Follow by Email

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

"Teacher!"

The Friday before last, I gave the students in one class (5 advanced girls) bananas for a snack.  However, to make it special, I also gave them some chocolate sauce.  I had done that before, though, so to make it really special I also gave them an Indian (as in "from India") snack, a very sugary coconut mixture.

I put some chocolate syrup in a paper cup, along with the sweet coconut, and told them they could dip their bananas in it.

They loved it.

One girl, though, came to me and said, "Teacher, my banana is gone and I can't . . .." She pointed into her cup, where some of the chocolate syrup and coconut still remained.

I almost burst out laughing.  She couldn't get to the good stuff, as her banana was eaten, but she didn't have the English skills to explain her frustration.  She REALLY wanted to clean up her cup.

The other kids were approaching the same dilemma.

I took pity on them and gave each one a single chopstick to use as a mini-scoop.

If only life's problems were all that simple:)

First Snow

Last weekend we had our first real snow, though it was gone in a few hours.


One of my students wrote in his diary about wanting to play in the snow but waiting until it was over; by the time he went outside it was gone.

Having said that, if it snowed now the stuff would stick around, as we are below freezing.

Cool Vid

Google this:

"Christmas video ornaments"

Click on the first YouTube pic.

It's a 5:39 long (short) video about a Santa ornament.  Fun.

Enjoy!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

The University Exam

Last week, on Thursday,  South Korea held its annual university entrance exam, taken by all 3rd year high schoolers.

Big deal, right?

Right.

Approximately 690,000 3rd year (there is no 4th year) high school students sat for the exam,the su-neung (수넝), the pinnacle of their testing existence.

It is a moment all have been waiting for, dreading, preparing for . . . after all, getting into a good university is crucial (or is seen as being so) for future professional employmnet.

I hate to say it, but I am part of the process, because one of the six or so subject tests on the 9-hour exam is English.

It's an exam that is so important in this test-based society that Korea changes bus and flight schedules, delays the stock market opening, curtails traffic around test centers, etc . . . all in hopes of limiting noise and confusion and thus contributing to a better test-taking atmosphere.

Some second year high school students go and cheer for their seniors before the exam starts, and some mothers are pictured in the news praying for their children's testing fortunes.

There have been reports of attempted cheating and suicides, all due to the massive pressure that the Korean educational system places on the exam.

Thankfully, it's over.

Until next year.

Taking Attendance

I have to take attendance every day in my classes--fair enough, as I am part of the record-keeping system.

I prefer that students answer "Yes, I'm here" and be done with it.  However, since students know I like to joke around, they sometimes answer differently.  I usually frown upon such answers, since that part of class involves a bureaucratic process that I simply want to move past.

The other day, though, when I called out "Haley" and she said , "I'm not here", it didn't sound like the usual clowning around.

"What?", I queried.

"I'm not her," she replied.  "Haley's not here . . . mmm, the good Haley's not here.  She went home.  I'm the bad Haley."

Since I have never, ever gotten that answer before, I was mystified.

"You are the bad Haley?"

The girl replied, "Yes," giggling as she did so.

I tried to get more of a response during class, but failed to figure out where that atypical response came from. I'm curious as to whether or not she'll build on it next week.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Fall Colors



Here are a couple of fall pics from my front door; not a great view overall (I live in a high-rise village), but it's convenient for walking to work (12 min.) and to go to the subway station (5 min.)





These pics are of the walk to work, including two shots taken a few days apart.  The leaves are really falling fast!



Sunday, 30 October 2011

Video Posts

To view my very short video posts, go here:

http://www.dropshots.com/sknate

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Beautiful Fall Day


Today, October 23rd, is a beauthiful day in Korea.  I love fall weather--it's usually cool. dry, and sunny.

I get to wear short sleeves while everyone else goes around with light jackets.  I figure the summer was long and hot enough, and soon it will be cold, so enjoy it while you can.


Actually, today might be our last mildly warm day.

Yesterday I dug out my wool socks and scarves and gloves and washed them.  I need to pack a few warm things for the walk home at night, as it is going to be cold by then (when I finish teaching).

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Spunky Girl

One class I teach has 7 students, 6 of whom are girls.  They are first grade beginners.  Last semester I taught them phonics (a,b,c's), and this semester they are on their first conversation textbook.  I like them, and they seem to like me as a teacher.

Some days they are quite entertaining.

For example, when I had them write on the whiteboard, I noticed that one of the girls--a terrific learner who is also quite spunky--had appropriated my textbook to check her spelling.  That's fine, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity for some playfulness (especially as that is where a lot of language learning takes place).

I asked, "Chloe, is that MY book?"

She responded, "Yes, teacher."

I said, "Chloe, you are a book thief.  I'm calling the police!"  I mimed calling the police and them coming and putting her in handcuffs (I have done this often enough in other classes that I know how to ham it up pretty good).

Then I dashed off a drawing on the whiteboard of her in jail.


The kids all thought it was funny.

I thought that was the end of it, but a bit later, when I was checking their notebook writing, everyone started laughing.  I didn't know what was going on, focused as I was.  I looked up and saw 6 kids.  No Chloe.

I turned around, and there she was, behind me, drawing a picture of me on the whiteboard.  I had to laugh.

It looked like my picture, except she had drawn an arrow pointing to the figure and next to the arrow she wrote "Mr. Spencer".

But she wasn't done.

She drew three--3--hairs on the figure's head (I keep my hair cut short).  The class laughed all the harder.

Then she drew a ribbon on each of the three hairs.  The class roared.  I had to calm them down, though I had a hard time doing so as it was truly hilarious.

