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Duped about Kindergarten
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Joined: 11 May 2003
Location: Bella Italia

PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2003 8:21 pm    Post subject: Duped about Kindergarten Reply with quote

Here's the scoop.

Into the fourth month of my contract at a hagewon - paid on time, 25 teaching classes per week, Korean teachers are nice, one other foreign teacher, set curriculumn, books, etc available, elementary and middle school kids OK (monsters on bad days, likeable punks on good days).

My problem - Kindergarden!

When I negotiated and signed the contract I was told that I would be teaching elementary and middle school students from 2-8 daily.

When I got to the school I found that I would be teaching 10 hours per week of kindergarten (KG). So my hours are now 9:30 - 12:30 and 3:00 - 7:00.

So, I thought I'd give it a go and promised myself three months. I have survived but am not enjoying it. Now, before someone writes back with a "life ain't a bowl of cherries every day" caustic comment let me be more specific.

I dread Kindergarten. I think there should be a show "Survivor - Hagewon Kindegarten".

At first I was promised a Korean speaking assistant who has never materialized. I asked for books and a curriculumn and I got a one page sheet with the months and topics listed i.e. April - Body. Despite reading as much as possible about success in the KG classrom I still feel like my classes are 40 minutes of hell. I switch activites often, I incorporate music and dance, we move about the classroom. The kids run and scream and crawl all over me. I cannot get cut and paste stuff done. Basic instructions are lost on them (draw, cut, paste). Taking out crayons is a ten minute ordeal. Fine - they are kids and I can appreciate that and do not really want to control them - mostly because I don't want to be there. And, incrementally, my KG duties are increasing. Shocked Recently, telephone teaching has been added. Now, twice a month I will be simultaneously hosting the parents while teaching the kids, in additional to the regular teaching. Yeah - that'll be fun.

The other foreign teacher also teaches the KG for one class. She has the Korean KG teacher with her who prepares all her lessons, explains everything in Korean and she says a few English words. Class over.

I talked to my director and explained my understanding of the situation (She said elementary and middle school teaching now I teach kindergarten) and I told her I would not have taken the job had I been told I was teaching KG. I aksed her if I could teach less KG - no, the parents want even more hours for their kids with the foreign teachers. I asked for help with classes like the other foreign teacher. No - too much work for the Korean KG teacher. She said she understood my concerns and felt sorry for me. She could not change the structure because she has told the parents I was teaching. She promised to change after my contract ends. Exclamation

My instinct? Well - since negotiations have proved fruitless I'm thinking about leaving. Not just thinking about it - actively looking and applying for university jobs. There is enough demand for English teachers in this country so finding work will not be a problem. (I have been reading postings here about breaking contracts and re-employment so I aware of those pitfalls). Yeah - and if I work at another hagewon I'll be writing a contract that specifies no Kindergarten next time!

Because it's stressful I go to the gym 4-5 days a week, don't drink alcohol generally, regularly go for little trips around Korea, I am taking twae-kwon-do and korean language classes, corresponding with friends and family, etc.

So, wise and learned reader, what suggestions do you have? Additional coping strategies, negotiation suggestions, escape routes, anecodotal stories about similar situations that will cheer me up? Maybe my Korean Kindergarden Blues are the norm. Even knowing that would be helpful.

Thanks in advance,

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PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2003 8:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sorry to hear what happened to you. Welcome to Korea land of deceptions..mmmm... that should go on another thread.

breaking contract look here first. I've actually decided not to break my contract because of this rule even though my wife called immigration. Immigration in this country is incredibly consistently inconsistent.

My recommendation is to stick it out as long as possible. I too hated it when I got duped into teaching kids.
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Joined: 25 Feb 2003

PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2003 1:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's not really that complicated. Friendly ultimadum.

Frankly speak that you did not sign up for Kindergarten, and you would not have taken the job if you had known kindergarten was on the agenda. You've been doing the classes out of the kindness of your heart, but that is now coming to an end.

