sebucan – Korea How The English teacher's guide to living, working, and traveling in Korea. Thu, 28 Nov 2013 13:24:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Teach English at a Korean University | Thu, 15 Mar 2012 02:17:19 +0000 Find work at a Korean university. Advance your career. See the world!  

Graduation Caps photo courtesy of John Walker.


Profs Abroad is the top source of jobs and information for university and college English language (ESL/EFL) faculty. 

Teaching at a university in Korea can be one of the most rewarding and enjoyable jobs you’ll ever have. It has been for me. I’m sure it will be for you too.

I hope Uni Jobs Korea will help make your teach abroad dream a reality. You can get started by reading 7 Ways to Get a Korean University Job.


Pay It Forward: 6 Ways to Volunteer in Korea Sun, 17 Apr 2011 03:15:35 +0000 Looking to do some good while you’re in Korea? From serving soup in Seoul to rescuing animals in Suncheon, Courtney “Coco” Tait shows us how to give back.

A student at the Sung Ae Won orphanage on Christmas Day. Photo by Courtney Tait.

Once you’ve explored the local temples, tried all your neighborhood barbecue joints, hiked a nearby mountain or three, disrobed at the spa, and sipped one too many pints of draft Cass, you may be itching for some fresh experiences on the expat path. Volunteering opportunities in Korea are vast, varied, and surprisingly easy to coordinate: anyone with a few spare hours could soon find themselves rescuing a dog, serving soup to the homeless, or screening films on the plight of North Koreans.  Here are six suggestions to get you started.

1. Campaign for North Korean refugees


Approximately 20,000 North Korean refugees live in South Korea, according to online news source Asian Correspondent, with the majority arriving after months or years hiding in China and a grueling detour through Burma, Thailand, or Vietnam.  Upon arrival, they face a multitude of challenges assimilating to South Korean culture, from battling mistrust and paranoia to job discrimination and difficulty communicating in a language embedded with American English slang.

Often malnourished and poorly educated, defectors struggle to adapt to the seemingly rich and increasingly globalized culture of South Korea, with many plagued by guilt for leaving family members in a country where citizens are conditioned to worship a ruthless dictator and forced to survive on minimal rations of food.

Whether you take part in a street campaign or teach English to refugees, there are many ways to help out the plight of North Koreans.

Several North Korean human rights groups based in Seoul require volunteers. Click on the following links for directions and details on how to get involved:

  • Every Saturday from 3-5pm, Rescue NK holds a street campaign in Insadong to raise awareness for the plight of North Koreans, including those who have defected and the millions who remain.  The group also organizes film screenings and benefits aimed toward assisting refugees and those in North Korea who wish to defect.
  • PSCORE coordinates a one-on-one English tutoring program for refugees, and provides advice on inherent challenges that arise when tutoring this unique demographic.
  • Helping Hands Korea, an organization dedicated to helping refugees escape by providing secret foster homes in China to North Korean children, and sending food to orphans and schoolchildren in North Korea – holds a weekly awareness-raising campaign every Tuesday evening from 7-9 pm, near Samgakji Station.

2. Help feed the homeless


According to a 2010 survey conducted by civic groups and the Korean Center for City and Environment Research, and estimated 1500 South Koreans live on the street. The majority–a population that is 95% male and centered mostly in Seoul–can be found in groups scattered around Seoul Station and at various subway stations throughout the city. Approximately 300 homeless reside in Busan and Daegu combined. Though these figures are relatively small in a country of 48.2 million, 1500 homeless means 1500 people who often go hungry while the rest of the population eats.

  • Helping feed Seoul’s homeless isPLUR, a philanthropic group committed to increasing peace and unity in Korea through volunteering.  The group assists at a soup kitchen every Friday, and on Sundays passes out food to the homeless in and around Seoul station.
  • In Busan, BIWA volunteers at Haeundae Soup Kitchen the second Tuesday of each month.  Contact for details.
  • Carita’s Nuns soup kitchen in Busan’s Suyoung area is also looking for volunteers, and can be reached at 051-544-1236.

3. Foster a furry four-legged creature (or just take one for a walk)


A volunteer helps out at the Asan animal shelter.

Missing the wag of your dog’s tail as you walk through the door or the sound of your cat’s purr before you drift to sleep?  According to Animal Rescue Korea (ARK), many city-run shelters follow a Korean policy that states stray animals can only be held for 10 days before euthanizing.  While not all shelters euthanize, and some are flexible on the 10-day rule, many animals aren’t rescued quickly enough for their life to be saved.



