Must have desk items as a teacher in Korea

As a teacher in Korea, if you have your own personal desk you may be wondering what will be useful during your time in Korea. I will focus on not office supplies, like pencils, post it notes, etc. here, but rather peripherals you should consider.

Most of these items are related to comfort. You will find quickly that when the seasons are at their peak (summer/winter) your personality will alter if you are uncomfortable (sweating/freezing). Do yourself a favor for your psyche and your students and invest in comfort items.

The other items are related to productivity and organization. Remember, an organized teacher, is a happy teacher.

  • pop_digital07.jpgWireless mouse – Free yourself! I switched to a wireless mouse and feel like my speed has increased when I am doing PPTs and making worksheets. ₩8,900 @ Miniso

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ESL in Korea Survival Guide: No-tech and low-tech life savers in the classroom.

Having an arsenal of notech activities is something I highly recommend as an ESL teacher in South Korea. At any given moment, you could experience a technical difficulty with your computer or TV in the classroom. These activities are also helpful if you have some extra time before class ends (use all your time wisely!) Most of these activities can easily be printed or played without extensive effort but do not sacrifice quality.

No-tech ESL/EFL games

  1. Board slap – Listening domain. Group activity.

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  • Materials needed – 2 soft objects to hit the board. (Picture cards are optional)

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  • Process – Have the class divided into two groups. Each round of the game, pictures related to the lesson vocabulary are posted on the class white/black/chalkboard. Two students come to the front of the class with their backs facing the board. In a lesson such as “Who is she” The rest of the class may ask in unison “Who is she/he?” The teacher then may respond with “He is a _____. 3, 2, 1!” After the teacher says 3,2,1 the the students race to the board and then hit the photo of the vocabulary word spoken by the teacher.  Continue until all students have participated. Picture cards are useful in that the pictures may be rearranged on the board periodically.
  • You may use picture cards or even draw pictures (maybe younger or lower level classes)/or words on the board.

Missing picture card – Speaking/Reading

  • You can also play this with words, so again, select the best option based on the proficiency level of the class. Arrange the photos/words on the board. Ask students to put their heads on their desk and remove one word/photo from the board. Ask students what photo has been removed. 

Additional low-tech activities

  • Find the letters – Reading
    • Similar to a word search. Good for young learners mastering the alphabet. Ask them to find how many of each letter is hidden within the letter search box.
  • Color by letters – Reading
  • Whisper game – Listening/Speaking
  • Word searches – Reading
  • Crosswords – Reading/Writing
    • I premake crosswords using the vocabulary from each lesson and have them saved and ready to print. – Also helpful to provide the translation of their native language as the hint to the crossword. 

Reflections on my first months as an ESL teacher in South Korea

I’ve been in Korea now for a little over 4 months. Here are a few of my reflections on my experience so far..

  • Good classes and bad classes are in flux – same goes with good students vs bad students. In the beginning I would dread 3rd grade (adorable but out of control, even with native co-teacher doing management), but now I love teaching 3rd grade. Now 5th grade tends to be problematic. 
  • You will eventually accept the unpredictability – cancelled classes, lesson plans shifting, new teachers coming and going etc. If you are a person that needs everything to be planned out 100% you will change, not as a matter of choice, but necessity. 
  • Stock up BEFORE YOU COME on lessons focusing explicitly on each of the communicative domains (speaking, listening, writing, reading) along with review games for when you finish lessons. Once you get your textbooks, look at the review sections for the jist of what key expressions and vocabulary you will need in review activities. You can use these to make word searches and other supplementary materials, which im telling you, will save your life when a lesson flies by faster than you expected or when technological issues occur and you are unable to use that powerpoint you slaved over for hours or planned to use in class.
  • You will not feel guilty for downloading and using files and materials from waygook.org. DO IT. SAVE TIME. THERE IS GOOD STUFF ON THERE. At first I wanted to be the teacher who made everything themselves. That lasted for only a few weeks and I caved.
  • After your first semester you will have an idea of what works and what doesn’t work in your classroom and what students like and dislike. Take note mentally as you do different activities what your students are receptive to and what flops. 
  • The seating charts the teachers give you will save your life too, ask for one if they haven’t given you any. Even knowing a few students’ names can change the atmosphere of a classroom. You can tell on a students face when you call on them by name and they are relieved that you know who THEY are. 

