Thursday, August 29, 2019

Unsustainable ESL evironment

Years ago when I started teaching English in Korea things were very odd. No one really knew what to do. Basically, go in to the class and some how "teach". There was no training 20 years ago. English academies where everywhere. Teachers from the so called native English speaking countries were a very common site.

Today some things have stayed the same while other things have changed dramatically. Way back in the day the way of teaching a class was so simple and straight forward. This caused many issues as teachers who did not really respect the job would end up boring students. This stayed like this for many years. Teachers could get a visa very easily and cheaply. So you have a industry where teachers rarely stayed longer than one or two years at one location. They could get work papers easily. The days of the visa run to Japan comes to mind.

Today when teaching we have to do many other things that...well take away from teaching. This is due to the growing influence of Korean mothers. They are not experts in linguistics yet they wield power. They typically control the money in a Korean household. So when groups of moms get together ideas pop up. Those ideas make their way into the classroom. Sometimes these new ideas come from educational channels on TV or popular trends in Seoul. These trends are often short lived. I remember the flash card trend. When people who are not well versed in a field wield power over said is unsustainable.

Lets go back to teachers. There are more qualified teachers in Korea than ever before. The total number of e-2 visa English teachers has decreased though. Rules have tightened, teachers and employers have to use 1 year visas. This means that once a year your life will pause, while you sort your papers out to stay one more year. The changes to teaching visas is a very good thing in many ways. People with criminal records would run to Asia and work. Thus escaping the stigma of a criminal charge on their record. Back in the day no background checks were run. I remember when that change was implemented. It caused a panic!

Visa fees have increased, durations have not changed despite many people staying longer at stable, very well run schools. People who really want to live in South Korea are having a hard time these days. To gain permanent residency status is based a point system, not how many years you have lived in the country paying taxes, not causing problems. This is not sustainable. I have seen so many long term teachers 5-15 years in Korea throw in the towel.

Academy owners are under a crazy amount of stress. People steal ideas (this actually happened to us in Gunsan) and curriculum from competitors. I have seen this happen in Gunsan SO many times. Owners have to deal with unreasonable demands from parents. I will not go into detail here lets just say it makes Korean teachers, and owners lives miserable. This leads to burn out. Which is not something that can survive long term. Mothers in Korea seem to think that piling homework on their children is the answer.

I could rant on for hours but I do not see ESL surviving in the form that it is today for maybe another 10 years. Heck perhaps 5 years from now there will some major change. People have a breaking point. I read the diary of one student. That student stated that they only enjoyed ONE day of the week. ONE DAY. When I was a child I enjoyed EVERYDAY, well except Monday's. Even today I live for everyday. I feel that a change is coming.


Friday, August 23, 2019

There comes a time in ones life..

I have met so many different types of people over the years. I have worked with many people over a decade (the same coworkers). I have now worked at a number of Hagwons in Korea. I have noticed something. There comes a time in ones life to take a look at what you are doing, and take it easy.

I will not use names only Yogi and I. When Yogi was first working she was so strict, that is caused her a lot of stress while not working. I told her time and time again this is not healthy. After some time she agreed with me and started to not take things so seriously. It resulted in reduced stress she was able to become even more innovative, and creative. She became a better listener. In turn a better learner. It was the same with me. I used to be so focused on my work not realizing that I was actually doing a disservice. For me that time in my life came 7 years ago. In 2012 my mother died. It brought many things into perspective.

Different Hoqwan owners have come to this point as well. When they would sit down with me and discuss their feelings about "work" or "business" I could see what was the trigger for them to take it a bit easier. People can not help but realize life is not all that long. When you are in the grind time FLIES. Years melt away like a stick of butter on glowing coals. Those years are actually your life speeding by with little or no substance. You take a break but it is so fleeting that those memories are buried by more mundane stress that piled on due to work.

One boss I worked with had a set up that required so much time and effort to get a certain task done, that I could see the stress on that persons face.  Eventually strict guidelines start getting loosened. Either by "forgetting" that certain things need to get done. Or procrastinating with certain mundane needlessly tedious, and time wasting tasks. English teachers in Korea who have been around long enough and treat their occupation like a real job will understand what these "tasks" and "procedures" are. It makes me shake my head when I see it. I however, just go with the flow.

However, it all comes to the same place at the end. People get to a certain point when there comes a time in their life that caused them to make changes and take it easy. Taking it a bit easier does not mean to become complacent, or lazy. It means to expend your energy where it matters most. The result when issues arise you become: a better listener, observer, multitasker, and leader. This is mainly for people in management and leadership roles. Teachers are including as well.


