Seoul, South Korea Real School Experiences

Personal Experiences from Seoul, South Korea

Seoul, South Korea 05/29/16

Korea International School

School Website

http://www.kis.or.kr/


Background Information:

1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?

parent

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2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?

3rd, 5th, 8th

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3. During what years were you affiliated with this school?

2014 and will be there until June 2017

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4. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?

Embassy

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5. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?

Amazing administration and teachers

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Admissions & Welcome:

1. Are the admissions and placement procedures clearly stated to prospective families, either on the school website or through other means of communication?

yes

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2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?

B-
KIS does a nice job of welcoming new students and helping them get settled. However, compared to other schools we have been to it doesn't welcome in the "whole family." I have only gotten to know a few other parents.

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Administration & School Procedures:

1. Describe the general climate of the grade level that you teach or your child attends:

Welcoming and warm teachers and principals. Terrific academics; flexible environment that is very responsive to my children's needs. I have some kids who are high achievers and they are challenged at KIS. I have one who was behind when we arrived and they provided great push in services that brought him quickly up to grade level in both reading and math. The student body is generally less diverse than I would like, but that is true for all schools in Korea.

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2. For the following attributes, down to the next blank box, grade your experience at the school on a scale of A (excellent) to F (unacceptable/terrible) and provide comments:<br><br>Overall fair and equitable treatment of all students and families:

A -
My kids have been treated very fairly by the teachers and as far as bullying and student-to-student behavior, it is all within the normal range of kid behavior. In the middle school, there can be some issues with the local kids picking on kids but the administration is incredibly responsive to it and handles it well.

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3. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?

It is great. I get emails when needed. They have a portal communication for general school announcements.

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4. Aside from school fees, are there required expenses such as uniforms, laptops/tablets, musical instruments, or field trips that parents are expected to cover? What are the approximate costs?

No -

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5. Services for gifted students who need academic challenge and students with learning difficulties:

A - As I mentioned they have an extensive support office that offers OT, reading, math and other supports for kids who need extra help. They also have leveled classes to provide more of a challenge for those who are able to push ahead.

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6. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:

A - They have great clubs for both elementary and middle school. They provide a free after school bus which is a big help.

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7. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:

They have very high standards. However, they also do a very good job of tempering the Korean pressure cooker/expectation that everyone must get all 100%'s to be successful. Almost all local kids go to after-school schools here (hogwans) until quite late at night. Their parents put unbelievable pressure on them succeed academically. KIS does a good job of building in fun things and less-academic but still valuable activities into the day.

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8. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

The homework load has been reasonable and manageable. Mostly just reading for elementary. They try to limit it or definitely have it be a project or something that makes sense to do at home. No busy work.

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9. Administration-parent communication:

Great. Regular communications.

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10. Teacher-student communication:

Great.

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11. Does your child receive any special-needs assistance or instruction at this school? If yes, what types? Who provides services and where:

My youngest son got reading, handwriting and math support. They were able to bring him up an entire grade level. He enjoyed going to his pull-out. Those teachers regularly updated me and did a great job with him.

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12. Please describe any problem areas or challenges in social interaction at the school:

I love everything about KIS. The two big drawbacks are that it is far from our housing. It is fine for the kids, since their bus can get in the express lane so it is only a half hour away for them. But, it is far whenever I have to go to school. Secondly, it is hard for me to get involved both because of the distance and because the PTO was conducted in Korean. When I went to things they were very nice to me and I am sure if I tried harder, I could have broken in but I just wasn't able to get there enough to get to know them.

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Academics & Resources:

1. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?

excellent library

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2. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?

Great IT. They fully integrate computers into the learning. They will give computers/Ipads to embassy kids if you choose to not buy one for your child.

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3. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?

A - terrific PE program. My kids look forward to it. They have an Olympic-sized swimming pool and a very good sports program.

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4. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?

I don't know it "officially" but in my kids' classes it is 12:1 and 14:1.

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5. Are Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses available in upper grades? If this is an IB school, is the full diploma required of all students?

Not at the high school yet. Pretty sure it is AP.

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6. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?

A -
They have a great art and music program in all levels. Their drama program in middle school and higher is wonderful.

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Social & Emotional Well-Being:

1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?

