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Poster Girl

The other day I was sat at my desk happily minding my own business when the vice principle shuffled in and smiled at me. He paused at my desk as if preparing to say something to me, thought better of it and turned to my coteacher.

I heard my name mentioned a few times and when I turned he did another suspicious smile at me. Then Grace, my coteacher, translated the message 'You must look pretty on Monday'. I was sat with unkempt hair, in an outfit I had thrown on in 2 minutes that morning, so wasn't quite sure how to take the comment, but I just smiled at him and he looked relieved and left.

Event Day: Outer Space!

Every school year at Namsung they throw four event days in the English department. Last week was our third one of the year. From previous experience I knew what to expect, late nights decorating, lots of last minute of packing goody bags for the kids and tweaking our costumes. For the teachers it's pretty hard going, for weeks before hand you need to drill into the kids songs, dialogues and games they'll perform in each room, repeating the same thing two times an hour for 5 hours a day, and then the late nights planning it before hand, but for the kids I imagine that it's pretty magical.

When You Teach Kindergarten…

… you talk about a lot of weird things, and here is a taste courtesy of my crazy and loveable little monsters.

1. I asked my kids the other day what my Halloween costume should be.                                                      Some of the answers include:
a giraffe, a marker, Ironman, a table, a window (can you tell they were just looking around the classroom?)and my favorite- A TOOTHBURSH. Part of me wants to try to make a toothbrush headpiece to really surprise them.  I would not be the first according to the Internet.


Sports Day

I'd heard horror stories of sports days in Korea from friends who had been surprised on the day and asked to participate. Sometimes with incredibly humiliating consequences. Others had been given their own special tracksuit in preparation for the day.

Therefore I was rather wary when we were told that it was sports day and maybe we should wear a tracksuit and trainers. I had flashbacks to my fourteen year old self where I would be a nervous wreck on sports day, never being forthcoming about taking part in anything for fear of showing myself up. Or just demonstrating how utterly atrocious I was at sport. Is it hop, then skip and jump or jump, then hop and skip? By the time I'd had that mental dialogue with myself I was on my backside in a sand pit, having put my foot over the line. Bum.

3 Truths and a Lie

I teach an after school English class for some of the more advanced students in my elementary school.  Today, we played the game 3 Truths and A Lie.  I told them to write down 3 true sentences and 1 lie.  We didn't have enough time to read them outloud in class today and guess which sentence was the lie, so I collected their papers and tucked them away for next week's class... but not before reading a few to see what they came up with!  


Today I played dress up!  What did you do?

From Busan with 추석 Love,

[Twenty-One] Advice on Teaching and other Education Jobs in Korea

Dear readers,

I hope this blog entry finds you well. I cannot believe how long it has been since I last posted on Chomsongdae!

It has been just over 4 months since I have permanently moved to Korea after years of going back and forth. Adjusting to life in Korea after living in Canada for over 10 years was definitely not easy. You won't be able to imagine all the adventures, challenges, and also fun that I have had here.

5 Awesomely Awesome Things: Typhoon Edition

Today we had a Snow Day!!  Just kidding, it was a Typhoon Day!  But for a Hoosier like me who did not grow up with Hurricanes, or Typhoons, a random day off from school almost always because of snow.  This is my 2nd Typhoon Day this year and since nothing bad happened it is awesome, but chances are we won’t get any snow days.

So since I am in the house avoiding the wind and rain, my 5 Awesomely Awesome Things will be Typhoon themed.



300: A Countdown


I’ve always been better with words, but today is a good occasion for some numbers.

5 Awesomely Awesome Things: Things That Make Me Happy

This week I’ve been feeling under the weather.  I ended up getting food poisoning which was not fun.  Since I’ve been cooped up a bit this week, I thought I would share a few things that have made this week a bit brighter.

Field Trips:

Field Trips are a nice break from a normal day, even if they do tend to turn the kids into zombies those afternoons.  This time we went to the English library.  It was nice, and was a good excuse for some quality one-on-one story time with some of the kiddos.

Nara: or That Time I Got Bit by a Deer

Nara, like so many places in Japan, is known for its historical importance.  But, unlike anywhere else in the world, it is also known (to me at least) as the place I got bit by a deer.

