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.”

Highlights from Student’s Essays AKA I think my kids are hilarious

I had to read  almost 40 students’ essays for a writing competition. The highlight of what I read (a combination of really funny and great words of advice):

about Baseball:

“My favorite sport is baseball. Because I always watch it with a cliffhanger.”

“Young Gyu is faster than other members and Sun bin is cute in KIA, but my favorite member is Na Ji Won. He is fat and looks like a pig. so he is called “Doe Ji Wan” . It means “Pig” but he is cute and a good home-Run guy.”

“I watch baseball game every day. Do not forget.”

about Badminton:

“Hold the locket down and then when the ball come to you, hit that ball.”

“Second, it is effecting to lose your weight. Many people always think about their weight. It’s their problem. If you will join the badminton you will solve it easily. For example, I will tell you my friend Ji Hee’s story. She was a little fat when she was young, so always played badminton with her mother .Today she lost her weight. Also she got healthy body too.”

“Finally, doing badminton will help you and your friend’s relationship. You can feel friendship with your partner. This game is important to rely your partner. Therefore, when you fight with your best friend, win it together, badminton will help you.”

About Swimming: “I think learning swimming is terrifying at first because I felt some nameless fear when I gold my breath in the water… However I like swimming I feel smooth and fresh when I’m in the water.”

About Basketball: “Game is so hard, but that is opportunity to remove your fat…. I feeled I am destiny in basketball. So I started basketball at 15 years old and known as “Got of Basketball”  or Michael Jin.”

About Different Books:

“I feel very exciting after reading the book. I want to magic power. Finally thank you for reading here.”

“The book is called “The Prejudice and Arrogance” <—- instead of  “Pride and Prejudice.” 

“When he was the same age as me, he poured paints into the river with eyes full of curiosity.”

About Twilight: “And I want to write my love story like this book.”

 

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.

party times

I might die!

For the first time in over 10 months I am actually going to see (in the flesh!) a member of my family!!!

My Canadian Cousin Philippe will arrive in less than a few hours in Seoul and I couldn’t be more excited.

Family time AND getting to play tour guide/ show of my mad Korean skillz??

I’ve been wanting my family and friends to come visit me for FOREVER so I am super thrilled it is actually going to happen.

whattt confused

Day 126: Is it the UMW Effect or Living in a Non English Speaking Country?

Maybe it’s the fact that I studied at UMW or maybe it’s the fact I am currently residing in a non-English speaking country, but lately I find myself eagerly wanting to read academic writing.

Case in point: a month ago at a party one of my friends, Erin, was talking about her favorite book series “The Queen’s Thief” by Megan Whalen Turner. She told us that she wrote her 15 page senior thesis paper on it.

I immediately demanded that I read it. It sounded interesting.

Erin looked at me as if I was crazy.

Erin: Why would you want to read my 15 page paper I wrote forever ago?

Sarah: Why wouldn’t I want to read it?

Everyone else: Really? You want to read an academic paper???

Sarah: Yes! It sounds wonderful!

Cue more strange looks all around.

I really don’t know when exactly I morphed into a person eager to read book analyses. Maybe it is due to the fact  I graduated college two years ago. Shocking!

Or maybe it’s because I actually feel inspired lately to write my own an academic paper simply because it sounds like fun. Double shock!!

Anyways, Erin told me: If you are going to read my paper, you have to read the books first. Otherwise it will ruin the books.

Challenge accepted.

I dropped $20 on the trilogy and started reading them on my Kindle. Kindles are quite possibly the best invention ever, despite my love affair with real paperback books.

Personally,  I am not the biggest fan on the “Queen’s Thief” series because I think Turner has issues with pacing. Sometimes I would be reading and I would feel really bored, other times the action was great and I couldn’t put the books down.

I feel like this was an issue in all three books and the only thing that kept me reading was the fact that I wanted to read Erin’s analysis.

When I finally finished the book series and finally got to read Erin’s paper (despite the fact she kept insisting that I really wouldn’t want to read it) I have to say I felt an enormous sense of satisfaction.

One downside of living in Korea is that I don’t always get to discuss books and literature and various other things with people as in depth as I would with my friends back home. I feel like most of the time here I don’t have time to read and even if I do, most of the Koreans I interact with would be overwhelmed/incapable of speech if I suddenly tried to do a literature/ cultural analysis with them.

I think my intellectual/academic interests are sometimes swept under the rug here, so the opportunity to engage the analytic part of my brain is enticing to me.

Being a huge fiction nerd I never thought I would say that that I thoroughly enjoyed reading academic writing. But enjoyed it I did. I think my time at UMW has rubbed off on me.

 

 

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!

 

awkward

Day 92 Part 1: Overview of Korean Names

In the interest of sparing people from information overload, I decided to split up #92 Storyaday into 3 parts.

Part 1: Korean Name Overview

Part 2: I attempt the Impossible

Most Koreans have three names: Family name and two given names. The family name always come first.

Example: Kim Min Ju

Kim= Family Name

Min Ju= Given Names (note that the names are 1 syllable each)

Korea is the land in which everyone has very similar or identical names. Here are the 5 most common surnames in Korea.

 Just because a person has the same last name “Kim” does not mean they are directly related to another person with the last name Kim.

For me, it is impossible to know who is related to who unless they specifically tell me: “That girl is my sister. That boy is my cousin.”

I might think two kids look similar and are brother and sister, but then it turns out they are NOT related and they are boyfriend and girlfriend. Vice versa: I think they are dating, but they are brother and sister. That is an awkward mistake to make.

Now let’s look given names:

 There seems to be a set of given names that Koreans like to use and they deviate from the names very slightly.

 For example, in one class alone I have 8 kids (mostly girls) whose given names starts with “Ji”

Oh dear. That is a lot of Ji’s walking around.

Also, Koreans tend to like to have similar given names but like changing the order of the given names. So in a class I might see students with names like this:

Sometimes the names are very similar but different by one letter:

And, to top it all off,  most of the times it is hard to tell who is a boy and who is a girl by looking at the names.

In America if you see the name “Sarah” and “James” you are going to know that Sarah is a girl and James is a boy.

Likewise if you see names like “Ashley” and and “Dylan” you are probably going to assume “Ashley” is a girl, “Dylan” is a boy. You could be wrong, of course, but more often than not the results will be as expected.

But here in Korea many names seem to be gender neutral which is a problem for foreigners.

For further reading on Korean names I suggest you read these posts. I find them really fascinating!!

Now Read Part 2: I attempt the Impossible !!

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.