Road Trip

July 28, 2010

This is the map

I plan to follow this map down the west coast of Korea.  I originally planned to go to Pusan, but it is very hot, and Pusan is 500 km away from Seoul.  So instead I’m just going to ride my bike until Wednesday, then take a bus back to Seoul.

I will write about it when I get back.

Meanwhile, I hope you have an awesome beginning for August.


Why I love Korea… now with photos.

July 26, 2010

Korea is a land of contradictions. It is grounded in history while thrusting towards the future.  I think that is what I love about Seoul, the tension between past and future and between east and west.

As much as I enjoy the modern and international parts of Korea, I also love the traditional.  I often go to E-mart and Home plus, but I also like shopping in many of the outdoor markets. One of the very cool things is that these markets are not just one farmer’s market in the downtown area, but they are near every single neighborhood.

Some of the scrumptious things you can buy are all kinds of fruit and vegetables, kimchi’s and snacks.

Of course you will find some things that aren’t so delicious.

Of course, my co-teacher would disagree. We met in Insadong on Sunday, with her whole family. Insadong is one of my favorite areas in Seoul (I have more than one)- its kind of touristy, but also it is where you can find a lot of traditional arts, several excellent tea houses and cool modernized traditional clothes. Some of it is even affordable.  While we were there, they had an exhibit of “living legends” – people who keep a lot of the traditional crafts alive.  It was very interesting.

After the exhibit we walked around some and found traditional candies, traditional crafts, and free hugs

But what is really cool, is just going out and about, you can find cool things like:

This is one of the many reasons I love Seoul,  you don’t have to search for adventure.

Friday, class fail.

July 24, 2010

I usually like to write about classes that go well. Part of it is my disgusting optimism.  Part of it, I don’t really like to admit when I suck as a teacher.

But. Friday’s summer camp lesson was a total failure.

I have 7 students. 9 students signed up for the camp, but 1 was way out of her league and she un-enrolled.  1 I haven’t seen yet.  I don’t know why she signed up, but since she never came I don’t feel too bad about her not being in class now.

So we have 7 students, and they have been awesome.  They have participated enthusiastically, and when I put up the mistakes on the mistakes were made board, I noticed that some of the more common mistakes were absent.  Yeah, I think they are pretty cool.

So Friday.  I wanted a special super fun awesome class.

I failed.

We started with a minute mystery. When I got to the solution, instead of the Ah, and laughter I usually get, I got Uh? and blank faces. I knew I was off my game.

The theme for the day was BANK ROBBERS!!! – I found a game online that had you plan and execute a bank heist.  So I took a bunch of elements from the game, and made our own heist elements that the students should put together.

To warm them up, I had the song, “Don’t nobody move, this is a heist” by Tony Powers.  I explained heist, but they really didn’t get the song or the video.

So we moved on.

I showed some clips and previews of movies like Heat, Ocean’s twelve, and Point Break.  They hadn’t seen those movies or any of the other movies I mentioned.

I moved on.

I gave them a blue print of the bank, and some characters they could be.  I gave them cards for the equipment they would need.  And put them together to plan their heist.

They didn’t get it.  I tried to help them, and they tried to do it.  But.  It was a failure.

I moved on.

At the end of every  class, we are watching “Castle” – I downloaded the show and I’ve been transcribing the dialog for the students, and we go over the vocabulary and then watch a short clip.

This was no problem, but when the short clip was finished I still had 15 minutes of class.  With not much prepared, and a downhearted and bored class.

They wanted to watch 10 more minutes of the show, and usually I wouldn’t just watch tv or movies, but I made an exception for this class.

The last 5 minutes I apologized, and promised a good class on Monday.

They did forgive me.  And I want to make it very clear, these are really hard-working students. Their level is low intermediate, but they are motivated and in general awesome.  Monday through Thursday we had a lot of fun, and they worked hard at all the tasks I’ve given them so far.  They love the game Clue, and they are really good at speaking up in class.  The failure on Friday was all mine.

On the plus side, a friend had her birthday party, and despite getting lost twice to her house,  we had an awesome time playing Apples to Apples.  It cheered me up.

So happy birthday Julia!

How cool

July 22, 2010

I’m now in Teach abroad- go overseas blogs!!!!

I’m going to put them in my bloglist!

Summer Camp– It’s murder!

July 22, 2010

In a really fun way.

Summer Camp is actually not a camp;  it is more like a small class. But since it is summer, I don’t have a co-teacher, and it is summer! I think having a bit of fun is in order.

So far, my students have been awesome.  The minute mysteries, that used to take 15 minutes, now take 5, so I have to look up more and more. Their appetite is voracious.  I think I may have created monsters.  ( but in a really fun way)  It is easy to forget just how smart our students are.  A lot of time, they have a hard time expressing themselves  in English, plus they are one of 40 students.  It makes it easy to think that there are many things they can’t do.  But that is not true.  Once they have the tools, they create some pretty cool stuff.

We’ve been starting with the minute mysteries, and then we usually play a game.  They really like the information gaps. So far I have been murdered twice.  (in a really fun way) and today we played Clue.  The only thing that I changed from the real game, is that you don’t have to be in a room to make an accusation.  Mostly because the game board would be too small for the class, and I want the students to practice the sentence structure.  ( it was___ in the____ with the___)  So we were only supposed to play it once, but I am a bit of a softie, and let them play it twice.

I’m trying to find songs that have the murder theme, and they loved, loved,loved Julie Brown’s “The Homecoming Queen Has a Gun”  So 80’s and so cheesy, but they thought it was awesome.  I did too.  Tomorrow I’m going for “Don’t Nobody Move, This is a Heist” by Tony Powers.  I don’t know what I’m going to do for next week. I guess I’ll be looking around YouTube for the weekend.  I like YouTube.