Personally, I would negociate for an assistant and 30,000 an hour, or 40,000 Won an hour flat rate for teaching the class by yourself (assuming it's approx. 10 students). More if the class is larger.

Word of wisdom. Toss the "cut and paste" activities and break out the cookies with lots of "what's this" and adjectives. Reward the good kids, starve the ones who don't behave. Odds are most, if not all, will fall in line pretty quick. The ones that don't, they'll either figure it out eventually or just complain to the parents and you can cite that their little angel isn't behaving when the parents come in, and problem solved.

You'll get a pay raise or the problem will be solved. The absolute worse case scenario that can happen is that the director will get pissed, fire you, and you can get another job at another school the next day, and this time you can view the schools first. Plus you'll be able to negociate for a higher rate of pay because you're already in the country and you have experience.
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Joined: 18 Jan 2003
Location: Daejeon

PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2003 2:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fight back!

Well you have two choices stick with it or to run.

If you choose to stick with it. Ask yourself what you can do to make Kindergarden easier. You said better supplies and books. Plus a Korean assistant. Your boss is not willing to help you! Talk to your boss again. Tell them the truth "I can not teach them" and " I need help, not a f-ing SORRY". If you want supplies tell them what you want. Hell go to the store and get them (not your money please). Ask when she can get an assistant for you.

If no help from the school then give them a fright and tell them you thinking of leaving.

One way to fight back get lax and lazy.
Let the monsters run around. Hell let some run around the school by leaving the school door open. If the kid makes a mess do nothing about it. Hell let a kid piss on the floor and leave it there. Do not let the kids go to the bathroom. Give them lots of juice.
Another way is teach the wall. Ignore what ever the kids are doing and just teach, if all the kids are running around just sit there and read the story book.
Do the reports but sloppily. Do wrong names. Tell the truth of what you thing. Use red ink. Lie - "little Jimmy is the stupidist little boy I have ever met".
AS to the telephone teaching be rude. Just talk and talk and then hang up. Hell call them at 1:00 oclock to teach the children.
Hell do not teach them - just show up to class and play with them. The majority of these kids will not remeber the english at the end of the day. So how can mom and dad know the kids are learning.
Teach the children useless things like swearing and stupid songs, or nosense english.
Dress sloppily or inapporpriatly. Think short and skimpy.
Train the children. I mean use reward and punishment. Given some hard work in a month or two they might be normal enough to sit through the class.
If the class acts up go get the boss or secretary to talk to them. Every time do that. The school will learn that Kindergarden is not easy.

If you are going to RUN. Avoid the Midnight run. Do it legally. Tell them you are quiting and give them notice. Plus immigration notice too. If you want another job. Leave the country and come back. Give a little time in between. And when you do come back go to a different city or town. Simply put immigration does not always trade info. As to if this will work well ....

And some advice for other people in the future. Schools lie. If they say no preschool but they have preschool classes do not work at the school. They will have you doing classes once they have you signed and sealed. Hell use your brains people schools like Ding Ding Dang and ECC have preschool. Just a visit to the school can tell you if they have preschool children.

If you do not want to work at a school that has preschool tell the school at the beginning - that you will not do preschool. And say NOT one month or two months or for a short while - NOT once will I teach preschool class. Get your hours stated in your contract. If your school gives you preschool do not GO. Teach what you agreed upon ( of course extra prep time too).

Also Catalina what school are you working for?. Details please. So for future reference people can know where not to go.

Good Luck

Skippy the Evil twin Twisted Evil
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Joined: 28 Jan 2003
Location: Retired

PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2003 5:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really don't understand why everyone here dreads KG. I have KG classes three times a week, and never any problems. And no, I do not have an assistant either. I speak a little Korean, but basic only. I don't find it difficult to control six-year old kids. I am not trying to be nasty here, but it shouldn't be a hassle.