Ad astra per aspera,

Jeffrey

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How to: Never miss another package delivery in Korea

Receiving packages in Korea can be a headache. Delivery services typically will not leave a package at your residence if nobody is there to receive it at the door. Which can be a good thing if it is something expensive, but if you ordered a really really cool oven mitt (idk), or something not so valuable, then you probably are frustrated if you keep missing the delivery guy/girl. In this post I will outline what you can do to ensure that you receive your package without stress.

Before you read further, this how to is intended for those living in an apartment building where there is no office that can receive your packages when you are gone (one room people, where u at?). It is also intended for people who are comfortable with packages being left unattended outside their apartment door when they are away. 

The delivery process typically goes like this – screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-7-46-30-pm

  • Delivery company will send a text message to the phone number you likely supplied during the ordering process (if you ordered from online). This text message could include information like the time frame in which the delivery person will go to your apartment to attempt delivery
  • Before immediate delivery the delivery person will CALL the phone number. During the workday this can be difficult to answer, and I became wary of constantly asking my coworkers to answer the calls. Take initiative. Be an independent foreigner (kidding, ask if you want).
  • If nobody is home to accept the package, and if contact is not made, the package will not be left as it typically is in the US with services like USPS.

To ameliorate this problem, you can text the delivery person to leave the package outside your door. To do this simply text the following message –

“택배는 문앞에 놓아두시면 됩니다. 감사합니다. TYPE YOUR ADDRESS HERE.”

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The message roughly asks the delivery person to kindly leave the package outside your door.

The delivery person may choose to respond to your message, or they may simply leave the package. Really depends on the person.

I’ve also had the delivery service (looking at u CJ express) text me saying they just went ahead and left the package at the CU convenience store on the corner, which i’m 100% okay with.

Hopefully this quick hint will get you your packages with less hassle and give you more independence from asking your coworkers every time the mail man calls you from that creepy unknown caller ID when you are at work.

 

Ad astra per aspera,

Jeffrey

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How to check the status of your Korean Visa Application

Applying for a Korean visa can be nerve wracking. Even if you have tracked your application through the mail, once it arrives at the embassy or consulate, there is black hole of wonder on where your visa is, in relation to the application process.

Well, wonder no more! At visa.go.kr you can search the status of your visa by providing simple information you submitted on your application.

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If you aren’t proficient in Korean, go ahead and click the English option in the navigation of the webpage in the upper right hand corner.

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Proceed to click “Check Application Status & Print”

EPIK applicants: Search using your passport # and enter your name as it appears on your passport in [LAST NAME, FIRST NAME, MIDDLE NAME] format. Click on the calendar icon and navigate yourself to your date of birth and………voila~

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Click “search” and you will presented with a status table below the search box indicating your receipt number, date of application, status of stay, and where your application stands within the application process.

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And there you have it, no more wondering!

Ad astra per aspera,

-Jeffrey

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Korean E2 Visa Application – US EPIK Applicants

Before you continue please consult with your designated consulate for the official rules and regulations assigned to their specific mission~

I submitted my E-2 Visa application to the Chicago consulate in July of 2016.

What you will need

  • Notice of Appointment
  • Passport Photo – Try and get the Korean standard size 35x45mm
  • Passport
  • Copy of Passport information page (The glossy one and the signature page above it)
  • Money order
  • Visa Application Form – Download from your designated consulate/embassy website
  • Prepaid return envelope with tracking (if mailing)

Notice of Appointment

You will need to send the ACTUAL notice of appointment documents. Yes, you will have to part ways with this coveted certificate looking document so make photo copies if you would like a memento for posterity.

