Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Teaching EFL--Sometimes It IS All Fun and Games

Being a teacher is definitely not the easiest gig in the world. Now that I have a little experience under my belt and finally feel like I (sort of) know what I'm doing, I realize that I am growing to love it. To be honest, I didn't really see myself teaching children. Ever. The goal was to teach at a college, not an elementary school. But kids are sweet, and goofy, and excited, and more intelligent than I expected.

But would a picture like this one ever happen if I were teaching at the college level?

And would it escalate to this?

I'm not entirely sure how all this started, but my class apparently wanted to see what they would look like with a mustache.

Or maybe a goatee.

And maybe eyebrows so thick they covered their eyelids.

Or maybe a big black spot.

No matter the origin, I'm glad that this happened. 

I did feel a little bad for letting it get to this point because when I made them take the tape off and get back to work, it was a teensy bit painful for them. 

Their yelps and giggles were utterly priceless, though.

And if you're worried that the kid in the background of the above picture is eating glue, don't worry, he's not! He just likes holding it during class.

If I worked somewhere else, would the students make super-sweet origami paper claws for their teacher?

Would teachers at the school cook super delicious buchimgae (also known as jeon) for their coworkers?

If you're not familiar with this dish, it is a very thin, savory pancake. It's kind of a pancake with a lot of vegetables (including kimchi) mixed in. This particular one has seafood as well, with squid being the white, sucker-covered parts you can see in this particular picture.

This picture is one of my favorites. My coworker, Charles, had been feeling sick all day. He was a true champ and stayed at work even though he felt awful. Our Korean coworkers tried to help him out with Korean methods of healing.

They hit him on the back, and then tried to push the bad feelings down his arms. Apparently it made for a pretty decent massage, but then they stuck needles in his thumbs. The blood that came out was black, which they said meant there was something bad in his stomach (which was true). 

This is the reaction shot after they stabbed his thumbs and he almost cried... So much joy in poor Charles's pain.

If I worked at a different school, would I have silly students that thought the key differences between girls and boys were those listed in this picture?

Or draw pictures of sad cats surrounded by ddong?

Or books that feature ridiculous pictures of kids that are meant to try to convey extreme emotions?

Sometimes teaching can be frustrating,
the kids can be crazy and over-energetic,
and I still have so much to learn,
but I wouldn't trade it for anything at this juncture.
Even if I sometimes do feel like an animal in the zoo, sitting at my desk with the kids pressing their noses up to the plate glass window like they are in the picture to the left.


Korea is always absolutely gorgeous, but it is exceptionally so during spring time. Cherry trees are everywhere--on the side of every street, in the parks, or  standing sadly in solitary confinement in a square of dirt in surrounded by cement. There are countless festivals that occur just to admire the beauty of these trees, but they do not have a completely spotless history in South Korea.

For some, especially those of older generations, some cherry trees serve as painful reminders of Japanese occupation during World War II. The Japanese imported many of their own cherry trees and planted them throughout the country. Cherry trees are also native to Korea, so there can sometimes be confusion as to the differences between the Japanese cherry blossoms that were cultivated during the war and those that are indigenous to the country. Japan apparently planted some cherry trees on sacred and offensive places at Gyeongbuk Palace (in Seoul), which were cut down and replaced with authentic Korean cherry trees on the fiftieth anniversary of Japanese surrender during World War II.

It has been growing warmer and more beautiful every day, and all of the trees and shrubs that could possibly flower have started blooming. The following is just a bunch of pictures I've taken in the neighborhoods of Byeongjeom and Dongtan. Enjoy!