Archive for the ‘korean language’ Category

End of the Year Newspaper Article

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Students asked me to write an article for the newspaper. I asked when it was due, how long it should be, and what it should be about, and they answered “whenever, about a page, something funny.” Thanks guys. I set the limit of Friday at lunch to try to finish it in time, but I just finished it about a half hour ago. For those of you that read my final address to the Sapgyo students parts of this may seem familiar, and that’s because I took direct inspiration from that address. I feel like something I can’t tell students enough is that when they come talk to me they’re not a burden to me, even if they are not very good at English, I still really enjoy talking to them.

Most likely I won’t update this blog until after I come back from traveling (January 15th), so I’ll leave you with my nice long newspaper article. Happy holidays!


“It seems like it was just yesterday that I was worried about what to write for this newspaper, and now I am worrying about what to write again. In my last article I introduced myself and said hello to all of the students, and now inevitably I have to say goodbye, not only to the third graders who are graduating and starting a new chapter in their lives, but to the second graders who I will no longer teach. Thank you all for making my first semester at Changpyeong High School memorable.

As a native English teacher in Korea, who is studying Korean in her free time, my life is overwhelmed by language. The longer I stay in Korea the more the lines between English and Korean blur and while it is very fun, sometimes by the end of the day I cannot speak any language, let alone Korean or English. I’m sure you know what that’s like.

I think learning a foreign language is one of the most difficult things a person can do. It is very frustrating when you can communicate perfectly well in your native language, but can’t think of the simplest words in another. Not only that, but it is so easy to make very basic mistakes. The first few weeks I was in Korea every time I went to a coffee shop I ordered a 코피 [kopi - nose bleed] instead of a 커피 [keopi - coffee]. I’m sure that sometimes I still do. It is also easy to make vocabulary mistakes. In English we have two distinct words, “head” and “hair” whereas in Korea there is only the word [meori] 머리, so sometimes I make mistakes when listening to people talk about their hair or head. Therefore though it is easy for you to know what someone means when they say “머리를 자르고 싶다” [meorilul jareugo shipda - want to cut hair/head], I become very worried until I realize that they probably just want a hair cut.

However, the most difficult part of learning to speak a foreign language is not grammar or vocabulary, but self-confidence. The purpose of learning a foreign language is to communicate. In order to speak a foreign language you must feel two things. One – that you can do it. You know the vocabulary, grammar, etc. Two – that you are worth listening to, that you have interesting and important things to say. It is important to know vocabulary and grammar, however the most important thing when speaking a foreign language is your feeling of self-worth, and not being afraid to make mistakes. No matter how good your English is, if you feel that you are not worth listening to, it will hurt you more than bad grammar.

In my opinion, the best English speakers at Changpyeong High School don’t always have the highest grades – they are the ones who are confident in themselves. Because I am the foreign teacher, I know it can be intimidating to talk to me. You have to think carefully about your words, and it can be very stressful and tiring. However, even though you didn’t have to talk to me outside of class, many of you did. Some of you talked to me on the street, or in the hallways of the school, or on the bus, and for that I thank you. Thank you for telling me all of the best places to eat in Changpyeong. Thank you for explaining to how the dormitory works, and telling me stories about your roommates. Thank you for showing me pictures of your family. Thank you for telling me about your morning EBS classes, and the nightly self-study system, and how vacation days work, and other seemingly small things that help me understand Changpyeong students better. Thank you for giving me high-fives in the hallways. Thank you for sharing with me pieces of your lives – even if you think they were small or insignificant, you taught me a lot.

Have a good holiday, study hard (but not too hard), and I will see you again next semester. I’m excited to meet you again, and hear more stories.”

복사 (복숭아)

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

I’m currently at work organizing my computer and I noticed something – in my experience with my American computer, when you make a new file on a computer it says “untitled” or something along those lines. On my Korean computer, all of the new files have various fruit names – 사과 (sagwa – apple), 귤 (kyul – tangerine), 자두 (jadu – plum), and 복숭아 (boksunga – peach). This may not seem like a big deal, but when I finally realized the commonality between the file names it finally clicked -  복숭아 (boksunga – peach) is very similar to 복사 (boksa – copy). IT’S A PUN. I UNDERSTOOD A KOREAN PUN.

Korean Language Fail

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

In Korean the words for “raise” and “cut off” apparently are similar. Guess what I mistakenly said in class today when asking my students to “raise their hands?”

Travel Itinerary

Monday, December 20th, 2010

I received a lot of emails after my last blog entry so thank you for that ^^. It’s nice to know that people are reading my blog and either sympathizing or have had similar experiences. I see that class again tomorrow so we’ll see how it goes. However, it’s my last week of classes. Not even last week, really, as it’s a half week… my last teaching day is on Wednesday and then I’m off!

I’m probably only going to blog once more before I leave because I have too much to do before I leave! I have to pack, finish planning my winter camp, etc. However I feel that it’s necessary to update at least once more to give you pictures of my home, and a sampling of my travels in Korea where I’ve been because, gosh darn it, I can’t let half of my grant year slip by without posting any original pictures! That would be horrible.

So if I stop teaching on December 22nd and don’t teach until March 2nd, what am I going to be doing with my life?! Simply put – awesome things.

  • December 24th – December 27th: \I’ll be in Seoul for Christmas with my lovely fellow ETA Michelle and maybe some KEP people. We’re going to watch the Nutcracker, ice skate, eat pie (I’m so excited for pie), and just relax.
  • December 27th – January 16th: I’m flying out of Incheon Airport and going to China! I’ll be in China with fellow ETAs Felicia and Amy. Expect a fair amount of radio silence, though I’ll update my facebook/twitter sporadically with things like “I’m alive! I promise.” If you don’t have a facebook and I don’t email you regularly (i.e. you’re not a relative) and you want to get my weekly short message of alivedness just send me your email address and I’ll try to be good about contact.
  • January 17th – 21st: I have a winter camp at my school. I’m still not sure of the details. Should be fun?
  • January 22nd – whenever: I’ll be in up in the frigid north for the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival 2010 with random ETAs (but probably Megan and Corrie as our Hwacheonites, Amy and Felicia as my China travel buddies, and maybe Sam my fellow Baekje warrior)!
  • January whenever-I’m-done-with-Hwacheon - February whenever-I-want-to-go-home-and-rest-before-the-3rd: I’ll be traveling around Korea. Not sure where yet, seeing what I feel like doing.
  • February 3rd – March 1st: I’ll be doing an intense language program back in Goesan, which is where I originally did my F*bright orientation!  I’ll be studying Korean for 6 hours a day, 6 days a week along with 40 other grantees. It should be fun? Horrible, horrible, fun. The sad thing is I really do think it’ll be really really fun, but I guess I’m just a huge language geek. 화이딩!

I’m very excited about my schedule, even if it is a lot fuller than I realized. My school and homestay family have been nothing but nice to me, but I’m ready to take a break. It’ll be nice to get out of Yesan for a bit, even if I’ll be spending all of February in a place that’s practically the same, just a bit smaller. It’ll also be nice to spend some time outside of Korea. I’m sad that I won’t be going home and seeing my family/friends, but that’s life and if I had gone home I wouldn’t be able to do all these amazing things here. All of you reading this blogpost that have access to a Chipotle go to one and eat a burrito for my sake.

That being said, look for one more update then in all honesty I probably won’t update until March. Maybe once during my camp week, but don’t wait up for me. Be back in the spring! Love you all <3.

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.


  • 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.