In other news, I think the immigration website could use a translator. I’m trying to make a reservation for next week so that I can renew my visa.  I had a hard time, because most everything in the website was in Korean, so I kept having to redo everything.  I finally quit, and I’ll try to re-do it tomorrow.  But.  Sigh, sometimes I think every government in every country takes perverse delight in making life difficult.   I want to get everything done, the visa renewal, the health check (it isn’t usually required, but SMOE wants it.)  the Korean class re-registration, this next week.  Because I will (woot woot woot) have 7 days off, and for 5 of them I’m going to try to cycle to Pusan.  I don’t think I’ll make it all the way there, but from Friday morning early, to Wednesday afternoon late, I plan on following the west coast road, and whether I make it to Pusan or not, I plan on having a pretty epic adventure.

and for your 80’s cheesy enjoyment

It was a dark and stormy night….

July 19, 2010

Suddenly there was a werewolf. I was feared.

I love the way my students think.  I don’t want to correct “I was feared” – doesn’t that sound awesome.  It makes a certain kind of sense.  Of course on the “Mistakes were made” board, I will have to put it up, but I just love some of the “bad” English my students come up with.

It’s our first day of summer camp, and the theme is mystery.  I named my camp “Summer Camp: It’s murder”.  One of the tasks is a write around.  I gave the students a prompt (It was a dark and stormy night – even if they don’t get the joke, I sometimes amuse myself with lesson plans) They had 5 minutes to write, then they had to pass along the story they started and finish the story someone else started. We went around 3 times.  I wanted to go more times around, but we had a new student.  I have 9 students in the class now, and 8 of them are intermediate. They are also very keen to learn English. Two of them came up to me and asked for extra writing practice because they were “weak at writing”.

The new girl wasn’t someone I have had before, and she is very basic.  I watched her as the other students were writing, trying to find a place to set her eyes.  She couldn’t do many of the basic things we were doing in class. She couldn’t ask a single yes/no question for the 5 minute mystery, she couldn’t answer any of my questions.   My heart broke a little.  I could imagine how it must feel, everyone knowing what to do, how to do it, where to go… it hurts.  I can’t simplify the class too much for her, because she is only one student, and I’ve already promised a tough yet interesting and fun camp to the other students.

So I did what I thought was best, I took her to the Korean teacher.  I really felt bad, when I suggested we go together she almost started crying.  I had one of the other students translate, I wasn’t angry, I just needed the Korean teacher to translate for me.  All three of us agreed she didn’t belong in the class, but it still felt bad.  The good news is that the other students did awesome.  I think the camp is going to be a lot of fun.

Saturday was a dark and stormy day.  I had plans to go to Nami Island. It is a day trip from Seoul, and I was going to meet a good friend. But. It rained. It rained Friday night, and Saturday morning, and Saturday afternoon, and Saturday night.  It was depressing.   Then Sunday morning, the sun came out.  My bicycle called my name.  I took it out to the river and had a leisurely ride. The flowers were fantastic. Hibiscus blooms as big as my hand, a flock of butterflies lighted and fluttered around a patch of lavender, black-eyed susans bobbed in the breeze, cosmos, daisies and a few flowers I don’t know the names of were all showing off.  There were even a couple of irises that were tenaciously holding on to their beauty despite the heat and a recent raindrop beat-down.

I didn’t see any werewolves though. At least not that I know of.


July 15, 2010

I finally finished the workbook for next year.  38 weeks of worksheets, activities and the instructions for everything.  75 pages total.  I used a lot of things I found in other books and on the internet, but I couldn’t use anything I found straight.  I’ve had to modify most everything.   I feel vaguely let down, although I’m pretty proud of myself.  I still have to make all the prep for summer camp: “It’s Murder!” – the theme is murder mysteries.  I’m pretty excited.

One of the things I did find that I could use pretty much straight from the internet was minute mysteries.

the one I used this week–

Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice all live in the same house.  Bob and Carol go out to see a movie. When they return, they see Alice lying dead in a puddle of water and broken glass.  It is obvious Ted killed Alice, but Ted will not go to jail or be punished.  Why?

My students should ask yes/no questions to solve the mystery.  At first they ask a lot of questions about the story itself.  “What is a puddle?” and “What is jail?” were the two main questions. Once they figured out what had happened, they started to ask more questions (and after pulling a couple of eye teeth to get them started)-

Some of the questions were pretty perceptive, although they did show a rather cynical view of justice.  For example:

“Was Ted’s father a policeman?” (no)   “Was Ted crazy?” (no)  “Was Ted too young for jail” (no)  Were Ted’s parent’s rich” (no)  “Did Ted commit suicide?” (no) Did Alice try to kill Ted first” (no)

Mind you, these are ESL students, so the questions they asked were more like “Ted… hmm.. crazy, no?” , so I had to reword a lot of the questions.  Still,  much quicker than I anticipated, they came up with the most important question.  “Is Ted human?” (no)

The solution is that Ted is a cat, and Alice is a goldfish.

The  website calls them Minute Mysteries, but it took us half the class. However, I was still quite pleased with the experiment. Even the grumpy silent girls asked a few questions, and were talking about the situation (using more Korean than I would have liked, but you can’t have everything).

They are definitely going to be part of summer camp, and I want to use them in my main classes too. I was really surprised that some of my beginner classes actually participated and seemed to enjoy the activity.

I still have quite a bit of work to do, I want to make the skit kits a bit prettier, and I want to make up some more conversation templates, but the main work is done.  I think tonight I’ll have a glass of wine, and work on my puzzle.