“You’re in ‘Merica! You need to speak English!”


I’ve heard a bit of this in my lifetime and it’s always struck a nerve with me.   Especially now that I’ve lived overseas for a length of time.
“Just speak English.”
“You live in America, so you should speak English.”

Really now?  And how long would it take for said person to become fluent?  I’m VERY curious as to how many of these people that say such things have actually tried to learn another language.  It’s HARD!  It’s easier when you’re a kid, but it’s A LOT of work and practice to become fluent.  Sheesh.  Cut the people some slack.
Actually, one of the first things I noticed when I came back to America (“The Melting Pot”) was that in the INTERNATIONAL (Chicago-O’hare) airport, how little there was of any other language besides English.
Every other airport I’ve been in in other countries has at least one other language.  I would have thought there would at least be Spanish…maybe Chinese.  It would be crazy hard to get around…even in the airport if you had little English skills.

Anyway, that’s a new topic altogether, but I just needed to vent about how much that bothers me.
Also, assuming these people that come to the US have a little English already–It does take a lot of patience and practice for these people to become anywhere near fluent.
The kids I’m teaching now are younger (so it’s easier for them than it would be for an adult), but they are in an IMMERSION English school for about 5 hours from M-F.
And now…if we had an adult, they’d also have to work (assuming they’re working) and have general family duties…oh, and of course now they need to also squeeze in some sort of English school.
Honestly, I think it’d be best if it was required for all students to learn a second language starting in Kindergarten/Elementary school, and have it required all the way through high school.  That might help us as a country and give people a little more compassion and understanding.


One more thing…how come we aren’t taking out some of that frustration on improving our own education system OR on all those NATIVE SPEAKERS that can’t even use your/you’re or to/two/too properly.  They can’t even speak their own native language correctly and we’re getting all fussy about people not speaking their SECOND language perfectly.

//Ok, I’m finished now.  Really.

But thanks to the people/country of Korea for letting me experience the joy of teaching in your country without first being fluent in Korean. 😉


Yay! Some Happy News!

1.  My ARC (Alien Resident Card) card is now updated and ready to go for my second year.
I don’t need a visa as an American citizen, but I’m all set with my documents for year 2.  🙂

2.  After much asking/pleading, my school finally decided to add in an “English Prep” class for our new elementary school kids that are just starting English.
We have been having issues with kids leaving because the classes were too hard and boring for the younger kids.  
The younger kids also don’t have a lot of speaking time built into their classes, so most of them don’t have any speaking confidence (compared to our kindergarten kids and their schedule).
They added the new class to help get the kids excited about learning English, and I’m teaching both English Prep classes (MWF and T/Th).
I can’t even explain how big of news this is.  As a general rule, schools don’t listen to the foreigners ideas…we’re generally ignored and just expected to teach, not contribute.

Anyway, these classes don’t have books, because we want it to be a bit more relaxed in terms of structure….just more fun.  (Our idea, they just put it in the schedule.)  Heh.  
Just so excited to get started.  A bit overwhelmed because there isn’t a book, and I want to do a good job, but really happy because I think we’re moving in the right direction.
They said I could incorporate science, art and anything else I wanted in the class.  Pretty much complete freedom, which is unheard of in the private schools.

I’m thinking of doing art and general speaking (maybe some science experiments too, when their English picks up) one week, and then speaking practice/speeches (that I write) the second week.  Then alternating.
The speeches really helped the kindergartners with speaking practice and get more comfortable speaking in front of others, while using correct grammar.

😀  Lots of excitement and ready to get started…maybe a nice little project I can work on during my break.  

Oh…and 3 days!!!!!!  AHHHH!!!  😀  😀

*dance dance*

Quick Quick!

It’s really late here, but just wanted to add a quick update on the school/money situation.
1. Our director had a meeting with me today and apologized saying he had been really busy, but that the rest of the money I’m owed was being deposited into my account today (remainder of severance, overtime pay from intensives and the rest of my pay from January).
Very happy that that’s all sorted.  A big weight has been lifted!

