Tag: Incheon

From the Frying Pan to the Fire: My experiences going from the public school system to a hagwon

This is another guest post. Patti has been teaching in Korea for the last seven years, and has a wide variety of experiences. I asked her to write this post because I knew she previously taught public school, and now taught at a hagwon, and did not seem to hate her hagwon.

She has, however, delivered a lot more than I could ever have asked for. Her experiences cover a wide range of teaching positions in Korea, over various levels. My most heartfelt thanks to Patti for sharing these experiences with me, and thus with all of you.

Public School Experience

1. A Typical High School

When I first applied to teach in Incheon, I requested an elementary or middle school, because I had been told by Korean friends back home that working in a high school would be a living hell, as high school students usually don’t want to listen to their teachers, but want to focus solely on their college entrance exams. It makes education more about the grades, and less about actual learning. I find this attitude permeates all levels of Korean education.

As fate would have it, I applied through the Incheon Metropolitan Office of Education (IMOE) directly and was placed in a high school, located in a low-income area in Incheon.

Continue reading “From the Frying Pan to the Fire: My experiences going from the public school system to a hagwon”

EPIK Developments In Incheon (and Elsewhere)

Or: Why it seems that the public school program no longer provides job security

A couple of months ago, news of a major blow hit the EFL teaching community in Korea. Incheon had decided to reject all of the incoming EPIK applicants. Now, there were only nine of them, but many people saw this as a sign of things to come – Seoul had already cut down their intake to only elementary school teachers, and where Seoul leads, the rest of the country tends to follow. Incheon, for instance, had been instituting the same policy.

The scaling back of teachers has a process that is usually as follows:

  • Elementary school teachers are given the option to renew at their current schools.
  • Middle and High school teachers may renew, but will be transferred to elementary schools.
  • In some cases, middle school teachers have been allowed to stay, but in the knowledge that if they leave, their school will not receive a new native English teacher.

This… this was not how Incheon handled it this time around. Continue reading “EPIK Developments In Incheon (and Elsewhere)”

On the bus from Seoul to Incheon

I love driving.

I especially love driving at night on empty, well-lit roads. In those moments, it’s like the world belongs to me. I can speed up, and hasten the arrival of that wonderful moment where the roads start to look like home, or I can slow down a little and see the city lights recreating my world, step by step.

Here in my car, I feel safest of all. My car, my lights, my streets, my world.

And at night, it’s the best. Millions of houses and millions of lights shine onto the streets. Lonely cars and trucks drive down the road – they may not see home until daylight. There are times when I look out of the window at the long line of street lights curving away in the dark, and I forget where I am. I forget that I’m in a bus. I’m moving in the dark and all those lights are taking me home. For a very long moment, it no longer matters where home is. It no longer matters that this isn’t the N1 and that these aren’t my lights on my streets in my city. I see headlights and street lights and white lines on the tar, and I’m going home.

I want a word for the almost-home.

That point where the highway’s monotony becomes familiar
That subway stop whose name will always wake you from day’s-end dozing
That first glimpse of the skyline
That you never loved until you left it behind.

What do you call the exit sign you see even in your dreams?
Is there a name for the airport terminal you come back to,
Comfortably exhausted?

I need a word for rounding your corner onto your street,
For seeing your city on the horizon,
For flying homewards down your highway.

Give me a word for the boundary
Between the world you went to see
And the small one you call your own.

I want a word for the moment you know
You’re almost home.


Sweet Story 방

When I last posted to this blog, I was still in South Africa. Today is my second day in Incheon – first full day – and I’m typing this mostly so that I don’t have to leave the PC 방 I’m sitting in. It’s fucking cold outside – the coldest I’ve been since arriving in Korea – and even though this place smells, and I desperately need a cigarette, I’ll stay because it’s warm. And because I have internet access. Continue reading “Sweet Story 방”