Intrepid Girl Reporter

home where my thoughts are skipping
October 26, 2007, 11:31 am
Filed under: food, host mom, host sister, U S of A

I don’t know if there are words in English to describe how badly I want candy corn right now. Korea isn’t much for candy eating – they do, but for dessert here I mostly eat yogurt and fruit, which is fine, except for the times when I am craving the sweet salty caramelly sugary chewy crunchiness of candy corn OMGZ. I had one piece – at the conference, one of the girls had some that her mom sent her – and I almost died.

Speaking of food, I’m going to revive the food blog now that I’ve got a steady computer setup. But every day I’ve gotten home at eleven, which is why tonight I am hanging out with HM and HS, except that I have to take a nap because we’re going to the movies and otherwise I’ll fall asleep. I am the biggest loser.

ETA: In an earlier post I mentioned that I didn’t like my student body president because I saw him making fun of the special ed kids. Actually, it turns out that he IS special ed. WHERE AM I?

October 25, 2007, 6:36 am
Filed under: actual transcripts, ESL, games, life on Jeju, skool, students, teaching

Korean students (and by “Korean students,” I mean “three of the classes I’ve had so far today”) LOVE word searches. Personally, I don’t understand this. I hate word searches. I can never find any of the words, and they don’t require any sort of knowledge or skill – just brute looking-force. And as we all know, I’m far too lazy for that. But today classes 1H and 1F finished their travel posters with a good deal of time to spare, so I Googled “halloween word search” and came up with one from Ben & Jerry’s – of all places – and they were the quietest I have seen them possibly ever. 1H in particular is a headache – there are these three students who are always late, always talking, and always disrespectful, and while two of them speak decent English, one is really, really struggling. So I pay more attention to him, because I suspect that part of his acting out stems from his lack of understanding, but then it looks like I’m picking on him. I have to figure out something to hold his interest. Meanwhile, for those of you who went to My College, one of his friends looks like a certain Japan-obsessed, possible-Asian-fetish-possessing old disaster of mine. Seriously. He has the mullet and the weird cheekbones and everything.

Yesterday’s lesson went okay – I got class 2J, one of the Noise-O-Meter classes of two weeks ago, to repeat the date after me and describe the weather, which is more than they’ve ever done before. Two Truths and a Lie worked far better than I Love My Neighbor, probably because it didn’t involve them moving desks, which they clearly cannot handle. 1K, however, is quickly morphing from a class that amuses me into a class that I’d rather drive nails into my feet than see. It was in 1K that a group of students, drawing their Egypt travel poster, added breasts to their camel and labeled it “GIRL camel!”, along with a grotesque King Tut mask that was accompanied by the caption, “This pharaoh is very disgusting. ^_^” Then they asked me to: describe where the chest was on the body, go home with one of them. Periodically I would hear them shout, “Sex!”

I tried 2T&aL with 1G today and it worked fine – one of my students, it turns out, likes rice and pizza but does not like chicken, and even I believed the lie – and with 1H I just let them finish their posters and do the word search, but with 1F and 1E my students finished their posters AND the word search (overachievers), but without enough time to do the full “characteristics” lesson I had planned. As a result, I made up a lesson on the spot, switching the description focus to monsters, which went over really, really well, probably because my students feel a certain kinship with them. I wasn’t sure which second grade class I had today – because I cannot keep track of the numbers always, I tend to think of them by student, and I couldn’t remember if today was Eighties Ricki Lake or Crazy Hair. It was Crazy Hair, and while the monsters discussion wasn’t a wild success – I don’t know if there was ever a moment when everyone was paying attention – I scored a first in that I got Crazy Hair herself to participate. We worked on is/has/like sentences, as in My monster is…fat. My monster has…seven eyes. My monster likes…the dark and I got responses ranging from “My monster likes poop poop” and “My monster likes nose water” to “How do you say ‘people meat’?” These were GIRLS. I can’t wait to see what 1L, which is probably my smartest class of first graders, comes up with tomorrow.

more from English Classroom I
October 24, 2007, 3:43 am
Filed under: actual transcripts, ESL, games, skool, students, teaching

From “Two Truths and a Lie”:

I am smart

I am goblin

I am orc

Working on “I am, I have, I like” sentences today:

I have a girlfriend

I like the sense of justice

(as a set:)

I like bear

I have a bear socks

I am a bear

I thought it might be a case of mistranslation, until he drew a picture.

