Archive for the ‘hapkido’ Category

Language Exchange and How it Leads to Acupuncture and a Career in Rapping

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

That may be the longest blog post title I have ever written, but it’s fairly accurate.

Let’s start with the acupuncture, shall we?

In Korea oriental medicine is fairly popular, especially in the countryside and among older people, but many people outside of that demographic use it. Everytime I get sick my host mother suggests I visit the 한의사 (의사 is doctor, and 한 comes from 한국 which means Korea… so basically the Korean, or oriental medicine, doctor) because she knows I dislike hospitals, and oriental medicine is a lot cheaper. I’ve never really felt the need to go because I am incredibly stubborn when it comes to disease in general and have always been of the mindset that rest and water cures everything, and also because I am fairly skeptical about the efficacy of oriental medicine. The main thing that would prompt me to go to an oriental medicine doctor would be curiosity.

During CLEA I had hurt my wrist and while it is much better (I can move it!) it is still not completely healed. I found this out the hard way while attempting to do push-ups at hapkido which, in hindsight, was rather stupid. It’s very frustrating that 2 1/2 months after I hurt my wrist it still isn’t completely healed, so when a fellow hapkido-goer (an adult who’s relatively new to the academy and loves to practice her English with me) exclaimed that she was a nurse and her husband was an oriental medicine doctor and they could look at my wrist for me, I said sure why not. I didn’t realize it’d be immediately after my 8 – 9 pm hapkido class.

So there I am, in a car with a woman I don’t know very well, about to go to an oriental medicine doctor. Also, what do oriental medicine doctors normally do to hurt body-parts? Stick them through with needles. That’s right, I had unexpected acupuncture.

Acupuncture in itself is surprisingly painless. The doctor explained to me (mind you it was in Korean, so I only got the basic gist) that the idea of acupuncture is that your “chi” (energy flow, life force, however you want to paraphrase it) is blocked, and so to release the pressure and to create a road for the chi to smoothly flow you strategically place needles both in the blockage and where you want the chi to go. He put four needles right where my wrist meets the base of my hand on the side opposite to my palm, and one in the crook of my elbow. The only painful part of acupuncture is that you have to sit still for ten or fifteen minutes, which means that every time you reflexively move (like when the doctor’s adorable 18 month-old daughter decides to throw a book at you), the needles move. Ouch.

I couldn’t help thinking as I sat in this strange apartment at 9:30 with needles in my arm that this wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t an English teacher with some knowledge of Korean. Life as a Native English Teacher can be very strange sometime. I’m apparently going again tonight and I’ll try to get pictures this time.

So I have tried to make my advanced students rap, and I have officially decided to call this lesson a failure. Hey it’s a learning experience for me too, right? I had taught my most advanced class how to rhyme, and taught them how to make couplets (my personal favorite: “there is a snake in this cake”) which they proclaimed was “teacher! easy!” so I decided that next week they could handle rapping, especially as we had successfully rapped with a pronunciation lesson last semester. So the next week (2 weeks ago) we listened to Eminem, practiced rapping, then I told them they were going to create their own raps, by writing four couplets in groups of four on a subject I assigned, and then battle. They freaked out. We worked all period on the raps (I let them use electronic dictionaries and an online rhyme dictionary) and then I told them they could have more time the next week.

The next week I wasn’t there because of the Jeju conference.

So the next next week, which would be today, they brought their raps and I told them that I would give them more time, however I had a surprise prepared for them that would hopefully raise morale. First, I reminded them of my class rules:
1) Respect the teacher and other students
2) Do not be afraid to make mistakes
3) Do your best
4) Have fun!

and stated that numbers 1 and 2 were the most important of the rules. I then told them that I knew last week’s lesson was difficult (cue groans of agreement) and keeping that in mind, I also wrote a rap following the same rhyme scheme I made them use. In Korean. I then told them that it was really bad and not to make fun of me… and here it goes:

저는 영어 선생님인데
한국 말 조금 밖에 못해
그렇지만
2 학년
1 반 공부를 잘하고
재미있는 학급이에요 요 요!
이 학생들 대박!
매일  반짝 반짝!
 
Well, I think that my rap got the point across that I wasn’t expecting them to be 2Pac. However, they really enjoyed it, and though “rapping in Korean” isn’t in my job description and was something I never even imagined I’d do… I think it showed them it was okay to be silly. We did some of the raps today, and will finish the rest next week.

