As the title says, I’ve finished teaching English in Korea. Today was the last day of our winter camp, the last lesson I’ll present to my kids, and as happy as I am that I won’t have to face a classroom full of tired, impatient, and mostly bored faces again, I’m also happy that my last three days of teaching were with kids who actually wanted to be there and participated.
Winter camp? What the mess is that?
You see, the semester actually ended 10 days ago or so. Korea being Korea, however, the students still have some more learning left in them. For the love of dog these kids deserve a break. A “camp” is made available for the kids to continue their studies during their vacation. It’s only a little bit crazy. No, I lied, it’s ludicrous. The students here go to school from 8:20am until 4:05pm, then often off to their private schools from 5:00pm until 10:00pm. They are tired little zombie students by the time they come back to school at 8:20am the next morning. A year ago, the kids had to go to public school every other saturday from 8:00am until 12:00pm as well, but good news for the private schools the ministry of education 86′d that. The kids now go to their private schools every Saturday! What a life! Study, study, study.
The winter or summer camp is a bit more up to the discretion of the teacher, so I always try to do something a little more fun for the kids. I find that if they have fun they’re more likely to engage and actually put some effort into learning English. My first camp was a disaster. My plans were too elaborate, the kids were confused, and it kinda all went to shiz. My second camp I toned it down, and it went way better. Summer camp this year was even simpler, and was a huge improvement. Winter camp this year improved on that.
For all of you teaching English in Korea, may I present an observation that may help in your camp lesson planning? The less work you put into it, the more likely your students will enjoy it and engage in it. Here’s why: If you’re putting a ton of work into a super elaborate camp, it’s going to be too complicated. Simplify the crap out of your plans, concentrate on making the kids want to come out of their study induced comas, and talk to them slowly but in a way that makes you more approachable. After that, it’s cake.
Well what happens now?
So I’m finished teaching English in Korea, but Carolyn and I have to stay in Korea a little longer. Our contract continues for another 48 days. For the rest of this week and next week, I have to go into the office and keep my desk warm (a challenge in the winter) for a few hours. After that, we’re on vacation. We’ve got a few days to get geared up for our trip to Hong Kong. We’ll spend a week there, finish our two weeks of vacation time here in Korea, packing our crap up and mailing it home. The kids will come back to school during the first week of February for a week of shuffling books, changing homeroom classes, and graduation. After that we have to keep the desktops nice and balmy for just a while longer until the contract ends on February 25th. At some point during all of this we’ve got to go to the pension office to set up our pension refunds (read: significant sum of money) and set up how to get all of our final payments from our schools. On February 25th we’ll go into school for a few hours, and then make our way up to Seoul, stay the night, and fly to Tokyo in the morning.
This is all pretty exciting, but we’re in that in-between phase now, where this isn’t our home, we don’t really have our own home that we’re going to (although we’re certainly going home to stay with family) and we’re going to have to face the temptations of all of the foods we love at home until we leave for our honeymoon at the end of April. Holy cow. That’s a lot.
TL;DR – I’m done teaching English in Korea for real now, but we have to stay here just a while longer to finish out our contracts. Then we get to get married and roam Europe and stuff. Then raise a family and save some money and buy a bed and breakfast in Greece and have a working retirement. Heh.