  • If you live in a pet-friendly place and are willing to prep the stray for a permanent home, you can apply to foster an animal in Korea, taking care of it while you or the shelter seeks a long-term caregiver.
  • Just want to brush fur or play fetch? Shelter animals also need grooming, exercise, and photos taken to help them find permanent homes.  Whether you visit once or several times, many shelters welcome the help of volunteers. Just find a shelter in your area to get started.

4. Support former Korean ‘Comfort Women’ at The House of Sharing


During WW2, the Japanese military forcibly recruited an estimated 200,000 women from various countries into sexual slavery.  Known as ‘Comfort Women,’ the majority were Korean, some still adolescents at the time of recruitment.

Located in Seoul, The House of Sharing is a safehouse for halmonis (a respectful term for grandmother) who are former Comfort Women, as well as a human rights museum opened in 1998 to educate visitors on the halmonis’experience and their fight for retribution from the Japanese Government, who to date has failed to take responsibility for the plight of the Comfort Women or issue a formal apology.

  • To join the Outreach Team, visit the House during one if its tours (held on weekends approximately once a month) after which you can apply to volunteer.  According to, a long-term commitment and free weekend days once a month are required, as well as some background knowledge of the issue. Volunteers for research, transcription and translation of the halmonis’ personal testimony are also needed. To reserve your place on a tour, email your name, number attending and phone number to:
  • Want to support the former comfort women in their demands to the Japanese Government?  Started by the Korean Council in 1992, a demonstration is held every Wednesday from 12-1 pm in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul.   The protests provide an opportunity to show the halmoni and the Japanese Government that the international community supports their fight for justice. See their website for more details.

5. Spend time with orphans and at-risk youth


Hundreds of orphanages exist throughout Korea, providing communal homes for children who often have little hope of being adopted.  The children living in them yearn for extra attention and affection, needs which are difficult to meet for staff members who provide basic daily care for every child.  Offering your time to play games and sports, coordinate art and craft activities, and be a positive role model for these kids diversifies their experiences and gives them the opportunity to receive individual attention.

  • Korean Kids & Orphange Outreach Mission (KKOOM) provides a list of orphanages throughout South Korea.  With the help of a bilingual translator, you can often set up your own volunteer times at an orphanage in your area.
  • In Seoul, the Itaewon/Hannam Global Village Center and PLURboth organize regular orphanage visits.
  • In Busan, ATEK Busan Volunteer–a group that coordinates various Busan-based volunteer opportunities–organizes monthly visits to Boys Town Orphanage near Nampodong.   The group also has coordinators working with three other Busan orphanages near Dayeondong, Oncheonjang, and Beomosa, and can set up weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly visits for interested volunteers.
  • ATEK Busan is also looking for a volunteer coordinator or organize activities for at-risk youth at an after-school program in Nampodong.  Created by Child-Fund Green Umbrella–an organization that receives government money to assist children whose parents are impoverished or absent–the facility is open from 2 pm to 6 pm Monday through Friday. *Note: This program is offered across Korea, with 120 locations.  ATEK Busan can connect volunteers at other locations near them.Send a message through ATEKBusanVolunteerto learn more about these opportunities.

6. Teach English to underprivileged Koreans


While expats spend hours each day teaching phonics and grammar to kids in pricey, privately-run hagwons or academies, countless Koreans who can’t afford English lessons are left unable to compete.  In a country whose government emphasizes the importance of learning the world’s leading language, disadvantaged Koreans can benefit from free lessons offered through several organizations–all of which require volunteers.

  • One of the largest volunteer-based organizations in Korea, Seoul-based HOPEpartners with several host centers to provide volunteers with a classroom location and group of underprivileged kids to teach.  Curriculum is flexible, with an emphasis on exposing kids to other cultures and developing familiarity with foreigners.  While HOPE requests that volunteers commit to at least three months teaching time, you can offer as little as one hour per week to as much time as you’d like to give.  HOPE also has centers in Gyungki and other Korean cities.
  • Mustard Seed coordinates teaching kids from low-income or single parent families, meeting twice monthly on Saturday afternoons near Sindaebang Station in Seoul. For details, email
  • ATEKBusanVolunteer is looking for committed volunteers to teach English on Saturdays at Women’s Shelters which house abused women and unwed mothers and their children.  Locations are in Geojaedong and Yeonsandong.
  • Also organized through ATEK Busan Volunteer are weekly English lessons at Asian Community School–a transitional school for children of migrant workers.  Teaching times are mornings, 10-1 pm, but volunteers can teach for as little as one hour or up to three. Send a message through ATEKBusanVolunteer to learn more about these and other opportunities.