My kids hang out with local and expat kids. However it is sometimes difficult since expats are a smaller group. It is supposed to be English-only and it is in the classroom, but on the playground, the local kids often revert to Korean. My boys don't notice/care, but my daughter often found it hard to break into. She does have local friends and we have had them over and vice versa.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

Teachers and administrators - they are highly trained, welcoming, warm and friendly - dedicated to our kids

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2. Would you choose this school again? Why?

Yes- It has been great for our kids.

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Seoul, South Korea 11/11/15

Seoul International School

School Website

http://www.siskorea.org


Background Information:

1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?

Parent

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2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?

5 & 11

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3. During what years were you affiliated with this school?

2011- Present

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4. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?

Professional position of spouse

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5. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?

Outstanding academic community, facilities, college-prep program, personal visit to schools in Seoul

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Admissions & Welcome:

1. Are the admissions and placement procedures clearly stated to prospective families, either on the school website or through other means of communication?

I think this is the same as other international schools we have been to in different countries.

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2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?

A It has been a while since we were new but there are many families who come in each year, mostly American or Koreans coming from America. New families this year have parent meetings and frequent contact with counselors and other new parents. I see meetings sponsored for new parents but have not attended any of these.

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Administration & School Procedures:

1. Describe the general climate of the grade level that you teach or your child attends:

Both of my children have spent many years in American schools. It seems as though most of their classmates are from America, although
they look Korean the students all have families from America or that have spent significant time in the US or Canada.

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2. For the following attributes, down to the next blank box, grade your experience at the school on a scale of A (excellent) to F (unacceptable/terrible) and provide comments:<br><br>Overall fair and equitable treatment of all students and families:

A We are very happy with the school program.

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3. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?

Excellent, in the ES they are very responsive. In the HS it is easy to email the teachers and get a response very quickly. Each semester there are open-houses and a two-day parent-teacher conference days.

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4. Services for gifted students who need academic challenge and students with learning difficulties:

I know they can accommodate all students but do not know anything about the specific programs.

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5. Aside from school fees, are there required expenses such as uniforms, laptops/tablets, musical instruments, or field trips that parents are expected to cover? What are the approximate costs?

There is a laptop program (Mac) for all students from grades 6-12. All students need to have their own laptop although the school does provide for students who do not have them- but they are older models.

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6. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:

Lots in the ES, my child is active each of the ES trimesters with an activity. My HS child participates on many clubs during the school day and also on sports teams. Typically the sports teams play other schools in Seoul and also travel to Japan and other countries for competitions. This week the band is going to Hong Kong and there are trips to Bali with Habitat for Humanity and Cambodia with Unicef this semester. My HS child will travel with the team next semester.

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7. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:

This is one of the strong points of the school. The reputation this school has for academic excellence and for being a gateway to an outstanding U.S. univeristy is to top in all of Korea. As international schools go, this is the best program in Seoul.

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8. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

Seems fair, my children have never had significant issues with homework.

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9. Administration-parent communication:

I think there are newsletters in each school. Plus, each month in the MS and HS they have open parent coffee type meetings. In the ES they have meetings for parents as well. I am able to see the administration at any time and occasionally drop-in or see them when I pick up my children. They are very nice and accommodating.

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10. Teacher-student communication:

Seems good. This has not been a problem area....

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11. Academics, answer the following questions "yes" or "no" with an explanation if appropriate:<br><br>Are there any classes or subjects where students are not appropriately challenged?

No

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12. Does the school offer a wide variety of elective or non-core classes such as art, music, and drama?

Yes, at all levels.

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13. Are there academic requirements such as trips or other activities that cost money in addition to school fees?

No, I think some overseas trips charge parents for expenses.

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14. What activities do you feel are missing?

Some extended trips overnight to different areas of Korea. Many schools provide extension or week-without-walls trips but they do not have them here.

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15. Have your children participated in the activities offered? If no, please indicate why:

Yes, everything they can!

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16. Does the school provide appropriate assistance to new students?

I think so.

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Academics & Resources:

1. What personal or academic counseling resources are available at this school? Is there a dedicated college counselor at the school? Is he/she familiar with universities worldwide?

The HS has one of the best college counselors of any international school in the world. I think he has been at the school more than thirty years. Each year, more than half of the senior class goes to excellent universities in the United States. This is the reason we have decided to stay in Korea for my child's HS time.

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2. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?

Very good library with great databases and media resources.

