Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Kimchi Icecream Guide for New EFL/ESL Foreign English Teachers/Instructors in South Korea, 2010 Edition

Welcome to Korea!

The Kimchi Icecream Guide for New EFL/ESL Foreign English Teachers/Instructors in South Korea, 2010 Edition is the culmination of five years of writing and blogging about living and teaching in South Korea. It is based on my experience teaching elementary after school programs and camps, 1 full year of teaching at 3 different middle schools (all girls, and co-ed), 1 year at an all girls academic high school, 1 year at a foreign language training center (English immersion camp programs and the 6 month Teach English in English training program for Korean English teachers), nearly 2 years at a national university of education (training future Korean English elementary teachers in a full time English education program, and a second 6 month Teach English in English training program), and my current experiences teaching at an all boys vocational-academic (it's currently transitioning from the one to the other) high school. Add to all of this summer and winter English camps during the entire five years, with varying levels of public school students, university students, and Korean English teacher trainees, and you'll see that I've accumulated quite a bit of time and experience teaching in Korea.

My goal is to help new foreign teachers entering Korea for the first time to be informed of everything they need to know in order to make the transition from just keeping their head above the water and doing what I call 'survival teaching' to beginning to be able to swim with varying degrees of success and happiness. I write about both the good and bad things that may or may not take place in your teaching and living conditions in Korea. The really hard thing about trying to write an orientation guide is that each foreign teacher has a different personality and their teaching/living situations can be so different as to be almost as though they're not in the same country. Perhaps the 3 biggest things you'll need in Korea are a sense of humor, patience, and the mental abilities to adapt and be flexible about things that are literally beyond what you can imagine being possible--these are the things I think are VITAL to surviving and thriving in Korea.

In the readings below I've created a 1-3 star rating system to tell you how important I think a particular post is for new teachers to read.

* A little important and something you should read after you've been in Korea for a month and settled in.

** Moderately important and something you should read after you've unpacked everything in your apartment, and been in your school for a few weeks.

*** Very important information that will help you avoid typical mistakes and problems that new foreign teachers face when they first arrive in Korea.

I've put together this guide with everything I think a new foreign teacher (and for that matter even some veterans might find something useful here) might want to read about when they first arrive in Korea that I've written and blogged about. Yet there will be things that you think are incomplete or missing; please add comments or email me and if it is possible I will write about the question, issue, or topic.

If any of the following materials are used as a part of an orientation or new foreign teacher training manual I would appreciate being cited as the author (if it's something that I wrote) and or as a source from which the materials were taken from (if it's something I found and arranged and posted on the Net). I've spent a lot of time and energy writing and blogging and would appreciate the citation. Thanks.

I'll leave you with this thought about teaching and living in Korea.

Spoon boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead... only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Spoon boy: There is no spoon.
Neo: There is no spoon?
Spoon boy: Then you'll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.

I wish all new foreign teachers in Korea good luck tomorrow as the first day of the spring/summer semester begins.

Jason Ryan

Click on the link below to see pictures and read more at Kimchi Icecream: The Second Serving . . . . I've moved over to and will be blogging there from now on.

The Kimchi Icecream Guide for New EFL/ESL Foreign English Teachers/Instructors in South Korea, 2010 Edition

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