Teaching little Koreans

So, we didn’t really know what to expect when taking a job to teach Korean children English.  I know we got lots of questions of how we would teach English without knowing Korean.  Well, now that we’ve been in the groove for a month we’ll give you a little taste.  Our class ages range from 8  to 15 and their English levels from basic words and phrases to debating various issues.

I (Sandra) have a class that is quite the handful.  It is only made up of  5 kids but the 3 boys make up for the small number.  It is hard to be stern when the kids don’t understand what you are saying and then on top of that they can say whatever they want to about you because you don’t know what they’re saying either!   Those boys come in at least 30 minutes early everyday and play hide and seek.  Then they come in to class sweaty, you would think they would have gotten all their energy out…think again.  Sometimes they stampede me up against my desk, trying to get me to grade their assignment first.  I am still trying to figure out the best way to handle those little boogers.

Pronunciation is something we work on quite frequently.  They have trouble  with letters like W, L,  P, V, F plus many other combinations.  They also like to add a hard “ed” or “a” on the end of most words.  For example wood is “ood” and finished is “finish-id” or house is “house-a.”  We are constantly saying, “It’s not house-a, just house!”

Another funny communication barrier comes up when we ask them questions and have to clarify.                                   Example:  Teacher-T/  Student-S

T:  Do you have your notebook?

S:  No, I don’t?

T:  You don’t?

S: Yes.

That confuses us every once in a while but in Korean I guess that’s how you would answer that kind of question.  So, we’ve had a few mini lessons on how to form a consistent English response.

Now, I know we are ragging on these kids but they have an even longer day than we do.  They get up and go to school; then after school come to see us and possibly 2 other hagwons (private afterschool academy).  So, they have their regular school homework plus ours!  I understand if by the time they get to us they are done sitting in a classroom.  Other hagwons they attend could be math, Korean, music, science, art and so on.  It is a tough balance wanting to do a good job but cutting these kiddos some slack.

Another big shocker was that swats for kids are still given here.  Our students have “listening time” at the end of every class.  During this time, they hear various conversations or monologues that they are then required to memorize.  At the end of the 2 week period if they did not do their minimum requirements,  they get swats on the palm of the hand or arch of the foot.   I think swats are given out for behavior issues too.  However, our whole grading system is based on an incentive program.  They get points for homework and participation and then can turn them in for prizes.

Ok, finally we will leave you with a little journal entry, one of Ethan’s 12-year-old students wrote about his favorite family event.

“My Family Event is

many read book is reading

so game plese  and birstday

party but, birsthday  is a sometime

and many reading a book

a game cash give

And I love a reading a book

but no watch a tv

And a night go to the

mom At a home math ak home

very happy”


Some diaries are even harder to understand and consequently, harder to grade. 🙂   We’ll try to get some pictures next time to go along with our stories!




4 thoughts on “Teaching little Koreans

  1. HAHA!!! So cute!! I love them already and don’t even know these kids!! What are the ages/grades? Love you guys and looking forward to seeing you on Skype 🙂

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