I work at a Hagwon (a private English academy) called F-time.
The name “F-time” stands for “Future time”. F-Time is in Namchang which is 20 minutes away from our house. Namchang is slightly smaller than Deokshin but its market is much bigger and there is a train station that links up to ‘The City’.
My boss Lira is pretty sweet! She is the most fluent Korean English speaker we have met in Korea and has helped us out with translation on a number of occasions.
Lira runs a pretty tight ship at F-Time. The Hagwon is well equipped and has all the mod cons you would expect. It has a lot of text books,
A waiting room for the kids, a kitchen, support staff (Jun the ‘Skux’ receptionist) and I even get my own classroom with my own desk. I feel so grown up!
I teach elementary students (age 7-12) and middle school students (age 13-16). My class size is pretty small ranging from three to ten students at a time. The students that I teach are different than the students at Wishing Well, H-J’s Hagwon. Let’s just say I got the “Lisa Simpson” class while H-J got a lot of Barts.
My classes are fun and the kids are generally pretty cool. Two of students (Edwin and Patrick pictured below) have created a unique greeting me every day. They run up to me and stroke my beard. It’s now a craze and heaps of kids get into it. It was kind of weird to start with but now after two months its part of the job. I have around twenty kids stroke my beard on their way to class every single day now. Sheesh!
New students to the school have to have an English name given to them as Korean names are generally very hard to pronounce to westerners (it explains a guy called Vin Diesel’s that was living next to us on the Terrace.) One boy started on the same day that I started. I had the honour of naming him. His name is now Jon. He is very smart but also very funny. Personally I believe Jon is a very apt name for a chap like him!
F-time has a curriculum to follow but I have a bit more creative license in teaching English to my kids. With the elementary students I’m mainly relying on the text books as they need to build their basic English skills.
With the middle school students I’m having lots of fun. I have a class that I have organised a film study on a very important film that represented a generation. The 80’s classic film and dear to my heart…
Unfortunately the students had never heard of Dave the goblin king, his stuffed tights, 80’s haircuts and, more disturbingly, Jim Henson the man behind the goblins and the Muppets! Absolutely shocking! Lucky I’m here to give them REAL education.
Another middle class I have has a weekly class titled “free talking”. In this class we chew the fat. They ask me about stuff in English and will I often ask them about Korea. Sometimes teach me Korean words. Last week the class helped me translate the menu from the local “Cheap n Cheerful” restaurant. Good to see F-Time language teaching works both ways.
One class I have I am designing myself called Creative Writing/ Script writing. This is one of my most interesting classes. The first unit I have given asks the students to write a short story about “Issues of a Korean teenager. Here are two of my favourite stories.
Lily was a common student.
One day Lily went to school. At school a teacher caught her and hit her. Lily said to the teacher “why do you hit me?” the teacher said “You don’t have a ribbon, a badge, and you don’t tie up your hair!” Lily said “Sorry but I forgot them.” The teacher then said “if you do that again, I will hit you again!” “Ok, I’m sorry!” as she went to her next class.
…Ding Dong Dang Dong…
Lily entered into the classroom. Her first class was science. “Oh the science teacher is so boring…” Lily said. She tried not to sleep. After a while she fell asleep. Lily woke up with the teacher hitting her. “Why are you asleep? This month is your last exam, science is a difficult subject and if you don’t get A’s I will hit a lot!” The teacher said. Lily felt despair.
…Ding Dong Dang Dong…
Lily’s next class was P.E. Lily was happy because P.E was her favourite class. Outside it was very hot. “Oh, my skin will burn. No! I have to put on my sun-block.” Lily put her sunblock on her face which became white. Lily didn’t mind that. Her teacher didn’t like her white face. He caught her and hit her hard. “You applied B.B cream! Do you want skin trouble?” The teacher said. “I’m sorry, but it is sun-block.” said Lily. “But you are so white!”. “I’m sorry….” Lily pleaded.
…Ding Dong Dang Dong…
When the class finished the weather became cold and rainy. “Oh, it’s very cold. I have to wear a windbreak” said Lily. Her next class was music. The music teacher was very scary. The music teacher said “why are you not wearing your uniform? Come here! I’ll hit you ten times!” That was so painful. “Oh! My feet are burning!” Lily cried. “Sit down! If you do it again I will hit you again!” Lily sat down very fast. “Tomorrow you will have a music test in the morning. You better study a lot!” the teacher said.
…Ding Dong Dang Dong…
School finished and Lily walked home. When she got home she opened her book and wrote.
“I was hit by her teachers thirteen times today. School rules are too strict! I want freedom but the rules make me tired. I am stressed. Should they hit me? I can’t understand them.”
I was really blown away by that story… corporal punishment alive and kicking in Korea (excuse the pun)…This aspect of teaching really sucks. I’m lucky at F-Time in not witnessing it. In my class there is one very strict rule that I abide by with an iron fist. NO HITTING!!!!
Emily’s Changed Face
Emily is a kind girl. Her grades were perfect but she wasn’t happy. She worried about her eyes. She thought they were too small. During the summer she got plastic surgery.
In the new semester her friends and teachers were very surprised. She was also surprised; her friends had also changed their appearance. Emily thought ‘the other girls are more beautiful than me!’ She was disappointed again about her face and was determined to get plastic surgery again. This time she wanted a higher nose.
She agonized over the decision. Her teachers said “You don’t need plastic surgery now. It might have side effects when you are an adult. The nose is especially dangerous and has a higher probability of side effects.”
Emily had a consultation with a doctor. “What is a good choice doctor?” Emily said. “No problem, you can have plastic surgery in my hospital and you won’t have any side effects. No problem!” the doctor said. Emily decided to have more plastic surgery.
When she got back she was very surprised again because her friend had also changed again. She realised that she had made a foolish decision. It was time for her to fix her mind. Emily thought perceived that the mind is more important than outward appearances. In the past she thought she would make money for having plastic surgery. Now only studying hard was the way for Emily to make money. Emily still wasn’t happy with her face. In the future she might get addicted again to plastic surgery and regret having plastic surgery done.
These are the some of the issues Korean teenagers are facing. It certainly makes my put my teenage years into perspective. Braces really weren’t that bad!
While I don’t see myself having a career in teaching, I can definitely see the tangible benefits watching students express themselves creatively through my guidance as a TESOL teacher. Let’s see how I feel 9 months down the track.