Banner design by Helena, portrait by Eva


Monday, March 19, 2007

Adult Classes

The story is one of my colleagues got caught private tutoring and was sent back to America. I took over his morning classes.

Here's an excerpt from an e-mail I received from Martin Watts:

"It's a shame about your colleagues getting caught doing private lessons - but then, I thought the vast majority of people did that? I have heard that the only time it is ever an issue is when someone, be it a school or a pupil or whatever, develops a vendetta against a teacher and informs on them to Immigration - which is just so unfair! Korea is so determined, it alleges, to become an advanced nation, but it has such restrictive immigration rules - and not just restrictive, but arbitrary as well."

He's right. There are numerous reasons why Immigration was informed. The guy was chronically late and invested little in his classes. He was also rather friendly with the girls. Suwon is so desperate for foreign English teachers that it isn't easy to get shipped home.

Teaching adults has been fun. I have a class of 12 and they're all over the map. One is an architect who's moving to Chigago. One has plans to open his own hagwan business, "so he'll make lots of money and have free time." One is a masters student majoring in tourism, and one is a housewife looking to start a career late in life.

Their English is advanced so we discuss heavier topics: law, politics, divorce etc. I've also brought in material from my blog so they could say, "no, no, no you're misinformed here," or, "let me help you better understand this custom." They've applauded my curiosity. We laugh and have a good time.

Here are some funny/interesting things my students have said in class:

"Koreans often hang up without saying goodbye, like on soap operas. Sometimes Westerners are insulted, but it's the norm. Only in business dealings should you stay on the phone until the other party hangs up."

"In the beginning, I spent a lot of money on my girlfriend- hundreds of dollars on clothes and jewelry, but now the tables have turned and she buys me lots of stuff, so I'd say it was a good investment."

"Water is set out for ancestors on Lunar New Years because it suggests a pure spirit."

"The day before we do traditional bowing at the graves of our ancestors, we mow the grass because the site is considered their home."

"Usually wives control the finances, in Korea. My wife pays the bills and gives me an allowance from my own paycheck."

"Parents in Korea feel great affection towards their children, but invest too much. We want them to enter a prestigious school. We'd do anything to make that happen. Many Mothers are consumed by their children and have no life apart from parenting."

"It's true- most women nowadays don't know how to make their own kimchi. We buy it from the store. But we recall our Mother's kimchi with nostalgia. We helped her make it, and bury jars of it in soil to ferment, for two weeks, along with bean paste."

"I don't agree that friendship is usually the bud of romance in Korea. That has never been the case with me. Blind dates are very popular here, among youth. Friends constantly introduce friends. Friendship is what develops if there's no chemistry."

"Koreans don't bow anymore- only to elders. And only the very traditional would be insulted by a wave."


Kevin said...

Breaks are good, hang in there Eva.

Melodie said...

I liked the 10 things not to do in Korea. I know for a fact that I've done many of those things...

MUD said...

Get as much rest as you can and get well. MUD

Greg Santos said...

I hope you feel better soon. Take it easy, Eva.

Anonymous said...

Oh gosh you have a lot on your plate.
I never realized how strict they were about private tutoring and teaching concurrently...
I hope you get well soon!
(haha sorry if I got you excited that your grandma might be leaving you comments)

Anonymous said...

Take care ... half of my co-workers are sick.

You are doing a great job blogging by the way, so don't worry about your traffic.

Guano Island

Colourful World said...

take some good rest. after all those meaningful and informative articles that u have's time to replenish your mind and soul. =)

well, speaking of traffic, i don't know about the rest but i'll be one of your loyal blog supporter. you have my word. =)

Fox said...

Zeit für ein nickerchen, Gesundheit!

Anonymous said...

Take are Eva!

Anonymous said...

Take care Eva!

Joe in Korea said...

Interesting blog. I've enjoyed looking through it and reading your perspective on things. I wish I had the energy to write as often as you--or to at least make them interesting posts!

Just a note about substitute teaching. Even if it is through your school, your E2 status is tied to wherever the school registered you (as in a particular address) and if they have you teaching somewhere else, they have to fill out another form. I wouldn't worry about it, if you were to be caught, the school would undoubtedly pay your fine. It happened to a co-worker a few years back. It was a slap on the wrist, but still...

Anonymous said...

i just found your site today and have read all your posts in one night (theyr addictive) while procrastinating on an essay :P.

Anonymous said...

Private teaching in Korea is illegal period. It's illegal for Koreans just like it's illegal for foreigner teachers. This has nothing to do with immigration other then the fact that if you break this rule and get caught, immigration will come visit you. But as I say that, as most laws in Korea, this law is poorly and rarely enforced. You'd have to really screw it up to be caught.

Anonymous said...

Some backgrounds to why Korea has such strict laws against private tutoring.

I believe this law was first passed in the 1980's. The purpose of this law was to give poorer families the same chance as those with richer families to be able to enter universities. As you know, Koreans must write entrance exams to get into colleges. And private education plays a crucial role for Koreans to be able to pass that final big test. A society where students' futures are determined on one test means that private eduction is that much more important, far more important then public education.

The Korean reasoning is that the divide between haves and have nots will widen if the haves have too much advantage of private tutoring over the poorer students. Thus this law - which is meant to reign in class divide. Right thinking or wrong thinking, that's what it is.

Many foreigner teachers erroneously think this law is a purposely designed law to discriminate against foreigners. This is simply not the case, if you understand how education plays a role in Korean society.

Anonymous said...

I don't think I'll ever get used to not saying goodbye on the phone. It really irks me when I don't hear a goodbye when they talk on the phone. How would one know when the conversation was over??

Eva Karrin McKinnon said...

Thanks for the well-wishes and comments, everybody! I'll respond tomorrow.

Chrissy121875 said...

Hi there! I happened to stumble upon your blog while I was doing a Google search on South Korean students. I'm having difficulties with one of my students and find that the respect level and politeness is not there. This is rather odd to me, since I have taught overseas for a few years and I know that respect is a big thing in most Asian countries.

Anyway, great blog! I'm glad I found it!