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3. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?

I think every school in Seoul has an awesome tech connectivity. As far as classes, technology, coding, design, and Computer Science APs are offered.

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4. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?

I know PE is offered at all grade levels. The school has three gymnasiums, a pool, and a really nice turf field.

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5. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?

I am not sure of the number but my children seem very hapy with their classes. I know there are 17 students in my ES child's class.

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6. Are Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses available in upper grades? If this is an IB school, is the full diploma required of all students?

A very strong and varied AP program, they offer more than 20 AP classes. Recently the school has been approved to offer the AP Capstone diploma.

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7. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?

There is a very wide range of electives for all students. All students have opportunities for Fine Arts electives. My HS child is very involved in art and music. The school has an outstanding Orchestra and Band. Probably one of the best for any international school we have ever seen.

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8. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?

Yes, the teachers are fantastic. Not only great teachers but friendly and good coaches and nice people also.

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9. What extra-curricular activities (including sports) are available at this school? Have your children participated in these activities? What activities do you feel are missing at the school?

Yes, a wide range.

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Social & Emotional Well-Being:

1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?

I don't know. Socializing in homes with children, is not really a 'Korean' thing. Most kids go out to the mall or other places when they get together.

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2. Are there are any problems with exclusionary behavior, cliques, or bullying at this school? Please describe any problems your children may have experienced in this area.

Not that I know of. We have been in the school a long time.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

American teachers, great academics, activities. Good location.

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2. Greatest challenge?

Thinking about whether to stay for my younger child or not.

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3. Would you choose this school again? Why?

Yes, we are very happy with the school and the new people this year. It is a very positive place and our children love it.

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Seoul, South Korea 10/23/15

ECLC International Kindergarten

School Website

http://www.eclcseoul.com


Background Information:

1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?

Both.

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2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?

Preschool through kindergarten.

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3. During what years were you affiliated with this school?

2014-15, currently enrolled for 2015-16 school year.

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4. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?

US Government / State Dept.

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5. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?

Their teaching philosophy and curriculum were aligned with my personal values. Since I am a US-trained teacher in Early Childhood education, it has not been easy for me to find school that I felt comfortable with in South Korea, both as a teacher and a parent. Many schools are way too focused on achievement, as opposed to age-appropriate balance of academics and play, etc.

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Admissions & Welcome:

1. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?

B - great overall, although sometimes I wish there was some kind of special way to help out those who are brand new to the country, etc. Having said that, on the individual level, everyone I have encountered so far has been very willing to lend a helping hand, etc.

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Administration & School Procedures:

1. Describe the general climate of the grade level that you teach or your child attends:

It is a small school environment, very friendly, warm and welcoming. My somewhat shy daughter adjusted very well and is totally thriving. I am very happy both as a parent and a teacher there (I don't teach my daughter's grade.) In my opinion, it is by far the most child-friendly early childhood education program in Seoul.

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2. For the following attributes, down to the next blank box, grade your experience at the school on a scale of A (excellent) to F (unacceptable/terrible) and provide comments:<br><br>Overall fair and equitable treatment of all students and families:

A - I think that the relatively small size of the school and their general approach of "process-based education" allows for a lot of personal attention to individual children and families.

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3. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?

There is a communication notebook that teachers check daily, and parents are asked to check daily as well. I feel like it is gradually fading away, since most people are opting to use email instead. Each classroom has its own email account, and most parents use that for regular communication, plus of course, personal meeting, phone calls, etc. Teachers are generally friendly and available for conversation.

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4. Services for gifted students who need academic challenge and students with learning difficulties:

I know that they have an English Learner program for kids for whom English is a second language, especially if they are really struggling to keep up. Generally, the program is structured in such a way that individual children are able to learn at their own pace, and teachers are always encouraged to meet their students where they are, and gently challenge them to go further. Mild learning difficulties can be accommodated, but I have seen one case when one family was asked to provide a full-time teaching aid because their neurologically atypical child could not otherwise function in the typical classroom setting.

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5. Aside from school fees, are there required expenses such as uniforms, laptops/tablets, musical instruments, or field trips that parents are expected to cover? What are the approximate costs?

PE Uniforms are provided by the school. Lunch program is optional. You can pay for a hot catered lunch for your child, or you can pack them their own.

