Archive for the ‘Club Class’ Category

Difficult Decisions

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Today in my club class we practiced speaking fluency, and our main activity was an ethical dilemma debate. To prepare the students, I had them do a speaking fluency activity, then write in their journals. The journal topic today was “Have you ever struggled with a decision? What did you decide? Why was it so hard?” Most of the students wrote about their decision to come to CPHS, but one student wrote about choosing between different flavors of ice cream, because she wanted to eat them all.

Student Profile: Member Koo

Monday, November 19th, 2012

His name isn’t actually Member, that’s just how Conversation Lee refers to him. Or rather, his name IS in fact Member, in Korean, just like how Conversation Lee’s name actually is the word for “conversation,” but Member didn’t quite own the name like Conversation did up until recently. Every time I ask Conversation Lee to present something, he starts by standing up and proclaiming ”I am Conversation Lee!” Member Koo’s acceptance of his moniker has been much more gradual.

Member Koo confuses me. He has, by far, the lowest level English out of all of my club class students, and possibly out of the whole school. I’ve never seen his English scores so I can’t confirm this, but I’ve never seen him write more than a sentence in English at any time, and he’s never voluntarily spoken in class. His behavior in my normal class is almost identical to his behavior in my club class – he’s apathetic and tends to fall asleep. I’m pretty sure his original reason for joining my club class was that he got cut from the soccer club along with Conversation Lee, and Conversation dragged him along.

While everyone else writes a paragraph or two in their journals, he writes one sentence. This is a vast improvement from the first few times we did the journal, when he would just copy half of the prompt and then stop. The thing is, though he’s only writing one sentence, that sentence is getting better every week. These days he’ll ask his friends for help. He’ll ask them to translate the prompt, how to spell a word, or how to spell something. When I go help him, he’ll actually look at me, and though he may not answer my questions verbally, he’ll start writing when I leave. He smiles and waves at me in the halls, and nods when Conversation Lee yells “See you in club class!” After six weeks of giving him scrap paper to use during journal time, and hounding him about not having a notebook, he finally brought one. Granted, it has another student’s crossed-out name on it, but instead of writing his name in hangeul, or writing it in Romanized Korean, he chose to write “Member Koo.”

I don’t know what his academic background is. I don’t know how he does in his other classes. I don’t know if he’ll choose to take my club class again, in fact I’d be very surprised if he did, but I’m glad to know that my class made some sort of impact. I hope he continues to try harder and improve, not because his English level is important (though, unfortunately in Korea there is a lot – some would say too much – emphasis on English language ability), but because I like the direction he’s going in as a student. I don’t mind that his English level is relatively low, as long as he puts in some sort of effort, even if that effort consists of borrowing another student’s notebook, and writing “Member Koo” on it.

On Rice Cakes, Traditional Rice Taffy, and Hot 6

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Today was the 수능 (Suneung – the college entrance exam), and life here in CP went on like normal. You’d think on a day that determined the future of so many young people you’d be able to feel it in the air, the very atmosphere would be crackling with electricity and you could smell the standardized tests from miles away, but if you didn’t know you’d assume it was a day just like any other. If you live in a city you can tell. Planes aren’t allowed to take off or land, all high schools and some middle schools are closed, the police escort late risers to testing sites, and parents often spend the entire day in prayer. However in sleepy sleepy CP, less than a mile from my high school where all of the third grade boys in the county were taking the exam, the cars trundled along as per usual and the old people sat and chatted on the street corner for hours.

The first group of students that I really connected with, the students that were first graders back when I was a first year teacher, took the Suneung today. One of them was my host sister, who I have only seen twice since leaving Yesan at the end of my first year. We’ve tried to keep in touch through kakaotalk and skype, but with both of our schedules it’s been difficult. When I first moved in she was one semester into high school, and in February she’ll graduate and, depending on the results of this test, go on to the university of her dreams, or to a university she had to settle for. I want her to do well. I Miss You SO Much(e) Boy also took the Suneung. I also hope he did well. Same with all of the students who stood on their desks and shouted OH CAPTAIN MY CAPTAIN, all of the students in class 2.2 of SGHS I did the pen pal exchange with, the girls in my club class my first fall at CPHS, my thousand kilowatt senior, and so many more. I want them all to do well.