Hailing from Victoria, Canada, Courtney Tait spent three years traversing Europe, the Middle East, S.E. Asia and Australia before returning home to complete a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and Journalism. Her passion for people, travel, art, music, and nature inspires stories and images featured on her blog, Coco Busan.  Currently based in South Korea, she works as a teacher and freelance writer.

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Korea’s 7 “Can’t Miss” Festivals Sun, 13 Feb 2011 05:58:18 +0000 Photos and story by Ed Provencher

Skip it or day-trip it? Korea’s festivals are numerous, but how do you know which ones are worth going to? Travel blogger Ed Provencher makes it easy for us.

Forget what your Mama told you and play in the mud at Boryeong. Getting dirty was never this much fun.

Are you new to Korea?  Are you wondering which, of the many Korean festivals, are the ones that you shouldn’t miss?  In order to help you sort them all out, I’ve compiled a list of the top 7.  They are all BIG in one way or another and should add to your Korean experience if you go.

#1 Boryeong Mud Festival

At the top of the list is the Boryeong Mud Festival held at Daecheon Beach.  It is a signature event that has been held every year in July for the past 13 years.  This festival attracts millions of people from across the country.  The event was created to celebrate the cosmetic properties of a special mud that is found in the region.  But that’s not the real draw.  The actual mud used at the beach is trucked in and used in all sorts of fun ways, that’s the real reason people go there in droves.  Giant mud slides, mud pools, mud wrestling, a mud prison, performances… the list goes on.  People are so happy walking around there that it’s almost unbelievable.  Mud does that to us.  It turns us back into kids.  Why would you want to miss that?

#2 Andong International Maskdance Festival

Another signature event that draws equally large numbers of visitors is the Andong International Maskdance Festival held every September/October.  It’s second on my list of must visit festivals in Korea.  It is a truly international cultural event, drawing performers from all across Asia and even Mexico.  Korea itself has a long tradition of maskdance performances, and even has one (Kwanno) designated as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage.  Andong is famous for a couple of other things as well, which make attending this festival even more attractive.  One of those things is the Andong Hahoe Folk Village (UNESCO), a beautiful folk village in the countryside, surrounded on three sides by the Nakdong River.  The other attraction is Andong soju, a traditional alcohol (45%) that is designated an intangible treasure.  All these things combine to make the Andong International Maskdance Festival something I look forward to every year.  You should too.

See two things on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list in one day at the mask dance festival.

#3 Gangneung Danoje Festival

The Gangneung Danoje Festival (May/June) makes it onto the list at number three.  This festival is about a 1000 year old tradition of praying to mountain deities for a healthy and prosperous year for the community.  It is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage event, and a heck of a good time.  Daily performances of a UNESCO designated mask dance called Kwanno are held along with performances of traditional Korean farmers’ music, guest performances by groups from other countries, and spooky shaman performances might give you performance overload if you’re not ready for it.  Every year, they make heaps of traditional rice alcohol that is used to appease the tutelary spirit of the mountain, but you can get your hands on some of it for a fair price and appease your own spirit as well.

#4 Seollal Ssireum Wrestling Championship & Chuseok Ssireum Wrestling Championship

Coming in at number four on the list of notable events are the Seollal Ssireum Wrestling Championship and the Chuseok Ssireum Wrestling Championship.  Actually, there are several of these wrestling tournaments held each year, but the two biggest are held during the two biggest Korean holidays: Seollal Lunar New Year (January/February), and Chuseok Fall Harvest Festival (usually September).  This ancient sport offers spectators a chance to watch some big guys (over 105kg in the heavy weight class) do some serious pushing, pulling, and throwing.  The athletes are all Koreans, but the emotions expressed and the drama that unfolds inside the sand pit wrestling arena are universal and understood by all.  Ssireum is as authentic and uniquely Korean as anything and yet so easy to identify with.  Modern gladiators.  Ancient game.  Don’t miss it.

Move over Sumo. This is wrestling the K-way and it's called Sireum.

#5 Jinhae Cherry Blossoms Festival

While there are many cherry blossom festivals in Korea, what may be called the “Mecca” of cherry blossom festivals, the Jinhae Cherry Blossoms Festival, makes it on my list at number five.  Jinhae is located on the south coast of Korea and so is among the first places to see these gorgeous flowers and thus gives Koreans a reason to throw a big party.  The flowers can bloom anywhere from the last week of February to the first or second week of April.  Every year is different as the flowers bloom according to the weather.  Event planners have delayed the festival the past to accommodate cold springs, so you’ll need to pay attention to the weather.  The best thing to do is to call the Korea Tourism information hotline (055 1330) when the festival nears and ask them if the flowers are in bloom or not.  If you are looking to enjoy a more peaceful place to enjoy cherry blossoms, I can recommend heading to Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju.  At any rate, you need to get out and see some cherry blossoms.

