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Saturday, 25 May 2013

Cold Noodles

Lunch = cold noodles (내명)  $5.50 . . . you can get spicy noodles or mild noodles; this lunch place offers up a bit of a mix (cold yet spicy):

The white thing that you see on top (of the chopped cucumber) is a slice of an asian pear

The round white thing is a hardboiled  egg

Mixed together with the icy sauce, it's delicious and a good way to cool down on a hot summer day!

Friday, 24 May 2013


This semester, starting last March (when the new school year began in Korea), the English academy (hagwon) that I work at instituted a cell phone ban.

Previously there were no cell phones allowed in classes, but students were engaging in a lot of game play before classes and during break times between classes.  It got to the point where very little real communication was going on between students; either most students were playing games on their cell phones, or (if the student didn't have a phone) they were watching other students play games.

Thus the academy told the students that no cell phones were allowed to be used inside the school, and for the most part the new plan has worked quite well--there is now more talking and more students have time, if needed, to prepare for vocabulary tests or to finish their homework.

However, as perhaps might be expected, a few students have found it difficult to power off their phones for the two hours that they are at the academy.  Especially when they arrive at the school and are in the hallway or in classrooms before their first class begins, some students continue to (they think secretly) use their phones.

Therefore, this week we have been engaged in "re-educating" students about school rules concerning cell phones (and any other electronic devices) . . . nothing draconian, just posted rules in English and Korean, and teachers talking to classes, and a couple of posters that one of my middle school classes put together.

The idea for the posters (above are two pics of the same poster) came from an online writing class that I am taking through Coursera, a free online university.  One of the assignments for my course was to design a public service announcement (PSA), following a review of rhetorical principles that we have been studying in the course.

So I decided to blend the PSA assignment with our school's need concerning cell phone rules.  I talked with the class about audience and purpose, and they had one hour (and the use of a computer/printer) to produce a finished product.  The main facet of the poster is the universally recognized "NO" sign in the center--the red circle with a line through it--since the intended audience, all students at the academy, includes beginner students who are just starting to learn to read English.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Buddha's Birthday

Today--Friday, May 17th--is a national holiday as it is Buddha's birthday.  South Korea, I believe, these days is more than 50% Christian, but the tradition continues.

So no school, which my students were very happy about when I asked them what they were going to do today.  The #1 answer was "sleep", followed by "play".

I was worried that the Friday outdoor market wouldn't be held, but it was running as usual, so I bought my weekly supply of tofu--yeah!

Personal Questions

Yesterday, two students--great girls who are older beginners, maybe 4th grade--wanted to ask me if I was married.  They don't yet have the vocabulary to properly ask that kind of question, but that didn't stop them.

They came up to me in the hallway after class and asked, "Teacher, you [here they hummed a few lines of the wedding march song] finished?"

I didn't understand at first, so I asked them to repeat the question, which they did.

Ahh!  Wow! What a good try at personal English!

When I replied "No" the girls then wanted to ask me if I had a girlfriend, but what came out was, "Do you have love girl?"

That one made me laugh:)

Saturday, 11 May 2013

ISS Question for CNN

CNN is reporting that astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) are beginning an "emergency space walk" due to an ammonia leak.

CNN says that NASA says the crew is in no danger--so why is CNN reporting it as an "emergency" space walk?

Learning about Snack

Last week at my academy I saw some 2nd grade students had arrived early for class (we start at 2:30 pm).  One girl was chewing on something, and I saw that she had a food storage box.

"Do you have a snack today?" I asked.

She shook her head and continued chewing.

Curious, I asked her, pointing at the food box, "What's that?"

"Melon," she replied.

"So you have melon snack today?"

She shook her head again.

"That's food, right?" I prompted, thinking maybe she didn't understand.

"Yes," she responded.

"It's snack, yes?"


I was beginning to feel a bit frustrated, because it was just the right amount of melon--cut up into bite sized pieces, to be a snack; clearly, it wasn't going to be dinner or anything else.

Just when I was about to try a new line of questioning, the girl's friend piped up.

"That's snack," she said, pointing at a boy in the same room who held a bag of potato chips.

Ahh!  The light dawned.  (And I later confirmed my guess with a Korean teacher).

For these Korean students "snack" = a certain kind of food: chips, cookies, etc.

For me, however, and I think for most westerners, "snack" = a small amount of food that is eaten between meals; it doesn't matter what kind of food it is.

Hmm . . . interesting.  And another reason that I like teaching kids in Korea: I'm always learning something new.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Earthquake Drill

Yesterday, Tuesday, my elementary students had an earthquake drill in their public schools.  It was interesting to ask them about it and to hear about how their drills varied: some did the "hide under your desk" routine while others went outside (apparently to escape collapsing schools, something that has afflicted Chinese students).

One girl wrote in her diary that it was fun because they went down to a "subterranean" parking garage and it was cool there (the last few days have been quite warm in this area).

I remain curious about why some schools practice different means of protection/escape in the advent of an earthquake.

Unfortunately I heard that one of my 4th grade students, while exiting her school building, apparently had a collision with another student that resulted in her cracking a tooth and breaking her arm.


Saturday, 4 May 2013

Children's Day

May 5th is Children's Day in Korea, and this year the kids are getting a bum deal because what is supposed to be a holiday--as in no school, an extra free day to play--falls on a Sunday.

Poor kids.

One class of 2nd graders did inform me last week, just to make sure, that Children's day was coming up.

"Teacher, present please!"

"Why?" I asked, feigning ignorance.

A bit affronted, they responded in their limited English, "Teacher!  Children's Day!  Present!"

Never one to let a good opportunity pass by, I replied (with a serious face and tone), "You're big!  You're not children!"

"No, we are little!  Look . . ." and several of them got down on the floor.

Ah, the entertainment!

Seriously, such occasions are a good way to get my students to think about how to use new language, how to meld the English they have learned into coherent responses.

That's the plan anyway.

Sometimes I wonder what some of them tell their parents about me:)