Archive for the ‘teaching’ Category

Pet Peeves

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

It annoys me when my students complain a lot, which is something they’ve been doing more and more frequently.

Teacher I’m tired!

Teacher, English is too hard!

Teacher, our school is a jail!

Teacher -

I understand that they are frustrated, and this time of year is especially difficult, but complaining never solved anything. Well, you know, except when it does. Squeaky wheel and all that.

In order for my squeaky wheels to get some grease, this week I’ve been teaching a lesson on annoyances and pet peeves, and how to complain in English. Politely. We start by watching a video showing some very annoying things and having students vote on whether or not it’s annoying and telling me why, playing annoyance human bingo (I show 25 pictures, they write them down on a bingo sheet, then they must interview each other to find students who think thing is annoying.) Then finally, I have them write down their annoyances on a piece of paper using three sentence structures:

My pet peeve is _________.

It annoys me when ____________.

It drives me up the wall when ______________.

It’s been really interesting reading their answers. The following are the noteable ones from eight of my ten second grade classes. Interestingly enough, most of the responses listed below are from female students. The female students on average were more interested in playing with the structures and expressing their own annoyances, while the male students were more likely to just use vocabulary we had studied in class. Some of the following are funny, but there are also a few sad complaints.

It drives me up the wall when my friend is annoyed and just express her annoyance though she doesn’t tell me the reason.

My pet peeve is being woken by song in the morning.

It drives me up the wall when I must take care of babies.

It drives me up the wall when someone acts like a fool.

It annoys me when Ethics teacher gives questions to me in class.

It annoys me when I’m soaked with sweat after showering and wearing clothes.

It drives me up the wall when parents inquire my report card.

It drives me up the wall when insects creep my body or my bed.

It drives me up the wall when I see cells picture in biology textbooks.

It annoys me when my leg muscle cramps are sudden.

It drives me up the wall when I stay with someone who are selfish and use abusive language.

It drives me up the wall when I’m constipated.

It annoys me when I watch a show and Father comes and turns the channel to a fishing program.

It annoys me when math questions are not be solved.

It annoys me when I see the person who long time no shower.

It drives me up the wall when he bites my arm. [...what?]

My pet peeve is someone speaks me with nervous tone.

It drives me up the wall when someone sings song very careless.

My pet peeve is bring no spoon when in cafeteria.

It annoys me when my character die in the game

It annoys me when someone play piano at night.

It drives me up the wall when I can’t do what I want.

It drives me up the wall when there are too many tests and too much undone homework.

It drives me up the wall when there is a hair on my bed.

[From the same girl - note, there are frogs that live in the rice paddy right next to the dormitory] My pet peeve is frog. It annoys me when the frogs crying. It drives me up the wall when the frogs appear in front of me.

It annoys me when I smell people’s smell.

It annoys me when people talk to me or treat me when I am concentrating,

My pet peeve is baby hair.

It drives me up the wall when JW show me his middle finger.

It annoys me when I was angried about trivial things. [meta...]

My pet peeve is someone ransack my personal thing.

It drives me up the wall when [people] say [I am a] pig. I’m not pig. Pig is CW.

It drives me up the wall when people make fun of me.

It annoys me when people who lend me the money don’t pay back money.

It annoys me when you say to me a “black” [this comes from a student who has darker skin, and thus is told all the time that he is "black." Based on my experiences, and my friends' experiences (both Korean and foreign) I can say that shadeism issues are rampant in Korean schools.]

It annoys me when people don’t understand me.

My pet peeves are girls who love me.

Teacher Confessions, Part 1

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

I wish I didn’t have to correct my kids when they use “upgrade” instead of “improve” because it makes everything sound that much more dramatic.

I want to upgrade my skill level.

I want to upgrade increasingly toward my dream.

I know my school would want me to correct it because while it’s not necessarily grammatically incorrect, it’s confusing to a native speaker unaccustomed to this particular non-native phrasing, but I like it better this way.

What Makes You Happy?

Friday, July 13th, 2012

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My Role

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Something I’ve been struggling with since I’ve arrived in Korea, is what exactly my role is as a Native English Speaking Teacher. I feel like many times we’re asked to be, or we assume the role of the fun fun NEST who plays games and acts as a stress relief, but am I okay with being just that? I didn’t realize until a few days ago that I’ve finally decided.

