Thursday, October 22, 2009

The awesome life of an ESL teacher:


The life of an ESL teacher at GDA Junior, Bundang, brings with it much excitement; but along side the hard times are the wonderful moments where you could just about melt over the sweetness of some kids, or perhaps grin in deep amusement at the blunt, honest ways in which kids approach each other, or laugh aloud at the hilariousness that can happen when meanings get lost in translation.


Here are some of my favourite memories as of late:

  • (While with my 9 year olds):
    Me: “Ok guys, who knows what the word ‘wonder’ means?

    Jack: Teacher, it’s like this… (stops and pretends to think… then gets an insanely happy look on his face) “There teacher! I wonder about a gorgeous girl!”

  • (After a particularly long day with my six-year-olds, while reviewing vocabulary words"):
    Me: “Who can give me a sentence with the word ‘beautiful’ in it?”

    Harry L: “OH! OH! TEACHER! I KNOW!”

    Me: “Ok Harry L.! Raise your hand!”

    (Enthusiastic waving of hand) Harry L. Blurts out “Teacher! You’re beautiful!” (Harry L. beams)

Korea 032

  • (While correcting nine-year-old Belle’s homework – writing vocabulary words in a sentence):

    “Shining: Katie teacher is shining.”

  • (Alan got glasses one day and some of the kids were making fun of him):

    Rachel to Alan: “You’ve got glass eyes!”

    Kelly to Rachel: “Rachel, you have glass eyes too!”

    Rachel to Kelly: “noooo! Mommy said that’s ok!”

    Sue to Alan: “Alan, I think that’s ok because your glass eyes make you look really cute (beams at him)”

    Alan: (*giggle*)

    Me to Alan: “Hear that Alan! Sue thinks you’re handsome with your new glasses! And, she’s right – you are looking very handsome this morning :)”

    Alan to me: “Teacher, handsome is what?”

    Me to Alan: “Um, handsome is like… man-beautiful!?”

    Harry L.: “Teacher, am I man-beautiful too?”

    Will: “Me too?”

    Harry P: “Me too?”

    Me to boys (with big grin): “Yes boys, you are all man-beautiful.”

Korea 025

  • (While walking down the hall to get the snacks, I encountered a small boy from Jen’s class – about 5 years old. Walking in earnest beside me, he looks up and…):

    boy to me: “Hello, I’m Justin. What’s your name?!”

    Me to Justin: “My name is Katie teacher! Are you in Jen teacher’s class?”

    Justin to me: “Yes. Nice to meet you! How are you today?”

    Me to Justin: “I’m doing pretty well! How are you?”

    Justin to me: “I am very HAPPY!” (he then runs away laughing).

  • There was the time where the kids were having a massive conversation about a special sheet of paper. I still don’t know what made the sheet so special, or why they were talking about it… The problem was that they couldn’t properly pronounce ‘sheet’. I spent a good 5 minutes getting them to pronounce the ‘eeeeeeeeee’ sound instead of the [it] sound. Those poor kids. I hope they figure it out eventually.

  • (While in class, during lunchtime):
    Rachel to me: “Teacher, I want to change my name.”

    Me to Rachel: “What do you want to change your name to?”

    Rachel to me: “Teacher, I want to change my name to… (she pauses for a second to build suspense, then, in a moment of complete drama, she flings her head around to cause a giant hair swoosh, gives me a dramatic, intense look, and proclaims…) RACHE.”


  • (Seconds after Rachel changes her name):
    Will to me: “Teacher, I want to change my name too!”

    Me to Will: “To what Will?”

    Will to me: “WILLIAM”

    Me to Will: “Why William and not Will?”

    Will: “Because, everybody go WIIIIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLL when they mad at me and now they can’t go. Now, they have to just go WILLIAM. And that is all.”

    (Will crosses out the name “Will” on a nearby worksheet and in rebellion writes WILLEAM”

  • While completing an exercise in their “Exploring Writing” texts, my students came across the following details and instructions:

    Firefighters put out fires, rescue people and help people who can’t get to a doctor. Answer the following questions:
    1. What do firefighters do? __________________________________________.

    Students to me: Teacher! We don’t know!

    Me: “Ok guys, lets read the top part again”
    (They read it out loud)

    Students: “Teeaacchhhheeerrrrrrr. UGH!”