Unfortunately, they can’t. The nature of this test, and the way that it’s scored, is that in order for someone to do well, someone has to fail. You receive a percentile ranking, which is one of the things that makes this test so competitive. If it’s not my students that do poorly, it’ll be someone else’s students.

The students all know this, and though they are friendly and support each other, though they’ve spent the last three years eating, and sleeping, and studying, and playing with their classmates, when they walk into the classroom on Suneung day they know they are walking shoulder-to-shoulder with their competitors. On this day, a senior has no friends. The first and second grade students recognize and understand this burden and cheer on their seniors, knowing that in one or two years the same will be done for them. This goes beyond the actual testing day – you can see it all year. On an average day at CPHS, you’ll see the second grade class captains standing in the stairwell of the main building during lunchtime, two boys and two girls. They rotate this duty so that different students do it on different days, but it’s always four students standing there, ready to shush the loud first graders as they run up to their classrooms after lunch, because the third graders need lunchtime to study without any distractions. The first and second graders, though they dislike each other, take note of and respect the third graders’ drive to succeed, and do their best to help them along.

Korea has a lot of superstitions about tests, more so than Americans do, at least to my knowledge. As there’s a lot more emphasis on testing, this isn’t all that surprising. On a test day, you’re not supposed to wash your hair, because then you’ll wash all the answers out of your brain. Another superstition, is that you cannot eat 미역국 (miyeokguk – seaweed soup) before an exam. The seaweed soup is so slippery that it will cause you to do badly. This belief is so prevalent that an idiomatic expression for failing a test is 미역국을 먹다 – I ate seaweed soup. A surprisingly logical reaction to this superstition is the idea that if you eat sticky food, you will do well on the test. Therefore, it’s thought that eating 떡 (deok – rice cake) or 엿 (yeot – a traditional and very sticky rice taffy, normally eaten by the older generation) is optimal test food.

On Tuesday I ran into multiple students leaving school. I walked with a first grade girl for part of the way to the market, where she was buying rice taffy. I asked if it was for her, and she giggled and said that it was for the seniors taking the test. She mimed chewing rigorously, and then explained that it would help all of the things that they had studied stick in their brains on Thursday. I told her that if flavor didn’t matter she should get the pumpkin because it was the best, and she giggled and raced off. The second student I ran into, a second grade boy, was also buying presents for the seniors. Instead of rice cake or taffy he was buying Hot Six, a ridiculously powerful energy drink. I was struck by the differences between the two gifts – one, a traditional and difficult-to-eat snack that followed superstition, and one, a very modern invention guaranteed to take years off your life. However, more than that I was struck by the effort the students went to in order to support their seniors.

The Suneung is over, for most of the third graders. Some of the students that scored very poorly will elect to take off a year and study again. They’ll take classes in the city at an academy designed to prep students to retake the Suneung, and rent rooms roughly the size of closets near these academies to reduce distractions. For the ones that receive good test scores, or scores that are good enough, they’ll embark on the time-consuming task of applying to university, but also they’ll find themselves surprisingly free. If they hang out of the windows of their homerooms it’ll be to breathe in the fresh air, and gaze at their surroundings, instead of to keep themselves awake while studying. If they stay awake late at night, it’ll be to talk to friends instead of cramming for the practice test. If they go into the nearby city, it’ll be to go to academies that fulfill their own interests, or to get their driver’s license, instead of to study math or any other core subject. They’ll get perms and dye their hair, join gyms to throw off the weight they’ve gained studying, buy new clothes for university, and some of them will get plastic surgery. As they slowly come to life again, the second graders – my CPHS babies, my life for the past year and a half – will slowly start to fade into the 360-odd day “final” push to the Suneung, something that seemed so far away when they first entered high school.

This is my final Suneung as a teacher in Korea, I’ll leave six months after my host sister graduates. That’s good, because I don’t think I can take another one. It makes me sad that I won’t see Hongdae, Solomon, Fistbump Kid, EC, or any of my other CPHS students (or the SGHS students I was only able to teach for a semester) graduate, and I’m sad I won’t be there to support them through this process, but I’m also happy I don’t have to see them go through the pressures of Suneung day. I’m also happy to know that their juniors, the students who come after them, will support them.