#6 Jeongweol Daeboreum Festival

Number six on my list of biggie Korean festivals is the Jeongweol Daeboreum Festival.  The name of this festival basically means, “First full moon of the lunar calendar” and is usually celebrated in February.  It’s a time when locals get together to build giant bonfires called daljip, or “moon houses” which they burn along with wishes for a successful year that visitors have written on paper and tied to the daljip.  People all across the country from Seoul to Jeju Island participate in local events.  The most popular of the events is held on Jeju Island, but other biggies include events in Gangneung and Samcheok.  Now you know that full moons aren’t just for howling at, so when the time comes, think about your new year wishes and head out to a Jeongweol Daeboreum Festival to set them on fire.  Nevertheless, you can still howl if you want to.

#7 Cheongdo Bullfighting Festival

Rounding out this list at number seven is the Cheongdo Bullfighting Festival (March), the largest bullfighting event in Korea.  Korean bullfighting is a tradition that goes back a 1,000 years.  It is nothing like the better known Spanish version where bulls are stabbed repeatedly until they die.  Korean bullfighting is done between two bulls and doesn’t end when one of them dies, but rather ends when one of the bulls decides to run away.  It amounts to a pushing match done with the bulls’ heads.  This event is a good one to bring a Korean friend with because they can help translate what the announcers are saying.  That’s helpful because the announcers will give you play-by-play fight commentary as well as important details about the bulls which are fighting such as their win-loss record, important rivalries, and championships won.  My favorite thing to do is to make bets with my companions to decide who buys the next round of beers.  Gambling at bullfighting is legal, so don’t worry.  Just have fun.


Ed Provencher

Tigers & Magpies travel editor, Eddie Provencher, is an American citizen who first came to the Korean peninsula in September 2006 to teach English, learn Korean, and to have a cultural experience. Since coming to Korea Eddie has grown to love teaching English, has learned Korean up to a low-intermediate level, and has had many deep cultural experiences. In the spring of 2009 Eddie took a 3 month break from teaching English to travel in Korea.

Through this experience, Eddie developed a sincere appreciation for the natural beauty of the landscape, for the culinary tastes of the nation, and for the warmth and kindness of the Korean people.

Looking for a new place or event to discover in Korea? Be sure to check out Eddie’s fantastic site Tigers & Magpies. It’s full of great photos and helpful information that even the most knowledgeable Koreaphile will find useful.

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How to Learn Korean Online For FREE! Wed, 19 Jan 2011 14:37:56 +0000 These are the only websites you’ll ever need to learn Korean.

Koreans bow to a statue of Sejong the Great, the fourth king of the Joseon Dynasty, on Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul. King Sejong introduced Hangul, the 28-letter Korean alphabet, to Koreans in 1446. Photo: Peter DeMarco

Have you just arrived in Korea and can’t read a single item on a restaurant menu? Or have you been here for years and are ready to improve your language skills beyond “mekju juseyo!” If so, start learning Korean from one of the many great websites available online…for FREE:

1. Korean Class 101

  • This is hands down the “fastest, easiest, and most fun way to learn Korean,” as they advertise on their site. There are FREE podcasts every week for all levels. Each podcast is around 10 minutes long. Just search for it on iTunes. You can also upgrade your account for a fee to get lots of cool extras. Visit the site for more details.

2. Learn Korean Online

  • Rob Julien, a teacher of Korean to foreigners in Korea, has put together a site where you can watch over 4 hours of class video for FREE. Even better, you can email him a question and he might discuss it in his next video class. His site is definitely worth a look.

3. Let’s Speak Korean

  • Some years ago, Stephen Revere – the author of Survival Korean and current managing editor of 10 Magazine, hosted a show on Arirang TV called Let’s Speak Korean. Today you can view well over a hundred episodes online for FREE. What is interesting about the show is that each episode is only 10 minutes long. It’s short, simple, and to the point.

4. Sogang Korean Program

  • The Korean Language Education Center at Sogang University has put together an excellent FREE site full of information and exercises to help you learn Korean.

5. Korean Multimedia Dictionary

  • Indiana University made an outstanding FREE site for learning Korean vocabulary. What’s great about it is that you can learn vocabulary by categories. For example, click on “fruits” and a screen will pop up with pictures of an apple, watermelon, pear, etc.. Next, click on the fruit and you will not only see the word spelled in Hangul, but you will hear the Korean pronunciation of it. Amazing!

