Monday 14th May
I woke up this morning feeling very tired. I had my first Korean language class last night, which went very well, and then I went for a late tea of super tasty Haejangguk 해장국, or as we call it 'Spinebone Soup', with a guy called Paul. He has just moved out to Hogye from the UK, so we had a big chat about how I thought things were out here, any tips etc, so it was about 11.30pm by the time I got into bed. As I’m a public school teacher, I have to be at work for 8.30am. I usually get up between 7.20-7.30am, and I’m out the door by 8am on the dot or I’ll be late. I cycle to school most days, so the bike ride takes me about 18mins (14mins is my personal best lol), so I’m usually in bed by 10.30pm to be up in the morning – what can I say, I like my sleep lol. I know it’s only an hour difference, but going to bed that little bit later last night has made a world of difference on my mood this morning. The weather forecast today said rain, so I decided not to cycle today. Instead I took a taxi, because I wasn’t ready in time to catch the bus. The taxi driver took me a slightly longer way around to school which kind of put me in a grump, because it only left me with 5 minutes to prepare for class; although, to be fair, it was more my fault than his for not setting off earlier! My first class is 2-6 girls’ class (Grade 2, Class 6). They are a good bunch of students, but first class on a Monday morning is always the hardest!
The students went to on vacation for 3 days last week and, from what they told me, they did a lot of hiking, so I had a lot of “Teacher, I’m so tired” comments this morning. This week my Grade 2 students are revising adjectives for describing people. First, I spent a few minutes explaining what adjectives are, then we talked about the kinds of words they can use, and then I wrote them on the board under different categories like face, skin, weight, height etc. I told them what order they have to go in, and which ones to try to avoid in order not to offend anyone, for example calling someone ‘fat’. Second, we did a listening exercise. I couldn’t find a decent one online, so I made my own based on Fiona from Shrek (a visual aid is always good too so I threw in a picture). I read the passage aloud, and they had to pick out the adjectives. I then showed them the answers on the PPT. I always make a PPT for my classes as some students either struggle with my accent, despite my best efforts, or some are more visual in the way they learn. PPTs are always good to have, because if a student can’t understand you they can still know the gist of the lesson by reading what’s on the screen. All classrooms at my school have a huge TV and HDMI cable to plug into my laptop, as well as an internet cable. After the listening exercise, I then had them work in pairs for about 10-15 minutes. They had to describe their partner and draw their picture – the picture part is not really necessary, but adding something fun to an activity definitely improves their concentration! Whilst they're working me and my co-teacher work around the room to check that they've understood and are doing it right, and translating any words they want to know into English. After they had finished, I asked for two volunteers to read out their descriptions to the class. At my school, students can earn plus points (상점 1점 부여) for good work. If they get 20+ plus points in a month, they win prizes. If they get 30+ negative points, they lose their free time and have to do duties, like lunchtime monitoring etc, so they will do almost anything for the plus points. Two pairs of girls volunteered to read theirs aloud – they were very funny! I had a few minutes left at the end so tried to play a game of Last Man Standing. In this game, the students all have to stand up. I throw a soft toy to one student and give them an adjective like ‘curly’; then they have to say a noun to go with it like ‘hair’. Then they pick the adjective (all are written on the board and on the handout I gave them too) and throw it to a friend who has to say the noun. If they can’t think of a word, they have to sit down. The “last man standing” is the winner. