From Korea with Love

"I carry your heart with me… always."

Simple Halloween Activites and Lessons for ESL Students


Halloween is not as popular in Korea as it is in other countries, but some hagwons and  schools here hold Halloween parties and festivals for students. Halloween is one of my favorite school events to prepare for because there are a lot of activities that I can incorporate in my lessons. I’m going to share some of these activities.

Let’s get the ball rolling! ^^

WHAT’S IN THE MYSTERY BOX?20161024_102130

This has been a favorite of my students.  I’ve used it as a springboard for teaching the five senses and for describing objects.


A box (The size depends on the items you are going to put in the box.)

Paper for wrapping (It can be colored paper, leftover gift wrap, newspaper, etc.)


Halloween-themed objects (For example: scary masks, furry item as werewolf’s tail, cooked spaghetti as worm, gelatine as slime, old T-shirt splattered with ketchup to make it look bloody, dried chicken bone as part of a skeleton, Halloween decorations, etc.)



Wrap the box to make it look presentable. Make a small hole on top of the box just large enough for a hand to squeeze through. Draw question marks around the box. Place all the objects in the box.


Have students take turns in touching one of the objects in the box. Encourage the student to describe the object by using expressions like “It feels… It sounds…” The student can move or shake the object inside the box to have an idea of what it sounds like, but he can’t take it out until he gives at least three descriptions. The rest of the class tries to guess what the object is. The student who guesses the object gets a candy. If no one can guess what the object is, ask the student to show it to class. The class describes the object using other expressions such as “It looks… It smells…” You can’t ask a student to taste random objects, so prepare something that can be eaten (for example: a candy, a chocolate, worm jelly, etc.), so “It tastes…” can also be used in making descriptions.



What’s great about this activity is that you can use it for elementary and middle school students. With my younger students (Grades 1 to 3), I give them a pictionary and have them cut and glue pictures randomly on their bingo cards. I don’t ask them to write down the words, because younger students take a lot of time to write; some can barely read. Besides, the little ones enjoy cutting and gluing. Bogglesworldesl is a great site to find Halloween printables. They even have a bingo card generator, so your students don’t have to cut and glue pictures or write down words on their bingo cards. If you have a smaller class, I suggest you use the bingo card generator, but if you’re printing cards for 20 students or more (let’s say, for your public school classes), it would be better to use an empty bingo card.

My 4th to 6th graders enjoy word searches, so I have them do word search before they write the terms on their bingo cards. Islcollective has tons of these word searches. On the other hand, I give my middle school students crosswords and have them select words to jot down on their bingo cards.


Worksheets (vocabulary/pictionary/word search/crossword)

Bingo cards



I’m not going to give a how-to, since everyone knows how to play bingo, but here are some tips:

  • Say the first word.
  • Have students take turns saying a word.
  • Give students tidbits of information about the words or ask them questions as you play the game. This is an excellent way to review their vocabulary and encourage speaking.
  •  It’s up to you how many bingos they should make. I usually require them to make 3 bingos.
  • The first student/students to make 3 bingos gets/get a bigger prize or more candies.



This is more suitable for upper grade and middle school classes, because you’ll be showing the students pictures of scary movie characters. You know how the younger ones easily get frightened.

This activity is perfect for teaching adjectives or adjective phrases.


Pictures of well-known scary movie characters like Anabelle, the clown from the movie “It”, Chucky, Samara or Sadako from “The Ring” etc.

*** I’ve prepared a PowerPoint Presentation for this game. If you’d like to use it, feel free to comment or message me.



Group students. Each member should get a chance to answer. You can assign each member a number and ask, let’s say, all number 1 members to stand and put their hands up. Show part of a scary movie character’s face and describe that character. Say “Guess who?” as a signal for students to clap their hands if they want to answer. The student who claps his hands first gets to answer.  If the answer is correct, you give the group a point. The group with the most number of points gets the price. After someone guesses who the character is, you can show the character’s whole face and ask students questions like “What does he/she look like?”, “What is he/she wearing?”, “What is he/she holding?”, etc.



Below is the video I used for this activity…

I had the students watch the video first, then we prepared the ingredients and materials and started making candy apples. Our candy apples were not as impressive as the ones  in the video, but the students had so much fun making (and eating) them.


  • Stay away from caramel! Just use chocolate or syrup. Removing hardened caramel from the dishes and other utensils was a backbreaking task!
  • Assign chores in groups, so after the fun, you won’t end up cleaning everything by yourself. (My students were awesome!)



Lower grade classes will surely enjoy this activity. I used it for the first time as part of my lesson on “can” and “can’t”, but in one of my classes in the hagwon last year, it was one of my Halloween activities.


Paper bags (large enough to have a student fit his hand in it)

Coloring materials

Colored paper





Tell students a brief story about Frankenstein. Prepare visuals. Tell students that they will be creating their own monster out of a paper bag. Show them samples. (You can make your own mask or find some in the internet.)


For smaller classes, have students talk about their monsters one-by-one. Afterwards, the class chooses the best monster who will get a candy or a prize.

For bigger classes, divide the class in groups. Have them sit in circles according to group. Members take turns in presenting their monsters. Each group chooses the best monster. The chosen members line up in front of the class after the presentation, so the entire class can see their masks. The class votes for the best mask. The winner gets a bigger prize. The others get consolation prizes.



This activity is intended for classes in the intermediate or advanced level of English proficiency. I’ve used this activity in my 5th grade classes. They vary in level of proficiency, but most of them can write simple essays and stories.