6. Korean Alphabet

  • Another fantastic FREE site from Indiana University that will teach you the Korean alphabet.
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Busan by Night | A Travel Photo Essay Sat, 15 Jan 2011 09:09:13 +0000 Photos by Ju-seok Oh. Words by Peter DeMarco.

See Korea’s most “dynamic” city at her best – when the sun goes down.

BUSAN - Kwangan Bridge

Busan is on the Southeastern tip of the Korean peninsula and only a short ride by ferry from Japan.

Busan, Seoul’s little sister to the south, is one of the best kept secrets in Asia. How can a city almost as big as Los Angeles be practically unknown outside of Korea? Not only was it a host city of the 2002 World Cup and Asian games, it’s the home of the largest department store in the world, one of Asia’s biggest film festivals, the fifth largest port in the world, and soon to be home of one of the tallest buildings in the world. As if that was not enough, this city by the sea is bidding for the 2020 Olympic games.

It takes much more than a bunch of superlatives for a city to capture the minds and hearts of travelers. By day, Busan looks like any other big Korean city: block after block of apartment and office towers covered in signs. Once the sun begins to set though, the city takes on a dreamy quality that is distinctly Busan.

From bold to brash, blissful to beautiful, Busan photographer Ju-seok Oh shows us his home town as you’ve never seen it before.


A visit to Sam Kwang Temple during Buddha's birthday when the monks hang hundreds of lanterns is a must. Buddhism has been in Korea since AD 370. The Jogye sect makes up about 90% of Korean Buddhists.

BUSAN - Firework festival

Diamond Bridge, as seen from Mt. Jang, is one of Busan's most iconic structures.

BUSAN - Haedong Yonggung temple

Let the rhythmic sound of the crashing waves put you into a trance-like state. Meditate under the stars at Haedong Yonggeung Temple, arguably Korea's most beautiful temple by the sea.

BUSAN - Uam2dong

The city's port is the 5th largest in the world.

BUSAN - Haeundae

Busan, formerly spelled Pusan, is the second largest city in Korea with over 3.6 million people.

BUSAN - Haeundae

If all goes according to plan, Busan will be home to the third tallest building in the world. The 110 floor (510 meters) Lotte Super Tower is scheduled to be completed in 2013.

BUSAN - Firework festival

Around 1.5 million people show up from around Korea and Asia for the Busan Fireworks Festival every year in October.


Getting there:

Busan is very accessible from any point in Korea.

  • By plane, you can fly into Gimhae International Airport. There are direct flights to many cities around Korea and Asia. Airport buses are available from Gimhae to Busan Station and the Haeundae hotels.
  • By train, Korea’s high-speed KTX makes the trip from Seoul Station to Busan Station in just under 3 hours for about 50,000 Won one way.
  • By boat, there is daily ferry service to/from Busan to Jeju Island and Fukuoka, Japan.

Where to stay:

  • Zen Backpackers (010-8722-1530, With it’s central location in Seomyeon, this hostel in the heart of the city has great access to the subway lines, shopping, and restaurants.
  • Westin Chosun Busan (051-749-7000): What could be better than looking down on Haeundae beach from your hotel room? And the Westin’s brunch is one of the best in the city. Rooms start around 250,000 Won. Keep an eye out for their monthly specials.

What to do:


Busan photographer Ju-seok Oh. Photo: Peter DeMarco.

Biography: Ju Seok-oh is a native of Busan and one of Korea’s best amateur photographers. Although he does not actively promote his work, he has been published in international travel magazines, newspapers, and more. He is about to graduate from Inje University with a major in System Management Engineering.

Photo Blog: Check out Ju-seok’s award-winning blog which includes photos of his travels to Australia, America, China, Japan and beyond.

Photos on Flickr: J’s Favorite Things

]]> 4 Sexy English Lesson Plan: Origami Butterfly & Imperitives Mashup Thu, 13 Jan 2011 11:21:27 +0000 Teach English writing, speaking, and listening with this simple and fun lesson plan.

Level: Lower intermediate – advanced

Time: 50 minutes

Materials: Printer paper, scissors, computer, screen, projector

Objectives: S’s will be able to use the imperative and give instructions

Key Vocab: crease, fold (in half), edge, corner, tuck, horizontal, triangle, flap

Step 1. Engage: Watch video and make origami.

  • Ask S’s if they know what origami is. Explain. Show an example.
  • Introduce key vocab.
  • Play butterfly origami video and have class follow along.

Step 2. Study: The Imperative.

Step 3. Activate: Give “How to…” demo.

  • T introduces how to scramble an egg.
  • Put S’s in groups of 2-4 and have them make their own “how to” instruction list. For example, how to: tie your shoes, make a recipe, put on makeup, drive a car, etc..
  • S’s come to front of class in groups and demonstrate their “how to…” instructions.

