Archive for March, 2010

Mad Libs

Another great classic! Last week, I taught my Grade 3 (9th grade) students how to play Mad Libs. Mad Libs is a pretty adaptable game since you can write your own story to make it relate to the lesson. Lesson 1 for Grade 3 is pretty boring. Greetings: Hello How are you, introducing others: This is my friend, Lisa, and asking for a favor: Would you please tell me about Korean movies?

So for our last activity, I made up my own Mad Lib story that incorporated the target language for the lesson. I explained how to play, what an adjective is and gave examples. I told them that  I have a story that is not finished yet, so they need to come up with different words to put into the story. I wrote all the blanks on the board (1. Name, 2. Adjective, 3. Place, 4. Animal, etc.) and asked the entire class to shout out different things.

Name – Almost always, students will shout out the names of the class clown/trouble maker students. This is good! You have a chance to engage them and get their attention and kind of trick them into participating.

Adjective – After a name is an adjective. They usually try to describe their classmate, so words such as stinky, dirty, ugly, handsome (as a joke) are most common. They have no idea yet how these words will fit into the story so I can’t help but laugh a little at their selection.

Place – Usually ends up being really random like outer space, swimming pool, girlfriend’s house, or one kid even shouted “hell” lol.

Animal – Again it could be ANYTHING. The most common for some reason are pig and monkey. They probably think it has something to do with the names they gave.

Relationship – Boyfriend, girlfriend, sweetheart, lover haha most common ones among middle school students, of course.

Here’s my Mad Lib:

A: Hey, (Name 1). How’ve you been?
B: Hey, (Name 2). I’ve been (Adjective). Where are you going?
A: We’re going to (Place). I want to get a pet (Animal).
B: Oh, really? Is this your (Relationship)?
A: No, this is my (Relationship), (Name 3).
C: Hi, nice to meet you
B: Nice to meet you too!
C: Are you coming with us to get a pet?
B: No, I already have a (Adjective), (Color) (Animal).
C: Really? That’s so (Adjective). What’s its name?
B: Its name is (Name 4).
C: That’s a nice name!

At first, it didn’t seem very spectacular to me. I rewrote an awkward-sounding example dialog in the book so that  I was at least covering the textbook material. It’s not very hard to just find nouns and adjectives and put a blank spot there. But it’s hard to put the blanks in places that are flexible enough to fit almost any word and funny enough to make the students laugh. My students really enjoyed it so I think it turned out well!

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Epic Fail #1

I’ve done some pretty dumb things so far while I’ve been here. Like getting off at the wrong bus stop or saying the wrong word to somebody in Korean. Just in general not knowing what to do and being completely wrong. No problem. Brush it off and I’m all good. But today I had my most epic of fails.

I was on the bus in Seoul on my way to the Myeongdong shopping area. My friend and I were going to drop by before we made our way to Seoul Station. When we got to the stop we saw a huge crowd of people. We wondered… what could it be? He figured it was somebody famous. The only famous Korean celebrity I know is Rain and I was like oh god it could be anyone so I wasn’t really that excited but I was definitely curious. We ended up staying on the bus and going straight to Seoul Station instead. We met up with our other friends who just came from Myeongdong and they said they didn’t bother going into the crowd to see who it was. Oh well, we could find out when we got home.

Turns out… IT WAS RAIN!!! NOOOOO Epic Fail!!! I didn’t get off the bus and I was just across the street from Rain! [dies]

Shaking my fist yelling "RAIINNNN!!!" a la Stephen Colbert

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A Cell Phone AT LAST!

Finally got a cell phone! I ended up getting the Samsung Kim Yuna Haptic phone (model  SPH-W7700) in pink! It’s a pretty nice phone. Touch screen! And it’s super cute. Here’s a promo pic:

Gold medal phone! 파이팅! Victory!