I’ve been staying at the office really late these past few weeks. It used to be because I would study for Korean for one or two hours, but these days I simply don’t have the time. I get most of my Korean studying done between 10 and 11 pm at home. Most of the time I’ve been staying late it’s because I’ve been meeting with students for various things, or preparing stuff for my lessons.

This week we had a national holiday on Wednesday, and exams on Thursday, so I knew that I needed to get all of my stuff done on Tuesday unless I wanted to come in on Thursday (which I did anyway for separate student stuff, but that’s beside the point) but I kept getting sidetracked by various teacher favors, and student letters that I had to edit, so by the time it was 5 pm I was still at school. At this point, a non-English teacher with relatively good English conversation skills who will remain unnamed walks over to me and asks what I’m doing.

Anonymous Teacher: “Emily! What are you still doing at school?”
Me:  ”Oh I’m normally here at this time. Today I’m creating materials for my new lesson.”
AT: Looks at my  materials “Oh wow, you create all of your lessons?”
ME: “…  Yeah I do. Powerpoints too.”
AT: “You have powerpoints for all of your lessons?! I never create a powerpoint, I just use the textbook.”
ME: “I don’t have a textbook, and I create my own curriculum and lessons, so I’m rather free. See, this week I will teach noun suffixes.”
AT: “Suf-fix?”
ME: I briefly explain what a suffix is, and then show the suffixes that I’m planning on teaching. “Because our students are high level, and they must learn many different words in order to do well on reading comprehension tests, I try to teach them patterns that can work as shortcuts in vocabulary acquisition. For example, this suffix,” I point to ‘ness’ “is used in over 3,000 English words. It changes adjectives of quality or state to nouns. If they know what “ness” means, and they can guess the word attached to it, then they can guess the meaning of the whole word.”
AT: “I think that the students will not like this. I think they just want to play with you.”
ME: “… Well, we’re only learning 9 suffixes, and I also created a game that they will play after we learn all nine. It’s based off of Connect 4.” I explain Connect 4, and show her the connect 4  game board, and the Connect 4 game pieces that I have to cut out.
AT: “Don’t you think that’s a little childish?”
ME: Clouds start to cross my face and my eyes start to narrow.
AT: “I mean it’s a great idea, but maybe… well have a good day!”

I am so sick of this. I am sick of being told (by non-English teachers, and by people who aren’t my students – I tend not have a problem with the other English teachers or the students that I teach, mind you) that my purpose is to “play” with students and entertain. My school pays a fair amount for me to be here and to be an English resource. I may not have a set curriculum, and I may not have give out tests or homework, or grade, but my purpose is to teach to the best of my ability. Do I have culture-based classes? Sure, once in a blue moon, tied to some form of critical content whether it be a grammar point or vocabulary practice. Do we have classes based solely on games? Sure, very rarely, normally when there’s some sort of technological failure or right before or after a major exam. Do we watch music videos? We’ve only watched one this semester, and it was to practice similes and metaphors – they had to do a lyrics fill in, and all of the blanks were the nouns in the similes. Now am I ragging on teachers who do these things? Of course not, but it’s just not my style.

On the other hand, games or activities are useful. You can’t just lecture at a class, especially if you have no grading power, and want it to stick. Having a game, or a craft, or some other activity gets them to see how this grammatical construct, or vocabulary, can be used in proper context, and they can also have fun with it. Does creating games take a lot of work? Yes. Is it worth it? Generally, yes. Even if a game appears to be “childish” the fact of the matter is, for a EFL learner, the simpler the rules of the game the better. The less time is spent explaining rules, the more time can be spent actually playing the game. And Connect 4 is by no means a childish game.

Today due to weird scheduling the past few weeks, I did my suffixes lesson for the first time. I greatly underestimated the amount of time needed to go over the part of speech change (or lack thereof), meaning, and examples of all of the roots, so we didn’t have time to play the game, which made it a very dry class for the students. I explained to my two classes, 2.5 and 2.10, both of whom are normally incredibly energetic and do great with tactile but terribly with listening or writing-based lessons, that today there would be a lot of writing. I explained that as Korean students who have to memorize vocab lists every other day, learning shortcuts like these, tricks, will make it easier to not only learn new vocab, but also guess the meaning of vocab that they have never seen before, that if they combine this lesson with my Latin roots lesson, and if try hard to remember this, they’ll start to be able to recognize these patterns. You know what? Even though there was no game, even though they will not be tested on this, and I don’t give grades, these classes focused, and did a really great job. Of their own free will when I would write a suffix up on the board they would brainstorm and call out examples of nouns that had these suffixes, and thus started to interact with and apply the concepts. One of my students thought of “intimacy“ for “acy” (changing an adjective “intimate” into a noun of quality)  and another student remembered “antidisestablishmentarianism“ from my lesson hook, and used it as an example of “ism” (a philosophy, ideology, or doctrine).

