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Welcome to Expacked (Issue #64)

March 19, 2010

One of the biggest culture shocks that teachers coming to Korea find is the competitive nature of the education system.  You may understand that students need good grades to get into the best universities, but even elementary students are fighting for places in their future middle schools.Busan Buildings

One article to come out this week in the Korean Times was ‘A Students Revolt’, which raised some really good points about student life in Korea.  Here are a couple of key quotes from the article:

“We are like horses bred to race with no hopes of watching green fields forever.” So wrote a Korea University student on her school bulletin recently. “It’s only sad our dream is to find what a dream should be.”

As soon as the students ― a relatively small number of better and luckier ones at that ― got out of the 12 hellish years living as exam machines, awaiting them are four more years of “building up specifications” ― like machine parts ― by getting all kinds of certificates and qualifications as well as spending a year or two abroad for English study, not to speak of earning top grades. And all these are just for landing jobs at one of the chaebol or state companies.

Whatever our thoughts are on the Korean education system, its important to realise the pressures are a reality and all of our students are facing it everyday.

One way we can help is by having a little fun in our English classrooms – you’ll be amazed how much more involved they become once they start smiling.   While I’m not saying that we should devalue the learning in our English classes (the grades they get in English are vital to their qualifications) , I’m just saying creating a stress free environment will help them retain a lot more from our classes.

If you do have some strong thoughts on this subject, or about the Korean education system in general, leave a comment here, though Facebook, or just email me directly.  I’d be interested to hear what you think!

St Patricks Day

If you are new to Korea, you will be happy to know that St Patricks Day is celebrated here and there are a bunch of events planned for Saturday in Seoul.  For a detailed outline on what’s happening visit this link from the Korea Times.

Here are the stories making the news this week:

For those living outside Seoul, there’s a new show from French electro duo, ‘Make the Girl Dance’, being held on April 23rd  at Club Pasha in Daegu.  They will also be playing at club ELUNE in Busan on April 24th.

Feel free to comment on any of the stories and make use of the easy sharing options available – in just a few quick clicks you can share any of these stories with other teachers in Korea.

I hope you enjoy the read and, of course, have a good laugh at this week’s jokes.

Cheers,

Ken

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