Wrapping up at our Hogwan

Well, it was a wonderful year teaching kindergarten and elementary kids, but it was time to move on. (Plus, our kindergarten kids were going to go to different schools starting March 1, so we couldn’t have taught them anyways.)

So, we have moved on to bigger and better things. Public schools, that is. Literally bigger (approx. 800 kids per school I think vs. 30 for kinder!) and literally better (benefits, working hours, teaching hours, vacation etc.). But we are going to miss our Hogwan students so much!!

I remember when the kids first climbed into our laps. You do NOT do that in Canada. But in Korea, it's encouraged

I remember when the kids first climbed into our laps. You do NOT do that in Canada. But in Korea, it’s encouraged.

There was a BIG graduation performance for the kinder students. They even got to wear little grad caps and gowns!

Graduation day Graduation, even from kindergarten, is very important in Korea. The kids who graduated out of kinder and started elementary school on March 1 were taken for photos for the occasion (mutiple shots, different outfits, group and individual portraits!) and all the kids at our place sat for a group shot with all the teachers as well.

The performance was on a big stage with a sound system, inflatable castle/fairy tale themed background set and multiple costume changes!! Multiple!! The set and costumes were rented from one company and I heard through the grape vine (does anyone even use that phrase anymore? Me, apparently) that there was over $1000 spent on those two things alone.

Children’s events like these really are JUST for the parents, aren’t they? It wasn’t spectacularily fun to do these constume changes and for them to learn many different songs, dances, speeches and miniature scripts. It was stressful even to watch! But, some kids were so incredibly proud of themselves and that was good to see. They sure deserve the credit for what they pulled together.

These kids were our life for a year. (Literally, a year as we only had 9 days off in total.) They will never know how much they affected us. They made all the hard times in Korea worth it. Some days it is hard to get out of bed and go into a workplace you are unhappy with. But we always did it for them. We wanted to be the best teachers we could be, for them. At the beginning (and for months) they drove me (Tracy) to tears – kindergarten teacher is the hardest job I have ever had (which is not surprising,  is it?) – but they also gave us our most treasured memories of Korea. I can say honestly that there is not one kid-lit of this group that we disliked. They were all wonderful little people! We are so thankful to have had them in our lives.


Meet up with the Kidlits!

This past Sunday we were able to get together with half of the students we taught in Osan. We hadn’t seen them since the end of February, and it was so wonderful. We went to a great café that has all these areas for the kids to play in. Parents pay $5 and must buy a beverage and/or food and their kids get to play in the space: there were areas to play ‘house’, a ball pit, jungle-gym-thingy (like the big ones at McDonalds) and even a bouncy castle! They had so much fun (and us too!).


Job World: The Day in the Life of a Kinder Kid

Last month, on our monthly field trip day, we went to Job World (website is all Korean). Think of a big science centre but instead of seeing cool science experiments, kids can try out a career!

Our group ventured to the kids floor (their is a teen area as well) which was an immense room with a central  area that had a second floor but was otherwise a wide and tall warehouse.  Kids had the opportunity to try out a career at a: supermarket, auto service station, construction site, social welfare centre, restaurant, graffiti studio, hair salon, dressmaker’s shop, recording studio, performing arts school, magician’s school, dinosaur camp, bioengineering research instititue, robotics research institute, animation studio, interior design studio, operating room, nursery, dental clinic, and much, much more!

How it works: kids pick a career they want to try and step into a kids only space with staff who get them dressed up in the applicable costume/uniform and perform the best parts of the different jobs. They spend about 40 min per stop. Sandy and I want to share the experience of one of our students who had a rockin’ day!

1st Career: Firefighter

Job world fire station

They got to ride a tiny firetruck and then ‘put out’ a fire (a poster with lights behind it that they sprayed water at).IMG_20121115_095836

2nd Career: Korea Restaurant

They made some traditional snacks.

(sorry no pic)

3rd Career: Letter Carrier

Job World Post Office

He got to deliver a package to one of the near by ‘restaurants’ (I missed it! and like a parent, I was kicking myself for the rest of the day!)

4th Career: Astronaut

space man Jun

The cutest photo ever!

Do we have a centre like this in Canada? It was amazing!

April Field Trip to Youngun Museum of Gwangju

Last week, we headed out with our hogwan to the Youngun Museum of Gwangju for a field trip. When we arrived, the kids and the teachers painted water glasses we would later take home. Next was playing outside on the grounds and lunch on the grass. After lunch, we had a tour of the small facilities before we headed home.

If you are wondering, and I am sure you are, here is how our water glasses turned out:

Korean Words of (last) Week: Hogwan Survival

안녕하세요 an-nyeong-ha-se-yo:  Hello/how are you/good morning/afternoon/evening: needed for the hellos in the morning to the staff who do not speak a lot of English and for the parents you may meet.

감사합니다 gam-sa-hap-ni-da: Thank you: essential for thanking the woman who makes wonderful food for lunch and the women who help to clean up spilled milk (literally and figuratively).

화장실 hwa-jang-shil: Bathroom: good for knowing when the tiny ones need to go, though I missed the cue once and it got a little messy. I learned my lesson, I can say that!

Korean Hogwans

We work as teachers for an English Language 학원 Hogwan – or private after school education centre. Students are required to pay tuition and receive education in English from English speaking Koreans and Foreigners.  The work done at the Hogwan is supposed to supplement what the kids learn in public schools. My partner and I teach kids between the ages of 5 and 7 in the morning and early afternoon and then older kids, 8-12, in the afternoon/early evening.  The kids are at all sorts of levels of English and so they take screening tests to determine their placement.

The day in the life of the youngest kids, whom stay for the entirety of 9:00 am – 2:00 am, includes taking a variety of classes including grammar, reading etc. They also take less specific language focused classes like gym, art and science but which are all conducted in English allowing for better vocabulary development. The kids are provided with milk for a morning break, and lunch. There is a playroom for the 5 min breaks between classes and during lunch break. The classes are 45 min long.

The older kids don’t have quite as much fun, unfortunately (who doesn’t want to play in a room full of toys and climbing equipment every day?). These kids generally only come for 2 hours at a time and therefore take more focused classes on English and its logistics. Our hogwan has 4 teachers teaching the kids in the morning and 12 teaching in the evening. The classes are 55 min long .

We have long days and see approximately 50 students a day. Its nice that the classes have a fairly low number of students in each so we can work one on one.

If you have any questions about our job, let us know!