At the end of 2.5′s class I praised them and told them that I knew that it was boring, but they did a great job focusing and thank you, and then they agreed that it was a little boring, and then applauded. They also booed when I told them I wouldn’t be teaching them next week, due to YDAC.

The thing is, my students are not idiots. Nor, really, are any Korean high schoolers (“er” is another suffix that I taught them – there are roughly 2,311 words suffixed with “er” according to Wikitionary). They are not children. They are not people that would appreciate me spending all of my class time “playing with” them. They are teenagers who are driven to succeed, otherwise they wouldn’t be at my school. Is it important that my class is stress free? Heck yes, there’s no denying that a lot of this behavior is not fully healthy. However, these students want to learn, and I’m going to do my best to continue to teach them – by teaching them valuable, useful things, and by practicing it whenever possible through games.

Dissapointed

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

It is lovely outside, and lovely inside my second grade classrooms with my kids, but not so sunshiney inside the first grade classrooms. It doesn’t help that I decided to wear a low(er) cut sweater to work today (you can see about two inches below my collarbone, heavens to betsy) AND a scarf to mask the top, while not realizing that in the classrooms you get all the glorious sunshine of spring with none of the ventilation, and I end up suffocating in my own modesty. Also, my hair is now slightly-awkward mullet length, which means that I’ve taken to wearing headbands, which inevitably give me a headache by the end of the day.

My second graders either clap, or greet me when I walk in… now I don’t ask for that, or expect that from my first graders, but I expect recognition. I expect students to see me walk into the classroom and get ready for class. Today when I walked into my first grade girls class they acted like nothing had happened. They went on chatting, and studying while I began my intro, then I stopped and stared.  They kept on chatting. I then called their attention to the front, and the captain half-heartedly had the students stand up and insa me, in Korean, after which they got right back to talking.

If there is one thing I can’t stand, it’s chatting. While I dislike when students study for other classes or sleep, I understand why they do it. They’re at a demanding, academic high school, and don’t sleep nearly enough. Also, they’re tested constantly, and I don’t give grades. However, when students are chatting, OPENLY chatting, faces turned away from me and talking to their partners in Korean, about mundane unrelated subjects, I get really, really upset. Because obviously the students are awake enough to focus, but they don’t deem me important enough. Now, this is not the same as when students ask their peers for clarification on a point I’ve made – of course I’m okay with that, but this is chatting.

I stopped the class, put on my ice-glare, didn’t name names but stared at people as I explained that it was English class time, and we needed to be quiet. I then confiscated an advertisement for school uniforms that a student was holding up in front of her face reading while I was saying this.

The rest of class was fairly uneventful, with a few bursts of chatting here and there, and at the end of class I explained that since I only saw them for fifty minutes once every two weeks, I wanted to make the most of our time but I couldn’t today. I then explained that I was disappointed with their actions. I then wrote “DISSAPOINTED” on the board for further emphasis, and realized after the fact that I had spelled it wrong.

I really hope the students realize that the takeaway from all of this is my message of disappointment, not that their English teacher can’t spell.

Giving Advice

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Today I taught class 2.1, my advanced class. I Miss You So Much(e) Boy came up to me with his man-possee, who proceeded to tell me that IMYSM(e) was just like TOP from Big Bang.

 
TOP                                                                               GD

 I told them they were wrong, because TOP has ridiculous hair, and IMYSM(e) has fairly normal hair. Then he told me that he was just like GD from Big Bang, to which I responded that GD was way more attractive. Then he said he wasn’t talking to me anymore, and all the boys in the class called me a heartbreaker.

Of course, then it was time to start class. Today I taught them four different ways to “give advice”

You should VERB.
I think you should VERB.
My advice is to VERB.
I advise you to VERB.

First I had them brainstorm problems that high school students commonly had. Of course, the first example was shouted out by IMYSM(e) who had promptly forgotten that he wasn’t speaking to me. Many of these problems dealt with issues with significant others (taught them the term SO today), studying, parents, etc. My personal favorite was “I am too handsome.” Oh man, such a problem.

