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  • Hello everyone.

  • Welcome to English Talk.

  • I'm your host Robin Shaw and in these podcasts I hope to give you good information about

  • studying English,learning English, improving your English

  • And I hope you learn a lot of things from my guest today.

  • And my guest today is Brandon.

  • Thanks for having me, Robin.

  • How are you doing today?

  • I'm okay.

  • How are things with you?

  • I'm doing great, man.

  • Just living life.

  • Teaching, working having a good time, man.

  • Okay.

  • So today we're going to talk to Brandon.

  • About his experiences teaching in Korea so we'll learn a lot about how he interacted

  • with his students and tried to get them to not only learn English but also I guess

  • Practice.

  • learn a little more about American culture.

  • Correct.

  • Correct.

  • Usually in in Korea, a lot of the schools, or private schools,

  • they like Caucasian teachers.

  • Blond hair, blue eyes, yep.

  • And you are not Caucasian and we'll talk a little bit about that, too.

  • Okay so why don't you tell us about when you first came to Korea.

  • I first came to Korea... I think it was about 2015.

  • About 2015 when I first came to Korea.

  • In the States, I was working as a scientist.

  • I was doing that for a bit and then I wanted a little change.

  • And then I came to Korea.

  • I came with the Epik Program.

  • What is the Epik Program?

  • It's a government-run program.

  • It's called English program in Korea (EPIK).

  • And so pretty much it's a government-run program so they put you into the public schools

  • so it's like 9 to 5 but you're only teaching 22 hours a week.

  • And they give you housing, decent salary, the pension, health insurance, all the

  • longer vacation stuff like that.

  • And you were... did you... like were you interviewed by a recruiter in America?

  • I had a recruiter that I applied through like like one of the agency... Epik agency

  • like authorized recruiter.

  • I applied through them and then they just helped me with my paperwork

  • and like the guy helped prep me for my interview.

  • But then, I was interviewed by an Epik worker interviewer person

  • And I had my interview.

  • Which was really interesting.

  • I think I thought it went really bad, but I still got the job.

  • Like my webcam didn't work.

  • It went in and out.

  • And the lighting was terrible but somehow I still got the job.

  • Did the issue of race ever come up prior to coming into Korea?

  • I ask that because I when I came to Korea, I had a friend who was not Caucasian and we

  • had the same interview, but I made it he didn't.

  • Hmm I think well you came earlier I honestly I think.. I think..

  • I don't wanna phrase this like... I think it was better for me, but I think

  • friends that were Asian, had a slightly more difficult time getting

  • the job.

  • So like back back then when you probably became it was probably just like blond hair blue

  • eyes that's what we want.

  • Black guy, no.

  • Asian, no.

  • But now they're just like... everybody come...

  • Asian guys.

  • Asian girls.

  • And the reason is I have friends that are.. that are Asian.

  • Like they might be Filipino or Chinese or Japanese...

  • Whatever they are.

  • And they look Korean... or whatever, the students and the parents think like,

  • even though they are a fluent English speaker, the students go up to them and go, in Korean,

  • °You're Korean." And the person's like, "No I'm Chinese".

  • or whatever.

  • "I don't speak Korean." So the kids have like... like a disconnect.

  • Just like, "My teachers Asian.

  • How do they know English?"

  • They're not Korean?

  • I want a foreigner teacher.

  • My teacher's not a foreigner. And they are foreigner, but

  • after a while like the kids realize...

  • All right so Epik hired you...

  • Correct. and then stuck you not in a city but they

  • stuck you in rural Korea.

  • Seongju.

  • yes.

  • Seongju.

  • Where is Seongju.

  • Gyungsanbukdo.

  • So when my recruiter¡¦ like everyone wanted Seoul.

  • That's a thing and I.. this is like.. I don't care about Seoul.

  • And then Busan is actually where I wanted to go.

  • But Busan is actually harder to go to then Seoul.

  • Why is that?

  • Busan requires the TEFL course that TEFL?

  • Yeah it's actually... you need like in person.

  • So mine was like an online class.

  • For Busan public school you need a in person hours

  • so it's actually harder to come than Seoul.

  • Seoul is just first-come first-serve.

  • Busan is this you need to have higher standards.

  • So with me they said Gyungsanbukdo, it's cool.

  • I didn't pick Daegu cuz Daegu and Gyungsanbukdo are technically separate.

  • And they're... the guy... the reading I read was

  • Gyungsanbukdo many universities and it's a great area

  • and I'm thinking I want to learn Korean.

  • I'm gonna go take classes at a Korean University.

  • And then I got put in Seongju.

  • And Seongju is technically bigger than Seoul.

  • Land-wise.

  • Land-wise, but

  • It has a hundred thousand people.

  • Hundred thousand people.

  • Seoul is 10 million people.

  • So when you first arrived there what was your initial reaction?

  • In Korean?

  • In like Seongju.

  • Like oh this is.. There's people here.

  • There's people here... it was okay?

  • Like I mean like we did training in Daejeon.

  • So we parted in Daejeon and in my we went to Gumi.

  • My host...my main teacher picked me up.

  • We drove.

  • We talked.

  • He dropped me off at my place.

  • I already had friends there from orientation.

