Follow by Email

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Staff Dinner at a Chinese Restaurant

Here are some food pics of our recent staff dinner at a nice Chinese restaurant.  We ordered a set menu which consisted of 10 dishes to be shared (plus soup, fried rice, etc.).  It turned out to be a lot of food:

Saturday, 24 August 2013

2 Short Films

From the same website that I have been using (, here are 2 more short films to watch:

The first is a little spooky but very nicely done:

The second has some poetic narrative, quite nice but a bit sad:

Friday, 16 August 2013

Short Films

Preview both of these before showing to kids.

Here's an interesting animation about class struggles:

And a (not animation) film noir crime retro:

Sunday, 11 August 2013

More Homework Please

I started teaching a new class a few weeks ago.

There are 4 students in the class, all 3rd year middle school (9th grade), and two of the boys were my students several years ago.  (Interesting note: those 2 students are as tall as I am--6 feet--and the other boy is taller.  Only the 1 girl is shorter.)

They have one 50 min. class with me, and then another 50 min. class with another foreign teacher. I'm teaching them writing; the focus, after some review, will be on writing essays for tests.  The other teacher is doing a grammar test prep class.

These are advanced students; their English is essentially fluent, and their moms have them on track to get into good high schools and universities (thus good test scores are needed).

This is not the kind of class that my English academy normally teaches, as we are primarily a conversation school, but the time slots were available and, as mentioned, 2 of the students were known and recognized as being diligent.

We have class on Mondays and Fridays, and I have been feeling them out to see what their writing levels are like.  For example, last week their assignment was to write--and then type--a standard 5 paragraph essay.  I got them started in class, and when they showed up with their typed drafts on Monday (the first test--all of them completed the assignment), I had them do peer editing and then revise and edit the drafts for homework.  I will review the finished essays tomorrow.  I also have them writing diaries (2nd test--only 2 completed the assignment), something we don't usually require of middle school students, since they are too busy.

Which leads me to my point--they are busy.  These students have virtually no free time, as they go to school and then attend 2-3+ academies per day, and then do homework and study until they go to sleep.

However, the other teacher and I were told on Friday that one or more of the moms felt like we weren't assigning enough homework; they (the moms) would like an hour of homework per night.

When my director told me that I said it was probably true from the moms' perspective that I wasn't giving enough homework, and that I could give more, though I would have to think about the best way to do that.  However, I also told my director that the focus of my class was to have the students--at some point in the future--be comfortable with walking into a test room, be assigned a previously unknown essay topic, and to be able to sit down and write a good essay.  If they can do that, I will be satisfied that I have achieved what I want with them (and this in 5 months or so, as I assume they will all quit before Christmas, because they will have to focus on high school entrance--the new school year starts in March).

I don't necessarily feel that assigning more homework is going to help to achieve that result, and I truly am concerned about the amount of homework some of my students have to do.  When I ask them about what they are going to do for their vacation, the number one answer is "play", but usually the number two answer is "sleep".

After hearing the news about increased homework, I went to talk with the students during their break time.  I told them that, starting Monday they would have more homework because their moms pushed for it.  Fair's fair--I don't want to be demonized by students I like for something outside of my control.  They groaned and moaned, and one boy said that he was now writing 3 diaries, to which I replied, good-naturedly, "If you have a problem, talk to your mom."

Saturday, 10 August 2013

The NSA Closet

Has anyone thought about the fact that the NSA's snooping--illegal and immoral, if you ask me--has some very far-reaching social answers to sought-after questions?

By all accounts, the NSA has been reading Americans' email, phone conversations, etc. for quite some time (how long?  I haven't seen the answer to that question asked or answered in the media) so they--the NSA--should know the answer to quite a few issues:

     *Who used illegal drugs in professional sports

     *Who cheated in Wall Street deals

     *Which politicians are corrupt

     *Where are America's most-wanted criminals

Having  such an extensive database would presumably give the NSA access to the knowledge to answer some of these questions.

They claim the information-tapping is put to use in fighting terrorism, but what about all of the other potential uses?  Who decides?  Does the U.S. have a Minister of Secrets?

