I have spent the last few blogs waxing poetically about the magic and excitement of the holiday season. What I somehow forgot to mention is arguably the most enchanting and wonderful part of all…Winter Intensives! Yes boys and girls, Winter Intensives is that lovely time of year when parents celebrate their children’s school vacations by sticking them in Chungdahm for extra classes. Anyways, I am not here to give my take on the parenting style of Korean parents, but instead to give you the low-down on Winter Intensives and offer a few pieces of wisdom on how to survive them, well, in one piece.
So I will start off by noting that not every Chungdahm branch does these extra classes, either because of lack of student interest or whatever other reason, so obviously this may not even apply to you. But for those of you that do have the pleasure, then hopefully this blog might help you a bit. Anyway, Winter Intensives run from the beginning of January until the tail end of the month, which means you are teaching anywhere from three to six classes a week. Personally, I will have an extra class on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Now I cannot speak for other branches, but it is not uncommon to have a Saturday class for a term here, so the whole Saturday teaching thing is not a big deal. Here in Daejeon, every teacher is on salary, so your January paycheck should see a hefty bump when you factor in the overtime pay. If you are a fan of more money, then Winter Intensives is definitely your cup of tea.
Now what certainly is not my cup of tea is early wakeups, and unfortunately with Winter Intensives I was slapped with the 9:30 AM start time. Now at our branch you are given either a 9:30 AM or 1:30 PM start, and initially I wanted the 1:30, just because my internal clock has been mangled beyond all recognition. But in reality, once you get past the original shock of readjusting your sleep schedule, the 9:30 is actually infinitely preferable in my humble opinion. Instead of dealing with the rather exhausting prospect of 9 straight teaching hours, you have a nice four hour break before your normal class. I typically utilize this time to get a bite to eat, look over my class materials, and even take a nap if I feel the need for it. If I am feeling like a real go-getter, I might even squeeze in a quick 9 holes of screen golf before heading back to work. Obviously, how you use your respite is up to you, but it is definitely fantastic to be able to recharge the teaching batteries.
In terms of the actual intensive classes themselves, there is not too much to say really. Whether it is test skills, novel discussion, or essay writing, obviously you need to adequately prepare the lesson and familiarize yourself with the material. These parents are paying a lot of money for these classes, so by no means should you think you can coast through with minimal effort. Of course build rapport quickly with your students, but also keep in mind that they are here on their school vacation. Laying the hammer down may not be the best way to reach your students here, especially since they are going to Chungdahm on their vacation. In closing, I reccommend just buckling down, get through the trying weeks ahead, and use that juicy paycheck as motivation!
Patrick Sheridan grew up in the quiet suburbs outside of Boston but always knew he wanted to explore the world. Studying abroad in Denmark while attending Elon University did not satisfy this desire, so after graduating in 2012 he decided to join Chungdahm Learning and teach English in South Korea. He loves wandering through the various neighborhoods of his city Daejeon, sampling random back-alley restaurants and attempting to communicate with the locals in his horribly broken Korean. He embraces everything Korean and looks forward to seeing everything South Korea has to offer.