Passport Photo

△ Photo Requirements for Korean Visa Application Beginning September 9,2015, photographs must conform to the following requirements. 1. Photos must be color neutral, size 35×45 mm, with a length of full face 25×35 mm

1. Photos must be color neutral, size 35×45 mm, with a length of full face 25×35 mm

2. Photos must be taken against a plain, evenly lit and light background, without any mark or creases

3. Photos must be taken within the last 6 months

4. Applicant must be shown looking directly at the camera

5. No sunglasses or hats, except for medical/disability reasons

6. Photographs will be returned (and applications will be delayed) for the following reasons:

  • – The same photograph has been submitted as the previous passport, alien registration card, refugee travel certificate, flight attendant ID, etc. those were issued before six months.
  • – It is too difficult to judge that photograph is of the same person, (e.g. significant changes of face, hair color, lack of quality, without showing ears)

7. Photo Standards for Religious Apparel or Head coverings(such as Hijab, Veil, Turban, etc.) are permitted for religious purposes under the following conditions:

  • – Facial features should not be covered from bottom of chin to top of forehead.
  • – Full face should be visible without any shadows.
  • – Full face, eyebrows, eyes, nose, or mouth must not be covered, yet covering ears are permitted.
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Do NOT wear white in your passport photo

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Regulations for Religious Apparel

Money order

money-order.pngI had never used money orders before this process, so this experience was all new to me. A money order is basically a check that does not have a personal bank account attached to it. Money orders can be purchased at any USPS location. There is a small fee associated with this service (~$1.20) and you can pay this with cash, debit card, or traveler’s checks. Wal-Mart locations will often also be able to provide this service.

Visa Application

visa.pngWhen applying for your visa, you may be asked to include an address and phone number in Korea on a visa application form. If requested to do so, you must list your Office of Education’s address and phone number (you should receive this information in your NOA packet. Do not list the address of EPIK or your recruiter.

The Chicago consulate visa application directions are somewhat…contradictory when it comes to photo size because on one part of the directions is says applicants must submit a 2x2inch color photo and then in another part it says that applicants should submit the Korean standard passport photo size of 35mmx45mm. I emailed the consulate and they responded that either size would be fine. I went ahead and used the Korean standard size.

Check out an sample visa application provided by KorVia consulting here 

Signed Contract

IMG_3598.jpgSign the bottom of each page of your contract which arrived with your EPIK packet and fill out the passport information requested on the final page as well. You will sign two additional copies at orientation in Korea, so the one you received with your NOA packet is merely for the visa application process.

Paperclip all these documents together and send it off in your tracked envelope along with a prepaid self addressed envelope (also with tracking. I recommend prepaid forever envelopes from the USPS) for the consulate to send back your passport with visa attached inside!

Track the progress of your Korean visa application HERE!

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Embassy/Consulate locations and their assigned districts

Consulate-General Address Phone/Fax District
Washington D.C. 2320 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20008 T:(202) 939-5653
F:(202) 342-1597
Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia
New York Main Office : 335 E. 45th St.(4th Fl.), New York, NY 10017 T:(646)674-6000
T:(212)692-9120
F:(646)674-6023
Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania
Public Office(Visa Section): 460 Park Ave. (57th St.) 6th Fl. New York, NY 10022 T:(646)674-6000
F:(646)674-6023
San Francisco 3500 Clay Street San Francisco, CA 94118 T:(415) 921-2251
F:(415) 921-5946
Colorado, Northern California, Utah, Wyoming
Los Angeles 3243 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90010 T:(213) 385-9300
F:(213) 385-1849
Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, South California
Boston One Gateway Center 2nd Fl. Newton, MA 02458 T:(617) 641-2830
F:(617) 641-2831
New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont
Chicago NBC Tower Suite 2700, 455 North City Front Plaza Dr. Chicago, IL 60611 T:(312) 822-9485
F:(312) 822-9849
Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin
Seattle 2033 Sixth Ave., #1125 Seattle, WA 98121 T:(206) 441-1011
F:(206) 441-7912
Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington
Atlanta 229 Peachtree St., Suite 500 International Tower Atlanta, GA 30303 T:(404) 522-1611
F:(404) 521-3169
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virgin Islands
Houston 1990 Post Oak Blvd., #1250 Houston, TX 77056 T:(713) 961-0186
F:(713) 961-3340
Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Texas
Honolulu 2756 Pali Highway Honolulu, HI 96817 T:(808) 595-6109
F:(808) 595-3046
American Samoa, Hawaii
Hagatna 125C Tun Jose Camacho St., Tamuning, Guam 96913 T:(671) 647-6488
F:(671) 649-1336
Guam, Northern Mariana Islands
Anchorage 800 E. Diamond Blvd. STE 3-695 Anchorage, AK 99515 T:(907) 339-7955
F:(671) 907-0411
Alaska (Since 2008)
Dallas 14001 Dallas Parkway Suite, 450 Dallas, TX 75240 T:(972) 701-0180
F:(972) 701-0183
Texas DFW(Dallas, Forth Worth)

