more pics of where we work
To the left are thumbnails of our building, Manyeon Officetel, and the Taejon Government Complex, where Rob works about 10 hours per week as a teacher and editor in the National Statistical Office.

the (nearly) new office
At last, here are some pictures of our "new" office (we moved in back in February 1999). Below them, you'll find four random photos taken around the (old) school, and below all that is the first version of this page, explaining our company and work in some detail.

Here's the view from the front door.
This is the teacher's room, with Elizabeth, our teaching colleague, passing by in the background.
Our director, Mrs. Kim, and the long hallway that leads to all our classrooms.

Mrs. Kim with her son Jun-ho and Kelly, one of Cheris' students.
Annabelle, our fellow teacher.
Sometimes a funny picture on the whiteboard helps kids remember the sentence pattern. Artwork by Cheris.
"Ken" Park, our minibus driver.

on the job

Welcome to our office.
Here's the front desk at our place.

Kwak's English Country is a hagwon: a private school that specializes in teaching English. Kids study English in their regular schools too, but folks here think English is pretty important for the next generation, so a lot of Korean children attend hagwons. Kwak's is a franchise that was started in Seoul by a well-known Korean businessman and radio personality named Kwak Young-il; our office in Taejon is just over one year old as of October '98.

We're on the sixth floor of a fairly new seven-story commercial building. The classrooms are named after Disney characters, since the kids know these characters well. So we've got the Mickey room, and the Pluto room, and the... Goopy room.

Walt Disney is turning in his grave.
Guess someone made a little typo on that last one.

The teaching staff at Kwak's consists of just Cheris, Rob, and Annabelle (Korean name: Kang Suke-Hyoon). Annabelle is a fine English speaker, a great teacher, and a very helpful friend to us; we really don't know how we'd get along without her! Our academic director is Kim Ook-ee (Mrs. Kim to us); she has also helped make our stay here so far a lot of fun. The only other employees are Miss Maeng, who teaches our morning "preschool," and "Ken" Park, our bus driver, who studies English with us informally (whenever we have a free minute in the teacher's room).

There are about 65 students at our hagwon right now, from kindergarten right on through high school, plus adults in a "housewife class" and a conversational class. Teaching schoolkids in the USA is often boiled down into "the 3 r's": reading, 'riting, and 'rithmatic. Rob's theory so far on teaching English to foreigers (especially the younger tykes) is also based on 3 r's: repetition, reward, and repetition.

The kids have totally blown our sterotype of angelical Asian schoolchildren: they can be complete animals, and... they often are. We usually have a good time, though.

Our friend Pete asked this favor of Rob recently via e-mail:

Would you please tell me about your top three funny students? I'm trying to come up with a sitcom.

Rob was only too happy to oblige, and wrote back:

#1: Mr. Lee, an unemployed 28-year old with hair down to his butt, attends both my "housewife" class M-W-F morns and my adult class every evening. Anyway, I really love the way he staggers into the morning classes and announces to me (almost every single time): "I am hangover."

#2: Our school's director, Mrs. Kim, is also my student. She attends the housewife class regularly and the evening adult class when she can. She has only spoken English for a year and a half, but is learning very fast and she always manages to amuse us somehow. A recent sample: "My mother home heaven. My mother-in-law home HELL!"

#3: Leo -- this one is really Cheris' student, but he cracks me up just the same. He's about 15, and he pays little attention in class because he thinks he knows all the English he wants to know, and he says these 4 sentences again and again and again:
  • "I am genius."
  • "Girls love Leo."
  • "I am sexy."
  • "I like erotic."

I want a 10% finder's fee on your network deal, plus a subsidiary on the T-shirts.

Der kindergarten, ya.
The kindergarten across the street.

Kindergarten here is never a part of an elementary school. They're private institutions, often with really nice facilities. In the photo at left is the kindergarten across the street from our building, as seen from the window of our teacher's room. Many hagwons now offer mini-kindergartens or preschools too, as does ours, so kids get started on a little English really early.

Cheris's kindergarteners are some of her favorite students! Especially Jun-ho, who also just happens to be our director's son... That's him on the right with his dad, Mr. Bae Sung-Tae.

Peace, man.
Isn't he just the cutest darn kid?

Cheris catching some much-needed zzzz's...

Though it's usually a lot of fun, teaching can be very tiring work.

take me back to the index, please