Changes to EPIK Program 2019 (Gwangju)

So over the years EPIK will make small changes to the contracts of foreign teachers. That being said, the changes are usually quite small.

For 2019, the changes seem to be much larger than in previous contracts. Here is a quick outline of what is changing in 2019 for the EPIK program in Gwangju


1. English Camps are now discretionary

Summer and Winter English camps will no longer be a hard requirement for schools with Guest English Teachers. Instead, schools designated as “in need” will be given priority to hold English Camps. Perhaps this means that if your school opts out, and an in need school requests a camp, GETs may be dispatched to teach the camp at different schools.

2. Housing matters handed to Office of Education

If you are living in school provided housing, the paperwork will no longer be handled by your school and instead will be organized by the office of education.

3. Increased paid vacation

Renewing teachers will be entitled to more paid vacation days, up from the 21 in previous contracts. (I will update with the exact number)

4. Drug test no longer required for renewing teachers

When you renew your contract, you will no longer be required to submit a drug test.

5. Increase in number of schools

More teachers will be teaching at 3 schools this coming school year. An increase from the typical 2.


What do you think of the changes? If you aren’t in Gwangju, what changes are coming to your office of education this year?

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5 Things New EPIK Teachers should know

1. Be flexible

Everyone will have a school and living situation that is unique from one another. Your friend’s living space will likely be similar but not identical to yours, they may have involved co-teachers whereas your co-teachers may be in the back of the room working on paperwork. Classes will be cancelled and you wont know until you arrive at the classroom or 15 minutes after the students never come to your classroom. You wont be told that today is a “hiking day” and all you have are blue jeans and a thick sweater. Photo day will come and nobody will tell you (say “cheese”…or “kimchi!”). You will have to set up for the school festival moving around drums and microphones between performances. You will have to join a school volleyball team even though you are terrible at it, and yes you will be THE foreigner player.

Of course, all of these things may not happen because remember, you need to be flexible.

2. Be prepared

Think through all possible outcomes. Honestly, as a teacher, the possibilities in a classroom are endless on both the positive and negative sides. One class may listen to you intently and in the other one student may slap and kick a classmate.

Also, please be prepared for class. At the very least this is the minimum requirement for your job. Show up with enough material for your class period.

3. Connect early

Make friends early. EPIK orientation could be the make or break for this. Even if you dont think you will be besties, make as many connections as possible. Add everyone on Kakao. Go to Seoul with a group one weekend and see how it goes. Worst case, you can drop them later. But what you should really focus on when you are at orientation, along with the coursework, is building a community that will eventually become your support group/weekend gang. They will be your lifeline when the going gets rough because your coworkers at school, in all honesty, will not be the shoulder to cry on when the goings get rough.

4. Keep busy

Sign up for classes. Korea is a country where extra classes are available almost everywhere. Language classes, martial arts, crafts, art, film, volunteer work. Whatever it may be always try and keep busy. Make a planner of different things you want to do in Korea. If your Korean is not great, try and stick with the bigger cities at first and then go more small/local as time goes by.

5. Remember why you’re here

For whatever reason, always try and remember why you are here. Your visa is for being a teacher. Not a youtuber, not an entertainer, a teacher. You are a teacher. Of course, these other things can be hobbies, which is great, but always remember why you are here. To TEACH! More deeper than that, while it may not be so superficial, the difference that you are making in your students lives will mold how they view foreigners. You may very well be the only foreigner your students interact with until they maybe go abroad for university or work a job that involves international communication. However, if your students are less privileged, you may be their one and only foreign interaction. Make it a positive one!

I know this post may sound dark and dismal but i’m trying to be real! Your experience will undoubtedly test you in many ways, but you can make it great with the right attitude and outlook.

Ad astra per aspera


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“Do you know about Dokdo?”

Last summer, I had the opportunity to visit Dokdo with a cohort of other native English Teachers from all over Korea. The trip, sponsored by Gyeongsangbuk-do and the Dokdo foundation consisted of 3 JAM PACKED (see schedule below) days on Ulleungdo, and of course, eventually, Dokdo.

<4AM BUS —>9AM PORT –>12PM ULLEUNGDO *NEXT DAY* 2HRS–> DOKDO>

제목 없음

For those unfamiliar, Dokdo consists of several islands east of mainland Korea, and west of Japan. The islets have been a point of contention between Korea and Japan, as both countries claim the islands are their territory. Given the history between the two countries (think the Japanese occupation of the Korean peninsula) the issue brings heavy emotion here in Korea, especially in the realm of politics.

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Being brainwa..I mean educated about Dokdo.

Were the foreign teachers and I used as a propaganda piece in the trip? I mean, yes, to an extent. The trip was funded by organizations with aims at promoting the claim of Korean sovereignty to the islets. And why else would we be given neck towels adorned with the words reading “Iheart Dokdo”?  I mean honestly some great PR planning given the era of instagram and social media. Who knows how many people would end up googling “Dokdo”, because, well, who outside of Korea really knows about the islands (no tea, no shade, just facts on that )

But given that I have been in Korea for some time now, I felt as if this was a trip that is on my Korea travel bucket list (yes, that is a thing I have going).

 

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Upon landing at Dokdo we had FIFTEEN minutes to quickly see the surroundings lol

Dokdo – one of the most difficult locations in Korea to visit. Often times, ferry services to the islets are cancelled due to poor weather conditions. Given that Dokdo is only accessible from Ulleungdo – A 3 hour ferry ride from extreme eastern Korea (which, if we are honest is far AF from urban Korea), the trip is risky given that you may not be able to even step foot onto the fabled land.

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EPIK Camp planning

Long time no blog.

While teaching under the EPIK program in Korea, one of your responsibilities will be to plan and carry out English Camps during the prolonged holiday breaks.

If you are a teacher with two schools, typically, for summer break, you will teach at one school, and consequently during the winter break you will do a camp at the other school. This is a great time for you to build upon textbook curriculum while bringing your own personal touch, and yes, make things more personal and interesting for students!


Themed camps –

  • PRO: I mean , it’s themed so you have a cohesive umbrella plan for what you will cover. You can build upon a certain set of expressions/vocabulary – Scaffolding.
  • CON: You have that umbrella. I’ve done themed camp only once and I found that it became a little….annoying to stick to the theme for so many days?

Non themed camps

  • PRO: Freedom. Whatever you choose, it goes.
  • CON: May appear a bit unorganized on paper.

Daily structure

This is my typical camp day outline. Not written in stone but generally speaking this is an approach you may find useful.

  1. Warm up/Intro – Key words / Expressions
  2. Project/Video/Game – Typically only paper based activities reinforcing new expressions/vocabulary. or something like musical chairs/duck duck goose with vocab words i.e. not “duck,duck goose!” but instead “apple, apple, orange!” 0.jpg
  3. Craft – Using more tactile materials i.e iClay0.jpg
  4. Snack – Kids get hungry. Simple snack activities i.e. dirt cups/canape are usually easily approved by your school (stay away from anything requiring flame or knives etc.)
  5. Closing – PPT based games

Each of these sections can fluctuate in their length of time. That is a great thing about camp! If something takes longer, that is okay! Continue reading

Moving to Korea: Get your WiFi fix without an ARC card.

One of the most common initial frustrations upon moving to Korea is not having wifi or contracted cell phone service without your Alien Registration Card issued. In fact, I can recall the first month living in Korea, I had to go to Angel-in-us every evening to work on my lessons materials.

Here are a few tips I have for beating this daunting hurdle.

Cafes

Perhaps the most obvious choice is to go to a cafe. I have two options when it comes to cafes. One I call the moral customer option, and the second option I call the leeching option.

Moral customer – Order an item off of the menu. preferably the cheapest item as going here consistently will add up over time.

Leeching option – More likely in metropolitan areas where there are many people. Find a Starbucks or other cafe with multiple floors and simply sit and use the WiFi. To me I always feel guilty doing this but, desperate times call for desperate measures.

Public Libraries

After working at a public library in America, to me this was an option that was second nature to me. Only downside to this one is that they are not open super late (usually).

Bus/KTX terminals

If you are living in a city with a KTX terminal or Bus terminal, these locations will likely have public wifi options. Again, in smaller towns it will be quite obvious that you are hanging around for WiFi but in larger cities, with so many people coming and going, hanging around with your laptop is probably not going to catch much attention.

Convenience stores

SOME convenience stores may have WiFi available to customers. Maybe go with a smart phone initially to search for WiFi options before lugging your laptop only to be disappointed.

If you moved to Korea, where did you go to get that free WiFi?

Ad astra per aspera,

Jeffrey

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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.

    Screen Shot 2017-06-25 at 11.59.32 AM

  • 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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