Archive for the ‘Teaching’ Category

Hi? Ann I’m Sarah. I really miss and also I really like to ask a questions. 1st. Are you happy there?

Hello! I have a question to you. Do you like Korea? Do you miss me too? -Kelly-

Hi! I want to ask you a question. What was your favorite student in our class? -Susan-

HELLO, What is your favorite thing in Korea? -Dolly-

Hello! I’m Annie I have a question to you. Do you like Korean food? -Annie-

Hi? Ann? When I meet you, I was very happy. I think my favorite city is Germany. And I want to see you one more time. I learn many of Germany and your mind. Do you like Korean food? -Jeany-

Hi! Do you like Korean food better? or Germany food better? -Shirley-

From the boys (a group effort):

Dear Ann.
Hello? We are Stephanie’s students. We are very happy to met you. We are solve the mystery about you so we are very happy. We want to visit Germany because we want to see Germany’s food, thing and people. Have a nice day.

1. What’s your favorite food in Korea?
2. What’s your favorite sports?
3. What’s your favorite book?
4. What’s your favorite habby language?

ann at school

I don’t know what mystery they’ve solved because I sure haven’t. But when you have a minute, I’m sure they’d like to know if you like Korean food.


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Adam King

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Teacher’s Day

teacher's day letter from lena

To Stephanie.

Hi! I’m Lena. Today is Teacher’s day in Korea. But, In America doesn’t have teacher’s day!! You know, I don’t speak well at English. My wish is to speak English well. So, I want to learn English a lot from you. I can understand your talk, but I can’t answer with your question. Please help me!!

Anyway, I will do what I can.

When I met you first, I was scared. Because, You are my first yellow hair foreigner in Korea. I think, You are very good teacher in academy. Another Class, we can speak Korean to Teacher. But aren’t you. I must speak English to you, so I can improve my speak in efficiency. Thank you, Stephanie!

– Lena –

You know what, Lena. You are only 12. You speak just fine at English. Thank you for the best present someone can get on Teacher’s Day.

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Yes, you are cute…



Now please do your homework.

In all fairness, Tara (on the right) is an exceptional student and one of my favorites. She draws me slightly disturbing, yet undeniably charming, pictures of killer cats and always does her homework.

Sally, on the other hand, needs to bring her books to class and stop organizing her pencil case during tests.

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White Day

So there is this holiday in Korea called White Day. March 14th boys are expected to give chocolates to girls…apparently February 14th, or Valentine’s Day, girls are supposed to give candy to boys. So, today was our day.

Since the only boys I know in Korea are ages 9-13, I did not receive any chocolates from any boys. However, my Head Instructor (girl) and my fellow teacher (girl) both gave me chocolates which only proves my theory about men and gifts. I spent the night harassing my male students like this:

Me: Kevin, did you bring me chocolates?
Kevin: (confused; slightly panicked) Wha?
Me: It’s White Day. Where are my chocolates?
Kevin: Oh, ah-no Teacher. I no bring. I bring Saturday.

Me: Mike, Tom…where are my chocolates?
Mike: (confused) Wha?
Tom: *blank stare*
Me: It’s White Day. I’m a girl, right?
Mike: (knowing smile; clearly guilty) Ahhhh-Teacher! No! I sorry! I sorry!
Tom: *blank stare*

I love how loud their voices get when they get excited. AH! NO TEACHA! Just like Owen Meaney. It’s better than any chocolate.

{March 14} dessert

I also received the chocolate pictured above last night from the women at the corner store, the ones who gave me green tea ice cream last week. This time it was wrapped in shiny paper and presented to me as a real gift. They have invited me for drinks after work on Friday night. I will bring photos from home and a Korean-English dictionary. I’m completely smitten with the whole family.

Wednesdays I only teach one class, so it is my night to relax and grab dinner. Tonight I had dinner with one of my fellow teachers, Jenny. She was born in Korea, but went to high school and college in the States. Boston University, in fact. She took me to a small place near my house that serves gamjatang, a spicy pork and potato stew that is…drum roll….cooked at your table.