No but really who am I kidding, I’m obviously meant to quit my job and pursue my dream of rapping. Sign me up with JYP as I am obviously a Korean rap legend-in-the-making.

Peace out homies,
Em Teach-izzle

Realizing that some of my readers can’t read Korean, I just plugged my rap into Google Translate (which would be my first instict upon seeing a foreign-language rap) and got a very… um… interesting translation, so I’ll provide the translation here so you can see how incredibly basic my rap is. I promise for those of you that can’t read hangul that in Korean it rhymes:

I am an English teacher
I can only speak a little Korean
However
Grade 2
Class 1 are good at studying and
They are a fun class yo yo [Note: 요 is a very common verb ending, and it actually sounds like "yo" so I had fun with that]
These students are awesome!
Everyday they are bling bling.

Return to Hapkido!

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

I started up hapkido again!

Due to a long, long, complicated series of events which include winter break, winter camp, losing my phone for a week, CLEA, and hurting my wrist, I have been unable to do hapkido for the last 3 months. I didn’t realize quite how important it was to me until I went back for the first time yesterday. I knew that it was enjoyable, and that it was fun, but I didn’t realize how important it was to my mental health to not only have a physical activity to do but also a person my age to talk to.

I was really nervous about going back because I hadn’t really been in contact with Kyungjin, the hapkido instructor’s wife and my friend and contact at the studio, and I felt very guilty about that, and also because I hadn’t practiced in 4 months. What if I sucked?! What if I forgot how to throw a punch?! (Well let’s be real here, I never really knew how to throw a punch… you don’t really punch as much as you kick in hapkido).

Upon arriving at hapkido I was hugged by Kyungjin, I was swarmed by tiny little elementary-aged hapkidoers, and it turns out it was the hapkido instructor’s birthday! Good thing I brought a present ^^;;. Also I remembered how to do pretty much everything – that is, except for how to put on my uniform correctly. Fail.

My Life in Bullet Points

Friday, November 19th, 2010

A LOT has happened so I’ll update you in bullet form and expand in blog entries later.

Recent wins:

  • Woke up at 5 am yesterday to go with underclassmen to cheer for the 3rd graders (high school seniors) taking the 수능 (Suneung), which is a test that students start preparing for in elementary school. If you don’t do well on this test you can’t go to the college you want (or even college at all in some cases). Most of my students in the academic track stay at school until 10 pm or later every day doing self-study… pretty much just for the Suneung, and even the kids that are not in the academic track stay late and study. I was there before any of the teachers (got there at 6, most teachers got there at 7:30/8) and got to hang out with my students in the freezing cold. Apparently foreign teachers never go and cheer for the suneung so my school was really shocked (and very happy) that I went, and since I went with my host sister and not a teacher apparently they didn’t even know I was coming.
  • Almost finished with book 2 of piano, going on to book 3 in a few days.
  • FINALLY figured out how to do a dora chaugi kick in hapkido (watch the video, he does one at 0:24).
  • Went to the hapkido night class one day instead of my usual afternoon class and saw one of my trouble maker students. This kid is about 6’4″ and has to weigh at least 250 pounds, he’s massive. We had to practice blocking practice and I was paired with him and I completely took him out. I can now say I beat up one of my students.
  • I’ve been practicing with a core group of 7 students for the English competition (we have to sing a pop song) that’s coming up and today we finally nailed the difficult harmonies in the chorus. My students were so happy!
  • I taught a lesson on Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog to my advanced kids.
  • I bought some sweaters so I won’t die!
  • Discovered a duck pond in my “downtown”
  • Went to Daegu/Busan with friends last weekend and built a sand-castle.
  • Tomorrow I’m going to the United States ambassador to Korea’s house for a Thanksgiving dinner with most of the first-year F*bright English Teaching Assistants.

Loses:

  • I’ve been sick.
  • I lost my VOICE which is absolutely awful if you’re an English conversation teacher.
  • Korean vocabulary has recently been stagnating and grammar is definitely getting worse.
  • I STILL don’t know what I’m doing for Winter Break.
  • I feel like I’ve hit a wall in my relationship with teachers at school due to the language barrier and I really want to build deeper relationships but I don’t know how/I’m too tired to keep trying.
  • I have had 5 times as many spam comments as actual comments on my blog. Hint hint.

