Tag Archives: Korea

Williamsaurus

William is Korean aged 10. He is a very smart and sensitive third grader with the cutest dimples when he smiles… so I’m always trying to make him smile.  He’s almost always got food on his shirt and he’s a funny kid although his sense of humour is sometimes strange. He is full of saliva and always smacks his lips when he reads. And he reads like a mini Korean Shatner.

So the other day in class there was some weird sort of brown spooge in his workbook. He had been eating chocolate when I came in the classroom so I said, “Ew. Is that chocolate?”

Without batting an eye, William scratches off the brown smear and sniffs at it. For a moment, I seriously thought he was going to eat. I would have let him. I’m a bad teacher sometimes.

Tell a Story

Today in my Tuesday/Thursday TOEFL class, they were asked to write an essay answer to the question “What would it be like to lose a friend, even for a good reason?”

These girls are 10 and in fourth grade. It’s a pretty heavy topic. And a page long essay? In their second language? These kiddos usually write 5-7 sentences. Not a pageful. And certainly not in the 25 minutes I have them.

For the first bit of class, we discussed the question. First and foremost: How could you ‘lose’ a friend? We first talked about how they could move away or change class so you don’t see them any more. We talked about how they could die and you would lose them forever (the Korean ferry incident was fresh in their minds, so they could actually really relate to that, even at 10 years old). Finally, we talked about how you could get into a fight so bad with a friend that you stop being friends, and lose them that way.

We always have these discussions before we start writing. It ensures the kids understand the question and how to answer it fully. Well, after discussing how one could ‘lose’ a friend, we moved on to how they would feel if the lost a friend. Their collective verbal answer? “Sad”.

Even if I got them to say that in a full sentence, they’d still only have one sentence and a page full of empty lines.

So I suggested to them that instead of directly answering the question, that they try writing a story about losing a friend. We talked about how the beginning could be about how good the friendship was; the middle about how the friend was lost; and the end about how bad it felt after they were gone.

I told them that the story didn’t have to be true for a test like the TOEFL, it just had to be well written and interesting. And that a story is sometimes easier to write instead of a direct answer. Especially if you needed to fill a page full of lines.

The good news is that Cindy followed my advice and her story turned out really good. I just hope that she remembers what I told them for future classes and future questions. I think that if she does, she’ll do well.

Throwing Ethan Under the (School) Bus

So this isn’t a complaint about my school specifically, it is more about the “education as a business” model in Korea in general. Most of the time I can make peace about the practice, even if I don’t always love how it is implemented. It is, after all, how I make my money. But sometimes things happen that just absolutely enrage me.

We are currently doing “Open House” at our school. This means that the parents come into the school and watch their little darlings have a “class”. Of course, it is a total farce. For one of my classes I was told show my Reading and Comprehension class (usually 35 minutes), my Language Arts class (usually 35 minutes) and do our Speech Contest song. All in 15 minutes. Yah. It’s nothing but a show, and it’s annoying, but I get it. Show ’em the good bits. No warts.

That’s not what pissed me off. What pissed me off is how I was told to handle one of my little guys during the Open House. This little bundle of awesome is named Ethan, and although he’s not the brightest crayon in the box, he sure tries hard and he has been improving.

The issue is that Ethan took just about a month off to vacation in Guam. Lucky little turd. But in light of that, I was told to make sure that Ethan didn’t do as well as the other kids, so that parents could see how much children improve in a month.

What? You want me to intentionally embarrass this kid by making him look stupid in front of his friends and everyone’s mommy and daddy to try and show how awesome the school is? ARE YOU MENTAL? HE IS FIVE FUCKING YEARS OLD.

The thing is, little Ethan already was never going to do as well as the others; he’s behind in his reading. He *isn’t* as good as the others, he wasn’t even before the vacation. But he tries so hard and he deserved to be given the chance to do his best for his mommy.

So I gave him that chance. Because being a good teacher is trying to always do right by your little guys. And that little dude may have fucked up his reading a wee bit (as per usual), but he was good at answering questions and he rocked the hell out of the song. I was super proud of him.

The administration at my school, however, can do one at the moment.

Random Children Chatterings

Although I do have complaints about my school, I have absolutely nothing but love for the kids I teach. They. are. amazing. They make me laugh almost every single day and all the hugs and smiles are great. Here are a few recent bits that happened that made me laugh.

Albert Speaks 1

Albert. Again.

This kid. Seriously. THIS KID.

Me: What is the opposite of “female”?
Albert: Jew.
Me: WHAT?! “JEW”??
Albert: No! Jew. JEW. (makes a ‘z’ gesture)
Me: Do you mean “zoo”?
Albert: Yah. Zoo.

I don’t have any idea what he was thinking. Neither did he, he wouldn’t even try to explain once Jessica said the right answer.

 Albert Speaks 2

The workbook had the word “near-sighted” in it, and the kids didn’t know that particular word. I broke it down into the two parts, and was trying to get them to give me another word for “sight”. They had no clue. Thanks, level-appropriate book.

