Monday, January 21, 2013

Day 21: A Day in the Life of an ESL Teacher (Korean edition)

Hey everyone.

So today I just wanted to talk a little about what it's like to be an ESL teacher. Today, I'm going to talk about Korea, and tomorrow France, because they are wildly different and deserve their own posts.

Here's a breakdown of my typical school day in Korea.

7 am- Alarm goes off. *snooze*
7:05, 7:10, 7:15- repeat. *snooze*
7:20- "SHIT I gotta go to work today, get up!" Check facebook on phone for 10 minutes.
7:30- "Crap... I gotta get a shower. OK, fine, I'll get up...." Go to bathroom. "AHH ITS SO COLD OMG" Wear flip flops in the shower because the bathroom floor is so cold.

7:40*- Out of the shower. Run and turn on space heater. "AHHHH that's better" sit in front of heater for five minutes.
7:45- "Crap I have to leave in 15 minutes!" Hurry and dry hair, get dressed, pack bag, brush teeth, etc.
8:00- "Ready to go on time, oh yeah!" (this rarely actually happened)
8:01- Go to 7/11 across the street for a muffin or other thing for breakfast, and something to drink.
8:02- As I'm paying for 7/11, see the bus approaching bus stop. Throw money at cashier, run out with my stuff, trying not to get hit crossing the street and run for the bus. If I'm lucky, it doesn't pull away as I'm running up to it. Also the bus driving tends to go something like this in the traffic:

8:10*- "Dear god it's hot on this bus. WHY IS THE HEAT SO HIGH" Discretely tries to open fogged up window to get some air, get glared at by an ajumma.
8:30*- Get off the bus, start walking up the hill of death to school. Even though it's -4 out, I'm still sweating when I get to school because of combined overheated bus plus major hike to school.
8:40- Get to school just as the bell rings, oh yeah, on time! (this rarely happened either)
8:45- Making copies of papers for the kids in my office. Crap, the copier's broken AGAIN. Go downstairs to the teacher's lounge to make copies.
8:55*- Immediately get cold because it's -4 outside and the heating is not on in the building. Try to turn on the heat in office. Get yelled at in Korean by office mates. Don't turn on heat.
9:00- "First class of the day, OK, bring it on! ....OH GOD ITS THE 2nd GRADERS NOOOOOO"

9:40- "Oh thank god no more second graders"
9:50, 10:40, 11:20- 2nd, 3rd, 4th classes of the day respectively. Try not to freeze to death in classroom.
12:10- LUNCH TIME! Eat alone in my office because the Korean cafeteria food is scary.
1:10- If I'm lucky, no class. Just planning for the next day, usually just making new worksheets and such. If I'm unlucky, another class with 1st or 2nd graders for their "after school" classes.
Rest of the afternoon until 4:40- Usually "deskwarming", the term used by Native English Teachers in Korea when we have to be at school but actually have nothing at all to do.

Sometimes you can use this time constructively, such as if you are planning summer or winter camp and making materials, but for the most part: Facebook, twitter, tumblr, repeat. Maybe throw some Cracked or Gawker in there. While doing this, also watch one of the following shows: The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, True Blood (if my office mates aren't there). Take a nap or have a dance party if it's summer/winter break and no one else is at school except you. (Yes, that does happen. Frequently.)

* In the summer, replace this with "sits in front of a/c for 10 minutes after shower because it's so hot" and "even more sweating because hiking up a giant hill when it's 30C after being on a stuffy bus = death" and "jesus it's hot in this classroom/office, let me turn on the A/C.... oh we can't turn it on until it's 32C outside? FFFFFFFFFF *rage internally, secretly turn on a/c after everyone else is gone and you're deskwarming*"

So yeah, that's a typical day in the life of an ESL teacher (in public school) in Korea! (It was slightly tongue-in-cheek but mostly true overall.) If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below!

Tomorrow, I'll do a typical day in French schools. Stay tuned.

xx Kaylin

(GIFs from the awesome #kikinitinkorea tumblr that my friends Krystle and Hannah run. Check it out for more truths about life in Korea in GIF form)

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