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to play properly but it filled the last few minutes a treat and is a bit of extra practice! The next class is group 2-1, a mixed group. Again the class went very well, the students seemed to like the activity and were very good at shouting out words to describe people. I had two girls volunteer, both with very impressive drawings! Then I picked on the four boys who sit at the back of class to read theirs aloud, they were very reluctant to get involved even though their answers were very good. I always walk around the classroom and help them/read them whilst they are working, that way I can work one-to-one with those that are a little stuck but don’t want to ask for help. In this class we didn’t get time to play the game at the end, but it was ok because it’s only really a back-up for if I have a few spare minutes anyway. For each class I always try to get at least two different activities in, followed by a game of some sort. It always depends on the class though; if the class is quite active I can usually get all three in, but if they’re quite tired or not very motivated I can only get the two activities in. The activities are the main thing though. By now it’s 10.30am, so I have a free period. In that time I started writing this blog, but was interrupted by Mr Im. He’s a Math teacher who is trying to learn English. Unfortunately I don’t have my non-English teachers’ class anymore (where I taught my fellow teachers English), it got replaced with Culture Club where we learn about different countries around the world and I get to show off some of my travel pics J haha! Mr Im is hilarious! I gave him my Korean-English phrasebook along with a dictionary. Every day he comes to my desk and we have a short conversation about whatever he has learnt. He’s doing very well to say he’s pretty much self-taught. Sometimes he will let me reply, but usually he panics and says “Oh I have to go, I’m busy!” and runs away. He is getting good though!!! :D
By fourth period (11.30am) I am starving, but I have one more class before lunch. This time it’s 2-9/10+. This is again a girls class but they are an advanced class so are much chattier. Altogether I have 4 advanced classes in Grade 2. In all honesty, their English is not much better than all the other classes. Their vocabulary is much broader but they still struggle with the grammar. The only benefit of the advanced classes is that they are much more willing to talk. Again the class went very well. I didn’t need to help them with their sentences as much, just a little input on 'articles' which they struggle with. This class also came up with a lot more vocab for the lists than the others, they had words like ‘petite’ ‘athletic’ and ‘curvaceous’. Again we didn’t have time for the game, but I did manage to get some volunteers to read out aloud. One girl described her friend as ‘ugly’ which caused a bit of a ruckus hahaha!
Finally it’s lunchtime!! I am ravenous at this point!! I have my lunch at school (which is deducted from my wage) which I love because I get a hot meal, and I don’t have to decided what to eat in the morning – it also means I have more time in bed haha! Today’s menu (which the students kindly translated into English for me) is “germinated brown rice, sea-mustard stew with beef, hard-boiled chicken ribs, stir-fried shrimp and pumpkin, and napa cabbage kimchi”. Sounds like a lot right!! You get three small servings (kimchi, pumpkin/shrimp and chicken ribs) and two larger servings (rice and stew). I didn’t eat much today – I didn’t eat the stew because I don’t like fish and the stew tasted very fishy oddly (why does seaweed taste fishy!!!?), the chicken was very spicy so I ate as much as I could bare, and the pumpkin was actually courgette which I ate but I didn’t eat the shrimp (yuck!) so I filled up on rice pretty much. Not bad though, I was still full! By then it was 12.50pm, so I had to quickly find the riddle for the day. Again, students can win plus points if they get the right answer. I have one poster on each floor where I write it; the first student to come to me with the correct answer wins, and gets to write their name on the poster. Today’s riddle is “I see without seeing,. To me, darkness is as clear as daylight. What am I?”. For the rest of lunch I have a quick nosey on Facebook.
By the time the bell for the afternoon has rung at 1.30pm someone has solved the riddle already! A girl called Bae Yun-Gyoung from Grade 2. The answer was a bat. Very well done!
