I recently returned from living and working in South Korea for one year. I worked at a hagwon, or private academy, teaching kindergarten and elementary students. My hagwon, Feinschule English Institute, was located in Ilsan, which was about 30 minutes north of Seoul. Here’s where it is on the map.
I taught musical drama and many other classes in English. The education system in Korea is vastly different than in the US, but according to many recent studies it is one of the best in the world. The main class that I was teaching was called Hollywood Kids. This class was geared towards teaching young children English and moral concepts through acting, singing, and dancing. This was of course taught through beloved children’s fables and stories like Little Red Riding Hood, The Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty, and others. Here are some pictures of my kids practicing for The Little Mermaid.
This position in Korea was totally outside of my comfort zone. Sure, I had completed student teaching. I had a basic level of Korean. I also completed a certificate in TELF (teaching English as a foreign language). But nothing could have prepared me for the challenges and joys of this year. I loved teaching in Korea. My students were brilliant. Many days were difficult as I struggled to find a balance between discipline and kindness, but by the end, I was so sad to have to leave these kids. I learned so much from them, and in the end, I hope they learned from me as well.
Outside of my teaching, I LOVED KOREA! It was a beautiful country filled with glorious traditions, people, places, and food. I was lucky to work with my husband and other fantastic foreign and Korean teachers who, along with my dear friends from Michigan State, helped me to experience all of the wonderful things that Korea has to offer. I hope that I can soon return to visit, and if you are considering visiting or teaching in Korea, I’d love to share more about my experience there with you. If you need more convincing, here are some more pictures.