Club Class Halloween

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

I had my students (boys team versus girls team) make costumes out of newspaper. I wish I could show them to you, as the girls’ costumes (a Peter Pan and a Tinkerbell) were really well constructed, and the boys’ costume (a Tinkerbell… with a sword through his head and handcuffs? Apparently he was Tinkerbell after being caught by Hook) was just strange, but I don’t want to post pictures without their permission. They were epic, though, and they both chose to do Tinkerbell independent of each other.

I WILL however post a picture of myself, in the girls’ Peter Pan hat, which they gifted me afterwards.

Club Class Notebooks

Friday, October 26th, 2012

At the beginning of every class I have my students take ten minutes and write extemporaneously on a topic in their notebooks, and then I take them, edit them, and give them back each week. This not only provides them with practice, but they’ll have a portfolio full of short English essays they can take away from my class.

Last week’s topic was “Where would you rather visit, NYC or Utah?” I showed them two tourism videos, we brainstormed descriptive words, then I had them write. One kid decided to write something completely different.

“I want to LA. There are so many things. First there are a lot of buildings which are very tall, and there are pretty girl.

Second there are lots of gambler (?) I want to try challenging game, it will be very exciting, and theirs game will make a lot of money. So the money which they make will be spent item.”

Good to know one of my kids wants to be a card shark.

Member and Conversation

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

I had two new students join my club class today, because they didn’t make the cut for the soccer club. They introduced themselves as Conversation and Member, because that’s the literal meaning of their names 대화 (Daehwa) and 회원 (Hweiwon) when translated into English.

We then played an introductions game where students have to say their names and one fact about them. I died a little everytime I heard “Hello. I’m Conversation Lee.” or “Hello. My name is Member Koo.”

Feeling the Love

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

All week the new students’ parents have been bringing in gifts (food) to show their appreciation to the teachers. I am so full of bread, strawberries, and 떡 (rice cake) right now.

I feel so much more at home here this semester than last. Last semester whenever students used to come into the main office I’d look up, make eye contact, smile, and look back down. This semester students actually come up and talk to me while they’re waiting for other teachers – or better yet, sometimes I look down to look back up and see that they are in fact waiting to talk to me.

Today two of my second grade girls came in to talk to me and ask if I would practice conversation with them Tuesdays and Thursdays during the lunch period. You could tell they were nervous because they had actually prepared a script with their request that they were reading off of, and they told me they wanted to “get better at English and become closer with me.” My heart just melted.

Yesterday was a testing day but I came to school right after lunch because all of the female teachers were gathering and having coffee and snacks to welcome the new female teachers. We actually have three, all of which are fairly young, and can speak some English. They’ve actually been seeking me out to talk with me, which I’m still not entirely used to.

On top of that, I’ve actually had multiple groups of students come up to me and ask the title of my club activity and tell me that they were going to/had already signed up.

Speaking of club activities, for my first day I’m thinking about having my students play Kings (sans beverage). Basically, I’ll fan out a deck of cards in a circle and give every student 10 M&Ms to start with. They have to pull a card and do the command associated with the card’s number, and they can either lose an M&M by failing to follow a command or gain one by doing it correctly. Here are the commands so far:

2’s – Tell us your hobbies.
3’s – Take one M&M from someone.
4’s – Ask someone a question using a past tense [과거]. That student must answer. 
5’s – Ask a question using a future tense [미래]. That student must answer. 
6’s – Give one M&M to someone.
7’s – 7s. Here the student who drew the card must begin by saying the number 7, the next student in place must then say 14, the next must say 21 and so on. The first student who makes a mistake or doesn’t answer for 5 seconds loses and has to give up an M&M. The game continues on from the loser’s position.
8’s – Sing a line of a song (Korean/English) OR quote a movie (ENGLISH only)
9’s – Change direction : Counter clockwise to clockwise or vice versa.
10’s – Categories : Here the student who drew the card must name a category. The student next in turn must then name something within that category. Then the next student and so on… The first student who makes a mistake or doesn’t answer for 5 seconds loses and has to give up an M&M. The game continues on from the loser’s position.
Jacks – I have never: Students put up three fingers. Students must take turns saying something they have never done. EX: I have never been to Europe. Whoever HAS been to Europe must put a finger down. Whoever puts down all three fingers first loses and has to give up an M&M.
Queens – ???
Kings – ???
Aces – ???