Working on getting my renewed visa now.  He said he should have that by tomorrow.  From what he said, it sounds like progress has been made since when we originally talked about it, so I trust his words.

Just ready to have this all situated.  I feel a bit bad because I know I’ve gotten pushy, but I don’t honestly see any other way to get things done.
I’m still being polite about it, but I’m just asking frequently.  Because…when I don’t ask, no progress is made, and I don’t get any sort of updates about what’s happening.  So, hopefully all this will be sorted soon so I don’t have to deal with it anymore.

2.  I have a hamster!
We had a class pet from Winter Intensives, and I asked to keep him afterward (instead of giving ours to a student, lol) and they said ok.
His original name was “Mystery”, but I renamed him “Munch-a-saurus Rex”, or “Munch” for short.

It’s Munch!


3.  I’m going to be volunteering at a preschool when I get home 🙂  (5 days til American soil!)
I think it’ll be a fun and interesting experience to work in an American preschool and  see any similarities or differences.  The main thing is that I wanted something to do while I’m at home so I’m not sitting around watching tv for hours on end while my family and friends are at work.  😀

Ok, goodnight!

Art Class Updates!

Here are some kindergarten art projects from the past few months!  😀

Making Santa

6-7 Year Olds’ Santas

Winter Trees!


Polar Bears made by painting with marshmallows!!


January art Polar Bears made by painting with marshmallows!

City Skyline–supposed to resemble Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Sky’

One of my favorite projects of the year!












I’m going home this weekend!!!

That is all.  😀

Oh, no it’s not.  Who am I kidding?  haha.
I have all the art projects for kindergarten planned through July.  I think I need to have children of my own soon so I can have a creative outlet, lol.

Hope these kids (and teachers) are ready…
tie-dye, recycling projects, friendship quilts, dyeing Easter eggs (!!! nonexistent here!…so excited to introduce this), class murals, Korean Independence day t-shirts using handprints, clay handprints, name art using popsicle sticks…etc.
So excited!  I love how excited people are here about seeing stuff that we consider standard kids art.  Creativity is nonexistent, or very rare to say the least.  So each art project is a new and exciting thing for them (not just the students!)

Probably why I like this class so much.

Need to Re-Group

I never thought I’d be at this point as a person.  I need to work on controlling my temper.  I know I can be stubborn and want things a certain way, but I’m feeling sort of mixed on this.

In Korea, especially working at a hagwon (the private schools that are independently owned  and are a dime a dozen), it’s fairly common knowledge that schools can (doesn’t mean they all do…just have to be very cautious.  Many are in this just to make money, not because they care about actually educating children) just close up overnight or you might have a director that doesn’t pay you on time, etc.
We have a new director and he seems nice and is investing money in our school (which our last owners didn’t), so that’s all good.  But…
Ok, I was going to try and make a long story short, but I think some backstory is necessary.

I (along with previous employees) got 5% taken out of my check by the school–they said for tax purposes, but we all assumed it was actually to keep the foreigners from doing a midnight run (to the airport and going home), because it was written into the contract that you’d get the money back at the end.  Uh…which is also not legal.  They aren’t supposed to take things out that aren’t allowed by the government).
But anyway, I resigned a new contract when the new owner got here (new owner, new contract), and insisted it was removed.
The other foreigners get paid on the 10th of each month (1st for me–apparently because of that 5% clause…which doesn’t make sense to me)–and I wanted to still be paid on the same day and have the clause removed.  I can’t just not get paid for an extra two weeks because of that.  Sorry.
Anyway, fast forward to now–last month I had issues getting paid and had to ask about it 3 times but it was apparently something with the accountant.  “The accountant hadn’t sent them the paper showing how much money to take out for taxes”.  Um..ok..even if that’s the case, then you should have been working on that well before my payday.  That payday also happened to be the day I was supposed to be leaving for Seoul so I could leave the next morning for the Philippines.  Without a paycheck.
They said they could just put the full amount into my check and I could wire back the money from the taxes…which…whatever, but they should have been getting the information from the accountant BEFORE payday happens….not just “Oh sorry!  Please understand the situation….”

