Saturday, July 30, 2016

Farewell Week, Part 2: S'mores Festival

Full disclosure: My school has had a "Science Festival" every year, an event which I am totally in favor of, which led me to wish for an "English Festival". My new co-teacher Nicky, without my input, actually just did it, although it was less school-wide than classroom-wide. Though none of us knew it at the time, the event coincided with my "farewell" lesson. This was fortuitous, as it turned what could have been a dreary occasion into quite a lot of fun. You have already seen the gestures many students and classes made to thank me for teaching them during the last (up to) four years. I was moved by the genuine emotion many of them expressed. And we had s'mores!

S'mores are are a kind of sandwich wherein a melted/toasted marshmallow and a piece of chocolate are smushed between two crackers--usually graham crackers. Not much in the way of grahams available in Korea, but I have to say saltines worked just fine. 'Cause s'mores are somewhat an American cultural phenomenon.

Nicky went somewhat overboard in requisitioning the supplies, but I always think it's better to to have extra than not enough. We treated the whole "Festival" as a camp out, so the English language connection was to sing campfire songs--"If I had a hammer", "I love the mountains" and/or "Puff the magic dragon". It was great!

In America, we would doubtless melt the marshmallows in the microwave, but this being Korea, we roasted them on open flames over what most of us call the "samgyupsal burner".

Don't worry, forceful instruction in English and Korean insured they stayed seated, blew their burning marshmallows out upward (not to the side or down into the burner flame) ...

...and never put crackers, chocolate or plain wooden skewers into the flames.

A tasty and delicious time was had by all.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Yangmyung Farewell Week

I mentioned previously that I will be transferred to a new school for my next contract, and this was the last week of classes for the semester (two weeks of camp starting Monday). So, in addition to being English Festival week, about which more later, this was my farewell to the students after four years with them. Or, their farewell to me.

Different classes said farewell in different ways. The third and fourth graders presented enormous cards and played recorders for me. Their teacher apparently had some trouble impressing the honorific "Mister" on them, though they always use it when speaking to me. Third grade:

Fourth grade:

Sixth graders wrote longer, individual notes, some of which I thought were creative. some tears were shed, even by the big boys!

My fifth grade co-teacher taught with me last year, and perhaps that prompted her and them to put a bit more effort into their gifts. They made some pretty neat music videos and sang along in class. I've pulled a couple good shots from them. I've also compiled them together and uploaded the result to Youtube.

Each class chose a different song and each student illustrated a line from it. I like them. Granted, almost no one spelled my name correctly, but they got some important details right, like my phone holster, and the joy and laughter my typical lesson (okay, my ideal lesson) engenders.

Anyway, this was a sad as well as fun week for us, and sometimes gratifying. One of their common themes was "Don't forget us--we won't forget you." I won't forget.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Restaurant Review: 왕건이고기집

Come out of Sadang station Exit 5, and turn right. Then take the first left. 왕건이고기집, wang geon e gogi jib, is a shoebox of a place, but it offers, as the name suggests, some "really big meat". It's the sliver of frontage on the left in the pic below, with a banner announcing a two + one special in the month of July.

I suspect they have twelve such banners, because a similar deal was in effect when our occasional "Western Seoul Dinner Club" visited a few months ago. That's me, The Stumbler, Nick, and this time, Choro. Members emeritus include Kevin, Lynn and Helen.

There are five million photos of "Korean Barbeque" online--make that five million and one. 갈비살 is rib meat, at 150 grams for 11,000 W. When you make that a 2 + 1 deal, four people ate and drank to satiety for 64,000 W. I have eaten at regular price places where the galbi is fair to middlin', but despite the price the quality here was really good. More potatoes and onions for the asking.


Here is the menu, and a fun sign to the 화장실:

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Umbrella Condom

장마 (jangma) is here. Jangma is the East Asian Monsoon, which typically arrives in Korea in mid-June, moving north to hit Seoul around a month later. The last few years we haven't had much in the way of the typical monsoon, but this year looks to be different--today was the third good day of rain in the last couple of weeks.

As you can see in the pic above, next to the door of my local coffee shop, there is a trash can used as an umbrella stand. This is a pretty standard way all over the world to store umbrellas and keep them from dripping on the floor.

Another method for preventing umbrellas from dripping is the "wet umbrella packing device" most widely used in Korea and Japan. I took photos of two of them today, first the one outside McDonald's where I had breakfast, the second in the lobby of my building. They usually have a trash or recycling can next to them to dispose of the bag as you leave.

And here's what it looks like in use. Very clever.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Hero Ain't Nothin' But a Poster

...a poster on, that is.

This is the best website for sharing (and stealing) teaching materials for ESL especially in Korea, but really anywhere.

I joined when I moved to elementary school in 2012, and in those early days really depended on it, since the number of preps I had to do was so much greater than at the high school.

These days, I upload rather than download, and have shared around 350 lesson ideas or materials (like PPTs), which have been downloaded by others something like 400,000 times in all. Today I made post #1000 to the forum and received my "Hero of Waygookistan" badge.

No, it's not a big deal, but I haven't posted a single thing all month.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

All Aboard the Smoking Bus

Had a snack with The Stumbler this afternoon to catch up on his USA trip and daughter's wedding--it all sounds like it was lovely--in the Beer King at the Sinjeongnegeori area.

