results immediately. So we have had the challenge of adapting the curriculum to fit the Korean’s craziness. So if you ever teach English in Korea than you can expect frequent visits from the mothers checking up on how their child is doing. It makes sense I suppose, but it can get frustrating.