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"So I guess this is where I'm supposed to introduce myself. I'm a Canadian male teaching ESL in Seoul, Republic of Korea. This will be my second stint teaching ESL, only this time I'll be teaching at a High School, using my actual teaching experience to use. If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me - no question's too small. Take care, and enjoy the ride."

Other Blogs of Note

  • Student in Korea
  • Seoul Man
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  • Surviving South Korea
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  • "Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire" by Niall Ferguson
  • "Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World" by Haruki Murakami
  • "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order" by Samuel P. Huntington
  • "The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth" by Benjamin M Friedman
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  • the speech contest Sunday, September 17, 2006 |

    So last Saturday, starting at 11am, my institute held its long awaited speech contest. There were more than a few of us who were glad that this was finally going to be over, even if it means that we still have one more big contest to go. As teachers, we started over a month ago before this point, picking out the books from a list of selected "good choices", and then reading each book to make sure that we wouldn't go nuts listening to the same speeches read again, and again, and again. Next, each class held its own speech contest, where the highest scoring students won. From there, each classes two best students went to the next stage, where during the day, they each went before a panel, and were individually tested on their speech. From there, the highest scoring students of that stage went on to the institutes speech contest, which was held Saturday.
    All in all, I was really pleased. Last year, my showing had been a little poor compared to some of the other teachers. However, this year, I made up ground. I had 7 total students competing in the institutes speech contest, with former students of mine who I'd taught recently raising the number to 12 students. The total number of contestants was 27 students out of my institutes 900 or so students. (Don't worry, they don't all come at the same time)
    During the whole contest, I was busy taking pictures with my camera. The frustrating thing was that my institute, which may know how to hold a speech contest, knows absolutely nothing about good lighting; this made taking good looking photos very difficult (that and my increasingly shaky hand.) You would think that with my expensive camera, I should be able to overcompensate for the lack oflighting. However, as I've found out, expensive camera's only make taking photography more difficult. I digress.
    For the kids, this isn't as much fun as it is for their parents. The parents make this out to be such a big deal, and the kids usually follow along, albeit a little begrudgingly. That is, until they win.
    This year, I got lucky with some students who really knew how to warm up to the camera; and in the end, my students ended up taking the top two prizes. The grand prize winner, shown above, read a speech (written by a teacher) about "Little Red Riding Hood." Her mom decked her out in everything plaid; even her watch was authentic. It was red, had a little red riding hood girl, and alternating wolves on the band (I'm not joking). She's a brilliant girl, and my parents can attest to that. She stands a great chance at mopping up at the big speech contest, and I know she'll do great. My second student (also shown above further up) placed second, a great feat considering she slipped for what seemed an eternity to her mother, but made up for in confidence when speaking.
    From here we go to weekly practices, and refining, and double checking to make sure that everything is perfect in preparation for the final step in the speech contest. I think that I'll be heading to the final contest with three students this year; a drop from last year, but I'm still excited by their chances.
    I hope that everything is going well with everyone back home. Take care, and I'll catch you later