This is the remains of our dinner. Probably one of my favorite meals yet. Simple, hearty and flavorful, full of fresh greens and spicy broth. The meat is tender and delicious and falls off the bones. The meal was finished with a cold glass of sujeonggwa, a cinnamon & ginger punch made with persimmons. Probably my new favorite thing ever.

I bought fresh strawberries on the way home and lingered around on the streets, enjoying the shop lights, the warm night air and the echo of my students’ laughter.

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Ease up on the kimchi, would ya?

It’s a small room and the windows don’t open.

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1) Tonight I threw a student out of class for the first time. He was so resistant to leaving that I actually had to go out to the office, get our school manager, Kelly and ask her to come get him out of the room. She came in and he still would not move. After a few questions and requests to leave (in English), she said ONE word in Korean and he got right up to follow her. Needless to say, the rest of my students were exceptionally attentive for the remainder of the class.

Oh. This disruptive student’s name is Sam. Cute, charming and a complete and utter pain in the ass who needs to be thrown out of class. Again with the irony.

2) Making friends indeed. My fellow teacher Lisa, a Korean-Australian from Sydney, is fast becoming my first girlfriend in Seoul. Even though she is living with her mom and grandmother here, she is still fairly new to Seoul. I have someone to hang out with, commiserate with and someone who will help me buy a cell phone and laundry detergent!

3) On the way home, [here is where the actual giggling starts] there was a woman sitting on the street outside one of the darkened designer men’s wear boutiques on my street. Everything closes at about 10 in my neighborhood, I’m assuming, so the shoppers can get on with their boozing. So it is typical to see street vendors set up with their one cardboard box of wares. This woman had a whole spread of bras and panties.

Problem #1: I do not speak Korean.
Problem #2: I do not speak metric system.

I have no idea what an 85B is because my bra size is in inches, not centimeters. Let me just say that I have absolutely NO idea what possessed me to stop in the dark at a street vendor to look at bras. I had a momentary lapse in judgement, forgetting the language barrier, thinking I’d forge through and go home with a discount bra.

I flipped maniacally through my phrase book looking for ANYTHING about prices or measurements to no avail. (Dear Lonely Planet. Please explain to me how it’s possible to write an entire phrase book for the traveller with chapters on how to have a conversation about politics or religion, but excluding all words needed to buy undergarments.) All this time, the woman gabbered at me non-stop in Korean, showing me the different materials used, the different styles of bras. A full-on sales pitch with Sales Pitch Voice, like an announcer at a carnival. As if at any moment I would suddenly perk right up and come back with a response in perfect, fluent Korean.

I said thank you and went along my way. I giggled the whole way down the street.

4) With phrase book in hand, I stopped at the corner market near my apartment. It is both small all-you-need market and tailor/steam press. The owners are lovely and noticed I had been stopping by frequently for kim, yogurt, beer and Twix bars. The breakfast of champions. They have been friendly, curious and gracious with each visit. We had established last week that I teach English and live nearby. Tonight I wanted to bring my phrase book and see what we could talk about. To say it was great would be an understatement. It made me want to learn Korean more than at any other moment since I’ve been here. We talked about many things, even about altering my pants which are a little too long, and pressing my shirts which are a little too wrinkled. Then she called her daughter who arrived two minutes later from upstairs. She is twelve and speaks English better than some of my students. Her English name is Nancy. They asked me to come back often and practice my Korean, offered me something to drink and chatted with me for an hour. True, the whole conversation would have taken only 5 minutes without the language barrier, but it was worthwhile nonetheless.

In the end, when I was ready to purchase my green tea ice cream and chewing gum before leaving, the woman picked up the ice cream with both hands and said “I present you” and handed it to me with two hands.  I said, “How much?” and her daughter said “gift gift”. They charged me 50¢ for my chewing gum and I was grateful that I knew the one word I needed to say. THANK YOU! thank you thank you thank you.

Lots of bowing and smiling ensued.

More giggling…

5) Only a block from my apartment, I started the short walk home, thinking I was done with the giggling and encounters for the night. A truck came up the hill towards me and as I cleared out of the way, I could hear singing. As it came closer, I could see in the silouhette that the windows were open and the singing was coming from the driver. It was forceful, exuberant, impressive singing with so much joy in each exhale.

My giggling turned into outright laughter, as if in a room filled with my very best friends.

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