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.

Ain't nobody got time to help people

Asking South Korean students (13/14 years old) to tell me about their life

Recently I had a writing assignment for my 2nd Grade Middle School Students  (8th grade America)

First they took a job quiz with their partner  and then they  had to fill out worksheet that looked like the following:

 

My partner’s job is _______________________.

My name is _________________. I am ________ years old. My best friend is named ________. I like (him/her) because (he/she) is ___________________.

 

I am interested in _________________. I am not interested in _________________.

Next year, I will _____________

In the future, my job will be a ___________________ <–write result from activity #1 here)

I agree/disagree.

One day I will be_______________________

 

The Funniest Answers from this assignment:

 

My English teacher’s job is model. <— haha I wish 

 

Me as a model

 

My best friend is named Sarah-Teacher. I like her because she has grey eyes. <– out of all the reasons why someone likes me, it’s because of my eyes…  I am gonna start being friends with people based on eye color.  If you have brown, we can’t be friends. My number #1 friend has purple eyes. Green rates higher than blue. Keep this in mind for future reference.

 

Written by a girl: “”I like her because she has nickname crazy girl.’ <–Crazy like this?

 

Written by a Boy: “My best friend is Won Seok. I like him because he is handsome. ”

Written by a Girl: “My best friend is named Shinae. I like her because she is often cute.” <– but not always cute.

“I like her because she is preety and sexy.”

I like him because he is handsome. <— In America you would never say I like my friend because s/he is cute/handsome. This is especially most straight middle school boys. I think it’s cute that in the Korean culture it is normal/ acceptable to say these things.  

If Koreans hugged... . The world would be a better place.

 

“I am interested in having money. I am not interested in helping people.”  <— At least they are honest. 

give it all to me

Ain't got time to help people

“I interested in helping people. I am not interested in being pretty.” <— What I imagine–>

like this

Not like this

 

“I am interested in studying Pashion….. I want to be a Pashion designer.” <— I want to be a Passionate Fashion Designer! I have a lot of Passion for Fashion.  PASHION!! 

 

Hopefully her Pashion doesn't invovle Fur coats....

“In the future, my job will be sexy.” <– Sexy what??

Next year, I will have many girlfriend. <— nice to have some ambition in life, ha. 

“One day I will be a good person.”  <— YES!

“One day I will be excellent people.” <— I am excellent people.

Written by a Boy: “One day, I will Yu Min Marry.” <— Not sure if this is referring to a student or an actress….

confused korean

Day 92 Part 2: I attempt the impossible

Part 1: Korean Names Overview

PART 2: Attempting the impossible

This year I am attempting the impossible. I am teaching over 600 students and I want to remember all of their names!

Why? Because students respond much better in class when you know their name versus saying “Hey you! Red Sweater! Read the sentence!” The students already have the problem of speaking English as a second language, so if they are zoning out the best way to grab their attention is to say “MINJU!!” Generally they snap to very quickly after that.

The Inherent problems in this task:

1)     My classes are HUGE and I don’t see them that often

2)    Korean Names are really similar!

3)    Korean students don’t always write their name properly in English

4)    Korean Names are hard to pronounce

5)    Korean students look very similar

Problem #1:

I have many students in my classes. My smallest class is about 14 kids, but an average class size for me is 32 students. The 3rd  grade students (9th grade in America) I see once a week. The 2nd grade students (8th grade in America) I see once every three weeks.

Problem #2:

There is a huge similarity among Korean names. Check out Part One: Overview of Korean Names for more details.

Furthermore  in Korea it is important to introduce your  full name when you meet someone.

In America, it’s easy.

“Hey! What’s your name?”

“Sarah.”

“Sarah! Nice to meet you! I’m Riley.”

In Korea:

“What’s your name?”

 “My name is Jeong Seung Hyun!” the student spits out faster than a rattlesnake biting it’s prey. 

First of all, too fast! Secondly, your family name is unimportant!

Family name! This is too much!!

I just want to know their first name. However, this confuses them because they always say their last name first.

So then I end up asking them “What’s your given name” which further confuses them!

Given name? What does given name mean?

Problem #3:

Even though at this point my students have been studying English for 5 or 6 years, some students don’t know how to write their name in English and/or when they do they write it wrong.

This was a challenge for me when I first moved to Korea since I couldn’t read, write or speak Korean.  Blog post pending about the trials of trying to learn names last year.

So if I look at a Korean name written in English and try to pronounce it, I might end up saying the name wrong because it is written wrong!

Wrong all around

Problem #4:

Even if a student wrote their name completely right, some Korean names are REALLY hard for me to pronounce.  They are foreign and strange sounding.

Like this name:

I find the vowel    hard to pronounce in Korean words, which makes it difficult when I have to say the student’s name.

And this this name:

Gyuuuuu is just weird to say. So no matter how hard I might try to a say Korean student’s name I will probably mess it up.

Why so difficult!!

There are many more examples I can think of, but I think you got the point.