A scenario (Pinterest has a lot of writing prompts for composing Halloween stories.)

If you want it to be more exciting, you can have students make simple props, too. Provide color paper and coloring materials.


When I gave my students this activity, I showed them a picture of a haunted house, asked them how they would feel and what they would do if they were in that house. I gave them a script and asked them to finish the story. (If you want a copy of this script, message me. I’d be more than willing to share. ^^)

I assigned groups and gave them ample time to write their scripts and practise how to deliver their lines.

We didn’t have a lot of time, so I skipped prop making and did not require students to memorize their lines.


I always end my classes with a short Halloween clip before or during Halloween party or festival. When we have more time, I play a movie or an animation. Below are some suggestions:

Mr. Bean Halloween Specials

Pinky’s Halloween Spook-tacular

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Twilight Zone


I hope you find this article useful. If you have other Halloween activities to share, you may include them in the comment section.


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Questions Frequently Asked about Teaching in Korea

When I started this blog a couple of years ago, I vowed to myself that I will never ever abandon it no matter how busy I am… but I couldn’t keep that promise. Now that I’m back to blogging, I feel like I’m in zombie apocalypse. Everything has come to a standstill. My brain refuses to function when I try to organize my thoughts. I can’t figure out how to reply to all the messages and comments that have piled up from last year. My dear readers, I owe you an apology. Here’s a big ghost hug!


This time, I’m going to try to answer SOME of the most frequently asked questions in my blog about teaching in Korea.

Let’s start!

  1. Can a Filipino teacher work as an English instructor in Korea? 

My 5th graders performing a role-play

Yes, but if you’re applying for a teaching job here and you’re currently in the Philippines, there is only one way to obtain a teaching visa. It’s known as the E-1 visa, one that is given to lecturers and university professors. The other teaching visa, the easiest to obtain, which is the E-2 visa, is only given to citizens of one of the following English speaking countries: Australia, Britain, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa or United States. No matter how fluent you are in English and how impressive your resume is, if you’re not from any of the countries mentioned, you won’t be given an E2. Yes, the requirement is racial bias and it’s BS… but this is Korea where getting a teaching job is not as easy as pie if you’re not Caucasian-looking.


There are also Filipinos who come here with a student visa (D-2) or training visa (D-4) and teach part-time. This is legal ONLY if you get a written permission from your school or one of your professors.

Other Filipinos who are in Korea under a missionary or religious worker visa (D6) try their luck on teaching, and they succeed; however, the D-6 visa is NOT a teaching visa. This means that if you teach here with a D-6, you’re not teaching legally. Some hagwons may hire you, but only as a part-timer. This is somewhat risky and temporary. I had a colleague who taught English in an academy while she was on a D-6. Eventually, they had to let her go, because she couldn’t be registered as a legal employee.

The easiest way for a Filipino teacher to teach legally in Korea is through the F-6 visa or the F-5 visa. This means that you’ll have to come to Korea as a spouse and/or attain permanent residency here. Most of the Filipinos married to Koreans I know teach in private institutions like hagwons (academies) or public schools. Some of them don’t even have teaching degrees. (They are graduates of other courses.)

I’ve written about this topic five years ago, and the rules haven’t changed. You can read more about it here.

2. How much is the salary?

In hagwons, monthly salaries range from 1.8 to 2.3 million won (around 1,589 to 2,031 USD) if you work full-time. A full-time teacher in Korea should work for at least 30 hours a week. The normal workload is 6 hours a day, 5 times a week. Note, however, that there are private institutions that require teachers to work from Monday to Saturday (for example, some hagwons that have middle school or high school students). If this is the case, you should not work for more than 5 hours a day. Other private institutions will offer non-native speakers lower salaries, but do yourself a favor… don’t settle for less than what you deserve just to have a job. You can always find a hagwon that will treat you fairly.

In public schools, the average monthly salaries for teachers range from 1.5 to 2.6 million won (1,324 to 2,296 USD) depending on credentials. Those with no teaching experience can expect to get somewhere between 2 to 2.3 million won (1,766 to 2,031 USD) . Education majors or licensed teachers can make somewhere between 2.2 to 2.6 million won (1,942 to 2,296 USD). There are some foreigners who claim (or boast) that they are making 3 million won or more, but this is kind of hard to believe, because public schools have a certain budget for foreign teachers. They can’t just offer higher salaries. Universities offer the highest salaries starting from 2.3 to 3.5 million won (1,766 to 3,091 USD). There are even reports that university professors with outstanding credentials can get up to 5 million won (4415 USD).

Private tutors are usually paid per hour. The rate depends on you, of course, but just to give you an idea of what is acceptable, 30,000 to 35,000 won (26 to 31 USD) is good enough. In affluent areas in Korea, you can ask for 40,000 won (35 USD) per hour, 50,000 won or more (44 USD) for business English classes.

3. Is private tutoring legal?

If you’re on E-2 visa, NO. You can take your chances and do it secretly, but if you get caught, you might end up getting fined or deported. It is illegal for an E-2 visa holder to work as a tutor… unless his employer allows it and submits a written permission to the immigration. Also, the income from tutoring should be declared to the tax office, so that the tutor can pay the appropriate taxes.

On the other hand, it is good news for F-6 and F-5 visa holders. Being on a spouse visa or a permanent residence visa gives you more leeway to do any kind of job in Korea including tutoring; however, it is mandatory to report the income, just like with the E-2, and pay taxes.

For D-6 visa holders, there is NO legal way to teach privately.

I’m going to answer more questions next time.