Intrepid Girl Reporter

Monday, 6/16: threeve

It’s no great insight to note that the music of Elliott Smith is better suited for rainy bus rides and other rain-based activities than anything else. Getting to listen to him again was the only boon of today’s miserable and uncertain weather, which, like the past few days, has been ideal mopey folk weather and not ideal for anything else.

I’ve been listening to “From A Basement On A Hill” more in the past two days than I have since my sophomore year of college. Perversely, this is a sign of good mental health; when I’m actually sad, I want to listen to something that has no emotion to it whatsoever. The cold comfort of the inbetween, indeed. Which is a phrase that could just as easily apply to my imminent departure and my persistent lack of job offers.

Saturday the weather was the same, and I went with HM and her posse of Man Friends to 추자도, which is halfway between here and Jeollanam-do. It was lovely in a Wales-ish sort of way, as our affection for it was necessarily masked by the freezing mist that continually surrounded us. A list of things that Omma forgot to tell me to bring: $20 for the ferry, closed-toed shoes, a jacket, my passport, anti-nausea medicine for the second-worst ferry ride of my life. I discovered this when we got to the ferry terminal and three different Man Friends came up to me and said, “Why are you wearing slippers?” and, when I told them that I had worn them with HM’s blessing, turned to her and said, “Why did you let her wear slippers?”

Yesterday was better, with yogurt eaten in a park with Oregon and Arkansas. And today would have been fine, except that the Konglish Jeopardy lesson leaves me with the feeling I thought I’d shaken, that of being a beleaguered Will Ferrell trying constantly to keep up with Sean Connery’s moronic antics. Unfortunately, the test used to split the first graders into levels was too easy, and as a result, there are maybe five to ten advanced kids in each low-level class, and some really, really slow kids in the high classes. Nonetheless, my low-levels are pretty reliably slow, and on more than one occasion I found myself intoning into the microphone, “Do you understand? Does anyone understand? …Anyone?”

My day improved, however, with the viewing of “Forever the Moment,” a totally inspiring movie about the Korean Olympic women’s handball team. Are you still listening? Good. This movie combines the best of the inspirational sports-movie genre with uniquely Korean issues.

A few examples:

TEAM OFFICIAL, FIRING FEMALE COACH Why didn’t you tell us…that you were DIVORCED?



OLDER MAN: How can you be so insolent!


Interestingly enough, whenever I ask ACT about a problem kid’s family, she looks around and goes, “Well, you know, his parents are divorced,” like that explains everything.* Bear in mind that ACT is no Puritan. As previously mentioned, I’m pretty sure she’s a registered Socialist. I always have to look really serious and nod and resist the urge to point out that in America, that’s usually only the beginning.  


*A little bit of context: Because divorce is so stigmatized here, I suppose it’s possible that usually when people get divorced here, it means that things are REALLY bad. I’m not sure how that applies on Jeju, however, where the divorce rate is well above the national average.

Thursday, 6/12: at the rock show

Class notes had to come back eventually. Unfortunately, I stopped taking them for a while, which is why you were deprived. No fear.


2A – Infinite Classroom Challenge

  • not perfect but did want to perform
  • a ton of girls with pinkeye…ew
  • can’t remember who won
  • unusually good perormance from…that girl in the front
  • Twin A is in this class, Twin B is in 2E (don’t forget)
  • don’t mix up Baek Mi Young and Baek Ji Young (dammit Korea)

1K – Konglish Jeopardy

  • had to do jeopardy instead of Muhan Dojeon because computer doesn’t play sound
  • noisy as all hell
  • got really into Jeopardy
  • keep insisting that poor IGR 1 is my boyfriend…if they only knew

After stupid teacher conversation thing I have to go to the opposite side of town to see HD’s stone exhibition. To be fair, I don’t really have anything else to do, since the stupid AmeriCorps application still won’t work – it is now telling me that my account is locked after too many invalid attempts (zero) to log on. I obviously cannot just give up on finding a job, but this (lack of) response is incredibly discouraging.

EDIT: I never made it to the rocks. I went out for ice cream, galbitang, and an avocado-cheddar BLT (all within three hours) and played Scrabble with Africa. But while I have your attention, let me provide you with a few old student haiku.

First, we have a few meditations on seasons, with the way they reflect on our own (and our friends’) lives.

There is the cool wind
There is the beautiful scene
So I like fall best

I like spring so much
Spring is warm enough to play
But, I do not play.

I like winter best
We can play snowball fight too!
Oh Ji Seok likes too

Spring is very warm
At spring are enjoy PC room control board
We are crazy

Reflections on love and its vagaries:

I love MC Mong
His face is very lovely and cute
But he have a girlfriend

I am handsome boy
I had girlfriend yesterday
Now I don’t have her

Love return give me
But we are loving with our
Love is beautiful

Paeans to favorite foods.

