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Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The New Source of Facts

I find it very interesting to see that the media has already started sourcing a new factual referent--Wikileaks documents. The best possible example I can give is a CNN column by David Frum who writes that essentially ' ____ is true because WikiLeaks said so'. Apparently, according to him, if you can find anything in WikiLeaks to support your cause, then your case must be true. Amazing. I hope I can find something in those hundreds of thousands of government documents that that says that we should all eat 1/2 pound of cheese a day, or that this winter will be a short one.

Monday, 29 November 2010

The Korea Situation

Some friends and family have asked me about Korean anxieties these days, given the recent North Korean attack on South Korean territory that killed two Marines and two civilians.

To me this pales against the sinking of a South Korean warship earlier in the summer, which killed many more people, but the more recent attack on an SK island has been perhaps more emotional to a nation as it was an attack on a civilian community as well as a military outpost.

North Korea continues its bravado--demanding food and fuel supplies while spending its money on military weapons and technology--and more people in South Korea seem to disbelieve that any aid the reclusive country gets actually goes to citizens.

There is an increasing net of North Koreans who are given cell phones by South Koreans , and then there are the increasing numbers of "defectors"/refugees who return via a circuitous route through China . . . many of whom tell of the large numbers of people placed in North Korean concentration camps and who say that no food aid was ever received in the countryside.

North Korea needs money and food. But the money it gets it spends on the military. It uses the military to create crises. More aid is demanded. And so a vicious cycle ensues.

The south Koreans--I read in a recent news report--are angered by the recent island attack, and that seems to be true. But more are waiting for China to wake up and face facts and to do something to help stabilize the area.

It's not so much a crisis as a recent development in a long-running conflict between the North and the South.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Class Posters

One of my advanced classes just completed a week-long project on animals. We did some in-class research (using books from our small school library), talked about facts and opinions, and then did some writing. Next, the students made poems and decided what to do about pictures. Finally, they put everything together on a poster. Not perfect, but a job very well done.

Not My Homework Assignment

One of my young advanced students has taken to mimicking my homework assignments. Here's an example.
Translation: Reading Book pages 218-219 Read 1 time
Workbook page 59
(The rest is self-explanatory, I think)

Saturday, 13 November 2010

A Popular Korean Food: Mandu

I decided that I needed some quick food tonight; frozen "mandu" seemed the thing. I bought the package partly because of the English name. Direct translation = dumplings, though there is something lost in the process. In Korea you can usually get either kimchi mandu or meat mandu.


In the Seoul area, we (meaning 'most people') use a card called "T-Money" for transit; I use it for the subway system, but many people also use it for buses.

In subway stations, it is very easy and fast to load money onto the card using machines designated for that purpose, then you simply scan the card at the subway checkpoint and exit (or when you enter and exit a bus).

I have known for a long time that I can use the card in taxis, but either forget to do so or simply prefer to pay cash,

While I also knew that the card could be used in some convenience stores, I did not know, until recently, that it could be used with some vending machines. Wow! I can buy a .70 cent bottle of water with my transit card! How cool is that?

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

New Restaurant

I went with two Korean teachers from our school to check out a new restaurant. It's a Korean restaurant, serving food in a traditional way--that means that there are lots of side dishes. However, it's also a bit modern, since some of the dishes are meat and there are Western-style tables in addition to Korean tables (floor seating).

There were two menu choices for dinner: the $10 spread or the $20 spread. We opted for the expensive one. That meant that they filled up our table with dishes once (first two pics) and then, a bit later, (3rd and 4th pics) took many of the dishes away and filled it up again (with different food).

It was quite good, and I would eat there again!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Downtown Seoul

A few pics from the downtown Seoul area, a few days before the G20 Summit that Korea is hosting. Banners like you see here are everywhere, though most not quite so big. Also pics of a park; the sky was quite hazy/foggy so the lighting was not very good.

Drama Time

In a few of my beginners' classes I do "drama time", which is when the kids role play textbook pages/conversations. I took a few pics of two books that I use for one class; this group of kids is a favorite and not actually beginners, as they have been studying for about two years (much of it with me).

One book, English Time, a very common type of EFL conversation/grammar/phonics "starter", has a conversation page to begin each unit, and the same characters--a boy and a girl--show up in most of the pages. The kids in the class love to pair up and do the "drama" in front of the class; some of them are beginning to incorporate some acting and voice modification, which is great, and I'm going to push them to do more.

The other book is a reading text; we do at least 1 page of each book every class.

Those pages sometimes don't have dialogue, such as in the pics that you see: Farmer Bob getting eggs from the chickens and Mike and Jim eating breakfast. However, the kids wanted to do "drama" anyway, so I said, "Ok, you have to make up the dialogue, and if you do the farmer page one of you has to be a chicken."

They went for it and had a lot of fun, and I am happy that they gave me a new idea for future classes.

Seoul Grand Park/Seoul Land

My friend Ken and I were riding the subway back to my little town outside of Seoul, and I suggested that we stop off at the Seoul Grand Park station to take a look at Seoul Land, which is a zoo/amusement park for kids (mainly). As there were lots of people there and it was late in the afternoon on a Saturday, we decided not to buy tickets and enter, but just to stroll around, take some pics, and have a snack. I wanted to see the area because my students mention it very often.

The snack turned out to be squid, kind of sauteed in peanut oil--quite good. There is another pic of squid being cooked directly on coals. However, the snacks available weren't all wierd asian food; there were hot dogs, cotton candy, corn on the cob, etc.

I also took pics of the "skylift" and the map board, where you can see area names in Korean, English, Chinese, and Japanese.