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About

"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
  • The Daily Kimchi
  • Surviving South Korea
  • Books I'm Reading

  • "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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  • When in Rome... Monday, October 29, 2007 |


    So, even though we're technically in the future compared to North America, I thought I'd take this opportunity to wish everyone who lives in America an early Happy Thanksgiving. Here in the world outside of the mighty-economic-powerhouse that is the USA, we don't necessarily celebrate the same holidays that you do. However, seeing as how the rest of the world seems to think that the mighty USA is the "defacto" promised land, we have to learn about all of the American holidays as if they're our own. So here in Korea, even though we've had a better, longer, more delicious, five-days-off holiday called Chuseok, we get to spend two weeks talking about Thanksgiving, the Mayflower, and the good old "Indians" who helped the poor Pilgrims survive. I politely offered to add the aspect of cannibalism to our lesson as an additional struggle that the Pilgrims had to resort to in order to survive...they white-blanchadly replied "no thanks".
    So from our country to yours, allow me to offer you an early, enjoyable, frantic filled Thanksgiving -so that when the real Thanksgiving comes, you'll be able to enjoy it even more:)

    The world according to middle school... Wednesday, October 24, 2007 |

    This past week I have been conducting speaking tests with my students. Typically, I'll give the students a list of possible questions that I "might" ask them -so they have a rough idea. Some of the students prepare ahead and try to memorize, but usually I'll ask them one question, and create more questions based off of the one they just answered. I'll grade them on their pronunciation and and grammar inside their sentence. So far, I've had three straight days of nothing but speaking tests, and some of their answers have been quite comical - I'll do you a service by letting you know some of the best answers to the five different questions. Mind you, as these are not direct quotes, I've improved the grammar, so you can make sense of what they're saying -trust me, my students aren't this good.
    Onto the questions:
    1)
    What is your favourite thing you like about Korea?
    "...the PC rooms. They are very cheap, and have fast computers. They also have colour printers were you can print money". (hmmm....so that's how Korean students get by without working jobs, yet carrying cell phones triple the cost of my cell phone....hmmmm)
    "...the Korean language, Hanguel. Hanguel has won many awards for the best language in the world, and it won first prize for best scientific language". (the cynic in me wants to ask the students why, if Korean is so amazing, why am i teaching you English? However,as any teacher will tell you, English really is a stupid language)
    "
    ...Public transportation is the best in the world. other countries do not have public transportation, and that is why their pollution is so bad". (She does have a point...on Seoul having amazing public transportation, but they definately aren't the only city...)
    "
    ...Chopsticks are the best in Korea. When I went on vacation to another country, I tried to use the chopsticks, but they didn't work. Korean chopsticks are the best in the world". (I'm sure a lot of people think that their chopsticks are often broken too..especially those metal ones...)
    "
    ...Korean internet speed. Once, when i was living in America, I tried to do my homework, and it took ten minutes to finish. But when I came to Korea, it only takes me one minutes. Our internet is the fastest everywhere". (hmmm...he might be onto something here - this might explain why his speaking isn't improving - so far, you can't get homework answers on the internet. yet..)

    2)
    Where would you like to travel with your family?
    "
    ...I want to visit Italia". (I don't know if Italy, the other "Italia" is running a tourism campaign right now on TV, but 98% of my students say that they want to visit Italy, or Italia as someone seems to be teaching them is the country's name. reasons vary, but aparantly, Korean children are in love with pasta.)
    "
    ...to the moon. If my family and I can go to the moon, the the world will see that Korea is a very scientific nation". (Aparantly, many students feel that Korea is being slighted on the international stage in reference to the worlds "science" rankings...whose teaching them this stuff?)
    "
    ...to Greece. As the world knows, Greece was the starting point for all of civilization, so I want to see where the world began". (I wanted to ask him more about this...but then thought otherwise...)

    3)
    What is your favourite food/What food do you hate?
    "
    ...i hate hamburgers. As you know, hamburgers are made by young children, and I think that they taste very bad". (Here's an example of an internet translation gone bad - what she's "clearly" saying is that they're bad for children's health...something got lost in the translation...not that you could tell)

    4)
    What are some good qualities you look for in a friend?
    "
    ...a good friend should be able to help me with my math homework and solve my problems for me...yes, they should..." (I don't see anything wrong with this...not at all - in fact, I wish I'd had friends like this when I was in middle school)

    And to think that I've only had my advanced classes so far...just wait till I start my basic level tests - I'm sure there will be more to come.

    Samsung employees with too much free time... Tuesday, October 23, 2007 |

    And you thought that your work's team building exercises were a little too much work...? Imagine trying to pull this with your fellow employees.....

    a smorgasbord of stuff... Friday, October 12, 2007 |

    So lately, i've had the wonderful experience of listening to hoards of foreigners complain about working in Korea. I say that with complete sarcasm, because in all fact, i'm starting to get quite tired of hearing whiners complain. (a little background).
    A short little while ago, Korea experienced a pretty big scandal that captivated the country for quite a while. Basically, what appeared to be a small problem of a University professor having fake credentials (from a respected US school) turned into a national scandal when it was discovered that she was having an affair with a high-level (former) presidential-aide. (more details can be found here) Now, past that scandal, how is that connected to the foreigners whining and acting like little children? Good question - and here's the connection. This brought back to reality for Koreans the realization that its quite easy to forge education documents with some practice (an all too familiar issue with Koreans - see here for one example of many).
    As can be expected, Koreans have become somewhat skeptical of foreigners coming in and just teaching their children English. As a result, in the two and a half years I've lived here in Korea, I've been asked to verify my education certificates and degree four times; and I'm a certified Education teacher, with a degree in middle-school and high school English and History. To me, its a price you pay for making the big bucks in Korea (the average salary for teaching English in Korea is roughly 2million Won, or 2,125.00Cad - and that includes free housing and travel too and from Korea). My main frustration has been that when teachers generally are treated so well, they become accustomed to the royal treatment, that when something like this happens (provide verification of degree/graduation) they rebel and start screaming bloody-murder.
    Needless to say, most of the whiners sincerely think that they are doing Korea a favour by gracing their country with their English wisdom and beauty...which couldn't be further from the truth...
    Okay, so enough ranting.
    One of the things that constantly surprises me is how much you can miss on the internet if you don't stop and smell the "roses", so to speak. I was recently stuck somewhere on the internet trying to find an article, and (thanks to google's oppressing ad's everywhere) I found an amazing website that allows you to order IKEA goods online from a (somewhat) English written online-shopping mall.

    http://www.weagookinmall.com

    I'll add a disclaimer that I've never ordered anything from the site, however, as foreigners cannot get a Korean credit card (not that I know of) this site is nice because you can pay by bank-transfer, which makes the payment very simple and instantaneous. Go ahead and enjoy. Use at your own discretion.
    The other thing that I really enjoy reading now is the wiki-page of Galbijim. I've found a host of different restaurants to try, many that are right in my neighbourhood, and I had no idea that they were there. Another reason that its quite nice is because its written by a host of people, so there's always something being updated, modified, or corrected. So if you're here, I'd encourage you to try it out.
    Well, I hope that all is going well with those who stop-by to read. Don't work too hard, and
    God bless,