Follow by Email

Sunday, 29 April 2012


The route that I walk to school has some nice flowers, and more are being put in, along with a few new side areas where I assume they are going to install benches:

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Running Dictation

There is one activity that we do in classes that is called "running dictation".  The basic steps are as follows:

1. Kids are paired up, and each pair is given a piece of writing paper.

2. The teacher gives a question, and one student writes the question on the paper.

3. The other student, after listening to the question, goes outside the room to where several photocopied paragraphs have been taped to the wall.

4. That student has to find the answer to the question by reading--scanning--the posted paragraphs.

5. The "running" student then races back to his/her partner and dictates the answer; he or she is responsible for ensuring that the writer has correct spelling, punctuation, etc.

Some of my students view this activity as a game and love it.  Others don't view it quite so fondly since, if they get paired up with a lower-skilled student, they are likely to lose (whichever team finishes first is the winner).

It can be a challenging activity, even for native speaking kids, as it involves four (4) language skills: listening, reading, speaking, and writing.  Can you imagine being asked to do this activity in a foreign language?

For the teacher, it can be the equivalent to giving a test: the teacher can observe the capabilities of the students as they engage in the activity.

I did this activity--running dictation--with one class for the first time last week, and I was dismayed to observe that two students could not comprehend and complete the activity.  While that was negative, I now know that I need to spend more time with that one class on the same activity.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Choosing Games

In Korea "rock, scissors, paper" is a popular choosing game.  Sometimes I see kids--or lately even a kid and her father--playing the game while going up steps:  the winner advances while the loser stays on the same step.

We use "rsp" a lot in classes, as kids enjoy it and it is convenient, if noisy.  However, I remember some of the longer, more drawn-out, choosing games of my childhood.

For example, there was this one:

"My mother and your mother were hanging up their clothes; my mother socked your mother in the nose; what color was her blood? G-r-e-e-n spells green and you are 'it'."

A bit gruesome, but I suppose that was a part of the attraction.

Then there was:

"Eenie meenie minee moe, what color was the tiger's toe?  If it was 'r-e-d' you are not 'it'!"

There were variations on each game, so they were never boring . . .

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Easter Lunch Gathering

Yesterday, Saturday, I took the train (actually, two trains and a bus and a taxi) down to Pyeongtaek to visit some friends who are part of the American military base there (well, he is; she's a Kiwi mom married to him).  They had invited me, along with some other friends of theirs, for an Easter lunch, so I got to meet some new people, visit old friends, and eat some great food.  Nice!

Monday, 2 April 2012


One of Korea's national food dishes is bibimbap (비빔밥), a bowl of rice layered with vegetables and a spoonful of spicy red pepper sauce on top. (bim, 빔 = spicy,  밥 = rice).

It is a nice mixture and can be a healthy meal.

Usually eaten in a lunch restaurant for about $5, here are a few pics of a "take-out" version of bibimbap, bought at a local supermarket.

You need to microwave the rice for two (2) minutes to reheat it:

The vegetables don't need cooking, though they may need a bit of dicing with scissors

And then everything gets mixed together.  Often a fried egg is planed on top, but I didn't do that as I have been eating hard-boiled eggs in my salads.


Sunday, 1 April 2012

Going to the Doctor

I was sick last week.

After putting up with it for a few days, I started losing sleep and coughing up phlegm.  That's when I knew I needed to go see a doctor.

The last time I went to a doctor was over 2 years ago, so I was curious to see what--if anything--had changed about the experience in Korea.

I walked over to the building I used to live in, since it has a small variety of medical clinics on the 4th floor.

The medical office where I had gone before was empty, which alarmed me for a minute as I was feeling bad and didn't want to go looking around for another office.  However, on the same floor I found an E.N.T. office (ear, nose, and throat), just what I needed.

The woman at the reception desk (maybe the doctor's wife?) spoke some English, and asked me for my medical insurance card, which I gave to her along with my foreigner's i.d.  She then asked me to wait, though that only lasted for 5 minutes as the office wasn't busy.

I was ushered by a nurse into a side diagnostic area, where the doctor was putting on a facial mask.  After being sat in a chair that reminded me of a dentist's office, the doctor started rattling away in Korean.

I apologized for my lack of language skills, and he smoothly switched to English; though he had to think about what he said, his English was quite good.

He asked me what was wrong, and I told him I had had a fever and was plagued with some body aches and pains, but the main thing was that I had developed a cough and was congested.  I had also been experiencing some allergy problems from the changing spring weather (and/or yellow dust from China).

The doctor listened to my chest breathing and then--a first for me--inserted a stick-like camera into my nasal passages to check them out.  He showed me the mucus build-up and told me that I needed a round of antibiotics (which I knew and was what I wanted to hear;  since I used to have to wrestle a bit with American doctors to get antibiotics, I am always worried that I will have the same problem in Korea, though that has never happened).

He typed the prescription into a computer as he was talking to me, and told me about the pills he was going to prescribe, that I would need to return in 5 days for another visit, and that, before I left, he was going to have the nurse perform a saline rinse.

I had never had a saline rinse before, so I was curious.  Basically, the nurse sat me down over a sink and plugged a hose into one nostril.  She flipped a switch and a light stream of saline went into one nostril, came out the other, and flushed into the sink.  Then she switched to the other nostril.  It was quick, only a minute or two.

So, ten minutes later, I was back at the front desk, where I paid the equivalent of $6.00 and was given the printed prescription.

I then headed next door, literally speaking; on the same 4th floor, next to the doctor's office, there is a pharmacy the fills the prescriptions for all of the clinics there.  I had to wait about ten minutes to get my prescription filled, and then a pharmacist explained to me, in English, about the medicine.  I got antibiotics, a digestive aid, and pain medication (4 different pills).  5 days worth.  Total cost = $6.

An interesting thing about Korean prescriptions is that they are usually packaged at the pharmacy into individual dosage packets

That makes taking the medicine easy, but clearly such a practice would never be accepted in the U.S. as each individual pill is not documented (sometimes you can have 4-5 pills in the dosage packets), the packets are obviously not childproof, etc.

So, I saw a doctor and got my medicine, fast and easy, for a total cost of $12.

If I wasn't on the national health plan (which I co-pay $80 a month for), the visit would have cost more, but probably not more than $10.

I go back to see the doctor in two days, and I will probably have to pay close to the same amount again.

No problem there.  I'm feeling better and I like the way the Korean system works.