Trying to give up using Korean in the classroom cold turkey. It’s hard. Short Jeong, today, during “Two Truths and a Lie”: “Well, maybe they know the answer, but they do not want to raise their hand.” Suggestions, Short Jeong? I gave you games.


Give three statements about yourself. Two of them should be true and one should, uh, not be true. Have students take turns giving statements and guessing. Good for: writing, speaking (esp. because students should strive to make the lie not be obvious). Also encourages creativity.

for Park Street
October 23, 2007, 3:31 pm
Filed under: reading

I have a friend at home who loves Robert Creeley, and I never bothered to read him until now, when I am in need of a little poetry in my life.

The Rain

by Robert Creeley

All night the sound had

come back again,

and again falls

this quiet, persistent rain.

What am I to myself

that must be remembered,

insisted upon

so often? Is it

that never the ease,

even the hardness,

of rain falling

will have for me

something other than this,

something not so insistent—

am I to be locked in this

final uneasiness.

Love, if you love me,

lie next to me.

Be for me, like rain,

the getting out

of the tiredness, the fatuousness, the semi-

lust of intentional indifference.

Be wet

with a decent happiness.



For No Clear Reason

by Robert Creeley

I dreamt last night

the fright was over, that

the dust came, and then water,

and women and men, together

again, and all was quiet

in the dim moon’s light.

A paean of such patience—

laughing, laughing at me,

and the days extend over

the earth’s great cover,

grass, trees, and flower-

ing season, for no clear reason.




It’s not instant love, but still – a paean of such patience. I am making a point to read more, in general.

where the wild things are
October 23, 2007, 4:52 am
Filed under: ESL, games, miscommunication, okay seriously Korea, PCT, skool, students, teaching, the authorities

Some will win

Some will lose

Some were born to sing the blues

– Steve Perry sings about my lesson plans

My students are lurking – lurking – outside my classroom, which I am loath to leave until the bell rings and lunch is over, since my lock has mysteriously disappeared and I can’t ask any of the teachers where it is, as they’re all running around like crazed headless chickens in preparation for this gender-equality exhibition that’s being held here today. I don’t have to stay. As a matter of fact, I was told that I should not stay, because it’s all going to be in Korean, and nothing has changed significantly regarding my language skills since my last post.

I tried to move from describing places to describing ourselves today, which didn’t really work. We were supposed to play “I Love My Neighbor,” which is a lovely and affirming variant of camp favorite “The West Wind Blows,” but it didn’t work; in one of my classes I had Mr. Kang, who is lovely but who didn’t show up until halfway through, and in one I had Short Jeong, who is almost but not quite worse than having no co-teacher at all. This is proof positive that the problem isn’t in the interesting-ness of my lessons; I took Short Jeong’s advice and made them “more interesting” (who doesn’t like games? or running? or talking about themselves?), but the students didn’t KNOW, because they wouldn’t listen long enough to figure it out.

Right now I am wearing clothes that are too big for me; I’ve lost so much weight here in Korea* that I’m back to the size I was when I was sixteen, which is great, except that nothing fits. So I feel really gross. Actually, I feel like Mademoiselle Croket, my high school French teacher, who was always cranky and negative and who taught us French with a thick Midwestern accent. It was the rare Michigan dialect of French. Despite the fact that she was only in her late twenties, she always wore these really baggy and frumpy clothes, which is what I’m wearing today, as PCT called me at 7 AM and told me to dress up in case I ran into some visitor for the exhibition. So that probably contributed to my class failure today, the fact that I felt like a sack of sack sack sack. But I really need to figure out exactly how to deal with my low-level second graders; I’d like to rely on my co-teachers for discipline help, but I’m starting to think that they’re just not going to change, and that I’m going to have to do it on my own. At the workshop one of the Program extendees suggested that we learn our students’ names as a disciplinary tactic, and I think it would work – I’ve seen a change in the students whose names I’ve learned – but I can already imagine the conversation I’ll have when I try to get a photo roster of my classes:

IGR PCT, can I have a copy of the photo roster of my classes?