I like egg fry best
Because that is delicious
I very like egg

Envy for coteachers:

(Co-Teacher F) has much money
His salary is getting bigger and bigger
Now his salary is .6 billion

Descriptions of students’ selves and others:

I am smart and cute
Also I am wonderful
But this tall a lie

I am bad boy
I don’t have any money
But, respect me ha!

I am a good boy
Many people respect me
I am a cool boy

He likes a crain
He wants be crain driver
He loves a crain [ed. note: accompanied by illustrations of construction equipment]

Within this category, there is a very special subset devoted entirely to my student Monkey. Monkey’s name, I may as well tell you now (realistically, in Korea, this is not going to help you identify me at all), is Man Ki. Now you understand. I actually have a few more of these at school, so I’ll try to find and post them tomorrow.

Man Ki is psycho
Man Ki always see (?) bad things
So Man Ki is short

Man Ki is short
But Man Ki is cut(e)
Man Ki is crazy
and Man Ki always show the sexual video.

And, of course, the metahaiku.

It’s so difficult
I don’t do it either (?)
It’s a haiku [ed. note: the author of this poem is named Yoo Seok]

Sunday, 6/1: teach them well, let them lead the way

Would you believe me if I told you that I’m so excited about the prospect of MSYDP that I actually can’t sleep? How on Earth could it be possible to love something that has apparently sucked all of the life force out of my limp, exhausted body? Would you buy that I’m almost delirious thinking about it?

Well, BELIEVE IT, suckers.

I’m not even joking about this. This program – which at times I have believed to actually be sucking the blood out of my body – is coming up in two days and we are on a roll. Except for Scooter, who is convinced that his kids have no idea what’s going on. The rest of us have seen the future, and its name is MSYDP. Hallim met with her team today and apparently they solved Japan’s energy problems. I love this.*

Other noteworthy things that have happened this week:

  1. Started emailing with three of my favorite girls, all of whom are friends and in the same class. They’re wildly enthusiastic about everything and super funny. I almost feel this sense of relief, too, because I’ve been wanting to have contact with my kids all year, but most of them haven’t seemed comfortable talking to me outside of class until now. Which makes me sad, obviously, because The Other Kids In The Program get lots of outside time, and I’m not sure why my kids are only comfortable with me now, but I’ll take what I can get.
  2. One of those girls actually likes Jeff Buckley. She also actively blogs and likes Korean punk music. I think she might be the only one in this school of 1500 that falls under these categories. I feel like I did when I was teaching at Summerbridge and I met Amara, the only camper who wasn’t a Rihanna fan. (This is also “Besame Mucho”/sloth girl.)
  3. I wish I could write in more detail about my students, for writing purposes, but this blog is supposed to be anonymous and I’m still trying to figure out how to balance detail and anonymity.
  4. Went to a festival with Soccer and two Book Club girls. (Note: Also found out that one of my favorite boy students is widely perceived to be arrogant and unkind. Whatever. I still like him. Also, he has never behaved that way towards me, which is more than I can say for a lot of my other students.)
  5. Saw some B-Boys and like ten more of my students at aforementioned festival.
  6. Saw “Iron Man” again with HB and HBBFF and another HB Friend.
  7. Someone told me the desks had been changed in one of my classrooms and Monkey started singing “Changes” by David Bowie.
  8. Rediscovered the Pretenders and “Back on the Chain Gang.”
  9. During “Would You Rather” lesson, offered Korea winning World Cup vs. Japan giving up Dokdo. CTF was like, “But that’s not a valid question, because Dokdo belongs to Korea.” I responded that I agreed, but that Japan continued to claim Dokdo. To which he told me, “Well, that’s kind of like China and Tibet. Maybe soon an earthquake will hit Japan, just like it hit China.” Open Response Question of the Day: readers, how would you have responded?

*So when I was at this festival on Saturday, as I mentioned, I was with one of my girls from Book Club who goes to My School and who is incredibly smart and pretty and sweet and also really shy and doesn’t have that many friends. The girls I ran into are good students for me – participatory, skilled at English – but also widely perceived to be running with The Wrong Crowd, i.e. the crowd that wears too much eyeliner and dates older boys. That crowd. At the time, I was torn between hanging out with my book club student, whom I wanted to know was respected and valued despite her lack of social success in the middle school arena, and these other girls, whom I wanted to sort of watch over and encourage to at least keep studying. Which is sort of the dilemma I face with my intense joy re: the MSYDP kids. They’re brilliant. I love working with them. I see them doing incredible things. But then I’m like, these kids don’t need me. And my elation at working with these kids is definitely equaled by the excitement I get when I actually engage some kid’s attention who doesn’t usually care. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I wish I had more time in the day to hang out with all of my kids.