When I first arrived in Nara, which was a really short train ride from Kyoto, I kept seeing signs saying that 2010 was Nara’s 1300th anniversary as an imperial capital.  It took my Americanized brain a moment to realize that the signs weren’t talking about the 130th anniversary, but way more impressive- the 1,300th year anniversary.

Kids Give the Best Cards

Korean kids give the best Birthday Cards.  It has happened enough that I will claim it as fact.

Both of the Birthdays I have spent in Korea have been highlighted by amazingly sweet cards from my students.   

 My most prized 'thing' I took away from the year I spent at Daegyo Elementary was my Birthday card from the girls in 6-3 class.  They wrote me little notes and drew me a great picture and even laminated it for me.  It has since been hung up in both the places I lived last year, and is waiting at my Mom's house for when I come back. 

A Progression

With a large influx of new students for the summer, I feel even more thankful for my 'big kids' of Orion Class.  Teaching the eldest of the Kindergarten kiddos has its perks, which sometimes slip from my mind when I'm trying to teach the tougher classes such as Speech and Composition (yes I am trying to teach little kids to write speeches, essays, and poems).   

"Met a Trucker out of Philly had a nice long..."

Yesterday during a Dictation Exercise (yes my Kindergarteners have to do Dictation Exercises) I found this as one of the answers.

Now as beginning writers and spellers, I tell them that for Dictation that spelling doesn't matter, as long as it is something close to what the word should be, but this one made me giggle. 

Instead of 'talked' one of my kids wrote 'toke'.  I didn't want to draw attention kid for trying and making an honest mistake, but I still couldn't help myself and took a picture of it while my kids were out of the room.

From Busan with Love,

a bad case of facebook envy & 5 lessons learned abroad (so far)

*Be the person you envy. Live the life you’d be envious of if you saw someone else living it.*

Here is my first travel piece published in my hometown NH newspaper. I hope to write a piece each month for the paper – wish me luck. I have included the first paragraph and you can click the link for the rest. What should I write about next?

A Reminder

Some days when it's raining, or work is particularly stressful... or both, I just need a reminder of why I love it here.   The good times and the beauty can be so great that it makes the hard parts feel harder, or it could be one of those moments of cultural frustration referred to as K-rage.  But either way, I needed to look at a few things I find so great and beautiful Korea, and so I decided to share it with you. 

So in case your Monday was as rough as mine, or you just want to look at something pretty, I've got the antidote.

Silly lunch-time faces:

BGKOTESOL June Meeting!

Saturday, June 16, 2012 - 14:30

Hi all, we hope the semester is progressing well for everyone.  BG-KOTESOL will have a meeting on June 16th.  The meeting will be hi-lighted by a presentation on using comic books in the classroom, from the Daegu President of KOTESOL, Peadar (sp?...last name??).  We hope to see all of you there while we learn to make our classroom’s more engaging.



What:June 2012 Chapter Meeting
When: Saturday, June 16th, at 2:30pm
Where: On the 4th floor of the ESS in Nampo Dong: subway exit #7 (unmarked), turn left around the corner, the building is on the left.
Who: All members and non-members invited. 

Kid Lit

Some certain media outlets would have you believe that as a teacher I am pushing my own agenda onto my students.  And they're right.

It is my mission this year to push my personal agenda of great books!

Thankfully my school is the perfect place for this.  We are stocked with a GIANT library of English story books.  We are so lucky to have such a have a huge selection.  There is everything from Curious George and Dr. Seuss classics to "How do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight" which is a book I bought for my cousin's son this past Christmas.

I teach a weekly current events Kindergarten class called "Current Issue," which has turned into "Jenna-teacher-gets-to-pick-her-favorite-books-to-read-at-story-time", and so far the response from the kiddos has been great.

cuter in korea

cuter in korea

I love being inspired by Korea’s continued cuteness that I spot in random places almost daily:

1) My students furiously fight for a place at my white board during the 5 minute class breaks. I beg them to use the bathroom or get a drink of water so as not to interrupt the next class session with inconvenient breaks, but they always want to take the precious break time to impress me with their drawing skills. How can you not love this drawing of ‘Devan Teacher’?

2) I love spotting splashy eye-popping colors plastered on such mundane objects such as this delivery truck. The pink is just perfect!