*Not quite sure how to teach English in Korea? Check out this guide: 11 Steps to Effective ESL Lesson Planning.

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11 Steps to Effective ESL Lesson Planning Wed, 12 Jan 2011 14:53:07 +0000

Korean students are notoriously shy. Plan activities that build rapport from the start. Photo: P. DeMarco

“Always plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark” – Richard C. Cushing

Donald D. Quinn once said, “If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn’t want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher’s job.”

Yes, teaching can be difficult at times, but with the right preparation and planning it can be one of the toughest jobs you’ll ever love. Some say teaching is an art, not a science. Well, not exactly. Yes, it is true that after some practice you will find your natural teaching style.

Your lessons will gain a zen-like quality and you will start to flow, or act without thinking, as you teach. Like putting one foot in front of the other, teaching will become as natural as walking is to you. There will always be challenges but you will feel much more comfortable in your role as a teacher.

However, even the best most experienced teachers use lesson plans. A lesson plan is a working document that helps you stay on task and reach your educational goals. You can’t get to where you want to be if you don’t know where you’re going. Furthermore, lesson plans act as a record of your progress with your students.

So how do you write a lesson plan? Well, any way you want. There is no set form or formula for lesson planning. But one thing is for certain, there are some basic steps everyone must take in order to make and deliver a quality lesson plan. Let’s take a look.

Step 1: Know yourself.

William’s Shakespeare’s advice, “know thyself”, is one of the most import things a teacher can do. The more you know about yourself and your reasons for teaching, the more motivated and focused you’ll be when you teach. Ask yourself:

  • Why am I an ESL teacher?
  • What values and beliefs do I want to pass on to my students?
  • What type of role model do I want to be?
  • If I could only teach my students one thing, what would it be?

Step 2: Know your students.

The more you know about your students, the better you will be able to tailor your lesson. Some questions you’ll want to ask yourself are:

  • How much do my student’s already know (i.e. what’s their level)?
  • How eager are my students to learn English?
  • Are they well behaved or unruly?
  • What are they interested in (favorite TV shows, groups, movies, sports, etc…)?
  • Which activities do they react best to: visual, auditory, kinesthetic?

Step 3: Start with the end in mind.

“A good plan is like a road map: it shows the final destination and usually the best way to get there.” – H. Stanley Judd

Know your key objectives. What do you want your students to know by the end of the class? For example, by the end of the lesson, students should be able to introduce themselves to someone and then get basic information from them (i.e. country, age, job, etc…).

Know your key expressions. What vocabulary or phrases would you like you students to know? “Where are you from?” or “What’s your job?” for example.

Step 4: Find a formula that works for you.

There are many different ways you can structure your lesson. For instance, one of the more popular ESL lesson formats is the ESA (Engage Study Activate) method, which you can read about in more detail later. However, there is no set way to structure your lesson plan. Find the way which works best for you.

Step 5: Keep it simple.

No matter how easy you think your lesson or activities are, your students will surely find them more difficult than you. Even the simplest exercises can be confusing for students. When you plan your classes, remember that you may have to simply your lesson in order to meet your students where they are at.

Step 6: Develop a good progression and balance of activities.

It’s natural for students to feel shy or not want to make mistakes in front of the teacher. Set your students up for success from the start. Give them activities you know they can’t fail at. Only ask them questions you know they can answer. Get them warmed up to English and your class. As the class moves on, you can raise the level of difficulty.

Also, try to vary the types of activities you do in class. Try to mix it up so you reach different types of learners. For instance, activities that require students to draw or paint are great for visual learners. Try using songs and music for auditory learners. Finally, use drama or role-plays for kinesthetic or active learners.

Step 7: Be structured yet flexible.

Think of your teaching as a Tokyo sky-scraper. Even though Tokyo has many earthquakes, it still has numerous high-rise office towers. These structures have a strong foundation and frame, but when there’s an earthquake, the buildings bend and flex with the vibrations.

Your lesson plan should be the same way, solid and structured, yet flexible enough to roll with the inevitable changes that happen during a typical class. Think of your lesson plan as a living document that is co-created with your students, almost like a semi-scripted play or dance.

Step 8: Be organized!

Do you have your markers or chalk? How about your books and attendance sheet? Will you be using an overhead projector or computer during class? Does it work? Do the speakers work? Do you have a PPT presentation? Can you get it to work on a Korean computer? What about the layout of your classroom? Will you need to move desks around? What materials will you need for your class?

These are all questions you should ask yourself before you set foot in the classroom. Be prepared.

Step 9: Over-plan.