    Me: “Come on guys! We finish this and its playtime! Think really hard. What do firefighters do?”

    Class: “They put out fires.”

    Me: “Ok, that’s one thing that they do, what else?”

    Class: “Teacher, how do you spell ‘put’?”

    Me: “Its written right here” (I point at their books)

    Class: “Teacher, how do you spell ‘fire’?”

    Me: “It’s written right here guys! Make sure you look at the text!”

    Class: “Teeeaaachhhheerrr. UGH!”

    Me: “Ok, firefighters put out fires. They p-u-t… o-u-t… f-i-r-e-s.”

    (Actual responses discovered while marking their work):
    “Firefighters are people.”
    “I don’t know teacher.”


  • (During the next activity, the assignment was “Write a thank-you note to your local firefighters”)

    Class: “Teeeaacchhheeeerrrr, how do you spell firefighters?”

    Me: “Guys, I want you to look in the book.”

    Class: “Teacher, how do you spell thank-you?”

    Me: “Try to look in the book.”

    Harry L.: “Teacher, how do you spell handsome?”

    Me: “Huh?”

    Harry L.: “Teacher, how do you spell handsome?”
    (I love his randomness :)

  • (While the rest of the kids simply wrote “Thank-you firefighters, Harry L. wrote a masterpiece of child-creativity):
  • "Thank-you. You save my baby. Dear firefighter thank you.
    here is a meat. Thank-you it is very dilishas.
    Thank-you it is very beautiful.
    thank-you it is willy willy nice.
    Thank-you it is very very beautiful and whondlful.
    Thank-you it is very handsome.”

    Harry L's Masterpiece

  • (Earlier in his writings, it was asked what he wanted to be and why. He replied that he wanted to be a firefighter or a doctor, because…):
  • "I help a people.
    I rescue a people.
    I save a people."

    Sounds like a new firefighter/doctor’s motto to me :)


  • (Background info: Harry P. loves attention. He craves attention. He will do ANYTHING for attention. He is also very pushy when he doesn’t get attention. At this point, I was very tired with him, and was willing him to stop poking, yelling and pulling at my arm/sleeve/pen/pencil/etc. My attempts at having him sit down and quietly complete his work were proving futile)

    (Michelle, in her innocent,blunt, ‘precisely what I was thinking’ sort of way stepped up in the battle to bring Harry P. back down to normal behaviour):

    Harry P.: EVERYBODY! EVERYBODY! LOOK AT ME! (he is currently holding paper over the garbage can and has a pair of scissors posed in a threatening way).

    Harry P.: EVERYBODY! EVERYBODY! I AM GOING TO CUT THE PAPER! (waits for people to look. no one does).

    Harry P.: MICHELLE! MICHELLE! (pokes Michelle repeatedly and waits for her to watch) MICHELLE! I AM GOING TO CUT SOME PAPER!

    Michelle (without looking up): “Harry P. You speak a lot of words but say nothing. Stop talking please.”

    Harry P.: (looks baffled, cuts the paper, and then goes and sits down at the table – note: he was not overly hurt by this, mainly just confused.)


  • (While “A Whole New World” is playing in the classroom during Arts and Crafts"):

    Rachel to class: “OH! OH! I KNOW THIS SONG!”

    Kelly: “You know words?”

    Rachel: “Yes. Words I know.”

    Harry L.: “What the words?”

    Rachel: “I know words” (starts humming)

    Harry L.: “Noooo, you just make noise! No words!”

    Rachel (with sincerity): “I know them. Um,,, ‘A WOOO WOOO OOOORD. A WAA WOOO BA BEE DEE BE BOOOO. LAA LAA KA MAAA LAA LOOO… um…”

    Kelly: “You no know words.”

    Rachel: “I know music.”


And, then of course there are the massive hugs and the “KAATTIIIIEEE TEEEEAAAACCCHHHHHEEEEEER – YAAAYYYYY!” Moments that just make this whole tough-job-on-the-other-side-of-the-world seem pretty crazy good.

