Pint-sized sources of joy and humour: the best thing about teaching in Korea

Today’s article is written for the Reach To Teach Teach Abroad Blog Carnival, a monthly series that focuses on providing helpful tips and advice to ESL teachers around the globe. This month’s Blog Carnival is hosted by Samantha Baker. I’ll be posting a new ESL related article on my blog at the beginning of every month. Check back for more articles, and if you’d like to contribute to next month’s Blog Carnival, please get in touch with Dean at, and he will let you know how you can start participating! 


Despite this month’s topic, my writing focuses less on endearing/hilarious English mistakes and more on the adorable things students at my school do! Teaching at a hagwon can be quite the hassle- my three months here so far have involved a fair share of miscommunication, things lost in translation, head-scratching, and the ol’ smile-and-nod technique. It’s also been a fantastic learning experience, and there’s no denying even the worst kids can be hilarious!

So, how do my students brighten my day?

Sometimes, they like to give each other ridiculous nicknames.


Their original names: Chris, Sue, Betty, Sophia, Brandon, and me (Holly).

Even their everyday English names are amusing. Sally, Alex, James and Jenny are popular choices, but my favourites at my school are Green, Brown, and Lemon.

I also enjoy their drawings (we were drawing an animal, one body part at a time).


This boy wrote one of my favourite lines in a book report.

Q: Do you recommend this book to a friend? Why?

A: I recommend to Brandon. Why? Because it is simple.


Kids are great at making subtle digs (or so they’d like to think). One of my favourite stories comes from a coworker. His students were asking him about various celebrities, and he’s bad at knowing who’s who. I imagine that, like me, he’s most likely to be made fun of for not knowing famous Koreans.


His story…

“I told them that I knew who Ban Ki-moon was and then they asked if I liked him, and I said that I really liked him.

“They then asked if I knew him and I answered, ‘yes, of course, we hang out all the time’.

“Then came the interrogation. It started as, ‘what do you do when you hang out?’ Then, over the next few days, it evolved into, ‘So teacher, you LIKE Ban ki-moon?’ I’d answer ‘yes’ and they’d ask me if I ever had tea with him, or if we ate little cakes, or if we got breakfast together today, and when I’d answer yes they’d giggle and talk quietly to each other but never say ‘THAT’S GAY’.

“I also told them that we both hated milk and only put sugar in our coffees. Then they wanted to see a picture, so I photoshopped a picture and showed them and that ended the whole deal for about a week until another student remembered that he hasn’t seen the picture and wanted to see it.

“The other students told him that it was an amazing picture and that I really knew Ban Ki-moon, despite them all having seen my clearly fake picture.”

You can’t make these things up.


Book report pictures often are quite cute…


…and some require interpretation from Korean co-teachers. (Who would have guessed that’s a swan?)



This may be my only example of actual English mistakes in this entire post- an essay from one of my students. It isn’t horribly written by any means, but I found his writing style quite entertaining!


My favorite sport is baseball.

I’m play baseball at 6 years old.

I play baseball very well.

My team is Dongbake Snakes.

In my team I am a first peacher (pitcher)

Do you know how to play baseball game?

Peachers was throw the ball, hitter was hit the ball and run.

You throw ball, you hit the ball, you run to the base.

You hit homerun, you turn around the base

Hit homerun, you are in first base, we get 2 score

You are in first, second base we get 3 score

And you are in second, third, first base we get 4 score

Play baseball is not hard

You can do it!



Have you ever taught children, in Korea or elsewhere? What kinds of adorable things did they do?

Blog comment is not hard.

You can do it!


Stay tuned for more!


7 thoughts on “Pint-sized sources of joy and humour: the best thing about teaching in Korea

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