That said, if you signed a contract that had no KG, then tell the boss no KG. The worst that he can do is fire you, and then you are free to find another school.
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The Den

Joined: 26 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2003 6:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had a similar experience the first time I worked at a hagwon. I liked Gord's suggestion. Don't jsut get lazy and apathetic. Things will just end up being worse for you. Feed the good ones and starve the bad ones. I like that. You may have to spend a little of your own money but rewards go a long way with little kids.
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captain kirk

Joined: 29 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2003 7:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm surprised to see there are some in this thread who think kindergarten isn't a problem. Wow. It was for me. I signed from overseas and landed at a job in a suburb of seoul. They said it would be a little kindergarten. It was awful. I mean, I didn't like it. It takes a 'special person' to like teaching kindergarten. read 'superhuman'
It made for a LONG day, and the kindergarten was first off, so i dreaded trudging to work with the knowledge i'd soon be a traffic cop in a frantic bee hive of zany activity. They aren't stupid, that's for sure. but they don't speak any English and aren't inclined to sit back and gradually put it together, perusing the patterns of a second language to acquire. they would rather tip their desks, kiss and punch, scream and gab, and 'dong shim'. they live in a world of 'no holds barred' entertainment.
So i left that school half way through. It amounted to a ten or eleven hour day for low pay, why not?!
From then on i stipulated NO KINDERGARTEN.
I still get that old twitch and twinge of fear when i see one on the street, however. It's hard to find a hagwon which has no kindy these days. I found one which had built a school with the facilities for kindy, but a gov't sponsored kindy opened next door and bashed their enrollment to zero.
I signed onto a job in taiwan with the NO KINDY stipulation. then the boss said that he has a partnership with another school, and would i mind teaching some morning kindy some months later. I quickly disappeared, completely. Weren't they listening?
It's easy for parents to think it's the best thing for their kids to be with a foreign teacher. But not if the foreign teacher begins to behave like Sigourney Weaver in Alien 2 (funny how they can begin to look like little 'monsters').

Last edited by captain kirk on Wed May 14, 2003 7:42 am; edited 1 time in total
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The Lemon

Joined: 11 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2003 7:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Once upon a time I had to teach KG. I hated it. My solution? I was the worst kindergarden teacher ever. Chaos reigned. Within two months, my boss wasn't insisting I teach KG anymore. My feelings were NOT hurt.

No problem. Smile
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Joined: 23 Mar 2003
Location: almost there...

PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2003 8:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hmm as someone who teaches almost 10 hours of kindergarten a week I can see where your coming from..

There are some classes that are absolute chaos.. generally these are my bigger classes in the region of 20+. It's chaos but I figure it's the schools fault for having 20 4 year olds in classroom designed for 10..

Some of my other classes are a joy. They are the smaller ones and ones where the korean teacher is there usually they are doing their own work but their mere prescence seems to help. Because kindy is my schools bread and butter the programme is really good, and well organised. What I like about kindy is the fact that they lap up language so fast and are always so pleased to see me.

My advice is drop anything remotley to do with cut and paste. I stick to colouring in stuff, they love it and there are really only two instructions needed. To control things I spent about month training them on pencils up (when they are allowed to work) and pencils down (when they listen). Also I have my gold, silver and bronze ink pens which I give out at the end of the lesson which they are really competive about it.

If at all possible try not to lose your cool, having 6 kindergarten kids crying at once is not good.

But it sucks that your boss is breaking your contract... I can't offer much advice on that.

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Joined: 13 May 2003
Location: cowtown

PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2003 8:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm sorry about the school pulling a fast one. It will be your decision about what to do about that one.

If you do think you will stick it out, it may prove to be the most rewarding class. It was for me. Though the first little while was hell with a crowd of mothers watching me on tv screens in the lobby my first day of struggling with little ones who were not inclined to do anything I asked.