PCT What?

IGR You know, the paper with all the students’ photographs on it.

PCT You have.

IGR No, I just have a list of names.

PCT So you can learn from them.

IGR But that doesn’t have their pictures, so it’s much more difficult.

PCT Co-teachers, they should know students’ names.

IGR But they should not have to do all the discipline. I would like to help.

PCT In that case. There are so many students. It is very hard to learn the names. Even I have trouble. So maybe just call their numbers.

If our discussion doesn’t closely parallel that, I will be very, very surprised.

I’ll update more on the conference later, maybe. Despite the rough day, I’m still going pretty strong. Now I’m going to go watch “The Office” and take a nap before I have a dinner meeting with the teachers. Oh my.

*WHY I HAVE LOST SO MUCH WEIGHT:  I feel that today’s eating pattern is a good example. I woke up, wasn’t hungry enough to eat breakfast so early/didn’t really have time, got a bottle of 녹차 and some “chewy sesame bread” (about the size of a roll) during one of my breaks, and then took the students who won for their classes’ poster contests to get Popsicles. I ate one of those. Then I went to lunch, which was tonkatsu, which I like, but this was not good – it wasn’t pork, it was, like, pork patty. So that’s what I’ve eaten today. And later I am going out for dinner with the other teachers, where I will undoubtedly be coerced into eating lots of meat that not only has not had the fat trimmed, but actually appears to have had fat added. But that’s only one meal in the day.


This game is an excellent icebreaker, and it also works in any group discussion on tolerance, prejudice, and self-esteem.

1. Students form a circle, with one person in the middle.

2. The person in the middle says, “I love my neighbor who…[speaks two languages, loves the smell of cat food, is lactose-intolerant].”

3. Anyone to whom that characteristic applies has to run across the circle and take someone else’s spot. There will be one person left out, and they have to stand in the middle and start again.

업서요/quelqu’un m’a dit
October 18, 2007, 3:26 pm
Filed under: actual transcripts, crushes, life on Jeju

Heads up:  I’ll be in A City for A Conference with the Program for the next few days; I’m bringing my laptop so that Oregon (formerly E) can get some music and so that I can maybe connect to the Internet, depending, even though some time away from a computer would probably be a good thing. Point being that I might be MIA for a few days, not that anyone checks this every day anyway, but if you do: a) I won’t be here and b) really?

I should have mentioned in my post re: the hood rats who are my students the other day that I was spontaneously serenaded the other day by four students who were late to class. They were in 1J, of course. I do have other classes, really, and many of them are colorful and smart and funny, but it is gratifying to know that this class feels the same way about me as I do about them. And I think they do, and I think that’s why, when I made them apologize for being late, they broke out into this FT Island song, the chorus of which is “I’m sorry but I love you.” Then this kid with pink glasses and weird fifties hair came up, got on one knee, and said, “(IGR). 사랑헤요.”  Which means “I love you.”

The wind has started back on Jeju-do, and I am very happy to be able to wear long-sleeved things and not be gross and sweaty.


A. Today PCT criticized me, in front of the class, because this student who already had a ticket* was upset because I wouldn’t call on him, because, you know, he already had a ticket.

  1. Other teachers have asked me to not call on students who volunteer all the time, so everyone gets a chance
  2. The students will not take me v. seriously if they see me getting called out by another teacher
  3. Given the emphasis on “face” and the saving thereof in Korea, I can’t help but suspect that she maybe did it on purpose

B. I locked my classroom and closed the windows when I went to lunch, only to come back and find out that my students know how to jimmy the lock and BREAK IN. One of them left me an empty Popsicle wrapper accompanied by the legend “Here is my gift. Hillary <3”

  1. At least it was in correct English?

C. I’m pretty sure that my vice-principal was making fun of my walk today.

At least the weather is still beautiful and I have yoga tonight. Then pizza, because Oma got a raise. I’m really sick of Korean pizza.