This Thursday and Friday are national holidays in Korea due to the lunar new year.
Most of my students are going to their grandparents' home for the holidays, and we talked a little bit about who is going to travel the farthest, the idea of traffic (it can be horrendous on the highways as Seoul experiences a massive exodus), etc.
One of my 4th graders asked in class if I was going to my parents home for the holidays. I had forgotten that some of them don't have a good perspective on world geography and travel.
I said, "Amy, it takes one day for me to fly to America, and one day to come back to Korea, so I can't visit them in 4 days. We use Skype."
I showed them on the classroom map how far apart Korea and America are.
"Wow!" they chorused.
I will be interested to hear their travel stories when the students return next week.
I ate lunch today with friends at a 'risotto, pilaf, spaghetti, and steak' restaurant (called "Seoga & Cook" I think) in Ansan (Jungang station), not too far from the city I live in. It's a big restaurant and was packed; we had to wait 25 minutes.
The food was good, but the steak was a bit overdone and the spaghetti was spicy (though surprisingly not red:) . . . I think they used some Thai chili pepper). Overall I liked the shabu-shabu place that we ate at last week better.
Most of the students in my classes have to participate in an activity like this once or twice a week.
Their textbooks usually present them with a short list of vocabulary words (6-8), and I ask them to write--on the whiteboard--the English word, the Korean word, and a sentence that uses the word correctly. I will tell them how many words (minimum) to put in the sentence, otherwise they will naturally make very short ones (so, 8+ words).
This often involves using dictionaries and/or asking a Korean teacher to come in and check the translations.
After the students have written on the whiteboard they must copy everything into their notebooks.
I have found that, in doing this exercise over a long period of time (6 months to a year), the students greatly improve their ability to make well-ordered sentences.
Sure, they make mistakes, and I try to correct those before they write the sentences into their notebooks, but, for the most part, I am pleased with the progression that the students have made.
In the attached picture, I did make corrections, but not a lot (and I missed a few things).
What is important is 1) the long-term improvement and 2) the empowerment that such an exercise gives the students, for I make sure to tell them when their writing is good.
Also, writing on the whiteboard gives me a chance to point out who has good hand-writing and who doesn't, though I usually do it in a question mode: "Which numbers do you think have the best handwriting?"
"Wow! Ok, who wrote those sentences?"
A bit of peer pressure is often a good thing.
*A note--this is not a normal class for my academy (hagwon); they are what I wold call 'advanced 4th graders', and I have been teaching some of them for several years.
Second is a link to a new documentary about the hardships of daily life in NK, apparently composed of video footage smuggled out of the country (I haven't been able to watch the film yet, due to region restrictions on internet viewing, but I hope to soon):
I told several of my classes today that, while the weather here in South Korea has been very cold, the weather where a friend lives in Argentina is quite hot, since the southern half of the Earth is experiencing summer.
In two classes--4th and 5th graders--I asked the students to make a choice: did they prefer Korea's cold winter weather, or did they want to choose Argentina's very hot summer weather (about 39C/102F today).
It was interesting that one class chose Argentina's summer weather, while the other class voted in favor of Korea's cold weather.
Both classes felt quite strongly about their choices, and I had a hard time not laughing about their emphatic tones.
When I told my friend in Argentina that one class had chosen her weather, she said to send them there:)
On Thursday I am going to tell that class--9 girls--to pack their bags!
Here are links to some short films, usually 4-8 minutes in length. I have shown most of them to students during break times or for summary writing activities (so they have been previewed for violence/sex/language). I think I have posted all of the links before, but a friend needed some comedy and so they came to mind and I am posting them again:
If you are interested about English education/learning in Korea, you might be interested in these two articles, both from the Korea Herald, one of the two main daily English language news sources (the other is the Korea Times):
It was nice to have just one day with each class (we work on a MWF/TuTh schedule) in order to get reacquainted.
Many of my students I have taught for a year or more, so we are comfortable with each other.
It's nice to get back into that zone, but I think I will need to shake things up a bit,
We have two months left in this semester (the new school year in Korea begins in March), and I want to introduce some new activities.
It's also nice to be back in Korea just because so many places are within walking distance; I enjoyed visiting the U.S., but having to drive every where can be a pain. Here the grocery store is next door, my workplace is 5 minutes on foot, and the subway station (should I want to go to downtown Seoul) is 8 minutes away.