Your lessons will not always go as planned, especially in the beginning. You may find that some lessons take longer, or shorter, than you planned for. Therefore, make sure to ad in an extra activity or two. Sometimes you might even need to jettison an activity all together and replace it with something else.

Step 10: Check to see if you reached your educational goals.

How do you know if your class was successful? What was your goal for the class? Remember to end your class with some type of review that not only bring s closure to your lesson, but shows you that your students learned the target language.

Step 11: Make the lesson yours.

In conclusion, learning should be both educational and engaging. The more fun you are having, the more fun your students will have. If you are bored and disconnected from what you are teaching then your students will be too.

Use what inspires you as a springboard to your teaching. For instance, if you like music and play an instrument then try to find some way to incorporate that into your lessons. Not only will your students appreciate it but you will walk away with a richer experience of your time spent here in Korea.

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Is Korea Safe? Thu, 23 Dec 2010 16:02:13 +0000 As tensions rise between the North and South, foreigners question if it’s safe to travel or live in South Korea.

A popular map Korean expats living in the city of Busan are showing their friends and family back home. (map by Mathew Golem)

Get out while you still can. It’s time to pack your bags and find a new country. Well, at least that’s what my friends and family in the US tell me. After seeing a constant flow of news reports about the conflict in the media back home, I can’t blame them for thinking that way.

So is Korea safe? Although I am following the news more closely these days, I can honestly say I feel safer walking through Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul than I do in Times Square (especially after that failed car bomb attempt). It’s true the relationship between the South and North has deteriorated since the day I got here.

It seems like just yesterday former Korean President Roh Moo-hyun was sauntering across the 38th parallel on his way to Pyongyang. There he met Kim Jong-il at the Inter-Korean Summit and signed a peace declaration. Mr. Kim even gave Mr. Roh 4 tons of rare mushrooms as a gift – I’m not joking. Roh Moo-hyun gave Kim Jong-il some Korean dramas and Elizabeth Taylor movies which are banned in the North. Fast forward 4 years and the DPRK has kicked out UN weapons inspectors, tested a nuclear bomb, sunk a South Korean battle ship, and shelled Yeonpyeong-do.

Well that surely is enough to leave, right? Nope. This type of stuff has been happening since the Korean War ended in 1953. You can’t deny that tensions are on the rise. However, to date there have been no warnings against travel to South Korea by any foreign embassy.

Most foreigners living in Korea seem to feel pretty relaxed about the current situation, and even joke about it at times. Take for instance a recent article on one of Korea’s most popular blogs,  The Marmot’s Hole by Robert J. Koehler – a magazine editor living in Seoul and a 10-year-resident of Korea. In his post What, Me Worry?, he talks about South Korea’s recent live-fire artillery drills on Yeonpyeong-do, and how the drill start time depended on the weather:

Now, when I woke up this morning, the weather looked pretty good. So good, in fact, that looking at the window, I thought it was the perfect day for a live-fire artillery drill. I considered breaking the old howitzer out of storage, bringing it to the roof and firing a couple rounds towards Gangnam. It’s been a long week, though, so I just made a cup of coffee, flipped on the TV and watched a couple of episodes of season 2 of “The Mentalist.”

There have already been a few signs that North Korea wants to make amends. But we have seen that before time and again.  What does safe mean these days anyways in our globalized world? If the North was stupid and crazy enough to launch an attack, the US would support the South and the Chinese would help defend the North. It would be World War 3. I just can’t see it happening.

For now all we can do is hope for the best and pray Armageddon never happens. In the meantime, you can find me eating bibimbap and taking photos of blue and pink dogs in Korea.

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Travel Photo Tips: Yangshuo, China by Simon Bond Mon, 20 Dec 2010 16:13:23 +0000

Yangshuo, China: "Next to you, all of life's obstacles are surmountable" by Simon Bond.

Korea How interviews England native Simon Bond, who is currently living in Suncheon, Korea. His work has been featured in galleries and publications around the world. Although he is most well-known for his perspective-bending glass ball photographs, the popularity of his collection on Getty Images is proof that he has an eye for great travel images as well.

Q: How long have you lived in Korea?
A: 4 years.

Q: What’s your job?
A: English teacher and a freelance photographer.

Q: Where did you take this photo?
A: Yangshuo, China.

Q: What’s the story behind the photo?
A: This photo was taken on a distinctly unpromising day for landscape photography. I remember the day was grey, and visibility was nothing special. We’d paid for a riverboat cruise from Guilin down to Yangshuo.

In the afternoon we got taken to another river, and it was there I took the shot. The photo was taken at full zoom on a 70-300mm lens with a Canon 40D, making the focal length effectively 500mm (this is to do with the conversion to focal length you need to make for cameras with crop sensors).

