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  • Writer's pictureLulu Johnson

Weeks 22, 23, 24, 25 &26: USA vs. Korean education system

Hello everyone! Sorry that I haven’t posted in quite a bit. It’s been a crazy month and I’ve been swamped with a ton of school stuff and also just traveling around South Korea.

So coming into South Korea, I had a very brief idea of what the education school system would be like. I knew that South Korea took its education very seriously and many students get burdened with how rigid the education is. However, that was the extend to my knowledge which is very small and limited. Since being here and teaching for the past couple of months, I’ve seen a lot of differences in how the South Korean education and American Education systems differ.

1: Elementary Schools start at 8:50 and end at 12:30. You may think this is amazing and great but many of the kids go to school academies after school and the older you get the more time you spend in the academies. Many students stay past 10:00pm in the academies and the Korean government had to make a law saying that all academies had to close before 1:00am or something around that time due to the amount of students staying out so late. Many of these academies also give homework so not only do they get school homework, they get additional homework from the academies just to get ahead for the prospect of a good college. Crazy huh.

2: Memorization, memorization and memorization. South Korea is a big proponent of the memorization learning method. When teachers teach any new words or ideas, they automatically tell the students to just memorize everything. I don’t necessarily agree with this teaching style as when you deviate from the given prompt, the students get really lost and confused. It’s harder to teach them conversational English if all they are doing is memorizing a script for the situations. I also feel it’s harder to assess the students knowledge as I feel it’s a lot easier to just memorize words and phrases then to fully comprehend what is being taught.

3: Discipline is VERY different. So if a student gets in trouble, it’s very common to see physical punishment in the forms of either the students have to do physical labor like pushups, wall site, mountain climbers and etc. Or you will see teachers physically hit the kids. I’ve seen teachers hit kids extremely hard on the head and it makes me wonder what the protections laws are like. For how safe of a country this is, I feel the education system is a bit lacking in that aspect.

The semester is coming to an end which is why it’s been pretty busy for me the last few weeks. We end in about 2 weeks but one of my schools is hosting an English camp which I have to run and set up. This year I am doing it on American holidays as that was requested by a fellow coteacher. I’ve been busy coming up with lesson plans, ideas, and activities for the camp and hope it turns out well.

Besides the teaching aspects, I’m still kickboxing and really enjoying it. I’ve made friends in the classes and it’s been really fun to continue what I did in the States now here in South Korea. Another hobby I am taking up is longboarding. I’ve recently bought a longboard and now am practicing riding on it. I am still very very new but it’s pretty fun. I’m hoping to use this as my main mode of transportation in Gyeongsan once I’ve become better at it. I also got my host sister into it, and she bought a longboard as well. This has been one of the ways for us to spend time together which has been fun.

I also recently travelled to Cheonan, South Korea which is a city up in the north, only about an hour away from Seoul by bus. One of my ETA friends lives there and it was great being able to catch up with him. I hadn’t seen him since orientation so it was nice to see how he was doing and all of that. It’s also crazy to notice how different each city is and the overall atmosphere and vibe of places throughout South Korea.

This past weekend, I was invited by one of my friend‘s family to make kimchi. Kimchi making is a very traditional thing and it was one of my bucket list items while I am living here. It was such a fun experience and I’m glad I was able to do it with some friends of mine. Also, the kimchi we made was delicious. I was able to bring some back to my host parents and gifted them a container of kimchi which they enjoyed.

Also, I got my hair redone and it took about 6 hours to get it to the color that is shown below. Highly enjoyed the hair salon I went to and they were all very kind and nice. Anyhow, that’s all the update that I have and hope everyone is doing well back in the States. Enjoy these pictures and videos :)


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