I was only able to get this phone because my co-teacher signed up for a 2-year contract under her name. I don’t have to pay for the phone as long as I sign up for a 35,000won (~$30) monthly plan, which includes 250 minutes and 500MB data internet usage. It’s not unlimited mobile to mobile, text, or data but I’d say that’s fine since I won’t be using my phone as much as I do back home. Anyway, it’s $30 alone for the iPhone data plan so $30 for this kind of monthly plan is affordable in my opinion. The penalty fee for terminating the contract early is ~$150. So I pretty much pay $150 for the phone if I break the contract early. I’d say that’s not too bad!

I have no idea how to charge this phone. It doesn’t seem to include a charger… I checked the manual and it doesn’t have a picture of a charger in the illustration of items it comes with. No clue. Yeah, I have to buy a charger separately :(.

Some of its features:

  • 3.0 megapixel camera
  • TV (don’t know how to use it..)
  • Video calling
  • Music player
  • Apps: My Pet 2, My Haptic Tone ?, games, subway map, currency converter, translator, calculator, school timetable, unit converter, Biorhythm ?, karaoke (dl songs)
  • Dictionary
  • My Diary – take pics and write about stuff
  • Cute ass wallpapers and themes
  • Customizable widgets

Heck yeah, My Diary feature. Feels like I’m in elementary school again. I’m gonna enjoy this phone!

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Apparently, Korea was hit with the worst Yellow Dust storm to date. I knew it was bad, but I didn’t know it was the worst it’s ever been. That’s great, just when I get to Korea, it’s hit with an especially cold winter and the worst dust storm ever. No wonder I’ve been sick more days than I’ve been healthy this past month :(!

Here’s some background info on the yellow dust:

“Yellow Dust” is a seasonal meteorological phenomenon affecting most of East Asia from the months of March to May.
The dust storms originate from the deserts of Inner Mongolia and northern China with strong winds kicking up dense clouds of dry soil particles which are airborne and carried across the country to Korea and Japan.
This past Saturday, Korea experienced its worst dust storm since it started recording data in 2003 and weather experts say there will be more yellow dust storms affecting the country over the next few months.
In the last decade, it has become a serious problem due to the increase of industrial pollutants contained in the dust.”
Arirang News

Here’s a chart that measures the severity of the dust:

Dustconc.in micrograms per cubic meter of air
Level of Health Concern Health Alert Color Code
0-399 LOW No Alerts
400-799 MODERATE Health Advisory
800 or greater HIGH Health Warning

Those levels definitely warrant a Health Warning! What’s more alarming than the volume of dust is the rapid increase of dust levels in recent years. I heard that the dust has become increasingly worse since it first reached Korea. Also, it keeps coming earlier and earlier. (That’s what she said).

So what was the level in Daegu this past Saturday? Hmm, enough to rename the yellow dust as the YELLOW DUST OF DEATH!

wtf yellow dust


Yes, that says 2,684 micrograms/cubic meter. That’s over three times the amount considered a  Health Warning. I think they should create another category called Imminent Death. Well, it won’t kill you instantly. In addition to the long-term effects, it makes people sick, limits outdoor activity and diminishes quality of life. This is a low point in my life in Korea thus far. Okay, I admit it’s mainly because I’m still having a hard time getting a cell phone. I must be the only person left without one!

Since I’m sick and the dust is at insanely high levels, I’ve decided to take precautions. Here are some suggestions I found on my main (only) source of knowledge, the internets. From Hi Expat and various other sources:

  • wear a mask approved by the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) or 식약청 (Shik-yak-cheong)
  • wash mask in between uses
  • drink plenty of water
  • wash your hands and face with warm water
  • brush your teeth after coming in from outside
  • keep your windows and doors closed
  • wear glasses instead of contacts
  • try to avoid a lot of outdoor activity
  • check yellow dust levels: US Military Yellow Sand/Asian Dust Monitor System, or to check levels in your area: Korea Meteorological Administration
  • eat pork – everyone has been telling me this! I guess people in Korea eat pork to help get rid of, I don’t know, waste?

Hope everyone gets through the dust storms alive!

The makings of an Asian mom: Auntie shoes, face mask... what's next?