If you have any ideas please let me know!

Overwhelmed but Happy

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

I’m currently working on a bunch of blog posts, like one based on my reactions (and those of the people around me) to Kim Jong Il’s death, so I apologize to everyone whose asked me that I haven’t gotten back to yet.

It’s the last day of school. Technically my contract says that I finished yesterday but since I’m not flying out until the 29th it didn’t make sense to skip school on Friday and have my co-teachers have to cover my classes. I’m glad I stayed, also because I just have so much work to do.

Here are my winter vacation plans, for those who are interested: I’ll be traveling in Cambodia and Vietnam from December 29th until January 15th. I then teach at my school’s winter camp from (not really a winter camp, just normal classes) from January 16th – 20th. Then I immediately fly out again and travel in Taiwan from January 22nd – 27th. Then I come home, rest for a few days, and move to Seoul at the beginning of February in order to take an intensive three week Korean program. Whew.

I’m also glad I didn’t miss school because I received a present from my club class girls. Yesterday was our last club class and when I came in they had turned off the lights and made a cake out of mongshells (similar to a chocopie cake, but a different brand) with a candle on top and were playing Christmas music. They made me blow out the candle, then we ate snacks and they presented me with the present – which they then took back because it wasn’t completed, and gave it back to me this morning.

Their present is a large black piece of posterboard with the cut-out of a pumpkin illuminating the back, and notes from all of the students in the club class (eight) posted on there, as well as a drawn iture of me, and a Santa Claus. It’s adorable. They’re all adorable. However, I’m going to share the two that touched me the most, written by my two favorite second grade girls (who I won’t be teaching anymore, because they’ll be preparing for the college entrance exam) because they answered a lot of the questions and insecurities I have been feeling recently as a teacher.

To. Emily
Emily!! I’m EH ~
I was happy to be your student. I felt many things through your class!!
Various thinking, culture, food, game, all of things were fresh and interesting to me. Emily, I’m sure your charisma, sense of humor (joke) and preparations (about class) make great teacher and diplomat. I’m sad because I do not CA [my note: CA = Club Activity] anymore. But I’m happy because you give me a present!! did you know? You give me a beautiful memory and brave. Thank you ~ <3.
Your present perfect to me when I pass 수능 [수능 = suneung = college entrance exam]
I want to visit your hometown with you and CA friends ^^.
I’m very proud of you !!!
Thank you for teaching me ~
Bye ~ From: EH

The above note was from one of the girls I took with me to the Youth Diplomacy program. I’m going to miss her!

To: Emily ~
Hello, Emily. I’m DH. I can’t believe I’m 3rd grade student (exactly soon) and can’t take your class anymore. Times run too fast ㅠㅠ. All classes that we had together were so great that I will miss the class. I think you are a person who are alive. Not just alive but vividly alive. When I see you I can feel your energy reaches me, which always motivates my passion. I was moved by your passion for teaching and respect to students. Carving pumpkin, mafia game, making mummy… and so on. All of our class won’t be forget. Thank you very much about all of that. I’ll visit your home in Washington D.C> later after KSAT.
Again Thank you Thank you… Bye!! See you later.
p.s. I’ll bring a baby kangaroo from Australia.. ㅋㅋ [this was one of the 3 students at my school who won a prize in the Damyang speech competition I helped out with - I told them all I wanted a kangaroo]
From, funny DH

Overwhelmed but Happy

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

I’m currently working on a bunch of blog posts, like one based on my reactions (and those of the people around me) to Kim Jong Il’s death, so I apologize to everyone whose asked me that I haven’t gotten back to yet.

It’s the last day of school. Technically my contract says that I finished yesterday but since I’m not flying out until the 29th it didn’t make sense to skip school on Friday and have my co-teachers have to cover my classes. I’m glad I stayed, also because I just have so much work to do.

Here are my winter vacation plans, for those who are interested: I’ll be traveling in Cambodia and Vietnam from December 29th until January 15th. I then teach at my school’s winter camp from (not really a winter camp, just normal classes) from January 16th – 20th. Then I immediately fly out again and travel in Taiwan from January 22nd – 27th. Then I come home, rest for a few days, and move to Seoul at the beginning of February in order to take an intensive three week Korean program. Whew.