  • And all we did was just like walk around and hang out but then you...

  • There really isn't nothing there.

  • Okay.

  • There's no movie theater.

  • There's no like really big department store.

  • The Home Plus never opened like... The bus station was supposed to be like this

  • big department store, but it never opened.

  • so like there's 10 floors of nothing like nothing's in there and the first floor

  • is just the bus station.

  • Okay.

  • So yeah the nearest movie theater is like 20 minutes away in the next city.

  • Okay well 20 minutes is not bad.

  • Okay anyway why don't you tell us about the entering that classroom for the first time.

  • Man, I was a bad teacher.

  • No like... like when I said I was a bad teacher like the first month was pretty rough like

  • I think every everyone has a first month.

  • I was just like I don't know what I'm doing.

  • Like I wasn't prepared.

  • I was just chilling... like.. but like going into the classroom...

  • Which age group?

  • I was teaching elementary school.

  • Elementary school.

  • Third, fourth, fifth and sixth grade.

  • So when they saw you they must have been like...

  • Teach... like... it's weird.. like Seongju...

  • I don't know.. somehow... I don't know how this happened.

  • But somehow they put all the black people in the same district.. like.

  • There's like 10 black people in orientation.

  • They put us all in Gyungsanbukdo.

  • By design?

  • I don't know and then like 6 of us ended up in Seongju.

  • I was just like... How did y'all put just... all the black people

  • in the countryside?

  • But in Seongju there was..

  • At the English village there was another South African black guy that was working there.

  • so like all the students for English village... have to go in Seongju have to go...

  • All the students in Seongju must go to the English village.

  • What is an English village?

  • English town... English town is pretty much like um

  • My job is teaching book stuff, but the English town is kind of just like

  • specifics.

  • So the kids will spend a week there or... Each city has one.

  • It's provided by the government?

  • Yeah um so on they'll spend like a day learning food stuff and

  • they'll do food things.

  • And the next day they might do hospitality.

  • It's more like activities and games to some extent

  • to make them learn it so like''' Okay.

  • There.

  • There's a black eye there, so like the kids all...

  • and they all meet this black guy so they're just like...

  • I met a black guy before.

  • Like... last year and he was very nice.

  • So seeing a new black guy it's not that... Okay so they didn't have too much of a shock.

  • The third grade class is like °Oh my god!

  • Who's this black guy? but like the fourth, fifth, sixth grade classes

  • are like, "I met a black guy before."

  • Okay so..

  • "You didn't kill me."

  • So... the...

  • In the classroom itself, how did you... Did you interact well with the kids?

  • Yeah I mean my personality is outgoing and I had fun.

  • Like my kids... like my kids were cool.

  • Like yay play high-fives and... We did games and stuff.

  • Were.. were they eager to learn English?

  • Yes and no.

  • I mean they're forced to learn it.

  • So it's kind of like.. the same thing with like us in the states with Spanish.

  • I was forced to learn Spanish.

  • I didn't want to learn Spanish.

  • But then, for me, like I only learned to pass school.

  • And then it's part of my heritage so I was just like I need to learn Spanish.

  • But for them, it's just they have to learn Spanish to get...

  • They have to learn English to get into high school.

  • They have to learn English to get into college.

  • But, um, as a public school teacher the difference between public school and I say hagwon

  • which is s private academy, Public school teacher, is like, for elementary

  • school, we don't really care about teaching English.

  • And when I say that it means we introduce English to make it fun for them.

  • Hey English is fun.

  • Like we're gonna play games.

  • Don't hate English.

  • Like it's fun because 999%, 90% of them are going to go to private academy.

  • And at private academy, it's terrible it's just work work work work work

  • Yeah they spend a lot of time there.

  • They spend a lot of time there so it's just like...

  • Like they're forced to do that.

  • And it's just like book stuff.

  • And it's really not fun.

  • They like grow to hate it.

  • None of them want to go to it pretty much.

  • But so with my class is more just like "hey English is fun" like...

  • I know you have to go to do your private academy later,

  • but let's... let's try and have fun like¡¦ Today we're gonna have fun with English.

  • So it was kind of like that.

  • Introduced English to them and make them eager to learn,

  • so that in the future they don't dislike it.

  • You're playing games all day.

  • So it was an easy job.

  • Yeah I mean my general day would be... but it depending on whatever classes I teach,

  • I would come in... Sorry.

  • I would come in.

  • I would download a warm-up game.

  • Ten minute warm-up.

  • Or set a five minute warm-up game.

  • We'll do the bookwork.

  • Twenty minute book work.

  • Whatever the lesson is for that day.

  • So it's either like speaking, listening, reading, writing.

  • Like the four lessons for that chapter.

  • And if they're like fifth or sixth grade it has extra.

  • And then after, we'll play a game.

  • so that they warm up the ten... depending on the game like I don't know like

  • crossword puzzle or something and and they might do a crossword puzzle.

  • They do the book work when they listen and

  • they'll probably have to speak and then we'll play a role playing game

  • or a bomb game which is like like like Wheel of Fortune

  • or something like that kind of game and they're like uh teams and maybe candy

  • and stuff But I did play games a lot.

  • It's easy.

  • Okay.

  • How long were you there