South Korea: Fact or Myth Part Two

Disclaimer: This article in no way represents everyone’s experiences in South Korea while living or visiting here, but is from the perspective of the author and her experiences.

In this editorial we’re going to explore one of the most researched topics about teaching in South Korea as a Native English Teacher – are students actually well behaved?

While researching on my own before coming to Korea, one of the most repetitive topics I saw was that the students in Korea are much more well behaved than students of the same grade anywhere else (particularly USA). I’m going to refute this disclaimer once more; this article only reflects my experiences in teaching in South Korea and in no way represents every person’s experiences here.

Are my middle school students well behaved? Suuuuuuure, as much as you would expect 12 – 16 year olds to be. Think back to your own middle school experience: were you always well behaved? Were your friends always nice to each other or to you?

The behavior of your students also rests on your shoulders and your teaching relationship with your co-teacher. If you and your co-teacher have a great relationship it will help define clear roles to one or the other, you’ll find it easier to sort out potential discipline problems. If not, you may find yourself racking your brain for different approaches to have your students listen to your instructions.

I asked different teachers in my area about their students’ behavior in the classroom and here are their responses:

Elementary School Teacher A:

My third graders are high energy and excited to learn English, but get SUPER loud. I love my fourth graders because they are chill and smart. My fifth graders love to play around, play games, and are more talkative; but still able to focus on work. My sixth graders prefer not talking at all and just sit there quietly; like sitting ducks.

Elementary School Teacher B:

My third graders were definitely the most excited over all of the classes. Some fourth graders were still really excited, high energy, and liked games; while others were already developing a bit of an attitude, didn’t want to learn or decided to distract their classmates. My fifth grade class became clear that even more students had decided that they want nothing to do with English and stopped trying. My sixth grade class started off as the best grade, but eventually “senioritis” kicked in and the majority of students were just done with school in general.

Middle School Teacher A:

My grade three are so over learning English, but my grade two are really into it! Even the ones who are not very good.

Middle School Teacher B:

In middle school, we’re literally watching kinds change from playground fun to college prep. My grade one class are full of energy, are very sweet, and want to prove to everyone that they’re grown. My grade two class are always the dream grade as they have a good ground and understanding of who they are and where they want to be in school; but if they have negative association with themselves, it could have a negative impact. My grade three class are so much fun, but they are pretty much in the mindset of living it up because high school will be really stressful. In my opinion, it is a tough grade but they’re still my favorite grade because they can really appreciate their middle school classes at last!


As you can see, students behave like they would anywhere in the world. What makes it special about Korea is that they’re your kids in your classroom. 


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