Archive for the ‘newspaper’ Category

Words Words Words

Friday, January 18th, 2013

Sorry for the lack of updates, I’ve been busy preparing for my trip to Japan, my time in Seoul, and the TOPIK exam (the Test of Proficiency in Korean). The most difficult thing about the TOPIK is the sheer amount of vocabulary I’m expected to know. The listening section is alright, and I actually do okay with the grammar, but many times I’ll read a sentence and understand it, only to be told that I should substitute in a synonym for an underlined word and realize that I don’t know what any of the options mean! At that point the only thing I can do is guess.

I’ve been thinking a lot about language. In July I’ll be heading back to America (for good?) and I’m scared that I’ll lose all the Korean that I’ve gained. Though I’ve been studying for over two years, sometimes it feels like I’m getting nowhere. I’ve been reading a lot about language acquisition, and I’ve been observing my students struggle with English, and part of me wonders if I’ll ever get to “fluency,” however you define that. I read an interesting article written by Antonio Graceffo about fluency, and how many words it takes to read a newspaper, and started thinking about my own vocab level. How many words do I know?

I wasn’t always, but these days I try to be methodical when studying vocabulary. It’s too easy to “think” that you’re actually learning and retaining a word, and then realize that you can only recognize it, and not produce it. Halfway through last year I started using an awesome website called Memrise to study vocabulary, and my rate of retention skyrocketed. It’s the only program I know of where in order to get the flashcard “right” you have to actually type out the word, which is great because then I’m being tested on spelling and there’s no cheating. If I can remember the spelling, then I’ll know how to pronounce it correctly.  When you get a word right the “plant” associated with each word is “watered.” With every successful watering, you have to water that plant less, so words I get wrong are frequently shown to me, whereas very simple and easy vocabulary is brought up once every few months or so in order to refresh my memory. I highly suggest Memrise to anyone who struggles with vocabulary (be my mempal – Memrise friend- I’m AnnPotski!).

Anyway, in the article Graceffo takes eight different articles from the New York Times online and through what seemed to be a painstakingly painful process counted all of the unique words (counting conjugated forms as separate words, so word would be counted once, and words would be counted separately). Apparently to read the New York Times you should have a vocabulary of approximately 4,000 words. Holy mackerel. After reading that, I headed over to Memrise to see how I was doing.



Considering that not all of the words I know are actually on Memrise, I have a vocab of at least 1,000, probably closer to 2,000. Slowly but surely, I’m getting there. Time to go water some plants.

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.

The Storm Continues to Rage

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Melodramatic title aside, remember how yesterday I said I was more worried about walking in the rain and less worried about my windows? Well now I’m more worried about my windows.

Last night I spent a good hour stormproofing my apartment. The Korean government suggests spraying newspaper with water, then sticking it to the windows. I did that for a bit, until I ran out of newspaper (I have a lot of gigantic windows… which normally is a good thing) and then I put Xs on the remaining windows with tape. As of 8 this morning, which is when I left for school, everything’s still intact, though some water has gotten in and is now puddling at the base of my windows, but that normally happens when it rains.

[My newspapered windows. Every time I look at this I feel like one of those people in detective movies who put up newspaper clippings and over time it takes over their whole room. I kind of want to start taking string and attaching it to random words in the various articles and stare at it while muttering BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!]

This morning I realized I was woefully unprepared for a jaunt in the rain, so I put on flipflops (no sense in getting good shoes wet) and a skirt (no sense in getting pant cuffs wet), wrapped my teaching bag in a plastic bag, grabbed my umbrella and left. I got halfway to school before another teacher saw me, took pity on me, and picked me up. The wind was blowing so hard that I had to put my umbrella directly in front of me, like a lance, and I couldn’t see a thing, and it still managed to turn my umbrella inside out. One of the trees on our campus fell down and is currently blocking the parking lot. This whole situation is ridiculous. The storm is right on us now, and with any luck in a few hours it’ll start clearing.

[This is the biggest typhoon Korea's seen in over a decade, and we're getting it by way of Japan. It must have hit them much harder than it's currently hitting us. The arrows denote where I am on this map.]



Well, all we can really do is keep calm and carry on. Hopefully the only typhoon updates I’ll have later in the day will be about how the typhoon  has moved on, and there’s a gorgeous double rainbow.

Newspaper Article

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Only one more blogpost today, I promise. However I’ll be traveling tomorrow through Monday because of midterms, so just think of this as your payment for those long cold days with no updates.

I wrote an introduction about myself for the school newspaper, and my rockstar co-teacher helped me recruit (i.e. saw students in line for the ATM and dragged them over) students for a picture. They look so thrilled. The newspaper was published today, so here is my introduction!

“Introduction to Changpyeong High School – Emily Potosky

I came to Korea in the fall of 2010 as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant, a program that promotes intercultural exchange through teaching, with the intention of staying for only one year. However through my experiences living with a homestay family, traveling all over Korea, studying Korean, and most of all teaching my students, I realized that I was not ready to leave. I enjoy both being a teacher and being a student too much, so I decided to stay in Korea for one more year. I had heard from Ms. Sicat about how amazing Changpyeong High School was, and thus applied to teach here.

Last year I taught at Sapgyo High School, in Yesan county, South Chungcheong Province. That was my first introduction to Korean high school students. I am very impressed by the work ethic of the average Korean student, and after finishing two weeks at Changpyeong High School, I am especially impressed by the caliber of the students and faculty here. Even after such a short amount of time, just by observing the students and the teachers I can tell that Changpyeong High School takes education very seriously. I am honored and excited to spend this year as part of a faculty that puts so much effort and enthusiasm into quality teaching, because education is not only a means for improving job prospects, but it is also a means of improving yourself. I believe that all foreign language study, not just English and certainly not just American English, is important, because it is one of the best ways to learn about other cultures and other people.

As a teacher and a fellow foreign language learner I strive for communicative competence. Communicative competence can be loosely defined as the ability to communicate through knowledge of grammar as well as knowing the appropriate time to use certain utterances. It is impossible to learn a language just by memorizing phrases and grammar points – you also need to know when to use them! It is both possible to say something grammatically correct but completely contextually wrong, and to say something grammatically incorrect but nevertheless understood and appropriate for the situation. My goal as the native English teacher is to impart contextual knowledge to the best of my abilities, because I believe that it is more important to be understood than to be grammatically correct.

I am incredibly excited to get to know all of you. So please, I invite you to come practice speaking English with me outside of the classroom whenever you have the time. I am sure that I will learn a lot from you this year.”