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6. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:

There are after-school clubs available to kids ages 4-6, and they vary each semester. Parents sign up for them individually, and kids look like they are having fun. We have not done it ourselves yet, so I don't really have any first-hand experience.

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7. Administration-parent communication:

Emails, newsletters, etc. The head of the school has an open-door policy, and parents are always welcome to stop by if they have any questions or concerns.

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8. Are there academic requirements such as trips or other activities that cost money in addition to school fees?

There are monthly field trips, and the costs are usually covered by the school.

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Academics & Resources:

1. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?

There is a great library with a variety of age-appropriate books for young children. Children have their special Library Class once a week where they learn about library rules, the librarian reads them a couple of stories, and each then child gets to check out a book for one week. Parents are also encouraged to come on their own and check out book for their kids from the school library.

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2. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?

PE class is twice a week, it is usually held in a special PE room that is like a padded little gym with a bunch of PE equipment that they rotate in/out constantly. The PE teacher is a cool dude who loves being silly with kids, and they always look forward to his games and warm-ups.

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3. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?

Depends of the grade level, but generally, each class has two full-time classroom teachers, and the biggest class is about 16 students or so (preschool level). The kindergarten might have one main classroom teacher for a class of 10-12 people and one more "floater" teacher who floats between the two classes. Toddlers have 14 students with two classroom teachers plus all the additional "special" teachers, such as Library, PE, and Music.

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4. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?

Music is taught by a wonderful, fun teacher twice a week, and it is also a part of the general program. Kids are always learning new songs and singing to themselves, parents, teachers, etc. It is quite lovely. Music room also has a wide variety of simple musical instruments that kids are welcome to try out, and that they use on a regular basis during their music classes --- shakers, all kinds of drums, various bells, etc.

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5. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?

Yes - typically each class would have one native-English speaker (or a very professionally proficient speaker) and another teacher would be ethnic Korean who is fluent in English, and often is fully bilingual (Korean/English.) All instruction is always in English, though.

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Overall Impressions:

1. Greatest challenge?

Cost -exorbitant, really. A huge percentage of the student population has their tuition fees covered by their parent's employer as part of their corporate compensation package. The US Embassy pays only for K2 currently (ages 5 and after), so anything beyond that has to come out of the parents' pocket. But do it if you can, this great school is worth every penny.

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2. Would you choose this school again? Why?

Absolutely. It has been a great experience for our daughter. She learned a ton, made a lot of friends, and was surrounded by a loving, caring,and active learning community. For those of us who have to trot around the globe every couple of years, these things are truly priceless.

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Seoul, South Korea 05/03/15

Starters Preschool

School Website

http://www.starters.kr


Background Information:

1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?

Parent

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2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?

Pre-K, though this private kindergarten goes up to age 6 or 7, typical in Korean schooling.

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3. During what years were you affiliated with this school?

2014-2015

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4. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?

Military

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5. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?

Good reputation and curriculum in Korean language was desirable for child to learn a second language.

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Admissions & Welcome:

1. Are the admissions and placement procedures clearly stated to prospective families, either on the school website or through other means of communication?

Relatively standard. Kindergarten in Korea is pretty competitive, so it really depends if the school has availability when you arrive or are ready for school. School year starts in January, but I was able to start my child in October since there was an opening.

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2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?

B/C- The staff is great and nice, but only a few of the teachers speak English, so it is very difficult to maneuver when most of the monthly newsletter with the schedule and activities are all in Korean. Currently, there are a handful of American families, and sometimes we get together to translate the newsletter, which really helps. Again, teachers are nice, but due to language barrier, assistance might not be provided immediately.

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Administration & School Procedures:

1. Describe the general climate of the grade level that you teach or your child attends:

Similar to Pre-K and Kinder levels of American schools.

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2. For the following attributes, down to the next blank box, grade your experience at the school on a scale of A (excellent) to F (unacceptable/terrible) and provide comments:<br><br>Overall fair and equitable treatment of all students and families:

A- great

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3. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?

Weekly notebook where parents and teachers can write to each other. Proves difficult if main teacher only writes in Korean. You can set up a parent-teacher meeting face-to-face if desired.

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4. Aside from school fees, are there required expenses such as uniforms, laptops/tablets, musical instruments, or field trips that parents are expected to cover? What are the approximate costs?

