You can read and write Korean?? **GASP**

Something I encountered back home  in America which I wasn’t expecting to encounter is the fact that people here, my family included, seemed so surprised that I  can read and write Korean.

 

Wow! You can read Korean!?

Maybe it is the fact that they have little knowledge of the Korean language.

When I first moved to Korea knowing no Korean I thought it would take forever to learn how to read and write it.

And it did take me a while, more than some people who moved to Korea at the same time as me.

But to me it seems ridiculous to live in a country for 1 year and never learn how to read the native language or write basic sentences.

use your brain

I would compare my level of Korean to the level of English some immigrants to the USA have.

I know Survival Korean. I can understand a little Korean, I can read signs (even if I don’t always know what it means) , I can say essential sentences like “Where is the bathroom?” “This is delicious!” “I will meet my friends tonight to go shopping.” “Korean is hard!” “My head hurts.”

If I can’t fully get my point across in Korean, or the Koreans I am talking to can’t speak English too well, then I use hand gestures, body language or my trusty friend called Google Translate.

Actually, Google Translate sometimes does such a horrible job of translating, but it’s better than nothing when you are desperate.

Hahaha

According to an article I read, Korean is ranked as the 9th toughest language for a English speaker to learn. I would agree there are times I find Korean quite challenging in terms of pronunciation and also remembering when to speak politely and when you can speak normally to your friends.

But, what helps a great deal to learn Korean is that the writing system is really easy once you have memorized the characters. Also, the pronunciation of words is mostly phonetic, with some words trying to trick you here and there.

While I have taken various Korean classes and have studied with friends, colleagues and students, I know my Korean could be a lot better than it is now.

However, most Koreans, especially young people, want to speak English with me to practice their language skills. If I say something in Korean they will often answer in English assuming they don’t start giggling hysterically.

 

I can get by in Korea fairly easy knowing only a little Korean.

Definitely  my students liked me more  once I made an effort to speak  their language. They find it amusing the “foreigner” tries to speak their language.

I am not sure how much longer  I will live in Korea, but I am doubtful it will be forever. So while I am game to learn more Korean, I know that my ability might only go so far because learning  Korean is not my  #1 priority living in Korea.

Regardless where I will end up next, I know I will learn the basics of the native language so that I can survive.

survival of the fittest

 

Mostly Hilarious Responses about Student’s vacations (and a few thought provoking ones)

This week I asked my student’s to write answers to two questions:

1) What did you do on the school trip? (3 day excursion in which all three grades went to various locations in Korea)

2) What are your plans for summer vacation? What will you do?

The funniest/ most interesting answers so far.

Question 1: What did you do on the school trip?

-I rode a banana bort (several students wrote this)
-I had a sneck party.
-I ate snake (SNAKE!?!? No teacher, Snack! Snack!)
-I went to the simming pool (they played Sims all day in the pool)
-I went highking
-I rode a motherboat
-I ate photato chips. (Photogenic Potato chips?)

Question 2: What are your plans for summer vacation? What will you do?

-I will drink milk a lot.
-I will read 100 books at the library (love this girl’s ambition! she is a mini version of myself)
-My mother will lay a baby (I died. Absolutely died!)
-I will go to the ocean which is a swimming pool.

Many students (mostly skinny girls) wrote this

-I will exercise
-I will diet.

One boy wrote:
-I will lose weight and celebrate myself

One girl wrote :
-I will diet. I will have perfect body.

This makes me feel a little sad because already she is really thin. On her paper and on all the other kids I wrote: Why? You are so skinny !

Koreans face a huge pressure to maintain a certain weight and have a certain image. But when I hear these girls say “I need to diet” I think they have a disproportion sense of self. They are tiny. They don’t need to diet.

beethoven

Asking South Korean students (14/15 years old) their opinions about Music

I asked my 3rd grade middle school students (9th grade in America) the question:

Should I listen to this song?

Then they had to watch  bunch of different Music Videos, give it a score from 0-10 and then answer as follows

“Yes, you should because…..”

‘”No, you shouldn’t because….”

 

Although I got many answers from the students like “Yes, you should because it is good” or “No, you shouldn’t because it is boring” some students wrote a few  off the wall, funny, and/or  deeply profound sentences.

The BEST answers I got from my students:

“Ode to Joy” by Beethoven (Classical)

Score: 7 “Yes, you should because it is helping the mind.”

Score: 10 “Yes, you should it has spirit evolution.”

