Dealing With Children

Dealing with children in Korea has really been an eye opener. When I was trying to decide where to teach, I kept hearing about how teaching in South Korea was one of the best ESL teaching jobs in the world.

From talking to other teachers and my recruiter, I heard how great the benefits are and with EPIK, the hours are perfect and classes are only 40 minutes long.  Many times, the value that the culture gives toward education and respecting elders was mentioned.

So in my mind, I’m thinking “Ok great! These kids are gonna be perfect and love to study, basically, a teacher’s dream come true!”  Oh, how wrong my naive self was!

Importance of Education

kc2First off, I want to say that yes, there is a huge emphasis on education to the point where most of the students, whose families can afford it, will attend hagwons after going to school all day.  At a very young age, the importance of education is drilled into the children’s heads and they know the only way to get a good job is to go to a good university, which means excelling during their school years.

Most of these kids don’t get to have time just being kids and somehow English class became the “accepted” time for them to do this.  Before starting my job in South Korea, I expected the kids to sit up straight in the chairs, be quiet, look at the board, and have their pencil ready to write anything that I said.

Kids are kids

Now, hopefully, you aren’t as naïve as me and understand that regardless of culture, kids are still going to be kids.  During the first week, I very quickly realized that these kids love to run around the classroom and will get in verbal and sometimes physical arguments with their fellow classmates.

The physical stuff only happens when the teacher has lost complete control of their class, but unfortunately, it can happen.  Kids still are tired and moody and not all of them want to or even see the importance of learning English, especially when they are still trying to learn their own language.

They still might cry when their team loses the game or get upset if someone gets a stamp and they don’t.   It is important to remember that your students will still behave like kids because THEY ARE KIDS and that’s okay.  And think about it, how fun would it be to teach a bunch of robot children that just take notes?

The wonders of teaching children

On the other hand, the fact that they are still kids can be lots of fun.  The level of excitement and energy they add to class when you play their favorite game is equivalent to 5 Red Bulls.

Kids know no boundaries and might give you a big hug when you pass them in the hallway and say “사랑해” which means “I love you.”   When they see you on the street, they will run up to you and maybe just say “hi” and then run away because it’s the only word they are confident saying.

As with all jobs, there are going to be pros and cons so it’s important to know all of these before starting.  It makes complete sense that these kids are still going to act and behave like normal kids do everywhere else in the world.

Yes, they might be under more pressure to get good grades and do well in school than other places but they still need to be active and have fun.  Luckily, as ESL teachers, we get to help them have fun while also teaching them English.

Have you taught abroad? Do you have a story to share or anything to add to this article? Let us know in the comments section below. 

kim jacksonKim started her teaching career in Quito, Ecuador teaching Business English.  After a year of living in South America, she decided to try something new and teach in South Korea through the EPIK program.  Before teaching, Kim was an Athletic Trainer working with high school aged students participating in all different types of sports.  When not teaching, Kim enjoys being active whether playing sports, hiking, or taking a walk to explore the city.  One of Kim’s biggest goals is to see as much of this world as possible.

 

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