Korea boasts at being number one in the world for investment in ESL teaching. It seems that most of it goes into week one of the government’s teacher training; there are three orientations happening across the country, a total of nearly 1000 new ex-pat teachers learn the highs and lows of ESL teaching in Korean public schools. That’s 1000 laminated name tags; 1000 white hoodies with logos and a gazillion tonnes of kimchi. Words fail me when describing kimchi so please refer to the photo.
I’m at the end of day six. A typical day is breakfast (kimchi!) in the canteen at 7:30, then lectures until 12:30 ;break for lunch (kimchi!); lectures until 5:30 pm- time for dinner (kimchi!); Korean lessons until 8:30pm (coffee!) then lesson planning for our assessment until around 10pm. For anyone still standing, the usual drill which follows is Soju (Korean rice wine) and mekju (beer!) in a local bar.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. The lectures have been insightful and invaluable with the advice about public school teaching and adjusting to life in Korea. All the staff members have been supportive, friendly and good natured. I’m touched by the kindness and good humour shown towards us. I think this is epitomised by the owner at The Lantern bar who found nails and a hammer and made me a hook upon which to hang my coat, and the coffe shop assistant who remembered me from yesterday and commended me on my very shaky Korean (never the less a Latte is what I asked for and a Latte is what I got).
I have yet to glimpse real life amidst the throng of boot camp education style, but so far, as I look out the window of my room on the 14th floor at Jeonju University campus and see mountains winking in the distance and neon lights flashing seductively at night, I realise that I have many more presents and surprises to unwrap…and for the record, kimchi is delicious!