It is good that you are changing activities quickly. Initially listening to another language when you are that young is exhausting. It is also important to establish routine with young children. Develop a pattern for the day (e.g) calendar time, sharing circle, movement activity, review game, new material, play, home time. Post this on the board with symbols so children can antipicate what is coming next.

Don't expect children this young with no previous school history to know about how to behave in school. They need to be taught. Some of the first weeks of KG I often spent teaching how to line up, share, wait their turn, clean up after activities.

Keep rules clear, short and consistent. I would avoid use of punishment, but unacceptable behavior should not be tolerated. Children who do not respect each other or you should be given the choice to shape up or leave the activity. Some people find success with rewards like stickers etc., but I find that tends to wear off. We are really looking for intrinsic rewards.

After some grueling months figuring this all out I came to love KG. They learned more than I thought possible. Most were able to converse about their daily activities, read and write by the end of the year. Parents were so happy they cried on graduation day.

Eventually, I went back to Canada and got my B.Ed in early childhood. Korean KG was a paradise compared to teaching two classes of 20 students in public school with all the red tape and issues that kids in North America face.

If you decide to continue and need some ideas or support just let me know. I will be happy to help.
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Joined: 11 May 2003
Location: Bella Italia

PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2003 8:15 pm    Post subject: Duped - Follow Up Reply with quote

Ok - all your responses have been incredibly helpful. Please keep them coming. Plan A "cookies" has been enacted - Plan B involves re-negotiation and/or planning my legal escape - that will occur next week as soon as I can digest your helpful comments.

Gord, Skippy and The Den - tried the cookies today and made the two smartest students cry (they picked today to misbehave), the rest of the class - like butter. So, there's a lesson there - take out the alpha students. But - using extrinsic rewards presents a danger which might backfire....still working on this.

Skippy - the evil employer is Oh Sung Sik (OSS) which I have renamed SOS

UrbanMyth - I was verbally told my classes - contract is slient on class types - it just gives a general "will follow the direction of the Academic Director". I think I am SOL on presenting an argument for contract breaking (tell me otherwise!) Sad

Crazy Lemon Girl - Yeah, we also do a heck of a lot of colouring. While they colour and chat away in hangul I keep thinking "shouldn't I be teaching them English". Suggestions?

Anae - I'll be emailing you for further advice.

Last night I went home and counted the days in the contract - how long until I don't have to pay back the airfare, when will I finish and I just about cried. Today though, much more of a fighting spirit. I figure, if I can't get mad in this society the least I can do is get even - Skippy, thanks for your suggestions. Don't know if I own anything skimpy other than a bikini but hey, playground day is coming up, maye that's my outfit! Twisted Evil
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Joined: 23 Jan 2003
Location: Hoke-y-gun

PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2003 6:38 pm    Post subject: Re: Kinder - Follow Up Reply with quote

Catalina wrote:
Yeah, we also do a heck of a lot of colouring. While they colour and chat away in hangul I keep thinking "shouldn't I be teaching them English". Suggestions?

Depending on their language level and what they are coloring, keep talking to them in English. They are looking at the picture and thinking about it and talking about it (maybe) in Korean and you are providing aural input in English to go along with that knowledge.

What kind of things are you coloring? I have done things like "Color the policeman blue. Color the fireman yellow." Of course with the wee little ones I am doing a sample as well, so they don't need to understand English to complete the activity, but they are getting comprehensible input.

If you are coloring something curricularly related, you can drill a word, sentence, or dialogue to go with the picture:
"The boy is eating lunch."
"Mom, what's for lunch? Let's have sandwiches."
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Joined: 23 Mar 2003
Location: almost there...

PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2003 8:46 pm    Post subject: Re: Duped - Follow Up Reply with quote

Catalina wrote:

Crazy Lemon Girl - Yeah, we also do a heck of a lot of colouring. While they colour and chat away in hangul I keep thinking "shouldn't I be teaching them English". Suggestions?

forgot to add make sure that the content has something do with your circulum.. eg 1, 2, 3s.