More later, I promise. As well as actual pictures eventually.

My Everyday Life

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

So people have been a-clamoring to know what my daily life is like. Sorry, I suck at blogging. Without further ado, here is the super long blog post that will probably go into more detail than you care about:

I live in a homestay, i.e. I live with a family, and they’re all really nice!  The father is the Ethics teacher
at Sapgyo High School and drives me to work every morning (we leave at 7:30 am, ugh). The mother is a a piano teacher at an academy, and she has started giving me piano lessons! Last but certainly not least, I have two homestay sisters who are honestly probbaly the best thing about my placement. Their names are 밀림 (Mil-lim) and 영림 (Young-lim), and they are in 3rd and 1st grade at Sapgyo High school. Cultural note: middle schools in Korea are 3 years long, so high schools in Korea are only 3 years.  So a first grader is roughly equivalent to a sophmore and so on. Currently Mil-lim is finishing up studying for the University Entrance Exam (more on this in a later blog post), which is a big test that all of the high schoolers who want to go to college have to take, similar to our SAT but much more intense and important. As they are high schoolers I don’t see them very often, but when I do we have a lot of fun. My homestay parents speak very little english, so either I speak Korean, or my sisters translate. I try to speak Korean as much as I can because I want to learn and also because I feel guilty having my sisters have to translate.

On my first day at school (a Saturday when I was getting to know the school and not actually teaching) they asked me to give a speech in Korean to the entire student body. That was nerve wracking. It was super simple, along the lines of  “Hello everyone it is nice to meet you.  My name is Emily.  I am from America, from Virginia which is below Washington.  I am an English teacher.  Thank you!”  However the entire student body burst into applause after I said “hello” so I think I made a good impression ^_^. I’m the first native teacher Sapgyo HS has ever had, so I get a lot of what was referred to in Orientation as “rockstar status” – 9 weeks later students still yell at me, run down the hall just to say “hi,” make hearts with their hands, etc. More on this later.

The Korean school system is intense!  There are classes M – F from 8 am – 5 pm and then on two Saturdays every month. Luckily I only teach on weekdays. On Monday – Friday most of the students (at least the college-bound ones) do self-study after school until 10 pm or midnight (including my two adorable host siblings, and then they go to school on Sunday and self-study from 8 am – 5 pm as well.   I teach 12 classes total: 2 advanced, 2 high beginner, 8 beginner, 2 low beginner. The beginner classes are a bit of a challenge, as they don’t always understand what I’m saying, but I’m trying to do my best to teach them.  To put things in perspective:

  • Taught my advanced class a lesson on protests and made them make up protest chants. Very extensive vocabulary, and good grammar, however don’t know how to use it all the time.
  • I teach my high beginners a harder version of my beginner lessons
  • Beginners get taught mostly grammar and vocab. Recent lessons have been “comparative and superlative adjectives” (thanks Josh! – you’re rad), “government words,” “singular vs plural” etc.
  • Low Beginners get a much easier version of the Beginner lesson. Some of my kids can’t read English, and two of my kids are completely illiterate (can’t read Korean). My most difficult (and thus my most rewarding) class is grade 1 class 6… it’s my lowest level and there are only 10 students in the class. When I come into class most days they’re asleep, but generally they’re really pumped up by the time I leave and they try SO hard.

Average class size is about 20, with my largest class at 30 and my smallest class at 10. I absolutely LOVE having smaller classes – it makes discipline much easier and I can give students individual attention.

I leave school between 3 and 4 everyday. I’m allowed to leave at 3, however depending on my teaching schedule and whether or not I miss the one bus that comes every 20 minutes, I leave at differen times everyday. That’s right, there’s one bus. I LITERALLY could not get lost going home unless I a) was on the wrong side of the street or b) got off the bus way too early. Bus takes about 30 minutes, and then every day M – F I have hapkido from 5:30 – 6:30. Hapkido is a “is a dynamic and eclectic Korean martial art. It is a form of self-defense that employs joint locks, techniques of other martial arts, as well as common primitive attacks. There is also the use of traditional weapons, including a sword, rope, nunchaku, cane, short stick, and staff (gun, bō) which vary in emphasis depending on the particular tradition examined.” It’s freaking awesome, I feel like Mulan. I am by no means great at it, but it’s a lot of fun and I have my yellow belt test on the 29th!

That’s generally my life right now. Sorry about the delay in updates.