Problem  #5:

Korean students look very similar. They tend to have same  eye color, same hair color, same haircut,  and many students wear thick, black framed glasses.

Hair cut styles:

For Girls: Long (straight or permed) & Bangs! Almost every Korean girl student has bangs and they  are CONSTANTLY brushing them.

For Boys: Short (sometimes permed!)

Not to mention all my students wear the same uniform!

This is exactly what I am talking about. THE SAME!

I felt like the students tended to blur together more my first semester teaching because just how similar they all looked compared to American students. American students differ vastly in both facial features and also in their style of clothing.

The loud kids in my classes are really easy for me to distinguish from the others and same goes for the kids who physical appearance sets them apart from the others. The students with a different hair style (colored! a light brown!), or  a student who wears white glasses instead of black, or who throws on a preppy sweater over their collared shirt tend to be more memorable.

But for the more quiet students, unfortunately, it was and still is lot easier for them to blend in the background since my classes are just so BIG.

–>  So what normally happens as a result of all of this: 

I will ask a student their name. They will tell me “Kim Sang Jun.” I will attempt to remember their name, but won’t see the student for 1 or 3 weeks. In the meantime I have a ton of other students whose names I want to learn.

When I finally see that student in class again, the following three scenarios ensue:

1)     I will end up forgetting Kim Sang Jun’s name entirely. Oops.

2)     I will confuse him with someone else because I think he looks like “Jae Won” He’s not Jae Won. Damn.

 

3)    I call on him and say “Seong Jun!”

“Teacher! WRONG! Sang Jun! Sang Jun”

Double damn.

Solutions:

Last year I had each student make a name tag. My vision was that they would always bring it with them to class and slowly over time I would learn all their names with the help of the visual stimulation.

WRONG! The kids would forget to bring it to class or would lose them.

You forgot? You lost it?.... Cool

As a result, feeling so overwhelmed my first couple months teaching here, I didn’t end up learning my student’s names unless they specifically sought me outside of class to talk to me a lot.  I know, I know. That’s terrible.

My only excuse is it was hard to adjust to Korea land.

This year’s plan:

At the beginning of my first class with my students I had each student write their name in English AND Korean (in case they wrote their name in English wrong) and then I took their picture with their name. Seeing the students name WITH their face has made it a lot easier for me to remember their names.

Also, seating charts! I made a specific seating chart for each of my classes which I constantly refer to. Some students names I know off the bat because I talked with them a lot last year and this year.

I got this

BUT other students I hardly see, so it’s good to have a reference chart. It is my goal that within next month I will have learned most of their names!  Wish me luck with this endeavor!

 

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!

English Winter Camp Video (storyaday)

This video is about the two week English winter camp I taught.

It was a mix of a detective camp and a music camp.  There was a heavy emphasis on the detective portion (7 days) and a little on the music (3 days). It was exhausting, but a lot of fun! ^^

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.

 

 

Why I like being a middle school teacher (Storyaday: Day 15)

I could spend a lot of time writing all the reasons why I like being a middle school teacher in Korea.

But to keep my fingers from crying out in protest, I will highlight the key reason why I like being a teacher here.

My students. My students are awesome! I have met a lot of really amazing kids the past 5 months I have been living in Korea.

I am always so impressed with the kids who speak English really well and also the kids who make an effort to talk to me despite their low English speaking ability.

Since I teach a lot of students, it’s hard to get to know them all.

Also, since I am the foreign English teacher, it’s a little intimidating for most of students to talk to me because they feel like their English isn’t good enough. (This is crazy because Korean and English are radically different from each other; any English they can speak is inherently better than my Korean language skills!)

Anyways, it seems that just as some of my students started to warm up to me, the school year was ending and they getting ready to head off to High School.

Still, some of them seem to want to stay in contact with me, which I find really great. I am very curious what they will do with their lives and where they will end up in the future.

I hope to keep in contact with them and see how much their English improves over the years!

Side story: At my school there is a range of the Students’ English ability ranging from the very highly skilled students to those students who can barely read simple sentences or understand simple questions like “What did you do this weekend?”

Despite this, a few of the students with low English skills have managed to “befriend” me. This means they come by my classroom and say “Hi” even though they are unable  to have an extended conversation with me.

I think what has helped with this is that most of the students have discovered I am trying to learn Korean. When I try to speak some Korean to them (and they can hear my horrible American accent and also the fact I struggle to pronounce words/ read basic sentences) they start to feel more comfortable.

They probably think, “Wow, Korean is really hard for her, but she still is trying. I should try to speak English, even though I find it hard too.”

Despite  massive language barriers sometimes,  I find it possible to enjoy spending time with my students. I think it is cool that some of my students feel comfortable enough to reach out to me, even if they can’t always communicate everything they would wish to say.

I think the biggest part of learning a language is practice, practice, practice. It can be frustrating not being able to say what you want to say, or saying the right word or people not understanding you because of your accent. However, if you practice a lot,  everything becomes easier over time.

Here’s hoping my Korean improves dramatically by the time I am done living here! 😉