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

August Short Films

Here are some short films that I am using this week either for classroom summary writing or for break time entertainment:

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Ramen Burger?

Ok,  So I live in a country where ramen is king.

My students love ramen.

Call it "cup noodles", "instant noodles", whatever you like, they love it.

There's even a dry ramen snack available, which I often see students eating at our English academy.

Truth: I am not a ramen fan.  I never buy the stuff, and I don't see the appeal in it.

So, when I saw this article, I was immediately disgusted: a ramen burger?  What a waste of good meat.

I acknowledge that I am biased, however, so you can decide for yourself:

Article: American Medical Implants (Joints)

Here's an interesting article about--what else?--the expensive rates for getting a hip replacement, etc., in the U.S.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Healthy Food

The vegetable pictured below is kind of a cross between a squash and a pumpkin (I think in the U.S. it would be called an "acorn squash").  I usually cook it in the microwave by scooping out the seeds and putting 1/4 cup of water in the hollow; then I cover it with plastic wrap, punch a few holes, and nuke it for 6-8 minutes.  This time I added some sliced mushrooms after I took it out of the microwave and emptied the water (but replaced the plastic wrap quickly, so the mushrooms cooked a bit from the built-up heat/steam).

Friday, 2 August 2013

How to Track Bees

Just so you don't get overwhelmed by my food posts, here's an interesting article about how scientists track bees.  If you're not a part-time science nerd, at least look at the article pics:

Korean Beef Restaurant

Beef is expensive in Korea.

For example, when my friend and I went to a large supermarket to buy some ground beef to make hamburgers (see earlier post)), we had two choices:

     *Korean beef, $20 for one package
     *Australian beef, $13 for one package

Since we wanted to buy two packages we went with the Australian beef.

In the U.S. a similar package of ground beef might be $4-5.

All this is to say that, usually, eating at a Korean beef restaurant is a special thing.  Most grilled meat restaurants here involve cooking pork, since it is quite a bit cheaper.

Thus, I was surprised when my friends took me to a beef place that was not expensive.  For the four of us the total was about $75--quite reasonable.  And we ate a lot of meat.

Have a look:

For those of you not familiar with my past pics of grilled meat restaurants, the meat is cooked at the table over a charcoal grill (the smoke is drawn upwards into an exhaust tube), cut into bite-sized portions (using tongs and scissors), and wrapped in lettuce or sesame leaves before eating.  Side dishes--such as kimchi, greens, and Asian radish--are almost always part of the meal.  At the end of the dinner, soup and rice are eaten (though I am usually too full  to partake).

Vietnamese Food in Korea

Here are three pics from a Vietnamese restaurant that several other teachers and I visited for lunch. I don't know if the food is more "authentic" here or not, seeing as we are closer to Vietnam than most other western countries, but it was good and not expensive.

The Grill: Part 2

Step 1: Getting the mini-grill ready

                                  (The hell with lighter fluid; get the blow torch going!)

Step 2: Cooking the burgers

Step 3: Ready to eat!

It was dark by the time we sat down to eat, but fortunately no mosquitoes.

No hamburger buns were available, so we used garlic bread.  Quite a treat, especially since I don't have a grill and rarely eat hamburgers.  These were much better than you can buy at some fast-food place:)

The Grill: Part 1

Answer: the two burrito-looking things are fish (salted mackerel) and the other two are full of sliced potatoes.

I stayed at a friend's house on the east coast of Korea for the last 5 days, and he and his wife have a nice 2nd floor patio with both a smaller and a larger grill.

Despite the rainy weather that Korea is experiencing, we ate out on the patio every day (there's an outdoor tent for cover).

Back to the fish-and-potatoes dinner.

We also had salad and kimchi and fresh shrimp.

Healthy and delicious!

(Btw, the wooden table in the pic is homemade.)

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Food Blog-Posts Are Coming . . .

I've been absent from my blog for a while, but I am back and with an assortment of food pics.

Here's a teaser: what do you think is cooking--all wrapped-up--on the grill?