Thursday, August 22, 2019

Upgraded to the Note 10+...

This upgrade was needed. But not for the obvious reasons like needing a better camera, larger screen.
Basically, I love the note 8 9 and 10 series. I like how the note 9 has wider vapor cooling pipe, on the note 10+ it is a bit better. The Note 8 has one real weak point the small battery. So forget all the gizmos that come with the phone the bezels and what not. The main reason I needed this upgrade is cooling and a larger battery.

I am strange that way. When I upgraded to the LG G Pro 2 from the iphone4 (I I kept the phone for almost 3 years. I lost the backup battery, and the one battery I had..well I killed it FAST.
I enjoyed the larger display the nicer camera, and the fast quad-core CPU coupled with a nice GPU. Not the greatest tech at that time but it was enough. My friend Josh went through perhaps 5 different high-end phones during the time I had the LG phablet.

So this upgrade means that I plan to keep this device for...quite some time. What I am most excited about is passing the Note 8 to Yogita and she can mothball her galaxy-wide 3. That phone runs on 2 gigs of ram. YUCK. It has only 32 gigs of internal storage...what?! So at the moment, I am transferring all of her apps and settings to the Note 8. In six months I will look into getting the battery replaced in the Note 8. For now, I will have yogi carry a 10000 mah battery pack with her.


Friday, August 16, 2019

Another Sandwich day...

Yesterday was Korea's independence day. We had a nice day. Yogi and I played some games in the cooler hours then napped. The boys read books and also napped. In the evening it was about the same.

The odd thing is the next day. Going into on work after a middle of the week holiday. Your body thinks it is Monday. A teacher told me that in Korean there is an expression for such days. I simply told her that I call days like this "Monday-Friday". It is not so bad when it is Thursday. Wednesday holidays UGH such odd weeks when that happens.

It seems like the hottest month is over and things will cool down. I can not wait for winter. I get more exercise in cooler months. In the summer I sweat like crazy. is time to go two classes and this Monday-Friday will be done! LOL


Friday, August 09, 2019

Hot humid summers

Since we have returned to South Korea at the end of 2013 summer have been getting worse. A long time student of mine told me that the summer of 2013 was really bad. I spent that summer in Hyderabad working. It was not bad at all, due to the area that we lived in was at a higher elevation. Heat we experienced was a dry heat.

In Korea there are really 3 weeks in the summer where it is really unbearable. Then the temperatures either go cooler or warm up (depending on the time of year). I would say Korea is cold more than it is hot. The hot season can be VERY rough though. I used to wonder why many Korean do not use the AC like Americans do. Now I understand. The cost of running the AC is very pricey here, in addition to there being only 3 weeks of heat that is really intense. Also many Koreans do not sweat like people back in the States do. So running the AC can become very uncomfortable.

That being said in the winter people keep their homes very warm, for me uncomfortably warm. Korea is mostly cool to bone chillingly cold. So when visiting Korean homes it can get very toasty.

Right now we are at the peak of the this heat season or rather coming off of the peak. I look forward to fall and winter, I can get back to long walks with Yogita.


Thursday, August 08, 2019

Wow long time no post..

So much has happened since last posting on this blog. I guess the one most important thing that has happened is that we have finally switched over to the OCI status (we turned in our papers and we are waiting on the OCI cards to arrive). Basically, an OCI is like a green card in India. It might seem to many people that India is not such a great place to live and work. However, you if look at numbers and statistics more and more nonresident Indians are coming back to India. No you will not make the same money BUT your life style will be MUCH better than outside of India. If you do it right and return to India with a plan and very good savings you are in for a pleasant experience.

OCI stands for over Overseas Citizenship of India. It is for a lifetime and acts as a visa, and a strong form of ID. It allows a person to work, buy property, take out loans, start a business and other things. I have lived in Korea for so long yet here there is no such system in place. I need to accrue points on a scale system. The more points you have you can be eligible for a permanent resident visa. The thing is you are at the mercy of the immigration office who will take your case. If they do not like you...too bad you will either be rejected or it will take a longer time.

While I was living in India I I was apart of the country. While in Korea you get this feeling (outside of my own social network), that I am a long term visitor. Korea will regret this stance as it's population ages, and the workforce shrinks even more than it has today.

So our vacation was making sure that we got the OCI done for George and I. Jeyo's will be taken care of during the winter vacation. Joy of joys!

Ok it is Friday tomorrow. It is strange I look forward to every evening during the workweek, and of course I look forward to the weekend. I am not one of those "live for the weekend" types. Anyways I digress...