Then I gave them scenarios, and the students had to write advice for what to do if you were caught in that sort of a situation. My conclusions are that 2.1 class is full of BAMFs.

BAMFy examples:

Scenario TWO: Cheating boyfriend/girlfriend (SO/significant other)

 If your SO cheats on you, you should _______.
punch him/her. (multiple students)
kick him/her. (multiple students)
poke out his/her eyes.
eat a lot of pizza, pasta, cake, ice cream.

Scenario THREE: Pop quiz

If there is a pop quiz, I think you should ______.
write “I love you teacher” on the quiz.
cheat. (awesome, thanks student)
go home. 

Scenario FOUR: Visiting Yesan

If you visit Yesan, I think you should _______.
go somewhere else.

Scenario FIVE: Bear attack 

If a bear attacks you my advice is to ________.
fight (4 students)
climb a tree (4 students)
act like death.

 Scenario SIX: House fire

If your house catches on fire my advice is to _______.
buy a new house.
take a picture.
call insurance company.

 Scenario SEVEN: Zombie apocalypse

 If there is a zombie apocalypse I advise you to _______.

[teacher what is apoca-apo-apocali?
apocalypse.
apocalypsuh?
end of the world.
ohhhhhhhh.]

become zombie (at least half the class wrote some variaton of this)
die with SO.
hunt and kill the zombies (the answer written by my ever awesome host sister, who is also apparently going to fight the bear, kick the cheating SO, and buy a new house.)

 If I ever need advice, I now know I can count on class 2.1.

Schoolhouse Crush?

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

This post title does not refer to me.

So one of my advanced students has taken to saying “I miss you so much(e)” whenever he sees me, and you know, randomly throughout conversation, to the point where I’m not quite sure he actually knows what that phrase means. Today he came into the teacher’s office because he had hurt himself so he came up to me to show his academic war wound (a cut on his finger) and chat.

“Emily Teacher! I hurt myself! I miss you so much(e)”
“Oh no I’m sorry! Stop hurting yourself” (this is the second time this week he’s hurt himself). I continue to wrestle with the copy machine that has decided to eat my lesson plan and spit only half of it out, and is now choking on my scholastic endeavours.
“I am inspired by your class.”
“Really?” That’s something every teacher wants to hear. “That’s so sweet”
“I like you. I like you. I like like you. I like you very much(e). Much(e) much(e). I miss you so much(e).”
“… thank you?” (honestly, I’m still not entirely sure what to say to stuff like this. As I’m really not that far in age from my students I feel like it’s inappropriate to say “I miss you so much(e)” back, so I’ve settled for the super awkward “thank you” which actually doesn’t make a lot of sense… also not sure he’s inspired in the way that I want to be inspiring >.<)
“Our class is next next day!”
“Yes it is! Friday! I will see you on Friday!”
“Yes. I miss you so much(e) goodbye.”

Oh Tuesdays…

In other news I’m starting a pen pal project! I’ve already bothered people about it on facebook/email/gchat/skype but the project deadline’s approaching and I still need about 40 or so more addresses, so I’m going to shamelessly plug the project. Basically it’s a pen pal project with my two intermediate classes where they write a letter and draw a picture of themselves and send them to America. The recipient of the letter takes a picture with/of the drawing and writes a letter back in email form, and emails both the picture and letter to me at msemilyteacher@gmail.com. Then the recipient sends the student’s original letter and picture to someone else and the process repeats. I’m going to be documenting the whole thing through the blog I have shamelessly plugged not once but twice. click it. CLICK IT.

As most of my readers live in South Korea… how can you guys help? Well, do you have friends outside of Korea that speak English? If 진구가 없어요 do you have, family, a co-worker, anyone who you communicate with in any shape or form? If you know anyone who’d like to get involved please have them check out the project description on the blog and then email me their mailing address at msemilyteacher@gmail.com. For my non-Korea-dwelling readers who want to get involved send me your mailing addresses at the aforementioned email address, but also feel free to talk to friends etc, the more the merrier!

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.

Billy Collins

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

This does not have a lot to do with Korea, other than the fact that I rediscovered my love of Billy Collins while at school one day, but I really love the poem “On Turning Ten”

On Turning Ten

The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I’m coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light–
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.