What a bunch of nuts :) The kiddies sure have their cute moments. In fact, I’m glad I finally sat down and wrote up this blog – it’s almost made me forget my super crazy day :) I really do love these kids, and as much as they drive me insane sometimes, I don’t think I would give a single one of them up to a different teacher if I could :) All it takes to completely change a hard day around is a good laugh with my 6-year-olds, a dance party with my 5-year-old princesses (complete with spins, leaps, twirls, ‘walking on teacher’s feet’ and ‘pick-em-up and slow dance’ moves), a hardcore game of ‘make the shape’ with my afternoon kindergarteners or ‘act out the vocabulary words’ with my older kids and all is well :)

Sue and I 
It is now time for me to buckle down and do my lesson plans for November (due tomorrow). It should be fun! I hope you’re all doing well back in Canada and that today is beautiful for you :)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

And I’m back! Chuseok holiday - part 1 :)

Back and blogging that is. Gracious, it’s been awhile! Now that I’ve tackled a cold and a [almost] conquered a determined flu bug, here’s some awesome new stuff from Korea :) OH! And Jacob (Jen’s boyfriend) has also arrived since the last post :) Welcome to Korea my friend!IMG_1190Ok. Here in Korea they celebrate a holiday known as ‘Chuseok’. I’ve been told that it’s kinda like Korean Thanksgiving… Being that we’re in Asia though, it’s actually nothing like either Canadian nor American Thanksgiving in terms of appareance. It’s something entirely new and special. The above picture features about half of the GDA morning kindergarten kids wearing their special outfits – Hanboks.

Let us zoom in on my children for a second…IMG_1190-1 Please note that not a single one of them is looking to their left, where the camera was, and where they were directed to look. It was a long day. I had no voice at all, and watching over the eight kids in a public park was quite a task :) They are cute though eh?

The school celebrated the holiday with great passion, renting Hanboks for even us foreigners. Huge in dimension, the dress poofed enough to make any prom dress blush and allowed me a bit of insight into what prom may have been like…IMG_1117 For all the guys out there wondering “but what would I get to wear at Chuseok?” – don’t worry! Here is a photo featuring Jacob, who in combination with Jen got to sport the lovely ‘couple's Hanboks’.


The kids all brought their own outfits :) Here are my lovely ladies!


Here are the handsome gentlemen. I’m not sure how Harry P and Alan managed to make themselves looked conjoined, but Will and Harry L look as sweet as they normally do :)


And just because I love my kids and think they looked so beautiful/handsome in their outfits, here are some more pictures from their proud teacher :)

IMG_1125Michelle and Sue :)  IMG_1123Kelly, Will, Harry L, and Miss Rachel :)

IMG_1133 Harry L, Rachel (the heartbreaker ;), and Will (the ladies man) :)

IMG_1137 Traditional Korean dancing? :)IMG_1138 Cooking up traditional Korean Chuseok treats (rice and sugar balls…)IMG_1168My beautiful Michelle with one of the Korean teachers :) I love her smile :)

IMG_1181 Rachel preparing to throw her ‘spear’ in a traditional Korean game :)

And finally, since my old core and support classes have been combined, I now have a new support class featuring these lovely young (5 year old) ladies:

IMG_1143 Jessica the little cutie. She speaks almost no English and only knows how to say “Hi, my name is Jeshhica” and then she’ll beam at you :)


Sarah the little punk :) But a cute punk. She’s the “no!” kid. You know the type. The one who has learned the word and is determined to use it anytime she wants ;) But, she likes to dance. So we just dance and she will eventually start listening!


Rachel (background) – the super sweet perfect student with the crazy mother, and Kate (foreground) the attention-loving, attitude giving princess with a charming little smile :)

and finally, my little ray of sunshine:

IMG_1192This is Miss Amy. I love this kid so much. She just beams with happiness, listens perfectly, and has a nice mother. She’s the kid that runs to give you a hug when you’re a bit grumpy on a Monday morning, or who smiles and says “teacher, Octopus dance?” when we’re trying to learn the Letter “O”. Indeed, the Octopus dance was a smash hit and teacher and students left the class mutually happy that day. What a beautiful child. I’m sure from now on the name Amy will bring happy memories of this kid into my heart.

Now that I’ve gushed about Amy for a bit, I also feel inclined to point out Harry L in this picture. Bahahaa. What a kid.

IMG_1192-1 Ok. That’s about it for now. This is part 1 of probably about 4 blog entries that I will be posting in the next few days :) Check back later to read more about my lovely vacation featuring the purchase of two essential kitchen items (oh the suspense!), and the second trip to the Aquarium (sans enfants). :) Woooooo!

Here’s wishing you all a HAPPY CHUSEOK!