Random thoughts about China: Really, China? It can make me sick all the way in Korea! No one can match China’s prowess in environmental degradation x_x. It’s so serious that there was a whole chapter on the dust/sand storms in my 读写 book when I studied in China.

Also, how does China always find its way into my life? I just created a separate tag for China on this blog.

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Need to take more pics!

I should take more pictures. I forget to take pictures of my food because sorry I just want to dig in! I want to take more pictures for some of my future posts.

  • Hair – Korean hairstyles!
  • Fashion
  • School lunch
  • Alcohol
  • Nightlife
  • Skincare and cosmetics
  • Public transportation – subway, bus, taxi, train, KTX, plane
  • Travels – Seoul trip this weekend!

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Got the idea from another EPIK teacher and I thought, OH MY GOSH I love MASH! I kept it in mind to try with my students sometime. And the opportunity presented itself…

My Grade 2 classes are learning to talk about future plans. So I decided to use this game as an activity to talk about things that are going to happen someday in the future. MASH RAP is a simple game but it’s  kind of hard to explain. It’s best to model the game and run through it once as an example.  Here’s how I did it:

  • Powerpoint presentation – After practicing talking about what we are going to do in the future, I talked about using the same structure to predict the future. So I called this game ‘Fortune Telling’. I’m not sure what the phrase is in Korean, but you can explain what you mean by fortune telling and have the co-teacher help explain. The students will get it. I’ve seen fortune tellers in downtown so I think the students know what they are.
  • Ask for a volunteer. Since it was grade 2 (8th grade), they were usually reluctant to volunteer. I told them it would be fun and very easy, they just have to sit and I will tell them their future. Usually a male student will come up or be pressured into it. So I had him sit in the front with his back to the board.
  • Write MASH RAP on the board. I made PPT slides to help explain how to play.
    M – mansion, A – apartment, S – shack (or street, subway), H – house.
    R – rich, A – average, P – poor.
    Categories are usually: husband/wife, number of kids, job, place you will live, mode of transportation (car, bike, pony, etc.). But, you can make your own categories. Then you will write down three choices for each category.
  • Ask for the class to participate.
    Husband/Wife – Ask for three names for a husband/wife. Usually actors, singers, celebrities work well. Daniel Henney, the guys from Twilight and Jessica from SNSD seem popular.
    Number of kids – Ask for 3 numbers. Someone might shout a big number like 8 or 9. Then they start to realize that they can give ridiculous answers to make their classmate end up with a terrible future.
    Job, place to live and mode of transportation are pretty easy. Some popular ones include: homeless, subway station, bicycle, baby stroller (yeah my students are crazy), Tico. 
  • How to count – draw a spiral on the board and ask the students to tell you when to stop. Then count the number of lines in the spiral from the top to the bottom. (Sorry, I’m really bad at explaining visual things). For example, if the number is 7, you will start with M in MASH, then onto RAP and count each letter until you reach 7. On 7, you land on P so you cross out P. Next you count from the husband/wife and so on through all the categories. Cross out every seventh word you land on. If there is only one more letter/word left in that category, then circle it and that is the result for that category. Wow I’m so bad at explaining this game.
  • You are finished when you have a result for each category (MASH, RAP, husband/wife, kids, job, place to live, transportation).
  • If none of this made sense, go here: http://www.liketotally80s.com/mash-game.html
  • Read their fortune! Someday… You are going to live in a ____. You are going to be ____. You are going to marry____. You are going to have __ kids. You are going to be a ____. You are going to live in ____. You are going to drive/ride a ____.

One of my students ended up living in a shack, being poor, married to Kim Yuna, having 9 kids, being a homeless person, living in the subway station, and riding a pony. Poor kid!

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No more penis!

She has returned to her original state! For now…

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(Most of) My students are so enthusiastic and energetic! It’s still the ‘honeymoon period’ so maybe this will change. I get kind of embarrassed when they see me outside of school. There are a few different middle schools in my area so I’m not sure which kids are my students when they’re not wearing their school uniforms. But I know soon enough when I hear them yelling “MARIA TEACHER~~!!!” They always get excited and yell my name. Usually goes something like this:

Teacher! Hi!! How are you?!?! Bye!!!!

