Travelling to Seoul to film English lectures with our partner, e:dm
Kings London English teacher, Liz Gilbert, recently travelled to Seoul, Korea, to work on a project with one of our partners, e:dm. Although the trip involved lots of work, she still managed to find time to explore the city and get to know more about the Korean culture. Here, she tells us about her experience.
Since 2017 Kings Education have worked with e:dm on a joint IELTS project. The first year, Kings Oxford headed up the project, but from 2018 Kings London took over! In our first year, we created and filmed two IELTS exams from scratch, along with 94 lectures, worksheets and lesson plans. In 2019 we wrote four exams, as well as 73 lectures!
In October this year, I was invited back to South Korea to film IELTS lectures with e:dm! I was lucky enough to go for one week in 2018 and had an amazing time working and exploring Seoul, so I was excited to return. I arrived on Sunday and we went straight to the e:dm Education Fair at COEX, a huge shopping mall in the south of Seoul.
After some delicious Korean savoury pancakes and a strong coffee, it was time to talk to students and staff at the enormous fair which attracts schools from all over the English-speaking world. We had time for a quick trip to visit a nearby temple, busy with parents praying for their children’s success in the end of High School exams.
The next day it was time to get down to business! I spent between 90 minutes and two hours in the chair each day getting my hair and make-up done – the lifestyle of a Kings teacher is certainly glamorous! After that, it was coffee time at e:dm and time for the team to finish checking the equipment, whilst I gave our slides a final read through. Then filming began! We filmed around five lectures per day, each lecture lasting about an hour, with breaks for lunch and Korean coffee, of course! The e:dm team shared their beneficence with me and encouraged me to use the in-house massage chair, just to make sure I wasn’t too stressed!
After filming conventional lectures, we would work on livestreams – karaoke IELTS, BTS IELTS, critiquing speaking exams, you name it, we did it! On my final Thursday I also gave a lecture written by our DOS and project overlord, Danny about register in English, something which required me to saunter awkwardly across my stage! This was a live lecture, which was also recorded and being live-streamed on their YouTube channel, so I had to answer questions from a live audience and a virtual one – definitely a challenge!
But it wasn’t all work, work, work! I got to explore Seoul and visit parks and museums I hadn’t had time for on my previous visit, with my favourite tour guide, Hyerim, who, remembering my fondness for Hangang Parks, booked us a river cruise down the Han river. I also caught up with some of my ex-students, Rob and YuJung, and YuJung helped me barter for gifts as well as taking me up to Namsan and exploring foreigner-town, Itaewon, with me. I got to revisit my favourite place in Seoul, the magical land of the jimjilbang, or Korean bathhouse.
For those who haven’t taught/learnt from New English File Upper Intermediate, the jimjilbang experience is incomplete unless you’ve spent time in the hottest sauna, shaped like an igloo, where they steam eggs along with you!
Another highlight was running through a quiet Hangang Park on a Saturday morning, enjoying the warm autumn day. Nothing will beat the day I had the year before, however, when fellow Kings teacher, Beata, and I walked to the top of Bukhansan, the tallest mountain in Seoul. All the Korean were kitted out in hiking gear, we had trainers and half a bottle of water! That visit to the jimjilbang was so well deserved!
However, a Kings-e:dm IELTS project is not an island! Alex and I were able to deliver the final part of the project, the filming, but my colleagues back in London did all the hard work – writing the exams, creating lectures and checking the content. Without Josh, Tim, Pamela, Sam, and Danny’s support building such great content, and the fantastic leadership and support of Sunbum, Hyerim, Chan, Chungsu and Mr Kim, alongside Brian (e:dm) and Andrew and Lucy (Kings) who developed the idea, we would still be standing in front of a blank screen.
Thanks guys, can’t wait to do it all again next year!