- The Students were very affectionate! Not only with each other, but with the teachers as well. This is a part of Korean culture apparently, but I found it totally bizarre that not only do the teachers kiss their students, but they kiss them on the lips! I can’t imagine that happening in Japan…or anywhere else for that matter.
- Koreans have a completely different system for measuring age. In Korea, people turn one years old the moment they are born and they age a year each January, regardless of their actual birth dates. This means that babies who were born in December 2008 are already two years old right now! Crazy, huh? So if you teach a kindergarten class of students who are five years old by Korean standards, some of your students could be as young as three! At that stage of development, that’s a huge age range, don’t you think?
- All the students were called by their “English names”, and not by the Korean names given to them at birth. I’ve been told that they do this in China as well, but because the school was an English-medium kindergarten, all of the students Korean names were changed to “English names”. So at school, they went by names like “Harry” or “Sally”. My cousins’ didn’t even know these children’s real names! The situation became funny in that some of the parents picked out rather weird names for the child, like “Mighty” for example, or “Dash” and sometimes one of their students would randomly decide they didn’t like their name and one day decide to change it (and this was completely allowed!)
I wasn’t sure how I felt about the name-change system. It was done so that the teachers would have an easier time pronouncing and remembering the student’s names, but I would find the presumption that I wouldn’t remember a Korean name, sort of insulting. Plus, changing their names is sort of akin to erasing their culture, or saying that it’s not ‘good enough’ or ‘proper’ for school, and that English names are better.