As I said pencils down, pencils up is good. But to expand on the colouring as learning... I get them to colour different parts of the picture different colours. Eg if there's an apple colour the apple red... colour the number 1 blue etc. At first they asked me in korean if it was 'this one?' (igoyo?) or 'here?' (yogi) but I make sure my instructions are clear and the same for every lesson. So your learning your nouns and your colours as well as some instructions. Now I have my three year olds saying 'this one?', here?, and awesome plus all the colours after a few months. Which I have to say is one the most rewarding parts of kindergarten they pick up language so fast.

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Joined: 01 May 2003
Location: Seoul

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2003 4:08 am    Post subject: Kindie Reply with quote

Catalina, I feel for you!

I was in the same situation when I arrived here, and I had 19 x 40-minute kindergarten classes each week sprung on me despite my verbal arrangement prior to arrival (stupid me). Every morning I frantically ran around the teacher's room looking for new pictures they could colour, and no matter how many I copied, there was never enough colouring to fill the I would make them cut the picture they had coloured and glue it onto another piece of paper just to waste another 10 minutes. Embarassed

I spent the entire time thinking to myself - I gave up a career-job back home to come here and do THIS? And, yes, the "shouldn't I be teaching them English?" went through my head with guilt every day. So now for some advice now on how I survived it, turned it around, and almost cried to lose my 7 year olds on graduation day!

5 year old classes sang songs. Every day. Same songs day in day out. Now and again I'd remember a new one (Wheels on the bus, BINGO, skinnamarinkky dinky dink...etc etc.) And, to top it off, I am the worlds WORST singer, and I hate to hear myself sing. But, 5 year olds don't care. Make actions up as you go. (Jut don't forget the things you made up by the next day cause it really confuses them!) They like it, you can keep them in their seats.

7 year olds drew on the board. ANYTHING I was teaching them, I had them draw. They love it. Do science experiements, even if it is not in your cirriculum. Good easy cheap ones can be found on teacher's pages online. Things like "what floats in water?" drop pennies, paper, etc. Tons of stuff that is limitless.

6 year olds were the worst....not young enough to be adorable and excusable in their bad behaviour, but not old enough to discipline as much as the 7 year olds to keep them in line. We played a lot of the "who can be the quietest" game, and "who can pretend to be the best sleeper..." <insert wicked grin> But, other games like drawing three things on the board (x 2 teams) and calling out an object ("circle!") and the first team to erase the correct picture gets a point....silly stuff liek that, they love.

Little by little I came around. I still dreaded them every morning, and lots of the monsters got on my nerves, but the fact that I saw them every single dreaded morning meant that in the end, they WERE easier to tame than the MWF afternoon kids.

And, to my horror, my class of 5 year olds started learning...I used to blame their english acquisition on my Korean partner teacher, but she left and a new one replaced her. And the new one barely speaks more english than they do...and they are still learning. For me to look around and see the kids who didn't know their own english name or how to hold a pencil, or a single letter of the alphabet ... one year later, being able to tell me what they did on the's so awesome.

Basically, I am just telling you that if there is no way out of your contract, and like me you are too fearful and chicken to do a run and deal with the potential hassles, and realize that it means how many extra months that you will have to stay to collect a one-year severance payment....and you decide to stick it out, then it WILL turn around. It WILL.

Hope it helps you in some way.
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Joined: 17 Apr 2004
Location: Bundang

PostPosted: Wed Dec 01, 2004 8:16 am    Post subject: Re: Duped - Follow Up Reply with quote

Catalina wrote:

Skippy - the evil employer is Oh Sung Sik (OSS) which I have renamed SOS

I know this is a really old thread, but it irks me that she would name the chain as her employer. I work at an OSS, and besides the awful text books that they just made us switch to, I've had no problems whatsoever. It all depends on who owns and works at your school. Knock the chain for its crappy text book, knock the school you work at for its crappy management.
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