Archive for the ‘Cute Sapgyo Stories’ Category


Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Due to my weird schedule and classes being cancelled, though I’ve been teaching for 2 1/2 weeks I finally taught the 1.1 students (all male, freshmen, super-rowdy, low-level) for the first time. However, I think that they’ve been talking to the other classes about me, because when I asked them what my name was, there were many guesses, a few of which were actually pretty close, but then as one collective mind they all decided on an answer.

Apparently they think that my name is “Animal.”

Signing out,
Animal Teacher


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:


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.

Belated 빼빼로 (Pepero) Day

Sunday, December 5th, 2010

I was standing in the hallway last week about to go to class when I hear “EMILY TEACHA!!!!” and footsteps thundering down the halls. I turn around and there’s one of the third grade boys, panting and out of breath.  I say hello, and he thrusts a box of Pepero in my face.

“Teacha! You know PEPERO Day?!”
“Yes, but Pepero day was in November?”
“I… no give Pepero. NOW today I give Pepero!” he beams.
“Oh wow, thank you” (I look down at the Pepero box – which might I add is half-opened. Pretty sure he was about to eat it when he saw me and then changed his mind). Not sure what to say now as Pepero is normally given either by same-sex friends to each other (normally girls) or by boys to the girls they like and vice versa. I was just given Pepero by an 18 year old boy… kind-of awkward. Then this third grader’s friend whose standing behind him chimes in.

Bell rings. I escape to class. The pepero was delicious.

EDIT: As I am sitting at my desk working on my winter camp lesson plans I just got a giant square of 덕 (deok Korean rice cake) from afforementioned student along with this note:

“to, Emily ~ <3
Hi, My name is Park-Sung-Girl~
um… bye bye ~ ^^

I love you ~ <3″


Monday, November 29th, 2010

Taught a cultural lesson on Thanksgiving last week and part of this week. Here are  my favorite answers in response to questions (in terms of humor, not student retention):

“Okay class, 500 dollar jeopardy question. So what food do you put INSIDE the turkey?”
“*Frantic whispering* PIE!”

*point at the TV screen where I’m showing snippets of the Macy’s Day Parade* “You see the people riding on top of the turkey? Who are they?” (note: they were pilgrims)

“Okay class, what are you thankful for? I am thankful BECAUSE of my friends. What about you?”
“I am thankful because of me.”

“What is one of Korea’s MAIN EXPORTS” ($500 jeopardy question in the “random” column for my advanced students)

Pepero Day take 2

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Okay so even though today is Pepero Day I did not get a single box from my students, just one solitary box from a fellow teacher. Very sad :( . However I got something even better, a really nice compliment. I was standing at the bus stop ready to go home next to one of my favorite 3rd grade boy students (remember I teach high school – so in Korean high school a 3rd grader is the same as a senior in an American high school). He turns to me, puts his arm on my shoulder, and says “I have many English words but… I respect you. That is all.”

Home Economics Class

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

So what have I been doing in my free time at Sapgyo HS?  When I’m not teaching I lesson plan, catch up on emails, theoretically write blogs, and I learn how to embroider.  That’s right, embroider. I am currently attending home ec class with my students. According to the home ec teacher this is their favorite class and judging by their behavior I would have to agree… no one is sleeping and they’re barely talking. They have no time to talk because they’re too focused on picking out the right colors, or making the perfect stitches. Have I mentioned that all of the classes I’ve sat in on/participated in were either co-ed or all boys?

Going to Home EC helps me realize just what different standards of masculinity there are between high school American boys and high school Korean boys. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve never met a high school boy that thought that embroidery was cool. I have to say though, it makes me smile everytime I see one of my “too cool for school” more difficult male students proudly show the Home Ec teacher his pink, embroidered seat cushion.

My bodyguard

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

My school is fairly small as far as high schools in Korea go, (but apparently pretty average for country schools), so there are 6 classes in each grade, 3 grades total, which makes for roughly 450 kids. As a result of having such a small number of classes per grade, I teach every single 2nd and 1st grader at my school… which actually only amounts to 12 classes and about 300 kids. Unfortunately I don’t teach any of the 3rd graders, because they are busy preparing for the really intense university entrance exam I mentioned earlier, but in November when they finish taking the test I will teach them which means I will be up to 18 classes, and I will have taught every single student at my school. Pretty cool.

Even though I don’t teach them, I still see and interact with the 3rd graders pretty regularly. The school building itself is actually pretty small and my desk is in the main 교무실 (teacher’s office) so I see them there, however most of my interaction with students is either walking to and from my classes or in the cafeteria. My student interactions tend to follow pretty specific patterns:

1) The relatively normal but extraverted student approach: EMILY HIIIII!/Hello Teacher!/Anyeongha-hehehe-hello!
2) The shy student approach: Me: “Hello!” Student: stares/giggles/runs away
3) The infatuated male student approach: EMILY TEACHER I LOVE YOU! (usually a really loud scream across a huge distance – either from across the hall/from the second floor balcony/across the caferia, etc) followed by some sort of heart-like gesture (arms over the head connecting to make a heart, heart with the hands, etc). This happens a lot more than you would think.

However, there is a specific group of 3rd year boys (5 of them) whose interactions with me don’t tend to fit into these categories, and I never quite know what to expect from them. I was walking outside away from the cafeteria back to the main building when I passed one of them. He immediately stopped what he was doing and positioned himself in front of me with his hand stretched away from me out in a defensive position and said “today – I am your bodyguard.” I laughed and said okay and we walked together for approximately 30 seconds before his friend came over to say hi to me, at which point my bodyguard for the day promptly starts yelling “BAD GUY!” and starts chasing after the guy trying to put him in a

This is my life.

A letter I received today from a 3rd Grade student (i.e. HS Senior)

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Hi ~ I’m Lauren.
(korea name: HeeSu, Shin 신희수)
UM… I like you! and thank you for your present. Do you remember a postcard you gave me? This card very wonderful!! That day I was so happy. ㅎ.ㅎ This days I’m little busy. So I couldn’t go to talk with you. I’m sorry ㅠㅠ. When I finished my exam, I will go to meeting you ~ This letter is Sahra and helga help me. ^.^ Thank you for reading!
Have a good day!! ^d^
Bye Bye ~

(she drew a picture of me – on the letter I will scan it in soon so you can see it :) )