Compared to other kindergartens I interviewed, most of the cost is included in the monthly fee. There is a yearly registration fee, and additional fees that can come up are uniform, school photos, or costume rental for yearly recital. Some things are mandatory and some are optional.

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5. Services for gifted students who need academic challenge and students with learning difficulties:

Unsure, but if Korean is not a native language, it will probably be very challenging.

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6. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:

There are few activities after school, such as Ballet or Taekwondo once or twice a week.

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7. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:

Comparable to America.

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8. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

Once a week - a Korean book.

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9. Administration-parent communication:

Monthly newsletter for parent and case-by-case basis.

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10. Teacher-student communication:

Fine.

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11. Academics, answer the following questions "yes" or "no" with an explanation if appropriate:<br><br>Are there any classes or subjects where students are not appropriately challenged?

No. Physical education might not seem adequate compared to American sports, but it is fine for younger children; they learn to play together, take turns, and patience. If children were older, I would prefer to add an extra-curricular sport activity just for socialization and more teamwork experience.

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12. Does your child receive any special-needs assistance or instruction at this school? If yes, what types? Who provides services and where:

Not really, though I think sometimes the teacher gives my child a little more time to understand Korean. More of as necessary rather than a regular meeting.

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13. Do you believe the special-needs assistance is appropriate and fills your needs? Explain:

As for my child with language, it is fine for class, but we try to practice more Korean at home. Outside tutoring would help, but I feel that is too much work for my child at this time. As for other special-needs, I am not sure.

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14. Does the gifted and talented program meet the needs of students? Please explain:

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15. Does the school offer a wide variety of elective or non-core classes such as art, music, and drama?

No, just one curriculum that includes a variety of set activities. There are a few after-school classes kids may take for additional charge.

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16. Please describe any classes or programs that you believe are missing:

None.

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17. Are there academic requirements such as trips or other activities that cost money in addition to school fees?

Yes, uniform, school photos, costume rental for the yearly dance recital.

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18. What activities do you feel are missing?

None.

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19. Have your children participated in the activities offered? If no, please indicate why:

Yes.

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20. Does the school provide appropriate assistance to new students?

Not really any extra assistance, but will give when needed.

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21. Please describe any problem areas or challenges in social interaction at the school:

None.

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Academics & Resources:

1. What personal or academic counseling resources are available at this school? Is there a dedicated college counselor at the school? Is he/she familiar with universities worldwide?

Teacher lets parents know of any issues, ie. behavior in class. Hopefully that communications proves sufficient to correct or minimize behavior in class.

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2. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?

No, though the 5-year-old class has a Korean book homework every weekend, borrowed from their "class library."

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3. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?

I believe a little bit, but it is not the focus.

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4. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?

B- They have a good range of activities that introduce them to new sports. However, most of these are done in a small indoor location. Not comparable to large fields and courts in America.

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5. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?

Depends on class. About 1 teacher for 10-15 children. Sometimes they split up a class and do two activities, then switch, so the ratio is cut in half.

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6. Are Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses available in upper grades? If this is an IB school, is the full diploma required of all students?

No

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7. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?

Yes.

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8. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?

A- They love to vary activities, including cooking once a month, various sports or dance every day, art, and at least a monthly field trip to an off-school activity, should the weather allow. They also have big school activities that invite families a few times a year.

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9. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?

Depends. Age 3-4 class is 90% Korean and an English teacher comes in for about 45 minutes a day to teach some basic English. Age 5 class is 50% Korean, 50% English. Age 6-7 I think has even more English. Usually there is a separate teacher that teaches English apart from the main Korean classroom teacher.

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10. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

No.

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11. What extra-curricular activities (including sports) are available at this school? Have your children participated in these activities? What activities do you feel are missing at the school?

Not much.

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Social & Emotional Well-Being:

1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?

No, unless there is an out-of-school field trip or activity.

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2. Are there are any problems with exclusionary behavior, cliques, or bullying at this school? Please describe any problems your children may have experienced in this area.

It does get challenging for my child not knowing Korean, but she has learned a lot of phrases and has made friends. She is also very outgoing, but I can see this being a large issue with more introverted American children who do not speak Korean. I think it can still work, but will require a lot of patience, emotional support, and language learning.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

Introduction of many activities to the children. Things we may not focus on or have a chance at in America, such as instrument hour with local Korean drums, TaeKwonDo classes for everyone, and cooking Kimchi. School is also very safe, and the staff cares very much.