So I pointed to my eyes, trying to get them to say “look” or “see”. What does Albert come up with when I pointed at my eyes?

Excitedly he exclaimed, “Dark circles!”

Clearly I need more sleep.

Nice Try, Robinsaurus

Me: (teaching analogies) What is to “hand” as “ankle” is to “foot”?
Robin: Hankle.

Hallowe’en Tales – Korean Kiddo Style

I was pretty happy with the stories my PK class wrote, so I thought I would share them. They are “Korean aged” seven, which means that they are biologically either six or seven years old, depending on when their actual birthday is. Pretty awesome little story writers. They had to incorporate specific words into their stories (they each had different words) and they did it well.

Albert

Once upon a time there was a skeleton. It was the only skeleton. The skeleton ate people. The skeleton was outside. A jet was coming closer. It threw out a bomb. The bomb went “Boom!” The skeleton ran back to the house, got many scissors, and went back outside. The skeleton jumped on the jet. He went in the jet and fought with a soldier. The skeleton won and was very happy. The skeleton was so happy he decided to go to the playground. And the skeleton played happily in the playground for the rest of the day.

Jessica

In the church there were many zombies and no people. Only zombies! There was one zombie who said “Eek!” when he met a spider. He liked to punch and eat people, too. One day, they were eating my friend! I was scared and I said “Eek!”. I ran to my house. Then I woke up and it was just a dream. I was very scared but I went to the church. It was all real! A zombie was there eating many books! The zombie punched me and ate my book! I quickly ran away and went back home. My mom was baking cookies. Mom said, “Happy Hallowe’en!” “Today is Hallowe’en?” I asked. “Yes!” Mom said. My mom and I went to the playground. My friends were there. We decided to go back to the church. We did. There were no zombies anywhere. And that was my scary day.

Lilly

Once upon a time there was a ghost who liked running. The ghost ran very quickly and a chair fell over. Bang! The ghost lived in a house. The ghost’s name was Jocat. He punched a book when he was being very scary. He liked to eat many skeletons. When Albert skeleton ran past his house he broke the window and he tried to eat the skeleton. He had eight eyes so he could look outside even when he was sleeping. He also liked to eat adults. When the adults walked past his house, he punched the door whenever they were close. When he went outside he saw the adults and quickly went to them. He ate them very quickly. When he began to eat the adults, somewhere a clock sang the song “I am the clock that goes tick-tock, I am the clock that likes the ghost.” And the ghost danced to the clock song.

Where would you like to go on a field trip? Why?

Okay, so I may have the wording of the question slightly off. I don’t have the lesson plan in hand. But that’s close enough to count.

I would like to go back to the Kid’s Café . ANY Kid’s Café.

So. What’s a Kid’s Café? It’s a place of awesomeness if you are a kindergarten teacher. It’s a big room full of soft, safe shit for the kids to go monkeynuts on. And we just have to watch.

It’s the greatest field trip you can hope for: A full day of no lessons, happy children, and free coffee. So much win.

Black Garlic Juice

So, um. I don’t know how I get myself into these things sometimes. It’s like I practice.

I spotted the black garlic stuffs in the supplement section of my local Emart months ago. My moms swears by taking garlic, so I was intrigued by the black garlic. Obviously black is cool, so black garlic had to be better than white garlic, right?

photo 1

Here’s the box full of boxes of garlic.

Apparently the black stuff is supposed to be better than the regular stuff (according to some websites I perused and can’t be bothered to link to). And because I haven’t seen any other garlic supplements around these here parts, I thought I would give these a try.

Until I took a closer look at the box. First of all, it was huge. Second of all, it was 57,000won (about $55USD). That’s not expensive for a huge box of garlic, but at the time I first started scoping the goods, it was more than I wanted to spend. Also, I’m solo. I don’t really need a family-sized box of supplementation.

But today I figured I was going to go for it. So I’d have a life-time supply of black garlic. What’s the worst that could happen?

Well, the worse that could happen is that it isn’t in a capsule. Or a pill. Or a pellet, lozenge, or pastille.

It’s a liquid. A PACKET OF LIQUID.

photo 2

Full of juicy garlic juiceness.

Ew. I mean, right? Ew. It’s a packet of BLACK GARLIC JUICE. Ew. I was scared. Relieved that it wasn’t like those little pellets I’ve had before, but still. Garlic. Juice.

I was a little worried to just rip one of these bad-boys open and pour it down my throat. But there was no information in English on the package at all. Fortunately, there was a website, which told me all I needed to know (kinda) about how to take it. Thank you, Google Translate!

Long story short: Bottoms up. Just rip that bitch open and drink yourself some black garlic juice.

Wanna know how bad it is? It tastes like garlic and (sweet-ish) vinegar. It’s not horrid. It’s not good. It’s not too much to take at once, so I’m just going to down it in a mouthful and then chase it with something (anything!)

Apparently you can take it one or two times a day, so I’m going to try taking it after breakfast or dinner each day. That’ll give me a month of black garlic goodness. If I can remember to choke it down each day.