Btw… “Please understand”  is the most common thing you hear here when there’s some sort of dilemma.  And there’s never a solution attached to it.  Just “Please understand”…it’s more of a “Please understand what I’m saying”…not a “please understand the situation.”
It’s one of my biggest pet peeves.  Ugh.  There’s no way of SOLVING anything…just “understand”.  And if you say “I understand”, then it’s your way of agreeing with them and saying that whatever is happening is completely ok with you.

Anyway, so my payday rolls around this month (yesterday), and I was already going into it with my expectations very low because of the previous month’s issues.
I got another schpeal about the accountant (IMO, get a new accountant).  Apparently “she’s lazy” and hadn’t sent over the form again (HOUND HER..paying your employees is important).   I was pissed off inside and just really annoyed.  The head-teacher and director said I would “definitely” get paid Monday after they talked with the accountant.  I left and was basically like “Right.  Monday for sure.”
Which, in my contract it says the 1st of each month, and I was talking with a co-worker after I left and she reminded me that I shouldn’t have to put up with their crap and feel extra stressed because of their laziness/mistakes/etc.  If I get paid on the 1st, I should be paid on the 1st.  End of discussion.
So, I went back up to the school after our conversation, hoping to see someone who could fix the situation and our director was sitting at the front desk working on some paperwork.

I talked with him and said that I needed to get paid today (yesterday).  That I have bills to pay and I needed to get paid.  He asked if I was angry and I said that I was a little angry and frustrated.  He apologized for the situation and brought more of the “Please understand” crap into the conversation, but wired the money over right then and there.
I also mentioned that the other teachers were nervous about getting paid on time (because they are—there’s a bit of tension running through the school–which I suppose is normal because we have a new owner.  Another girl had issues getting paid last month too, except she got too much, and they never got back with her when she was trying to right the situation.)

Anyway, he seemed worried when I mentioned that people were worried about getting paid on time.  (Which is true, because there’s a lot of tension around the school due to having a new director, and not being sure what kind of person he is).
I’m a bit worried whether I said too much, but I also feel more confident that it won’t happen again.
I feel that I also need to stand up for my rights, because here especially, you need to look out for yourself because there aren’t many others that will.  Especially when it comes to the workplace.
I think it’s the lingering part of my western mindset that makes me feel like I may have overstepped a boundary line, but when I take into account the experience I have here so far, I feel like I did what’s right.  A bold move, but a necessary one.

It isn’t unheard of here for hagwon owners here not to pay on-time or to just leave in the middle of the night (and no one notices for a few days) while taking the money and leaving.
It’s not super common from what I’ve heard, but it’s still an issue either way, and I still feel like I need to look out for myself.
Another thing is that I have bills at home set for automatic withdrawal back home and if I don’t have any money in my account because I’m not paid on time (and it takes a bit of time for the money to clear once I make a transfer) then it’s my own neck on the chopping block when loans or other bills are late.  Not theirs.  And they won’t give a damn about it either.  Not that I expect them to, but yeah, I also don’t want the new owner to think he can just push me around.
He seems nice, but that’s common here too.  Everything is for show.  Look nice, get a fancy degree, but there’s a whole different something beneath the exterior.

(Note:  I’ve met a lot of great people OUTSIDE of the business/work/school world here that are great, but that is the general mentality.)

Anyway, I think it’ll be better once I get home to a bit of normalcy.  It’s also supposed to be easier the second year because you already know the culture and are familiar with things.  So, here’s to that.

Oh, and 7 days!!