I know it has been almost two months since our last post, so I apologize for that. The good news is that we have started a new Page for our trip to Hong Kong. We will have a lot of information posted so we decided to make a new page for it. Right below the picture on the main page you can see tabs for 4 different pages (Home, Hong Kong, Map, and About Us). If you want to read some really good stories and reviews about Hong Kong, then please check out that page. Not all of the pages on the Hong Kong page are finished, so please check back often as we finish writing. We will also be adding picture slideshows so you don’t want to miss those.
So, why no other posts the past 2 months you ask? Well, we have been much busier in the summer than we were in the winter and spring. Now that the weather is nicer we try to travel just about every weekend (mostly day trips on Saturday). Plus our school has added many students the past 3 months and that has opened up more classes and given us more work to do. So overall, the weeks between our trip to Busan and our trip to Hong Kong were not all that exciting. The month of August has actually been less busy as many of our students are on break.
I am not sure how busy things will be going forward, but we are hoping to get many more posts up on our blog.
Last week into this past week we had 4 days in a row that students brought in gifts for us. Last week we started taking our own food in for lunch because we did not want to eat rice and vegetables for lunch everyday. The food they have at school is pretty good but we like a variety. So we brought in peanut butter and jelly and made our sandwiches and had a couple snacks. The students were watching us and wondering why we were eating bread and the Korean teachers told them that we are not used to eating rice everyday.
One of the students said that his family had a lot bread at home so one of the Korean teachers told him to bring in some for us. On Wednesday he brought in a muffin for Rachel and I to share. It was a pretty good muffin too. Then on Thursday another student brought in some crackers for us. His mom or dad had written a note on it in English that said that once the student woke up in the morning he started talking about me and how he wanted to go to school! I didn’t realize that kids like school so much. I was really glad to see that they enjoy us and that we have an impact on them. Then on Friday they had a birthday party for the students who had birthdays in March. One of the mothers sent in some bread for all the students and some mini cake/bread snacks for the teachers. They were delicious!
Then this past Monday one of the students brought in a small French Lavender plant for Rachel and I. I put it in our classroom and it is actually starting to bud already! And then on Friday this week one of the students brought in a whole package of crackers for Rachel and I! I am not sure if they are bringing in gifts because they like us or if they are trying to bribe us but I am sure that those students will get a higher grade. 🙂 This teaching thing works out pretty well sometimes. 🙂
KCIS Dangjin officially began classes on March 2. We were nervous about teaching but glad to start. Spending February lesson planning and adjusting to Korea was nice, but we were glad to begin teaching. Over this past month we have been busy and sick though. We were not able to travel for two weekends and Rachel had to miss a few classes because of being sick. Thankfully we have recovered, but are still quite busy.
We really did not know what to expect for teaching. It would have been nice to know more about Korean children before starting. We kind of learned the hard way that they are not very well behaved. For Kindergarten classes they divided the students between a K5 (American age 3 maybe 4) class and a K6 & 7 class. For the first 2 weeks we did not go by a normal schedule because we wanted to allow the students to get used to being in school and to get used to foreign teachers. The 3-year-olds spent most of the time crying or attached to the Korean teachers. The 4 and 5 year olds warmed up to us pretty well.
The elementary students were worse behaved than we expected. I had the mindset of Koreans being very respectful and disciplined. With Korean teachers they are better but they think they can get away with more with a foreign teacher. The MeySen curriculum is much different than the normal Korean way of learning. They are used to textbooks, tests, and memorizing things. But MeySen teaches English in a more natural way that gets students to communicate in English and comprehend what they are saying. Because there are no textbooks or tests the students tend to just goof off and talk. So we have had to adjust our teaching style to add in more homework and start giving assignments.
We have also been doing some research trying to get ideas of how to do classroom management better. A lot of people were saying that Korean children are very competitive. Just getting into High School is as hard as getting into a college in America. It’s pretty brutal. Students spend like all day doing school work and studying. So most people recommend to use that competitiveness to our advantage. So we’ve starting putting students on teams and taking points away if they are bad and giving points if they are good. It’s pretty funny to watch them go crazy when we take points away from them. The points mean nothing, but they get all bent out of shape.
At the start things were pretty challenging but things have gotten better. The students are actually pretty cute and they are learning. It’s been fun to watch them start using more English phrases and actually talk to us. They are still pretty dependent on the Korean teachers, but it’s been good to see improvement already.
On Thursday January 20, 2011, we went to Suwon to observe MeySen classes at a Kindergarten. It took us a little over an hour to get to Suwon. After we took our shoes off at the door we put on slippers that they provided. Then we sat in a conference room with about 10 other teachers who were all speaking Korean. I am pretty sure they all knew English, but it’s their country so they can do what they want. They had Q&A time in Korean with one of the workers there for about 45 minutes. We observed two different classes for half an hour each. The first class was 4 year olds, and the second class was a bit older. They were much better at English then I thought they would be. And they were all participating and having fun.
Our school will be using the MeySen GrapeSEED program. From what we have heard and read, it is much better than most TEFL programs. As far as teaching English programs go, I have nothing to compare MeySen with. But I think it will be a great program. I think the students will really enjoy it and succeed with it. The kids at Suwon had been using the program for a year to a year and a half and they were speaking good English. They could talk with their teachers and use full sentences and express their own thoughts.
MeySen teaches students words that students will use frequently, which seems like a no brainer, but apparently other programs teach words like “princess,” “dragon,” and “king.” MeySen utilizes songs, action activities, stories, poems, etc. to help students learn words and phrases. There is also MeySen Station which is where the students will work on their reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills.