Why live in Korea?
Its hard to find an easy answer, but it has a lot to do with a combination of knowing I wanted to teach, wanting to travel the world, and wanting to apply my study of Linguistics and Anthropology to a radically different culture that I was interested in. I did “fieldwork” as anthropologists call it.
My interests in Asia have a lot to do with studying Suzuki Violin while growing up in Ohio before transferring to a high school in SE Los Angeles. It was my first experience with culture shock. I found that something like 50% of the students in my honors classes in LA were Korean-American despite composing less than ten percent of the school’s population.I knew I wanted to be a teacher when I was in high school, I studied anthropology and linguistics with the hope of teaching either History or English in a high school somewhere after graduation. Then while sitting in classes, I began dreaming of touring Asia before settling down at a school, so I began planning for a trip to Korea to teach English in a school there. I took two semesters of the language in school, found a recruiter for a school there and moved to Seoul for a year after graduating.
Life and Work in Korea
I lived in NonHyunDong, nearby the Kangnam station. It was a nice neighborhood, though not as ritzy as ApGuJong, where I worked. I worked full-time as an EFL teacher for pre-kindergarten students in the morning, then taught between four and six classes of elementary students in the afternoons.
The name of the school I worked for was Wonderland. My teaching partner’s name for our morning class was Alice. I’m not making that up. While at Wonderland, as a teacher suffering through a haphazard curriculum, I realized the need for textbooks and materials that were engaging and effective. The learning objectives of the lessons were unclear to me as a teacher, and I imagine even more muddled for the students in our classes. It was in Korea that I first started thinking about Instructional Design.
Job Duties at Wonderland (1997-1998)
- prepare for 35 teaching hours per week
- teach classes six days a week
- monthly student report cards for roughly 100 students
I left Korea to move to Taichung City, Taiwan.