I’m also glad I didn’t miss school because I received a present from my club class girls. Yesterday was our last club class and when I came in they had turned off the lights and made a cake out of mongshells (similar to a chocopie cake, but a different brand) with a candle on top and were playing Christmas music. They made me blow out the candle, then we ate snacks and they presented me with the present – which they then took back because it wasn’t completed, and gave it back to me this morning.

Their present is a large black piece of posterboard with the cut-out of a pumpkin illuminating the back, and notes from all of the students in the club class (eight) posted on there, as well as a drawn iture of me, and a Santa Claus. It’s adorable. They’re all adorable. However, I’m going to share the two that touched me the most, written by my two favorite second grade girls (who I won’t be teaching anymore, because they’ll be preparing for the college entrance exam) because they answered a lot of the questions and insecurities I have been feeling recently as a teacher.

To. Emily
Emily!! I’m EH ~
I was happy to be your student. I felt many things through your class!!
Various thinking, culture, food, game, all of things were fresh and interesting to me. Emily, I’m sure your charisma, sense of humor (joke) and preparations (about class) make great teacher and diplomat. I’m sad because I do not CA [my note: CA = Club Activity] anymore. But I’m happy because you give me a present!! did you know? You give me a beautiful memory and brave. Thank you ~ <3.
Your present perfect to me when I pass 수능 [수능 = suneung = college entrance exam]
I want to visit your hometown with you and CA friends ^^.
I’m very proud of you !!!
Thank you for teaching me ~
Bye ~ From: EH

The above note was from one of the girls I took with me to the Youth Diplomacy program. I’m going to miss her!

To: Emily ~
Hello, Emily. I’m DH. I can’t believe I’m 3rd grade student (exactly soon) and can’t take your class anymore. Times run too fast ㅠㅠ. All classes that we had together were so great that I will miss the class. I think you are a person who are alive. Not just alive but vividly alive. When I see you I can feel your energy reaches me, which always motivates my passion. I was moved by your passion for teaching and respect to students. Carving pumpkin, mafia game, making mummy… and so on. All of our class won’t be forget. Thank you very much about all of that. I’ll visit your home in Washington D.C> later after KSAT.
Again Thank you Thank you… Bye!! See you later.
p.s. I’ll bring a baby kangaroo from Australia.. ㅋㅋ [this was one of the 3 students at my school who won a prize in the Damyang speech competition I helped out with - I told them all I wanted a kangaroo]
From, funny DH

Awkward….

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

So I should be packing because tomorrow I’m leaving straight from school to go to the Busan film festival (heck yes) buuut I hate packing so here goes.

 

Today a group of students who were all a full head taller than me apparently did not see me because I am too short and ran into me. Literally. I couldn’t dodge because they were taking up the whole hallway. I swear, sometimes I feel like I’m playing chicken in the hallways, especially with the boys who walk in packs.

Also today we had bibimbap for lunch (which is my FAVORITE) and I ate it with great gusto. So much gusto in fact, that when I got back to the office my co-teacher picked a piece of rice out of my hair -_-. No wonder the teacher sitting across the lunch table from me kept staring. The sad thing is, this is not the first time this has happened (though it is the first time this has happened at Changpyeong… to the best of my knowledge).

Final thought for the day – I had my first club class in awhile (due to cancellations) today. To break the ice we played a game called King Kong where you write the name of a famous person/character (dead, alive, or fictional) on a piece of paper then swap papers and then tape someone else’s piece to your forehead. You then have to guess, using yes or no questions who your person is (Am I alive? Am I dead? Am I an entertainer? etc) and if the answer is no your turn is over. Well, many Korean people have trouble spelling famous people’s names because they only know how it’s spelled in the Korean alphabet. Keeping that in mind, one of my students spelled the name of her famous person wrong, which caused a girl to have the word “Poo” taped to her forehead for thirty minutes. Didn’t have the heart to correct her after the girl put it on her head because frankly I didn’t notice, and I didn’t want to have to explain what “Poo” meant as opposed to “Pooh.”