Yesterday, I bumped into one of my first year students. He forgot my name so he just said, “California!!” then he shook my hand. 😀 cute, huh? He said he was on his way to taekwondo class. These kids never go home. Always off to another class after school.

And, of course, they sing my name. Usually it’s the line from West Side Story,

Maria! I just met a girl named Maria!

Here’s the song in Korean!

Most of them just sing my name like they do in the song whenever I walk into the classroom. Or sometimes it’s the Santana/Matchbox 20 song, Maria Maria. Or even Ave Maria. Yes, Ave Maria. Soo random.

I should’ve known they’d do that! Well, at least it puts a smile on my face :).

EDIT: My co-teacher informs me that a Korean actress (Kim Ah-Jung) sang a song called ‘Maria’ in a movie that came out a couple years ago. So I looked it up and the movie is 200 Pounds Beauty. The San Diego Asian Film Festival screened this movie but I didn’t get to see it :(. Here’s the trailer and the song ‘Maria’. I don’t think I can embed the video, so if it doesn’t work you can just click on it to watch it on youtube.

Here’s the scene in the movie (2:00). I’m pretty sure this is a cover of Maria by Blondie. Now I know this is definitely what most of the kids are singing!

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Korean teachers take away students’ cell phones when they misbehave and they usually keep the phones in their desks for the rest of the day. Sometimes I’ll hear a song start playing while I’m sitting at my desk and I realize it’s someone’s cell phone. Not a teacher’s cell phone, but a student’s cell phone!

So what does this have to do with music? Everything! Students usually set the latest songs as their ringtones. So throughout the day, I’ve been hearing all the latest songs thanks to some badly behaved students. Ah, gotta love the perks of being a teacher.

Heard this one a few times. It has a pretty catchy chorus. I’d make it my ringtone 😉

UPDATE: I did make it my ringtone!

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Meet My Family!

Had a great first lesson today! I did a lesson on introducing family members and I made a powerpoint on the Wild Thornberrys for my first year (7th grade) students. I used to love that show! The intro is too fast for my students, so I recorded myself saying pretty much the same dialog but in simpler words. I made the pitch higher so I would sound like a little girl haha. I think it turned out pretty good.

This was my first actual lesson because I did intros for the first two weeks. The class loved it and I had fun too! I’m soooo glad because I stayed up all night making the powerpoint and sound files. The school computers are ancient so it took forever to load the presentation and we couldn’t figure out how to play the sound either :(. I just ended up saying the dialog, which was fine in the end.

After the Wild Thornberrys, I introduced my family. The students loved that too. I showed one of my brothers with a giant pizza and all the students were like WOWOWOWOWOW!!! I showed my other brother with a computer game and all the boys were like YEAHHH!!! So when I reviewed and asked Who is this? and What do they like to do? They were like YOUR BROTHER LIKES TO EAT PIZZA!! YOUR BROTHER LIKES TO PLAY COMPUTER GAMES!!

Then I had the students draw pictures of their families and write a sentence describing each person. They enjoyed this a lot. The students asked me how to spell ‘alcohol’  and I was like… why? Then one student was like

“This is my dad. He likes to drink alcohol!”

hahahahaha!! Actually a few students wrote this!

A lot of the students had pets and their descriptions for their pets were hilarious.

“This is my pet turtle. He likes to sleep, eat, poo.”

“This is my pet gold fish. He likes to do nothing.”

“This is my pet hamster. He is fat and lazy.”

“This is my pet see monkey. . . . . . . . (dots are the sea monkeys)”

I didn’t take pictures of all of their drawings but here are a few:

Super cute!

Nice, CY World lol

Great work, don't you think?


Very creative!

I wish I had taken a picture of the particularly scary looking Korean moms and dads. One kid drew devil horns and a pitchfork on his mom o_o;

My students are a hoot!

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