I love students like that!:)

In the same class, on a different day, I returned a test they had taken, and one girl, Seung-min, got a special sticker for getting 100 %.

She looked at me and asked, "Teacher, sticker, homework sticker?" while miming moving the sticker from her test paper to her homework sticker page.

(When they get 30 homework stickers they get a present, either a pencil or an eraser, and it's a big occasion, so every sticker counts.)

I replied, "No, Seung-min.  Sorry."

She asked again, and I responded the same way.

Then--completely uncharacteristic of her--she pretended to cry.  A very good pretending--she put her head down in her arms and everything.  She is thin, small, and cute, so if she really was crying it would break your heart.

Everyone thought that was quite funny, and I pretended to comfort her.

I like starting my teaching day with them.  Half the time I just sit back and let them try out their English and entertain me:)

The Homework Code

Since I have been getting more new students lately (Many of my classes are filled up now--my academy has a max of 10 students per class) I have had to explain my homework code a number of times.

Let me show you an example . . .

At the end of class I write the students' homework on the whiteboard and they copy it onto their homework papers.

It would take too much time for me--and for the students--to fully write out everything, so we have established a mutually understandable code.  For example, I will write:

LG SB 22-23 RL3X
WB 22-23
NB-SB 23 C. W1X
Diary

That translates as:

1) Let's Go (the name of their textbook) student book pages 22-23 read and listen (they have an audio cd) 3 times

2) Do the workbook pages 22-23 (they match the student book pages)

3) In the students' notebook, they have to look at the student book and write the questions and answers that correspond to the assigned section (for example: Q: What does he want to be?  A: He wants to be an architect.)

4) Complete one weekend diary entry

The following class we either check the homework together or I check it individually as the students line up and show it to me.

Seems to work fine, but for new students the homework code is obviously confusing.

And that is just the basics:)

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Healthy Snacks

Yesterday, Friday, I took two apples into my first class, a group of 5 first-grade girls who are advanced English speakers.  I told them it was snack day, and I was providing the healthy snack (they sometimes bring bread or other things).  I had a knife to quarter and core the apples, which I did.  Then, after asking one girl to hand out tissues to put their snacks on, I gave each girl a quarter piece of apple.

One girl looked at her large piece of apple, looked at me, and said, "Teacher, I don't have teeth."

This girl, cute as can be, is missing her upper front teeth (natural causes).

I responded, "Try biting it from the side," which I proceeded to (try to) do with my own piece.  Nope,wasn't going to work.  Those front teeth are more important than you might think.

I then cut her quarter piece into small slices.

Never had that problem before, but it represents one of the things I enjoy about teaching: there is always something new to learn.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Breakfast


From left to right: dried seaweed (김, used to wrap rice), fried tofu (두부) with soy sauce, diced fruit, kimchi, rice, and soup (the pot the soup is in is the one used to cook it in; it's clay and is placed directly on the burner, like a pot).

We ate on my friends' patio, under a large tent that they have for shelter/privacy.

Wonderful!

Cheap "Hotel" Room


This was the room that I slept in last weekend (for one night) with my friend Ken. His wife stayed with her mother.

The room was not in a hotel, but rather a "minbak" (민박), very spartan, with sleeping mats on the floor in lieu of beds. Usually a minbak consists of a room in a private home; this was a small building with efficiency rooms, some with long-term occupants, others available for nightly rentals. Cost = $30.

It wasn't very comfortable, as you might imagine, but it was next to the mother's building and--for one night--it suited our needs.

It's That Time of Year



Hot peppers and mushrooms set out to dry. It's common to see red peppers set out this time of year, but the mushrooms are a bit different.

Rural Life



Newly harvested rice (still in hulls) drying on a sidewalk. The woman is raking the rice to turn it over and promote even drying.

Persimmon Trees in Neighborhood

Grilled Shellfish



We love eating grilled shellfish at the beach; I think you have seen these pics before (same restaurant).

Hung Out to Dry


Squid, that is .. .

Friday, 7 October 2011

Grilled Pork Dinner with Side Dishes



Bugs on a Building

A picture of the side of the insect museum in Naksan, Gangwondo, South Korea: pretty cool, isn't it?


Tanks and Trucks and Other Army Things










Last Monday was a holiday here in South Korea. It was the anniversary of the foundation of the Korean nation.

While I was riding in a bus on the east coast, we suddenly passed a whole bunch of armored vehicles and trucks with soldiers . . . it turned out that there was a commemoration of a battle with North Korea (and of the North Korean invasion, since that was one of the places where it happened).

Please excuse the quality of the photographs, as they were taken out of the bus window, but they will give you an idea of what we saw as we were travelling. The sight of all of this was a surprise to everyone on the bus (mostly Koreans), and the mood was very supportive.

Food Delivered

There is a wide range of food in Korea that can be delivered to one's home or place of work, including what you see here: noodles with black bean sauce, fried rice, pickled radish, stuffed dumplings, onions, and some soup. We ate it outside on my friends' porch, since it was such a nice fall morning:)



Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Naksan Temple's Scenic Views

When we visited the Buddhist temple in Naksan (see next post), I took a lot of pictures, both of temple building and of the beautiful views. These are the scenic pics:) Enjoy!











Naksan Buddhist Temple (Naksansa)

Last weekend I visited a famous Buddhist temple in Naksan, Gangwondo, South Korea. My friends had been there before, but I hadn't. It is a sprawling complex, mostly on hills and a cliff overlooking the East Sea. The entire place was burned down a number of years ago in a forest fire, so almost everything you see here has been painstakingly rebuilt, and quite wonderfully so. Naksansa is very popular, and it was crowded on the Saturday that we visited. Some of the views are beautiful! I already want to go back.