Winter Intensives are Over!

The winter intensives season has officially ended.

For the three or four people who actually read this blog, let me explain. When the Korean public school system releases kids for a month each summer and winter, the private academy system offers extra classes so that parents can make sure their kids don’t sit around with nothing to do. These are called “intensives.”
I just finished a 13-class intensives course teaching my students some strategies to help them perform better on the reading portion of the TOEFL iBT test.
The kids were definitely ready to be done with the class. Honestly, so was their teacher. It can be quite tiring adding an extra class three days a week for an entire month to your schedule.
Now, the kids start heading back to school, which resumes this week for just about everyone.
But it’s the end of the school year for them. Here in Korea, the new school year begins in March. So, my students will be spending about another four weeks in class before they move up to the next level.
Some of mine will be entering their last year of elementary school (6th grade), while some of my other students will be moving up into middle school. The game starts to change in middle school. A lot of my female students will have to cut their hair shorter (school rules), and many of them will have to start wearing a school uniform (boys, too).
The middle school years (7th through 9th grade) also become stressful because these students spend their time studying hard to get into good high schools. In Korea, getting into a top high school leads to getting into a top university.
I also teach two 11th grade girls. In class earlier this week, one of them explained to me that it is very common for Korean 12th graders to gain weight during their final year in high school. Why? They spend the majority of their waking hours preparing to get into a top university. Little free time. Few (if any) social activities. Practically no exercise. Stress.
It’s so common that students will sometimes buy a school uniform that is too big for them to accommodate the expected weight gain.
I told my student that we have something similar in the U.S., the difference being that the “Freshman 15” doesn’t come about until the first year of college.

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