    if you're looking for books Thursday, September 14, 2006 |

    I know that I'm certainly not the only person who's teaching english out there in the world, and I also know that I'm certainly not the only teacher who might read this blog. So I thought that after all the reading I've done, that I would write about some of the great books that I've read recently with my students, and if you readers want to offer any suggestions, then I'd love to hear from you. Most of these books are for, in the ESL realm, advanced readers - so students who are relatively good readers, who are also in grades 3-5, or possibly older. Most of these books are recommended for students aged 9-12, however, I sometimes enjoy reading the books more than my students do.
    I'll include as much information about the books as I can - otherwise, I'm certain that any google query will come up with all of the required information.
    Yolanda's Genius - written by Carol Fenner. A great story about an African-American girl who grows up in Chicago, but due to the violent neighbourhood, moves to Michigan. She struggles at first, but finds her niche in her new city, all the while trying to prove to everyone around her that her brother, while shy and quiet, is in fact, a "genius". It does an excellent job showing how younger children deal with issues of race and inequality.
    Wayside School Series - by Loius Sachar. This is a halarious three series book about a strange-messed up school. Each book contains 30 short stories about each of the 30 students in the class in some way shape or form. My students and I laughed and laughed while we read these books, and I'm sad that they're finishing. A great read by the same author of "Holes", and a host of other great children's books.
    The Giver - by Lois Lowry. This was a more difficult read, as it dealt with issues that many students couldn't understand. However, beyond that part, this is an excellent book nonetheless, and I would highly recommend it.
    Dr. DeSoto - by William Steig. This is a younger children's book with a crafty moral in the end. I won't give the story away, however, its short enough that you could read it again and again. The pictures are excellent, and the story of a mouse dentist, and a fox patient had my younger students in awe of the pictures.
    Dead Poets Society - the screenplay - by Tom Schulman. This adapted version of the original book was confusing at first for my students. There were many things they didn't comprehend at first, however, as the story unfolded, their eyes would open up to the possibilities of what could happen if you did practice the belief of "Carpe Deim", and living life to its fullest.
    The Magic Treehouse series - by Mary Pope Osbourne. This book I'm sure will ring a few bells, and if it doesn't, it's sure to be a hit. Aimed primarily at students who read more than others for their age, these books for students grades 2 and higher have a wide variety of tales that left my students asking me how many different books she has written. There's a veritable collection of them, and under any topic that you can imagine.
    The last one that I'll mention now is the "A to Z(ed) Mysteries" series, staring Dink, Josh and Ruth Rose. Its written by Ron Roy, and the adventures that these three children get into as they try to solve mysteries ranging from "The Bald Bandit, to Canary Caper, the Deadly Dungeon, and so forth. With such a wide range of options, one is sure to please any student.
    Those are the one's that I can think of now. When more come to me, I'll try to include them on the list. Enjoy reading, its a gift we should never stop giving.

    and others who do... Thursday, September 07, 2006 |

    So news other than bad news has been slow to come by...I could make things up, but that wouldn't be as much fun as saying what's really happening.
    Interesting things have been happening, but most of them aren't worth noting. However, after talking about the parents who don't really give a hoot about whether their children enjoy their education, I thought that i'd make passing mention of two things that have happened recently, to somewhat redeem the Korean people.
    First, the past two months of late June, July, and half of August, the weather had been unbearably hot. The high humidity, and scorching heat, were driving everyone insane. My roommate had graciously shared his wall-mounted air-conditioning unit, and with two fans (one pointing out of his room into the kitchen, and the second blowing from the kitchen into my room) we were able to share the cool breezes flowing from the wonderful cold air machine. ( With everyone using their air-conditioners back home as well, its a wonder that we make each successive summer more hotter than the previous by forcing our energy companies to burn more fossil fuels to keep pace, making more air pollution, and creating bigger holes in our ozone...) I digress. So, at the end of last month, the energy company sent someone to our door. Normally, our electricity bill sits around 35 Canadian a month, however, due to the higher temperature, ours had spiked to 50 Canadian. This jump worried the power company, so they sent someone to inspect that there was no problem with their recording instruments inside the house, and that we weren't being overcharged on account of something that was possibly their fault...
    The second instance involved a set of car keys. If I'd been thinking faster, I would have taken a picture with my phone. Someone had dropped their keys outside of their just recently parked car on the apartment side street. (I know it was recently parked because the car was still steaming). The security guard, a robust man of mid-fifties age, noticed the keys dropped right beside the car door. And with some binder twine he was carrying, ties the car keys to the tree right beside the just parked car. There was no worry that the car would be stolen...it was just the most convenient way to solve the issue at hand. At the end of my day, both the car and keys were gone, and I don't doubt for a second that the innocent driver found the keys, and drove off, as if nothing was amiss....
    I sometimes wonder if there was ever a time like this in Canada...