language

Dear Korea #141: Gyopo Problems

While I didn’t post this in the morning, the important part is that I posted it on the right day! Yay!

For anyone who may be curious, the writing on the kid’s arm says 방구, which translates to “fart”.

As much as I wish I could say this really happened, I was too much of a wuss, even if literally no one else in my school could read any Korean. That being said, due to the high demand for me to draw marker-based temporary tattoos, there were many children running around with very badly written Korean characters on their hands and arms. When they insisted that I write things in Chinese, I just drew in a bunch of random lines to appease the masses. It’s probably for the best that I never went into the tattoo business.


Dear Korea #136

I feel like this is one of those situations that many of us with immigrant parents experienced, but it may just be how things were where I grew up. As a child, I actually didn’t understand why my mother would get frustrated when people felt the need to compliment me on my ability to speak English (both in America and Korea), even after she had told people that I was born and raised in Texas. I always assumed that everyone was just being extra nice, even if I had to deal with things like automatically being placed in ESL classes simply because of how I looked. Even now, it doesn’t really bother me as much as it bothers other people I know, though it is a little awkward to remind some of my friends’ parents and grandparents that I’m a legal American citizen every time I see them. I can only imagine what the opposite scenario is like for those who were born and/or raised in Korea..


Dear Korea #134: They're Catching On

I  just realized I made two strips related to language barriers in a row. Oops. Oh well, it’s too late to do anything about it now.


Dear Korea #133: I Don't Know You

Though how long it takes ranges from person to person, it seems as if the issue presented in this comic is one that affects very obvious looking expats at one point or another. As someone who doesn’t look too different from the locals, I’ve been lucky enough to not have experienced this myself, though I see it happening to my friends on a regular basis. While I can’t speak for anyone else, from what I’ve gathered, most of the people I know generally don’t mind having a conversation with strangers who want to practice some of the English they’ve learned. Heck, considering how most of them are teachers, this is kind of a good thing. That being said, there is a time and a place, and a forced dialogue in the middle of dinner or a date is apparently not ideal.


Blackout Poetry (Part 1)

This week I did a lesson on blackout poetry with my intermediate level high school students! Normally the project is done with texts from newspapers, magazines or novels, but I was worried about the vocabulary being too broad/out of reach. I wanted my students to focus on having fun, being creative, and playing with the language, rather than looking up/learning new words. So instead, I typed up a batch of their weekly English essays, omitted the names, and returned them for use with this assignment! Not only did this assure that the vocabulary was appropriate, it also made the assignment more personal and interesting!


How is a gear shift like a grammar point?

Next month, I will buy my first car. While this is an exciting and very grownup-feeling thing to do, it's also a bit terrifying, for a variety of reasons. Not only will this be the most money I've ever spent in one go, but my future 2005 Chevy Kalos has...a manual transmission.

So, I recently started learning to drive stick. We started simple, in one of the few traditional student driver locations: a semi-abandoned parking lot.  On the way there the friend I'm buying the car from gave me the basic walk-through. This is the clutch, this is when you should shift, that's the noise you don't want to hear, etc. I'd also been given plenty of advice from friends and family, so I felt...entirely unprepared and marginally terrified. 

Teaching Language Means Teaching Culture; Or, Teaching Away from a Pudding-Normative Society

Brief note: Back in 2012, during my final year of university, I took a class on literacy in the US that really broadened my mind. For my final project I researched the ways that language and culture interact in the ELL classroom, and since I feel like I actually made some good points, here it is, slightly edited for your reading pleasure.

Weekly Quote Collection 2: Questionable Advice

While teaching advice, we had a few gems.



Problem: I don't have any friends.


Suggestions:

"You should make boyfriend!"

"Well, how can I meet him?"

"PC bang!"

Okay kids. I'll just hang around the PC bangs until I meet my Prince Charming.



Problem: I'm going to meet SHINee.


"You should bring your soul."

"You shouldn't say ugly. You should say handsome!"

These ones I actually quite liked. How could I not bring my soul if I were to meet SHINee?



The other thing I'm teaching this week is "which do you prefer" and after one day it's already been great.


"Which do you prefer, eating or sleeping?"

"I prefer eating, because my mouth wants."

Then I asked the same student again: "Which do you prefer, singing or dancing?"

"I prefer singing, because...my mouth wants."

One Year Later

The traditional gift for a first anniversary is paper, so I guess after I write this I'll print a copy and frame it. What I'm trying to say is, a little over one year ago, I arrived in Korea. The modern first anniversary gift is a clock, which seems apt as the time has passed faster than I realized. A year already? Are you sure?

I've been looking back through old posts, and it's a relief to see that my feelings about the country haven't changed that much:

Spaghetti Alphabet?

I recently realized that I am a complete hypocrite. Well, in all honesty I've known this for a while, especially when it comes to giving advice, but I had the fact practically thrown in my face the other night. As a teacher of a foreign language, I'm constantly trying to stress communication over perfection. By which I mean, it is more important that you can talk to someone, get your point across, even if your grammar is barely grammar and you're speaking mainly in nouns and hand gestures. Were you able to buy the coffee you wanted? Did they answer your question? Laugh at your joke? A+

My students, and I think most language students, struggle with the desire to be perfect. Often, when I ask my older students a simple question that I know they understand, I'm still met with...silence. Averted eyes. Maybe if we don't move she can't see us.

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