Since the smoking ban a few years ago, many bars and restaurants have installed a sealed off, generally really small, smoking booth, often jokingly called things like the gas chamber, the cancer cubicle and so on.

Ding! Ding! The Smoking Bus is now boarding.

It's quite roomy compared to many such booths:

And had a message in English, as you often see on cafe walls. As not all that often seen, the grammar was correct:

In case you have trouble reading that, it says: "It is regrettable that many smokers are still lighting up in unauthorized areas. So, it's for you. This area is designated for smoking."

Friday, June 24, 2016

Interesting Lesson: Sentence Relay

This is a lesson called "Sentence Relay", somewhat like a "running dictation" activity. Here's how it works:

Each team's members take turns being "the runner" (one at a time) while the others are "the writers". Supposing there are four members, they have three recording sheets. A runner goes to a station and deciphers the sentence in the image. The one below, for example, is "He is eating a pizza".

The runner returns to the team, dictates the sentence, and they write it in the appropriate space.

The runner takes the recording paper from the next team member and becomes a writer, while s/he goes to the next station to figure out the next sentence.

In this case, the target language was about sentences with present continuous verb phrases, like "I am feeding the dog." However, you can create sentences with practically any target language or topic. Here is an example from a sixth grade lesson about the seasons:

I have done four or five iterations of the Sentence Relay activity, and you may be wondering where one goes to get the "word pictures" on which it is based. I use a website called Tagul - it has the ability to be a url-linked "label cloud" on your website, if you like.

As I prepare to leave my current school, I think I may put more of the activities that the kids here have responded to really well.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Tuttle Archives

Please don't tell the kids at my school, but I won't, according to my handler, be returning there upon the new contract--the school I've been at for four years is losing its Native Speaking English Teacher. I am really unhappy about this, and my feelings will be addressed later.

First of all, this doesn't mean I will leave Korea, or even SMOE--just like I was transferred from Young-il in 2012, I will be transferred from Yangmyung. Even though that's true, I recognize more than ever that my time here is limited. I'm looking around the apartment and thinking about the packing-up.

Anyway, I have had a number of vacations since living in this apartment that I had not archived. What do I mean? In addition to the photos I take and post here, I have also collected as much artwork as I could afford--carvings, pottery, paintings, scrolls, books, fabrics, etc. Maybe I'll be documenting that stuff later, but ...

What I meant was I have a backlog of tickets, flyers, maps, brochures, business cards, clippings and the like that I collect and organize in "clear files". Like these:

Not only are there tickets and the like, but even laundry receipts, restaurant bills and bus fares. Why? Well, good source of info if someone asks, or if I want to go back, and can't remember what things cost there!

As long as I was at it, I thought I might as well take a snap of the various snake oil elixirs (in some cases literally) I have collected on my trips around Asia. Tiger Balm was something I kind of grew up with, but Cobra Oil, Lotus Balm, White Monkey Holding Peach Balm, Siang Pure and Dragon and Tiger White, usually under a dollar, seem like a bargain. And the silver Jarungjit Inhalor works a treat for a stuffy nose!

Mostly, but not always, when I travel, I research things both online and with a dead tree edition, though more and more eschewing the LP guides. Still, I have a collection, or archive:

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Samgyup in Bupyeong

Went for dinner and drinks with Yongin roomies Andy and Max along with old pal Eric in Andy's stomping grounds these days well west in Bupyeong. I had never seen this area, really, but was less surprised than I would have been a few years ago to see it has a very busy "eating street".

We sat for a few beers at "gong-cha" in the alley next to a convenience store then found a place with all-you-can-eat samgyupsal (fat back pork) for 10 bucks a head (though some of the banchan was an extra 1000 W for seconds). Still a bargain. Look at the meat, it is particularly thick, which makes it, as Max pointed out, crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, if cooked properly.

And, here's the most unusual thing: a relatively common thing in restaurants in the West, and an occasional thing in Western restaurants in the East, but the four of us agreed we'd never seen the massive pepper grinder shtick in a Korean restaurant!

We went to a batting cage for a bit after dinner, and I have to say that while I was no Baroombah, I made contact 80% of the time--the new lenses are definitely working!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

FC Seoul vs Pohang

On the final day of my Spring Break, Sunday, I went to Seoul World Cup Stadium at Sangam. I arrived well early, not much of a crowd in evidence, buying a ticket around 12:30 for the 2:00 start, being sure to specify an aisle seat as close to the bench area as possible (section F, 20,000 W).

Then I went to the GS 25 and had a couple of beers before dropping by The Fan Zone where they have installed a trophy room:

Outside, one of the stars, Osmar, defensive midfielder from Spain, was signing autographs in his street clothes. Odd. He didn't play, still don't know why.

Anyway, I made my way to my seat, to find it was not in fact an aisle seat, as promised. My mood was not improved by the story of the match: though FC Seoul controlled the ball most of the game, they were down two-nil at halftime, and lost three-one. Here's the kick-off:

On my way out, I stopped at the ticket office to complain about my bad seat, and was given a free ticket to the same section at the next home game. So that's pretty good customer service, if somewhat belated. Fortunately, I'll be able to attend--May 22nd, if anyone wants to join me.