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Here It Goes Again

It's finally the first day. In theory vacation is something you're supposed to enjoy, but the allure fades after the months drag on. I'm not great at self-motivating, but I also hate feeling as if I'm not accomplishing something, so vacation always ends up either driving me crazy or making me gloomy. Or both! Such a lovely combo those two make.

Proper classes don't start until tomorrow, so I get one more night of fitful sleep before I face the students once again. Today was just the entrance ceremony and a chance for the students to collect their textbooks. The one stressful thing about the ceremony is that they bring all the teachers up on stage, in groups of about ten, to introduce them to the new and returning students. Last year I didn't realize this was going to happen until I was being pushed onto stage, but fortunately this year I was more prepared.

How 20% of the School Day Got Me 100% Success

Presenting Their ProjectsThe leaders at Google believe that people are happier and more productive when they spend 20% of their time at work on a personal project, something that interests them, gets them fired up and invites the creative juices to flow. So, for part of Winter Camp 2015, I gave my students the opportunity to do just that! For two weeks they worked one hour each day on an independent project of their choice, and finished by presenting to their classmates. The only catch was that they had to use English in SOME WAY. From creative music videos to a detailed analysis of different educational systems arond the world, they produced some amazing work!


“Shake It Off” Music Video Contest Winner


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. 

The Madness That Is Winter Camp

Last Friday was a very good day for me: it was the last day of Winter Camp at school, and the start of a 5 week holiday. So it’s not surprising that I was in a pretty good mood. But, distracting me from my happiness was the horrible feeling of an entirely achey body, eyes which would barely stay open, and a general ill-feeling. Why? Because after 10 days of Winter Camp, I was exhausted.


Wait for Me Until I Become You

Recently I’ve been giving my students mini essay assignments each week on various topics to improve their persuasive and creative writing. Below is the work of one of my strongest students. I asked him to write a letter to his future self in the year 2020. Check it out! It’s pretty great!

future

Dear myself in the future,

Hello, myself. I’m yourself. Precisely, I’m yourself in the past. I heard you’re 23 years old. Though you are older than me, I will not treat you politely. I have many questions. Most of all, what is your college? Seoul University? Really? You did a good job. And, did you go the army? Where? Katusa? Oh, I think you’re very good at English.


5 ESL Games for All Levels and Ages

As an ESL teacher working with middle school, high school, and adult students, I am always on the lookout for games that are fun and appropriate for a variety of skill levels and ages. Below is a collection of games that I’ve found to meet those standards! If you have any ideas of your own, questions, or feedback, feel free to leave them in the comment section!

1. Dots

IMG_1884Materials: Paper with pre-drawn dot grid, pens/pencils, dice


The only thing to fear is change itself…. Wait…

It was only temporary…but…last week, in the immortal words of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, my new Korean life got totally flip-turned-upside-down. Now-I’d-like-to-take-a-minute, just-sit-right-there-and-I’ll-tell-you-how-I….how my…forget it. How things changed.

Long story short, part of my Winter Camp involved me teaching at an elementary school reading camp for a few days before going back to teach at my regular middle/high school. Sidenote for those not in-the-know: a winter camp is a  two-three week period between regular semesters where kids come to school anyway to study more. The camps vary in theme and content, sometimes being determined by the school and other times by the Native English teachers. Generally speaking they’re supposed to be lighter and more “fun,” but in the end the kids are still there to study and learn English.


Conscious Streams of Consciousness on a 13-Hour Flight

I am in Seat 41A on United Airlines flight 88 to Newark Liberty International Airport. I am about four hours into a 13-hour marathon from Beijing, which began in Incheon. Before that, a 42-minute express train from Seoul. Before that, a two-hour, 50-minute KTX from Busan Station. Before that, an 11-stop subway ride from Hadan. Before that, my friends’ apartment, graciously donated to me for the night.

The coffee I drink to keep me awake–as my body and mind attempt to adjust to the endless night across the East Siberian Sea–is measurably worse than the coffee I could be drinking at home, ground from beans from Costco in Centum City. It’s even far worse than the Americanos I have the luxury to complain about from time to time. But it tastes considerably better than the mysteries I chose to leave to imagination when I quit on Korea years ago.


A Message To Korea From A Student

In light of my recent post on exam stress, I thought it was quite fitting to share a video I saw on YouTube today. The video was made by a Korean middle-school student called Jason, and it shows his message to Korea: a depressing discussion of the Korean education system. 


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