Q: Why did you include the people in the photo?
A: We were on a bamboo raft and had just got to a riverbank and I saw a scene within the scene in front of us. The two people in the bottom right of the photo added a lot to this image as the people give the mountains in the background a sense of scale.

The two people standing as they were also reminded me of a photo I’d taken in the UK two years previously. I think this helped me “see“ this photo faster and indeed I only really had time to take one or two shots before these people had gone. I feel for me the photo has a romantic side of two people standing together against the backdrop of the grandeur of these mountains.

Q: How did you get that layered look with the mountains in the background?
A: I think the layered look was helped by the fact I’ve used a telephoto lens here, with the mountains being some way in the background this allows them all to be framed in the one photograph as the angle for the point of view is quite narrow. I’ve taken photographs in S.Korea that have this layered mountain look, and that has also been with the aid of a telephoto lens. It also has to be said that the geography in this area of China helps a lot when creating this layered mountain look, as there are many karst mountains here.

Q: Do you have any tips for taking better travel photographs?
A: When it comes to travel photography it’s often a good idea to research the place you’re going to visit, and then plan the type of photographs you’d like to take.

If you can possibly plan your trip so you’ll be there when the weather is at it’s best. The weather is not all important though, as it should be possible to take good shots in the rain or the sunshine, just you’ll have to think of some different types of photos.

In an ideal world you’d also have several days in a place to consider the photos you’d want to get. Perhaps there is somewhere that works for a photo much better at sunrise, in which case coming back to that location at the optimum time is desirable.

As was said in a previous post, it’s also a good idea not to stay in any one location for too long. If you are on a time limit getting that good shot and then moving on is important because what you’re really looking to do with travel photography is to tell the story of a place and this is often achieved through a variety of shots.

One last thing I should mention is be quick on the draw like a cowboy in a good western movie, because once that “moment” is gone you’re not going to get it back.

Q: Wow, thanks for all that great advice. What’s your favorite travel quote?
A: “Photography, as we all know, is not real at all. It is an illusion of reality with which we create our own private world.” ~ Arnold Newman

You can see more of Simon Bond’s work here:

Simon Bond

Blog: 369 Photo
On Flickr: Mr. Bond
Website: (under construction at time of writing)

In case you missed it: check out the previous Travel Photo of The Week of Seoul, Korea by Gregory Curley.

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Korea Changes E2 Visa Process: FBI Background Check How To Mon, 13 Dec 2010 23:11:22 +0000

Even though this guy looks like a wimpy college student, he was trained how to kill in Tae Kwon Do, slept in the snow at the DMZ, and ate worms for breakfast. He will kick your ass if you don't get comply with the new visa regulations.

Calling all criminals teaching English in Korea. The game is over. The Korean government is on to your scam. I say that jokingly but actually it is kind of true.

In the past, all you needed to prove you didn’t have a criminal record was a background check from your local police department or state. The problem with state background checks is someone can be charged with a crime in Maine for instance, but it will not show up on a record check for say Iowa.

Staring January 1st, 2011, all foreigners teaching English in Korea will need to submit a federal background check when applying for a job or renewing a contract. If you are American, that means you have to get a background check from the FBI. Again, anyone who is applying for an E2 visa OR extending his or her E2 visa must submit a federal background check.

Here is the unofficial guide to the FBI check in 5 easy steps:

1. Complete the application form.

  • It takes just a minute.

2. Submit your fingerprints.

  • This is a little more complicated – especially if you are living in Korea. First, print out the official fingerprint card (you might want to print out a few extra copies if you mess up).
  • Next, if you are in the US you can take the form to your local police station. Most offer a fingerprinting service for about $10. Call ahead for pricing and hours.
  • If you are in Korea, go to the biggest police station in your city. These are the “gu” stations or main city police stations. Be sure to bring your form with you.
  • Can’t find a police station that will do it for you? Call the Korean Police English Hotline at 313-0842.
  • NOTE: Be sure to check that you were fingerprinted properly. Compare the prints on your form to page 2 of the fingerprint form that talks about “obtaining classifiable fingerprints.” Your request will be rejected if the prints are not done properly.

3. Submit the $18 payment.

4. Review the checklist.

5. Mail the required items here:

  • FBI CJIS Division – Record Request, 1000 Custer Hollow Road, Clarksburg, WV 26306

It can take up to 12 weeks to process your request.

Visit the FBI site to download the forms and get the official instructions.

DISCLAIMER: Immigration rules are always changing. For the latest information, please contact your local Korean Office of Immigration. Furthermore, feel free to post here if you have info on getting a background check in other countries.

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