3) Dunkins is continuously impressing me with their iced-coffee holders. This one is just adorable!


back to Bikram or how I will soon be able to calm down an angry Korean


A friend from college who spent two previous years in Korea quickly became my go-to source for random questions and concerns before my final decision to sign, stamp and send my teaching contract back to my recruiter. She planned to return home to the US shortly before my own departure date. I was lucky enough to meet up with her in Boston for a quick drink and a much needed pep talk that reassured me I was making the right decision by moving to Korea (“Korea!?” – all my friends/family at holiday gatherings).

Positively 47th 번길

This evening after running some post-work errands, as I was nearing my apartment I decided it was too nice out to go home.  Does anyone else ever feel that way?  The weather was too nice, and there was still too much of the sun hanging in the sky to go sit in my apartment.  So instead, I decided to roam my neighborhood, specifically my street. 

Where the Wild Things Are

I love the book Where the Wild Things Are, I have since I was little.  I remember when my Kindergarten teacher read the book to the class, I also remember that I was convinced that it was a book written by her husband since both their last names were Sendak. 

To honor and remember the awesomeness that was Maurice Sendak's literary legacy, I decided yesterday's Current Issue class would be a great way to introduce some of Mr. Sendak's Wild Things to some of my Wild Things.

Kindergarten: How We Work

The other day I found this photo that I had already forgotten about.  It was taken of me and my kindergarten class on the first of our Monthly Field Trips, and man does it accurately portray the dynamic of my class even now (although I will say they are a lot better than they once were).

As Far as the Eye Can See: a Tour

I have long since given you a tour of my apartment, so I guess it's only fair to get a tour of my school.  Worwick is very different from the public school I used to work at, but still fairly common as far as Hagwons or private academies go. We are the 5th floor of a building not too far from my house.

Teacher Voodoo

I randomly came upon this video the other day, and for someone who teaches both Kindergarten and 2nd grade, this video is like teacher voodoo. 

I mean seriously these kids look like professional actors in comparison to the daily dose of calamity that seems to rule over my class.

 I'm totally planning on trying to introduce the 'blow the answer in your hand' technique tomorrow.  The key word here is trying. 

Now I've been teaching in traditional and non-traditional ways for quite a few years now, but watching these "Whole Brain Teaching" videos made me feel super teacher-y, and also super inspired.  Both the class and the teacher appear to have a great understanding and love of learning, which who doesn't want for their class. 

Conferencing with Parents

Yesterday was the dreaded "Parent Teacher Conferences", and I am glad to report that I am still alive and well. 

I had found out about these conferences at the end of last month while looking at one of my student's newsletters.  Now my Korean is far from good, but I like to look at the news letters to get an idea of when this month's field trip is and when the monthly birthday party will grace me with more cake.  This time I saw mention of all the kindergarten classes and different dates-  I asked one of the Koreans about it and was told we were doing parent teacher conferences. 

Now I've taught open classes where the administration can come in and watch me teach, but this was my first parent teacher conference as a non-student. 

I have a job.

One thing I don’t talk too much about here is work. The reasons why are because it’s work, and work is work, and there are plenty of people out there who are more suited to talking about my line of work than I am, and more importantly, I don’t want to talk about work.

I talk with co-workers about work all day in work. It’s work talk. The same work talk that everyone else talks about in work, which usually involves complaining/marvelling over something irrelevant to the rest of the immediate world. It’s not very exciting and the less I have of it the better. Sometimes I talk with Herself about work, and she politely grunts and changes the subject, which I’m grateful for. I do enough talking about work and you don’t deserve, need, or really want to hear me go on about work.

My Students

I have taught in Korea for approximately two and a half years now, and have taught at three different schools; two academies and I am currently teaching at an all boys High School.  The students are generally fantastic, they are respectful, obedient, and hard working (if you know what buttons to push), but what I like most of all is their character.  With all the study they have to do, you can't help but feel for the poor little mites.  For example, in my high school (ages 16-18) they start their day at 8am and finish at 10-11pm at night, a fourteen hour plus day at school!  In middle and elementary schools the day is not so long, but parents make up for this by sending their children to private after school academies called 'Hagwons'.  Most students study at least a couple of hours every day after school in these academies with homework on top of this as well.  Some students, however, can go to up to four different academies after school, and may possibly do Taekwondo or Hapkido also

so official

hunger games <3

hunger games <3

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