If I don’t post about it again (like, in a month), it means that I didn’t notice enough of an affect (to my health or skin or whatevs) to bother buying more. But if it does have a noticeable effect, I’ll be sure to post about it.

In the meantime, I really ought to accelerate my Korean study. I mean, I gotta stop buying shit without being able to read the labels. That’s how you end up choking down garlic juice for a month instead of popping garlic pills.

How was your Chuseok holiday?

My Chuseok holiday was awe-to-the-some. Three glorious days off and a visit from the ever-lovely Craigface. It was great.

First things first: What the eff is Chuseok, right? If you are too lazy to check out the wiki page I linked there for ya, basically Chuseok is Korean Thanksgiving. Except we got three days off instead of one and no one got trampled in a sale.

My Chuseok celebration started at school on Friday, with all the kiddos coming dressed in their traditional Korean garb – the hanbok. I actually only took one photo, but it is an extra cute one.

chuseok hanbok kindergarten

Kelly, looking very grown-up for 5 years old.

We made songpyeon (which, I won’t lie, looked totes sick with how the kids manhandled it) and played traditional Korean folk games. Which the foreign staff was expected to judge/referee… even though the rules never were explained in English.

But the best part that day was the arrival of my friend Craig, who managed to make it all the way to my ‘hood all by himself. I walked him to my place in the morning and after school, had our first night out.

photo 2

CRAIGFACE!

I’ll spare y’all the details of our visit, but there was a lot of shopping, a lot of food, a bunch of booze and even the occasional foray toward the odd cultural this and that (like the temple in the picture above). It was super fun.

It meant a lot that Craig came to visit me all the way in Korea for just those few days. Thankfully he liked it enough that he plans on coming back to visit next year.

Speaking of feeling thankful on Thanksgiving (even if it is K-stylE), my fabulous landlord stopped by (at the asscrack of dawn, which I can’t thank him for, after the long nights Craig and I had) on Chuseok day to bring me food. Songpyeon (which is pretty gross even when the kids aren’t the ones making it) and some fruit.

photo 3

Best. Landlord. Ever.

Overall, I had a great Chuseok which I am so thankful for. I had a lot of laughs and a lot of fun. I wouldn’t have asked for anything more.

From stinky to tasty in one bath

In 2:30 elementary class we are reading a story called “Animal Homes”, of which a skunk’s home is one of the ones described. So we were talking about skunks. During the discussion, I brought up that the skunk spray is very, very hard to get rid of… especially off a furry pet like a dog. I asked the class what strange thing people think  you should bathe a dog in to get rid of the skunk smell, and the only clue I gave them was that it was something you could eat or drink.

Jessica’s first answer of what to bathe your stinky dog in? Barbecue sauce.

Random Children Chatterings

There were a few gems over the last week or so. Thought I’d lump a few together into one post. Save us all some time.

Evan the Heretic

In one of the 11 years old elementary classes, we are prepping for TOEFL. One of the reading passages was about the death penalty (we’ve also covered the holocaust and a few other cheery topics).

Evan says, “I don’t need to read this. I know all about the death penalty.”

I said, “Oh really? What do you know about it?”

“Well,” he says, “I had the death penalty happen to me in a past life. They punched and kicked and burned me alive for saying that the earth went around the sun.”

That kid is too hilariously smart for his own good.

Stop Hitting Yourself

In one of my kindergarten classes Justin kept asking “who’s punching me?”… while punching himself.

Beer Cup

Kindergarten Ethan rarely answers questions correctly, and I loved this one. There was a picture of a glass that did look a lot like a pint glass. The children all guessed “cup” when I asked “what is this?”

I told them that wasn’t the correct answer. After a pause Ethan pipes up and says, “BEER CUP!”

That kid is going places.

Stinkypants

So, one of our teachers doesn’t smell very good. As in, eye-wateringly bad some days. Last week he took to showering in Axe. He was teaching my kindergarten homeroom for a block, and I had to go in there after him. It stank so badly of Axe, I would have known he had been in there even if I didn’t know my kids’ schedule.

It was so pungent that I asked, “Was [teacher’s name] spraying something in here?” while miming spraying myself with something. It was so strong I figured he must have reapplied in the room. And that’s pretty fucking sick.

“No, Teacher,” Luna replied with her nose scrunched up. “That’s just his body.”

Awesome. Even the kids think he’s the stinky teacher.

Today’s News

That 2:30 class. I love them. Today during reading time, Jessica and Albert started reading like newscasters. Saying things like “Today on Albert News”, and then reading the page of the story like a newscaster. Albert would finish by saying, “Thank you to listening to my news. Over to you, John.”

John was singing his pages whilst dancing. And while he was doing that, Jessica and Ellie were miming taking pictures… the paparazzi.

But perhaps my favourite was Lilly. While the other four children were being monkeys, she just smiled her patient Mona Lisa smile, waiting her turn, and then reading as seriously and perfectly as she always does. What a kid.