This afternoon I only have one class and then two hours of desk-warming. My afternoon class is straight after lunch with class 1-4 (Grade 1, Class 4) and is an all boys class. At first I hated by all boys classes as they are much harder to motivate but I find that any mention of football or Park Ji-Sung gets them going. This class is on ‘Manners’. My grade 1 students are about 6 weeks behind my Grade 2 students. They all have the same lesson, but because I see my Grade 2 students every week and my Grade 1 students every fortnight, my Grade 2 classes are much further ahead. The only difference between the levels is that with my Grade 1 classes the work is easier as they are slightly lower level. So in this class, we started out by watching a video on YouTube about good and bad manners. There are lots of Disney clips in there which they all love! After the video I ask tell them about some common good and bad manners we have in the UK. The boys love it when I tell them it’s rude to burp or fart in public or loudly in front of others. They love anything gross or disgusting haha! Then I put them into pairs and have them come up with some good and bad manners in Korea that they can teach me. But no-one has any paper to write on so I have to run back to my office to get some scrap paper which delays the class for a bit :( They are very funny in this class. They tell me about some table manners like elders should eat first, pour or receive with two hands etc, all of which I know from experience. Then they come out with some funny ones, like “it’s rude to make your girlfriend stand on the bus when you are sitting”, “it’s polite to hold your girlfriend’s bag when she goes to the toilet”, “it’s rude to speak or write Korean in English class because Jennifer teacher doesn’t understand”, “it’s rude to interrupt or talk over Jennifer teacher” and “we should bow to Jennifer teacher when she comes to class”….awww I love this class, they’re so polite haha! Unfortunately we didn’t have time for a game as the bell rang, but they did really well so it’s ok. Again all the boys that gave me answers got plus points.
For the rest of the afternoon (2.30-4.30pm) I had no classes so I spent about 30mins with Mr Im. I had given him some work sheets to do on the present simple and continuous tense last week. We sat down together and I marked them and explained the ones he had got wrong. To say he did the sheet all by himself he did very well, only 2 or 3 were wrong. So I gave him another two sheets (with the explanations of it as well) to do. This time I went through them with him as he got a little confused with the –s at the end of certain verbs, and why ‘make’ changes to ‘making’ and not ‘makeing’. That left me with about 1.5 hours in which I carried on writing this post haha. I’m sure there was something more productive I could have done, but you guys sooo need to know what I get up to that it took precedent over lesson planning :P (procrastinating I think).
So, once the bell rang I was outtaaa there! It took me 14 minutes to cycle home (mostly downhill, yesss!) by which time I was hungry again. I had had every intention of going for a run (I felt like I had some energy to burn), but I was so hungry there was no way I could wait until afterwards, so I gave in and chilled out instead. I watched a little bit of TV, but the movie channels out here show all the same rubbish films over and over (see my "A few things I don't like about Korea" blog). So, instead, I decided to clean my apartment :/ Now if you ask anyone in Hogye who has the cleanest apartment, I am under no illusion that my name will come up! I’m not OCD or anything; I don’t maniacally scrub skirting boards or wash windows, tish! I just sweep up, or clean the bathroom, or do the dishes etc purely out of BOREDOM!! I get bored of TV and if no-one’s about to occupy my attention, I clean. I don’t enjoy it, although there is some sense of satisfaction when I’m done, it’s just something to do to pass the time haha! AND to be fair I hadn’t tidied up in about 2 weeks so it needed doing :)
After I had eaten and done said cleaning it was about 8.30pm. My internet hadn’t been working, because last week I had to take my own laptop to school whilst my work one was being fixed. The IT man at school had done something to the settings on MY computer so that it would connect to the school’s system, but now wasn’t connecting to mine grrr! Thankfully, my trusty neighbour, and fellow teacher, Silas came to my rescue and had it up and running in no time :) I had then intended to Skype my mum (Skyping is my second favourite thing to cleaning haha) back home, or failing that my sister in Oz, but me and Silas got to chatting so by the time he left it was around 9.30pm and they had gone offline :( so I had a shower and then went to bed. A pretty uneventful evening really but we can’t be fantastically entertaining all the time can we haha! Besides, I’m saving myself for the weekend anyway; I have a jam-packed weekend so probably best to get my beauty sleep! Friday I’m meeting my old co-teacher for dinner and then I’m going to my friend’s flat-warming party. Saturday I’m spending the day and night in Daegu on a girls day/night out. Sunday I will no doubt be recovering, and then I have Korean class in the evening, and then I have a Skype date with my best friend. No rest for the wicked, except on Monday’s hehe!