Em in Asia!

My Experiences Living and Teaching in South Korea

CPHS Introductions


I’m halfway through my second week at CPHS and things are so different from how they were at SGHS. Two English teachers and the vice principal came and picked me up at orientation and we had a very long car ride to CP (a small town outside of Gwangju) so I was able to ask my super-awesome rockstar co-teacher (more on that later, I do literally mean rockstar) some questions:

“So what sort of reward systems do the teachers normally use?”
“Oh sometimes we give them candy, but mostly you can just praise the students.”
“Well then what sort of discipline strategies do you use?”
“Sometimes teachers will yell at students in class, but I prefer not to because they might lose face. Instead I just talk to them afterwards.”
“Oh, so no corporal punishment?”
“… um. No. That’s illegal.”
“Oh. NO right I know that right, I didn’t use it, I swear, it’s just that at my last school the teachers knew it was illegal but did it anyway.”
“Yeah” awkward laugh “my school was kind of the ‘gangster’ school. For example, I had to lock up my belongings to make sure they wouldn’t get stolen. I think my headphones got taken once… does that ever happen here?”
“… no we don’t have locks. Our students are really well-behaved…”
“eh heh heh heh yeahhh.”

In all seriousness, I loved SGHS for all it’s strange quirks, but man, was it ghetto. Here the students follow dress code, no one steals things, no one has a tattoo or gauged ears. And the ENGLISH oh my goodness the ENGLISH level of the average student is incredible, especially considering this is a rural school. What happened is over the years more and more high level Jeollanamdo (name of the province I’m in) students started coming to CPHS, so it’s actually become kind of like a magnet school for gifted students. English is viewed as very important at CPHS, so 15 out of the 60 teachers are English teachers, which is an insanely high percentage.

For my first lesson, to get the students used to me and to test their English level, I had them write self-introductions on flashcards. First I introduced myself with pictures, then I told them they had to introduce themselves (without saying their names, because we would be playing a game later where we had to guess who was who) in full sentences. We brainstormed things to talk about (i.e. hobbies, family, career goals, etc) and then I let them go write for 5 minutes. I didn’t give them a sentence structure to follow, and other than my self-introduction I didn’t provide an example.

Some are funny:

“Hello. Let me introduce my self. But I didn’t say my name. Um, I’m play a important role in class. My favorite subject is mathematics. And I’m good at leading classmate. Once upon a time I’m legend. I fought 1:100. I won.”

“When I was born, in 1994 Agust 11st, Typhoon named “더그” hit my region. So I think myself I am Tyhoon’s guy.”

“I don’t like K-pop because it’s so camericial and just dancing. My birthday is April first. It’s foolish day so sometimes my friends are don’t believe that true”

“my nickname is too sexy to introduce myself but I guess all of them in this class would know that.”

“My hobby is shower in dormitory (not home)… I proud of my self and I love me <3.”

Some are sad:

“My hobby is computer game. My hometown is Yeong-am. I want to go home.”

And some are really just sweet:

“First I’m happy for you to teach us this time. Students in CPHS can be mischievous sometimes, but please understand and embrace them and I’m surprised because my sister lives in Washington DC as a faculty of embassy. And I want to leave Korea because this country’s atmosphere is so rigid, hierarchic. And… I hope you adapt to this school well.”

“I want to rebuild the world.”

I teach way more hours (19 a week) so blogging probably won’t be as regular, but I’ll try to update as much as possible.

I’ll post pictures of my town when I get my camera cord in the mail (whoops).

posted under Cute Stories

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안녕하세요! My name is Emily and when I started this blog I had received a 2010 – 2011 F*lbright grant to teach English in South Korea.  I then decided to apply to renew my grant, so I am now staying in Korea until July 2012. This blog is not an official F*lbright Program blog, and the views expressed are my own and not those of the F*lbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations.

I graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a degree in Philosophy Pre-Law and Classical Civilizations, and found myself 3 months later teaching English at SGHS. The town that I taught in, SG, is a small town of 12,000 people, an “읍” (eup) rather than a “시” (shi – city), and though it was sometimes hard teaching in such a small town I really enjoyed the unique experience of being the first foreign teacher SGHS had ever had. I lived in the largest part of the county which is significantly bigger (40,000 people) than the town the school is situated in, but is also considered rural by Korean standards.

During my second grant period (2011-2012) I decided to change schools and I currently teach at CPHS which is located in an even smaller town than previously, in Jeollanamdo.

This blog is meant to serve as a reflection not only of being a Native English Speaking teacher in Korea, but also of living as a foreigner in rural Korea.