Recently I’ve been feeling like an old grumpy teacher. Believe me, dear blog readers, I know for a fact that I am not old and I am in the prime of my life… it’s just a feeling, quite like Billy Collins’ narrator at 10. I feel that I’m not quite as relaxed and fun as last semester, and instead I’m channeling an old, grumpy tenured teacher. You know, the one who complains about “students and their baggy pants these days” and shakes her ruler at them as they gallop down the halls, except for me it’s their crazy perms and eye-tape (in Korea many girls put double-sided tape on their eyelids to create the appearance of double-eyelids… I don’t think it works particularly well as it just looks like their new double-eyelids are encased in cellphane. And yes when I say “perms” I’m talking about girls AND guys). Even though it’s only a half year later, these new students just seem so much younger!

There are days that are awesome and teaching just flows and the “teaching persona” (how I present myself as a teacher) I have works really well, but for the new classes I’m having issues finding a persona that works. If I’m too nice they sleep/take advantage of my niceness, but if I’m too hardball they don’t want to participate. This isn’t always an issue, just with certain classes and generally on Thursdays. So please forgive me just for today for being old in my mind, if not in my body. 

Darn teenagers.

ChocoPies

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Chocopies are awesome.


I am having issues with a lot of Korean junk food. Not serious issues, just… minor taste things. ESPECIALLY Korean junk food that’s supposed to taste like American junk food. For the love of God never ever eat Korean cheetoes – they’re this rancid red color, and they taste slightly peppery and nothing like cheese. Other junk food I need to be careful about because a lot of it is squid or lobster flavored. Generally I avoid that by not eating junk food that has a weird cartoon animal on it that I can’t figure out. That’s a pretty safe bet anyway, no matter where you are I think. ChocoPies are different. There is absolutely nothing natural about a ChocoPie. It’s a milk chocolately shell over a cake like interior with a ribbon of marshmellow. I don’t tend to like marshmellows in any form (especially super-processed marshmellows), I’m a snob about my cake, and also I tend to like dark chocolate more than milk, so why do I like ChocoPies? I like them because they’re unabashaedly processed and horrible for you. They are exactly what they look like – chocolate marshmellow cake puff pie things.

I teach until Wednesday then I have no more classes until March. Today I was stopped in the hall by one of my co-teachers and she asked me to visit her class today during 6th period. I teach this class on Fridays so I said already said goodbye to them last week. This particular co-teacher actually isn’t an English teacher, she’s a computer teacher. This is class 2.6 (2nd grade 6th class), and they are my lowest level 2nd grade class (and one of my two super-low level classes). Because of their major, they don’t have time to take a normal English class, so instead of having my English conversation class supplemented by a normal English class where they learn grammar, vocabulary etc,  my class is the only English class they have. 

This of course makes this one of the most difficult classes. I know what their speaking ability is but I’m still not entirely sure what they’ve formally learned in a class in terms of grammar or vocab because they haven’t taken a single English class at Sapgyo High School (until now). Also my co-teacher for this class is not an English teacher, so though her English is passable she can’t really explain grammar points, and I can’t use difficult terminiology and then rely on her to translate. Anything I teach has to be very clearly laid out using simple vocabulary, or easy enough for her to understand and then translate. I have mastered the art of circumlocution and pantomine. However this also makes it one of my most rewarding classes. Sometimes I feel a little redundant as a native speaker – but in these classes I’m not just the Native Speaker English Teacher – I’m just the English teacher.

They hadn’t known that it was my last day teaching last Friday, so I guess they weren’t quite ready to say goodbye (because though I’ll see them in March I won’t teach them because they’ll be 3rd graders – high school seniors). I go to their classroom and see on the board they’ve drawn a picture of me with balloons and pictures of themselves with a sign that says “WE’LL MISS YOU EMILY! THANK YOU ENGLISH TEACHER!” Unfortunately, today was the one day I didn’t bring my camera to school. I stand staring at the whiteboard for a minute and as I turn to face the class I have a GIANT box of chocopies thrust in my face. Adorning this box are three individually wrapped chocopies on top, and an unwrapped chocopie in the middle of these decorations. I stand there, flabbergasted. The teacher tells them in Korean to ”say something” to which they all start stammering in Korean, until a student yells out:

“HAPPY SUPRISE WAOOOWWWW!”

and then I start laughing and he replies “Teacher! Cry!” with a demanding look on his face and I reply “No! Makeup!”

Then we said goodbye.

Man I love ChocoPies.