Score: 9 “Yes, you should because it is to slient (care my heart).

Score: 7 “Yes, you should because sweat.”

Score 10: “Yes, you should because it is elegance.”

Score: 10 “It feeds my musical senses full”

Score: 1 “No, you shouldn’t because it’s lazy.”

Score: 5 “No, you shouldn’t because it was not  joyful.” –> I guess they saw this GIF

 

“Rock and Roll all night” by Kiss (Rock)

Score: 2 “No, you should because it was dirty.”

Score: 1 “Bad. :-)?”

Score: 2 “No, you shouldn’t because it has people headache. ”

Score: 0  “No, you shouldn’t because it was duty.”  Duty??  “dirty!”

Score: 1 “No, you shouldn’t because they are ugly.”

 Funniest paper I read in class (It’s so good I have to share it)

Student wrote: “Yes you should because I want a Rock!!”

 

 

“Lose Yourself” by Eminen (Rap)

Score: 5 “No you shouldn’t because I don’t understand what he said. However,  if you can understand this rap, I think you should.”

Score 9: “Yes, you should because It’s Rap is soft and Wild.”

Score 6: “No you shouldn’t because the man know handsome himself.”

Score 10: “Yes, you should because main Charatcher is handsome.”

Score 5: “No , he shouldn’t because he can’t rap.” <— Don’t say that to Eminem fan girls!

 

 

“Valio la Pena” by Marc Anthony (Latin)

Score: 2 “No, you shouldn’t because the melody is messy.”

Score: 4 “No, you shouldn’t because very cheese style.” 

 

Sandstorm by Darude (Trance)

Score: 4 “No, you shouldn’t because it is messy.”

 

Dreamgirl by Shinee (Kpop)

Score: 100,000   Yes, you should because it is very fantastic”

Score: 0 “Yes, you should because it is very very good good and great handsome”

Score: 10 “Yes, you should because it is my country’s music.”

 

“Walkin'”by Miles Davis (Jazz)

Score: 1 “Yes, you should because it’s noisy song. It’s Arabia”

Score: 2 “No, you shouldn’t because it was dirty.”

 

“Before He Cheats” by Carrie Underwood (Country)

“Score: 10  “Yes you should because Lady is sexy.”

Score 100,000 “Yes you should it is so very so sexy.”

Score: 8  “Yes you should because it is fowerpull”

Score: 10 “Yes, you should because good filling”

Score: 10 “Yes, you should because she is pretty.”

Score 6: “Yes, you should because it is violent.”

Score: 8 “Yes, you shouldn’t because I fell soul.”

 

“Bubble Pop” by Hyuna (Kpop)

Score: 10 “Yes, you should because she is sexy.”

“Call me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepson (Pop)

Score: 100,000   Yes, you should because the boy is very handsome.”

Score: 10  “Yes, you should because it is perefect body and voice.”

Score: 10 “Yes, you should because it sounds very handsome”

Score: 10 “Yes, you should because the music video has chocolate stomach muscle.”

Score:  10 “Yes, you should because he is handsam”

Score 100 “Yes, you should because his body is very good.” <— all the girls were SCREAMING when they saw this. 

One Love by Bob Marley (Reggae)

Score: 0 “No, it makes you born.”

Score: 3 “No you should beacause no highright”

Score: 10 “Yes you should Loli dieski”

Score 8: “Yes, you should because it fee like soft chocolet”

Score 4: “No you shouldn’t because it’s like butter.”  <— Paula Dean would like it !!

Butterception

Groaning the Blues by Eric Clapton

Score: 0   “NO,  NO!!! You shouldn’t because it is too bad to hear.”

Score: 0 “No you shouldn’t because it is butter.” <—- More Paula Dean Love! Check out this link (I think this is HILARIOUS)

Score 3: “No, you shouldn’t because it makes you uncomfortable.”

Score: 5 “No, you shouldn’t because the singer sings look hard.”

Score: 10 “Yes, you shouldn’t becauseo I lik Erek Clepton.” <— You and my Dad need to be BFFS

 

Lights and Sounds by Yellowcard (Alternative) <— one of my favorite songs

Score: 7 “Yes, You should because the vocal’s voice is nice”

Score: 9 “Yes, you should because it is handsome.”

Score: 5 “Yes, you should because Fungky”

Score: 9 “Yes, My lord.”

Score: 7 “Yes you should because it is make my heart beat.”