Wednesday, 5/28: and perhaps more importantly

1. Shin Jung Hyeon

2. Would You Rather lesson plan (note: this has been quite successful)

3. Would You Rather ppt

4. Would You Rather wksht

5. Scenes from a Restaurant lesson (also v. successful, but don’t bother giving your students food unless they are not ungrateful little hoodlums like mine)

6. Scenes from a Restaurant ppt

7. Scenes from a Restaurant video (feat. Grover as a waiter with a giant hamburger; hilarity ensues)

And since I’m mentioning the Restaurant lesson and the lessons in general, allow me to make a couple of points:

a) I used the menus from Ramsey’s, which is a fine establishment that you should make it a point to visit should you ever find yourself in Lexington, KY. I’ve only ever been to the one on High Street, but I can wholeheartedly recommend their Hot Brown and anything involving white gravy, as well as the pie, which is not on there but is worth making a trip for on its own. I prefer the mixed berry, but one of the Good Brown Daughters (with whom I usually go) says that there’s nothing but the brownie pie for her. Also, these menus are good for ESL classes, as they have a lot of food that students will imagine as stereotypically “American” while including some regional stuff. Also, fairly simple.

b) If you use these lessons and I don’t know you, please do leave me a comment telling me how you liked them. I’ve been bad about responding in the past, partly because I’m still foggy on a few of WordPress’s technicalities (for example, will you be notified if I respond?) but I really do like hearing from people who use these. I will start responding to comments. I promise.

Tuesday, 4/9: syllabillables
April 8, 2008, 1:02 pm
Filed under: ESL, games, lesson plans, skool, teaching


Here’s the previously discussed syllables lesson.

And here’s the PowerPoint (not mine), the worksheet and its key.


The lesson plan.

The PowerPoint and worksheet

The YouTube video (in case the ppt embed doesn’t work)

This lesson is popular beyond all reason. For smarter kids, maybe add an insult lesson, because they’ll be insulting each other anyway.

Sunday, 3/30: The Price is Right/I Wish…
March 30, 2008, 6:18 am
Filed under: ESL, lesson plans

Here, for your teaching pleasure:

Lesson 3 – The Price is Right! (lesson plan) 

Lesson 3 – The Price is Right! (PowerPoint) 

Lesson 4 – I Wish (all, incl. song)

Now in the archives as well. Enjoy.

Friday, 3/7: in the octobus’s garden
March 7, 2008, 4:01 am
Filed under: actual transcripts, ESL, games, looks like, skool, students, teaching

Q: If you could be any animal, what would you be?

A: Octobus

– student 

Things I am already in trouble for, as of 9:02 AM:

  • wearing a skirt that is too casual
  • spilling water on said skirt
  • not wearing socks

2L – Guess Who?

  • I Want A Woman With A Kind Heart (we’ll call him Kind Heart), Danny*, that kid who looks like a teddy bear, the one who was too cool for 1-11, one of the sweet kids from 1-11 who looked alike (was he the one who cried?)
  • ❤ ❤ ❤
  • kids in back too chaotic, so maybe next time pass out papers when they’re still sitting down

2-I – Guess Who?

  • smart but too loud/verging on obnoxious
  • good: Monkey!*, Dwight Shrute*, my favorite kid from last year’s Tuesday classes
  • not so good: the kid with the crush on me (“Channing,”)*, Smartass, Smartass Accomplice, Tiny Tim*, the other lookalike kid from 1-11, TWO of my Thursday Nightmare Trifecta kids*
  • at Visiting CT (we’ll call him Co-Teacher F)’s suggestion, I just read the cards, and the kids liked it fine

2-E – Guess Who?

  • watch some girls – maybe more advanced than previously suspected?
  • The Cutest Student Ever and The Other Cutest Student Ever (who got a Magic Stick straight perm that makes her look like some sort of Beatle)
  • that girl who looks like Miguk Sister
  • the girl who said she was looking for a man as attractive as a teddy bear in her personal ad
  • pretty quiet but not dumb

It is impossible to eat chop chae bap, which is noodles and rice. Aside from the fact that it’s a double carb load, neither spoon nor chopsticks can be used successfully.

I should add at this point that PCT is GONE, which makes my life a lot easier. I will continue to refer to ACT by her given pseudonym, and the rest of the co-teachers will be Co-teachers B through F.


Danny, Monkey and Channing all have names that sound like their pseudonyms, and each of them resembles their name – i.e. Danny looks like a Danny, Channing looks like a Channing, and Monkey…well, a really smart-alecky funny one, but a monkey nonetheless.

Tiny Tim is at least six inches shorter than everyone else and used to hobble around on a wooden crutch.

Dwight Shrute looks like Dwight Shrute.

The Thursday Nightmare Trifecta Kids are the ones who were friends with Min Ho, except that, unlike Min Ho, they’re really good at English, which means that they tended to get less attention for their antics. No more.