Ad astra per aspera,

Jeffrey

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EPIK NOA and Contract Packet – Fall 2016

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My NOA!

My NOA and supporting documents arrived this afternoon! FI.NA.LLY.

KorVia sent my documents on 7/6 and they arrived today 7/7. I am still so impressed at how quickly mail can get from one side go the globe to the next so quickly…

Anyway, so inside the packet there was a letter from the KorVia CEO extending congratulations from the KorVia team on my success along with orientation information, which had previously been provided online by EPIK coordinators on the EPIK Fall 2016 Facebook page and on KorVia’s Facebook page.

More importantly, my tentative (long and somewhat intimidating lol) contract was enclosed as well. This contract sample will be signed by me and sent along with my supporting documents to the Chicago Consulate for my E-2 Visa. Which looks like a headache waiting to happen but I will keep you updated!

Ad astra per aspera,

Jeffrey

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EPIK Placement – GWANGJU!

This morning I woke up to see the e-mail I have been waiting to receive for what seems like an eternity.

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Gwangju was my preferred location so I could not be happier. Of course, I would be happy with any placement, as I believe each city and province has its own personality and charms.

Now comes the wait for the notice of appointment, contract, and visa application. Exciting stuff!

Ad astra per aspera,

– Jeffrey

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EPIK: Common questions -With answers from coordinators

Here I have compiled a list of some of the questions and answers from the official EPIK Fall 2016 Facebook page. I hope this is helpful, especially since the people asking the questions are real applicants in real situations and the answers are coming from real EPIK coordinators themselves.


Q: Not sure if this has been asked before, but if we don’t get our first choice for placement- how will EPIK place us? Is there a way to tell them about our second and third choices?

A: Epik Coordinator – We only provide one option for a preference location and do not give a secondary preference location. On rare occasions, some applicants may be asked to change their preference if there are some issues with their documents or they are not eligible for the location they have selected initially.


Q: Does anyone know when we’re allowed to take vacations? I imagine it depends on each school, but just for reference? My dad wants to get married in early June 2017 so I’m wondering if that would fall within a vacation period. Thanks!

A: Epik Coordinator – This depends on schools primarily, but for the most part the summer vacation period is in August and the winter vacation period in February. As noted above, most schools will have camps during this period, so your vacation days will usually be taken in these months and around your camp obligations.


Q: Since I only have my earlobes pierced do I still need the tattoo and piercing sworn declaration?

A: Epik Coordinator – In your situation, that document is not needed Continue reading

Using KorVia Consulting to apply for EPIK – Fall 2016

When applying for the EPIK program, this may well be one of the most important choices you make throughout the entire process. Keep in mind that recruiting agencies are required to provide their services for FREE and under no circumstance should you go with a recruiting agency not approved by EPIK or the NIIED or one that is asking for money


Things to consider

  • Recruiter applications are accepted later than direct applications

calendar-2If being one of the first applicants is high on your priority list, then going through a recruiter is probably not an option you should pursue. On the other hand, when you go through a recruiter, they will know the ins and outs of the application process, preventing you from being denied in the initial stages due to small errors. Continue reading