Say What?

Say What?! Episode 1: Students can’t fail?

There are so many surprises, good and bad, that expats experience whilst living and working abroad. Moving to Korea to teach is a big step, and not something to be taken lightly. Korea is very different from most of our home countries, and it’s important that before you make the decision to come live and work in Korea, you have your expectations set at a reasonable place, that you don’t come expecting it be like America (insert your home country), and that you are flexible, open-minded, and slow to judgement. I think these are the keys to happiness not just in Korea, but any country you choose to reside.

What is “Say What?!”

The intention of this video series is to provide information that isn’t talked about constantly on the Korean blog circuits, or at orientations. The things I easily forget to tell prospective teachers when asked what they should know about living and teaching in Korea before they come. These things can be easily overlooked, but for some people, they could be pieces of information that effect their decision to come to Korea.

I used to spend a lot of time reading threads on or Dave’s ESL cafe, and the number of posts with foreigners complaining about (what I see as) small things really surprised me, or caused me to roll my eyes. Although I contribute materials to those websites, I try to stay away from those negative threads.

But after seeing these threads on the front page (I usually just read the title), I started thinking to myself, “What if someone told them before they made the decision to come here, that that, whatever the issue is, is just the way it is here?” If they weren’t surprised by it, would they be less negative about it? Or would they have decided not to come at all? Would it have inspired them to do more research into the culture?

What’s the point of the series?

My goal is to increase the quantity of reasonable, flexible, open, happy teachers here in Korea.
And in my opinion, knowledge is power. The more you know about living and working here, the better able you will be to make the right decision for you. As I said in the video, some of these will be serious things to consider before coming to Korea, and other topics will be more silly, and more of just an FYI.

If at the end of any of these videos you feel an overwhelming urge to judge and condemn this culture, then maybe Korea just isn’t the place for you. 🙂

So, with this lengthy introduction out of the way, here is Episode 1: Students can’t fail? – where I discuss the grading system in Korean public schools.