Score 10: “Yes, you should because it is violent.”

 

You will notice a HUGE trend in students writing that you should listen to a song based on the singer’s appearance. Koreans are really image conscious, and since many students couldn’t understand most of the lyrics, they  wrote their opinion about the people in  music videos.

I suppose if I wanted the students to focus purely on the music itself I could have played the song without showing the video.

BUT, I feel that it was WAY more entertaining watching their reactions to the videos. Crazy kids :)

** Note: A couple students wrote multiple funny things on their paper, others just wrote one funny thing. I divided the responses by songs, not by the students.”

airplane gif

I regret nothing

Lately I’ve been thinking about the the fact that I have almost lived in Korea a year.

That’s so crazy to me because it seems like it was a month ago I hopped on a plane and jetted off to this country that I had never before set foot in, nor spoke a word of the language.

I flew to Korea exactly like this. No lie.

I’ve also been thinking about all the things I have seen and experienced in the past year, and thought about what some of my other friends have been doing (or not doing) in the same span of time.

I am happy that I have an independent and adventurous spirit and that I am willing to do whatever it takes to pursue my dreams, instead of feeling I am living a life full of regrets.

I hope I will always maintain this sense of wanderlust and the desire to do daring, unconventional things.

confused gif

Again, I am just so impressed with some of my kiddos

Yesterday  was science day at my middle school which meant that the afternoon classes were cancelled. I was just doing work in my office when randomly two boys came to talk to me after they did their science experiment (egg drop).

I ended up talking with them for a long time which is always fun.

They told me that English was hard for them and I told them I feel their pain because for me, Korean is hard.

My students trying to understand & speak English

 

Me trying to speak and understand Korean

I had them help me practice writing sentences in Korean and then I asked them to write what I wrote in Korean into English.

I think it is so cool that even though their English level isn’t super high, they still made the effort to try to communicate with me outside of class. They were under no obligation to talk to me, but rather they came to chat with me on their own volition. I told them I was super proud with them because they were going the extra mile (or in Korea land, kilometer, ha!) to practice English.

I really love it when students come seek me out after class to chat with me for two reasons:

Firstly, most of my classes are pretty BIG!  It’s hard for me to get to know everyone when I have so many students (about 600! not counting the 1st graders in Middle school who I don’t actually teach but I sometimes interact with)

Secondly, I really love chatting with people. I have developed from a shy bookworm into a chatty, chatty, chatty person.  I find it really interesting to hear about my student’s lives, find out what they are interested in and what is important to them.

I am currently taking Korean classes which I think is really helpful for me a teacher. I understand what is is like to be in a class taught almost entirely in another language and feeling lost and confused. Sometimes I feel like the dumbest person in the class and I am frustrated that I don’t know what the teacher is saying and what is going on.

But then when I know what is going on and I can answer a question in Korean or when I write a sentence properly, I feel so accomplished! I think: YAYYYYYYY!

This in turn helps me with dealing with my Korean students because I will sometimes bust out my Korean skillz when I am talking to them.

For example, sometimes in English class the students will be learning a new English word and I will ask them “What is the word for this in Korean?”

Then I will attempt to write it on the board in Korean and when I get it right, I do a little happy dance and say “I am a genius!”

Most of my kids laugh, they probably think I am crazy, but I think they are so surprised and happy I am trying to speak Korean.

I know English is hard, but all I ask is that the kids try! So I am  thrilled when they really make an effort to get out of their comfort zone and chat with me.

 

confused

Storyaday Day 99: Bip bi! Bip bi!

Today a 2nd grade student (8th grade in America) kept pointing at my hair and saying “Bip bi! Bip bi!”

I was totally confused and tried writing what she was saying on the board in English. She told me it was wrong and then wrote in Korean.

That didn’t help me at all!

I still was confused and asked my co-teacher was going on. My co-teacher couldn’t really explain it to me and I let it slide to that I could start class.

LATER TODAY

Some girls came to my lunch class and said “Bip Bi! Bip bi!” and pointed at my hair.

Finally it clicked!

They were saying “Pippi!” as in Pippi Longstockings! I had braided my hair today and it reminded them of “Pippi!”

or as the Korean pronounce it “Bip Bi, Bip Bi”

In Korean the P & B sound kind of blends together and it is hard for many students to distinguish between the two.

For example, when I am trying to help a student with spelling a word and I say “B” they might write down “P” and vice versa.

