Posts Tagged With: teaching English

Goals? What are those?

Here we go – day two of my writing challenge! So what’s today going to be about?


Everyone talks about the importance of setting goals. Lots of people read books about goal-setting, some write lists, and others even make detailed plans about how to achieve their goals. If you’re really into it, there are even workshops and classes you can attend about this very topic.

It’s clear that there are many resources available to those interested in setting (and hopefully achieving) some goals. So why do so many people still struggle with this? (Or is it just me!?)

When I returned to South Korea in March to try my hand at another year of teaching English, I’ll admit that I secretly had some other motives as well. Yes, I wanted to save money. Yes, I wanted to travel. Yes, I wanted to experience another culture. I also wanted to try new foods, meet new people, and perhaps even attempt to learn a new language. (That last one hasn’t worked out as well as I’d originally envisioned). I guess these motives are really not-so-secret after all. I would imagine that many people in my position had similar ideas in mind when they decided to embark on an adventure to The Land of the Morning Calm.

There is one thing, though, that I didn’t tell many people about before I left. Something I promised myself I would do during my second year abroad – something that, unfortunately, I have not honoured.

That thing is writing.

I had so many writing “goals” for this year, almost none of which I’ve actually met.

I remember sitting in my living room at home in Canada a few weeks before flying back to Korea. I thought about all the things I wanted to do this year, and made mental lists of my writing goals. There were many. Some were personal; keep a daily journal, blog at least twice a month, communicate better with friends and family, send frequent updates by email.

Others were more professional. I wanted to explore the idea of a future career in writing and try out options like travel writing. Specifically, I wanted to write and pitch an article to a travel magazine at least once a month. It didn’t matter so much whether they got published or not, or how many I got published. It was more about getting some practice and experience to see whether I enjoyed this type of writing or not.

As I said earlier, most of these things didn’t quite pan out. For one reason or another (none of which are very good ones, of course), I put off writing in favour of doing something else. Probably something that required less time and effort.

What I’ve discovered this year is that the word “goal” doesn’t mean much, unless you plan to actually do something about it.

That’s where this writing challenge comes in. By accepting this challenge, I have officially set a new goal for myself: to develop a daily writing habit.

And this time, I’m going to achieve it!

Categories: My 500 Words, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 11 Best Things About TEFL

My 7th blog for Verge is up! I think this might be my favourite one yet…..

The 11 Best Things About TEFL

Hopefully, it will make you smile, too!

Alphabet practice!

Alphabet practice!

Categories: South Korea, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Are you Asian?”

After arriving in Busan last Wednesday evening on basically no sleep, I somehow still managed to be up bright and early on Thursday morning to get ready for my first day of training at my new job! I rode to school with Jane, and spent the day observing Renee’s (the teacher I replaced) classes and meeting my new students and co-workers.

Off to school on my first day of work!!

I quickly discovered just how lively the school is! Though the kids may be small, they have quite the lungs on them! Needless to say, I don’t think there will ever be a dull moment at JM (or at least never a moment of silence!)

Building my school is in

I spent Thursday and Friday learning all about what I’ve gotten myself into for the next year! I’m happy to report that I think I made a pretty good decision, and I think I’ll be quite happy here! JM is a fairly small English school, with only about 70 current students. I have 3 Korean co-workers and one other foreign co-worker from the States who are all very nice and extremely helpful! If they aren’t helping me with lesson plans or giving me activities to do with my classes, they’re showing me around the neighbourhood or suggesting interesting tourist places for me to check out around Busan. Often, they even bring treats to school to share with me!! I don’t think I could ask for a better group of co-workers, especially when starting a brand new job in a foreign country!

My very own desk!

I start work at 10 every morning, and work until 6 p.m. on Mon, Wed, Fri, and only 4 p.m. on Tue and Thurs! I read at least one book to the kids every morning, and teach mostly phonics, math, and different components of English like sentence and paragraph writing, comprehension and vocabulary. Most of my classes use workbooks that have all the lessons in them for each subject, so I don’t actually have much planning to do! However, I have a bit more freedom with subjects like Art and Music, so I can come up with my own lesson plans or activities for those classes if I choose to, which is kind of nice!

After my first week of teaching, I am slowly settling into my role, and starting to figure out my schedule a bit more.

I get lunches like this everyday at school! Yum!

I’m starting to know which classroom I should be in, and which books the students use for each class. I think I even know almost all of my students’ names, which is a pretty big achievement for me! (I’m normally horrendous with names!) Regardless of how comfortable I may get and how routine my schedule may get, I have a feeling that every day of teaching here is going to be a brand new adventure! What more could I hope for?

In other news, I also moved into my new apartment on Sunday! I’m all unpacked now and settled into my very first home of my own! I guess moving all the way to Korea to live alone for the first time ever may have been a bit extreme, but I do love my place! It’s a small bachelor apartment, and is right around the corner from work, so I just have a quick walk to the school in the morning – very convenient! I’ve also put up about a million pictures on my walls, so I can feel close to home even while on the other side of the world!

My apartment building

And finally, here are some funny moments from my first week of teaching for your enjoyment:

During one of my orientation days last week, a few minutes after meeting me for the first time, one of my students asked me, “Are you Asian??” To which Renee replied, “Are you sure you can see clearly with your glasses? I think you need new ones!!!” The student, however, was apparently dead serious and wasn’t meaning for it to be a joke. Hahaha. This MUST mean I fit in here after all…..right?? 😉

While I was reading a story to one of the Kindergarten classes, one of the little girls who is probably about 3 in Canadian age (Korean children are always a year older because when you’re born here, you’re automatically one year old) walked over to me and started petting my face and feeling my skin for a few minutes as I continued to read. When I couldn’t ignore it anymore because it was making me laugh, I stopped and looked down at her. When she realized I had stopped reading, she gave me a big grin and giggled, as if she had been caught doing something she knows is strange. I couldn’t help but giggle too! It was probably the strangest, yet most adorable moment of the entire week!

Anytime I ask my students to teach me how to say a word or phrase in Korean, it almost always ends with me getting laughed at to varying degrees! They seem to think it’s the funniest thing ever to hear me try to speak Korean! I don’t blame them, though, because no matter how many times I try, I can’t seem to get it right. Unfortunately, this learning Korean thing isn’t quite as easy as I’d hoped! I do my best to make them laugh and want them to have fun at school, so if my worse-than-terrible Korean skills can do the trick, I’m willing to sacrifice myself for their enjoyment – at least for now! If my Korean ever improves, though, I’ll have to resort to finding some other form of comedy to make them happy. Phewf – good thing I’m covered for now! 😉

My apartment!

Street my school is on

Categories: South Korea, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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