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2. Greatest challenge?

Language barrier.

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3. Would you choose this school again? Why?

Yes, it has been a rewarding challenge both for my child and for me as the non Korean-speaking parent to have to learn some Korean to interact with my child's teachers. My child enjoys it and gets excited by all the activities they do. My child has learned a lot from hands-on activities, which in my opinion is the best way my child learns.

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Seoul, South Korea 02/27/15

Yongsan International School - Seoul

School Website

http://www.yisseoul.org/page.cfm?p=353


Background Information:

1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?

Parent

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2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?

second, fourth, seventh, eighth

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3. During what years were you affiliated with this school?

2014

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4. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?

Embassy

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5. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?

proximity to housing

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Admissions & Welcome:

1. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?

D - very sterile and unwelcoming environment. You will get lots of emails, lectures, and have to sign multiple forms making it clear that you understand all of their rules but there are very few actual people who will welcome you. Their PTO is active and individuals within it can be welcoming but in general it is cliche-ish and closed off as well.

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Administration & School Procedures:

1. Describe the general climate of the grade level that you teach or your child attends:

Strict adherence to rigid rules and very evangelical philosophy.

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2. For the following attributes, down to the next blank box, grade your experience at the school on a scale of A (excellent) to F (unacceptable/terrible) and provide comments:<br><br>Overall fair and equitable treatment of all students and families:

F - My second grade son got suspended for playing tag at recess. My seventh grade son get bullied relentlessly and nothing was done to help him. I could write literally hundreds of stories of unfair treatment my kids endured while at YISS.

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3. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?

C- I had very little contact with the middle school teachers. The elementary school teachers did send regular emails about the school rules.

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4. Aside from school fees, are there required expenses such as uniforms, laptops/tablets, musical instruments, or field trips that parents are expected to cover? What are the approximate costs?

uniforms

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5. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:

C- There is no after school bus, but it is difficult to participate in after school activities.

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6. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:

D- YISS has very unreachably high standards for behavior - i.e. - no talking in the lunchroom. I would say academically, they are fair to middling. None of my four kids were challenged or pushed academically.

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7. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

C- Homework quality was hit or miss depending on the teacher. We found most teachers were very disorganized and with very little teaching experience and it showed in many ways.

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8. Administration-parent communication:

C- the administration did respond to my concerns but not in any meaningful way or make any changes for the better.

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9. Does the school offer a wide variety of elective or non-core classes such as art, music, and drama?

no

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10. Please describe any classes or programs that you believe are missing:

YISS does not teach evolution in science in middle school.

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11. Are there academic requirements such as trips or other activities that cost money in addition to school fees?

In light of the many negative things I have to say about YISS, a big plus to YISS is that they include all the extra things in the tuition. They give middle school kids a computer and provide a great trip in each of the middle school years.

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12. Have your children participated in the activities offered? If no, please indicate why:

no - no bus

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13. Does the school provide appropriate assistance to new students?

no

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14. Please describe any problem areas or challenges in social interaction at the school:

very large local population of kids; very strong pressure to be evangelical christian; a lot of bullying and teasing in the middle school

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Academics & Resources:

1. What personal or academic counseling resources are available at this school? Is there a dedicated college counselor at the school? Is he/she familiar with universities worldwide?

B- The middle school counselor did attempt to help my son adjust in the context of a very difficult situation.

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2. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?

A - Middle school: one-to-one computer program which the school provides is good.

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3. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?

B- they have a good in school PE program. The middle school sports program is rigid, punitive and discourages participation.

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4. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?

Not sure what it is officially. In my kids' classes, it was about 24-1.

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5. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?

C- All students must take religion or "character-education" which limits the spots in their schedule for other electives. They do have some options.

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6. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?

yes

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7. What extra-curricular activities (including sports) are available at this school? Have your children participated in these activities? What activities do you feel are missing at the school?

no

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Social & Emotional Well-Being:

1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?

no

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2. Are there are any problems with exclusionary behavior, cliques, or bullying at this school? Please describe any problems your children may have experienced in this area.

yes

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

proximity to embassy housing

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2. Greatest challenge?

rigid rules, teachers and administration; refusal to teach science; bullying and the school refusing to address it

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3. Would you choose this school again? Why?

absolutely not

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