Glad I finally figured out what the girl was trying to say!

Graduation: the other side of the looking glass. (Storyaday: Day 38)

Today was the first time that I have been on the other side of the looking glass when it comes to graduation. This is the first time I have attended a graduation ceremony as a teacher.

I have to say I am surprised by how much I will miss some of my middle school students. I only was their teacher for about 5 months (having come into school in the second semester), but I was able to develop a really great connection with some of my students.  Even the kids who I didn’t get to talk to as much, I wish I had a chance to get to know them better.

Overall, after my first semester teaching English I have had a really positive experience. My students were a lot of fun (for the most part) and I hope I will stay in touch with the ones who have meant a lot to me.

I am curious where my students end up and how their English will improve over the years.

I didn’t get a chance to take photos with everyone I wanted to, but here are some photos of me and my students:

 

Hee Jin & Yeji

Oo Jin & Do Geun

As a rule, Korean boys don't like to smile in their photos. He looks so unhappy!

Thinking about this makes me really appreciative of all my former teachers who have impacted my life for the better. Every teacher has left some kind of mark on my life and I am grateful to those who made class interesting and fun.

One of the classes that has had the longest impact on me has been #ds106. Even now, years later, I am still thinking about #ds106 and how I should be creating art and other materials for it.

I might not have as much time as I would like to devote to it, but I still want to be a part of it whenever I can. #ds1064lyfe.

 

 

daily story journa;s

2012 recap & 2013 resolutions

2012 Recap:

Again, another busy year! I was working a really horrible retail job that made me hate my life. @__@

But then I quit the job and travelled in Europe for two months! I definitely hit my goal of trying to go to as many new countries/places this year as I could!

I met a lot of really cool people, saw amazing sights, and reconnected  with some of my favorite people.

The biggest life change for me was becoming an English teacher in South Korea. I had never been to Korea before, nor taught English before so it definitely turned my life upside down.

I have been living in Korea for 4 months now and  I  finally feel like my life is starting to settle down. I like going off and having adventures, but it’s nice to feel more comfortable with where I live and the job I am doing.

Last year for my 2011 recap and 2012 resolutions I said that I wanted to blog every week. That definitely did not happen! I think this is in large part due to the traveling I did this year and the fact that I fell behind on posting my #366 Creativity Journal Project.

I already mentioned this in a recent blog post, but  #366 Creativity Journal did not turn out exactly as I had planned.  I am no where close to being finished posting this project and certain events happening in my job the next few weeks will make it difficult to play catch up.

I am disappointed in myself for not trying harder this year to get my act together. But I will count this as a learning experience as I finish up #366creativityjournal and I move into my next yearlong project.

This brings me to my 2013 resolutions:  

1) Storyaday project: I decided that this year I want to hone my writing skills. I’ve decided to write a story (fictional AND/OR nonfictional) everyday for a year. Ideally I want to write both a fiction piece and non-fiction/autobiographical piece. To keep track of my progress I will be using these handy notebooks I found.

These are 100 days storybooks. In Korea one of the big moments of being in a relationship with someone is when you have been dating your partner for 100 days. I am not sure why; this will require further investigation. Regardless, this book one way you can keep track of your dating life, or really any life event that requires you to count specific days.

The reason why I like this kind of book is because  it will be easy to track  365 days worth of writing. If I were to use a blank notebook it would be easy to miss some days or to say, “I am too tired to write tonight, I will do it tomorrow.”

Sometimes I don’t want to sit down to write because I know when I do I will end up writing a lot and it will take FOREVER. But since each page doesn’t have that much space to write, it will be easier for me to keep myself motivated with this writing project on the the days I don’t feel like writing.

One of my biggest regrets when I was living in Australia in 2010 was I didn’t keep up with a journal as much as I would have liked. I was too busy living in the moment which was great at the time, but now there are some moments that I wish I had written down so that I would remember it better.  Pictures can help jog my memory, but it doesn’t always help with capturing emotions or the conversations I had with people.

 

2) Blog, Blog, Blog. I have a blog. I should use it. Otherwise this is just a waste of my money and superior writing skillz 😉

3) Koreausa Project. I have been terrible at posting photos. Megan Mc is getting swamped with work too. But it’s a great project and I would love to keep working on it.

4) Travel, Travel, Travel! Travel to as many countries and places as possible this year.

5) Learn more Korean. It’s so useful for everyday life and also to communicate with my students.