Category Archives: Teaching English

Schooled

When one spends everyday at school with students who still don’t know how to ask to use the bathroom or employ the past tense of ‘go’, it is sometimes easy to forget that these kids are actually pretty smart. Today I was reminded of their intelligence, though, when they tried to tell me a joke and I was the reh-tard who couldn’t understand because I only know nine words in Korean.

First, they were trying to get me to agree that I know what “stwaaaws” is. I insisted that I do not, in fact, have any clue in the freakin world what “stwaaaws”, and so they reenacted a great battle scene with swords and head chopping. I thought, okay “stwaaaws” is “swords”. They were happy I had identified their miming as weapon-wielding, but then indicated that “stwaaaws” is a movie.

…Sword in the Stone???

No.

I don’t know what finally gave it away after four more minutes of their desperate attempts to inform me, but someone must have muttered “Skywalker” or “Han Solo” or something, so I eventually hollered, “STAR WARS!!! YES I KNOW STAR WARS! YES! I AM AMERICAN DAMN IT,” and everyone was excited and I was relieved that the game was over.

But it wasn’t. There was another battle reenactment, this time with lightsabers, obviously, and mad lightsaber sound effects.

Girl Student: Chawwohhhhngngng!

Boy Student: Teacher! Chwwwwooongngngg!

Girl Student: Teacher, what color rightsaber?

Me: Err…um…green? And…red? And…blue? Maybe?

Them: No teacher!

Me (more defensive confident): Um, yeah-huh guys.

Them: No! Rightsaber oranchee! HAHAHA!  Chwwoongngng Chwwoongng 주황!! 주황!! HAHAHA!

I stood there completely bewildered (what the hell is so hilarious?) while my coteacher laughed and asked, “Do you get it?” I scowled and waited for the explanation. (This conversation had been going on for like 9 minutes).

주황 is ‘orange’ in Korean. And it is also phonetically pronounced “choohwang”. Thus, “rightsabers are oranchee”.

Clever. Clever indeed.

Cloudy with a Chance of Dying

Erin wrote about it the other day and I’ve been whining about it on Facebook to anyone who will listen all week. It’s hot. And humid. And miserable. As a result, I’m one drop of sweat away from a breakdown. I’m not exaggerating when I say that every conversation I’ve had this week has revolved around how hot and wet and straight up pissed off I am.  I really almost lost it yesterday afternoon when I walked by my principal’s office and realized that all his windows were closed because he is the only one in school allowed to have the air conditioner on. I dare him to look at me today.

To spare you the pain of a whole new ranty blog post about it (it is seriously the only thing I can think or talk or write about, I’m sorry), I’ve reduced my daily gchats to a “word cloud” that shows exactly how climate-centric my life has been in the last ten days. August 26th, where are you??

Bloodsucking Shiteaters

Upon arrival to Korea I was introduced to some grody-ass toilets that triggered this epic rantalysis. Little did I know then the true horrors that were in store for me every time I step into a 화장실. At this point bathroom bitching is so yesterday, but you guys, this last week it has a reached a new level of filthy disgusting awfulness.

why hello! sit down on me!

The temperatures are getting higher and the humidity is climbing its ever oppresive way to unbearable and so the bathrooms have mutated from frigid, dirty puddles of horror to damp, malodorous bogs of all that is nasty and vile in this world. There’s an inch of water on the floor, toilet paper strewn about, dirty mops hanging out in the wash basin. Everything is wet; it can be best described as “swampy”. I would be absolutely livid if I were a parent and discovered that my child played unsupervised in Satan’s rectum. I just can’t understand how any part of the school is allowed to exist in such an unsanitary state. I mean, isn’t this how disease is born and spread? Hasn’t Korea heard of the Middle Ages? What is everyone thinking!? Continue reading

77

Well our time here in the ROK is seriously winding down. Something like 77 days left? (But who’s counting? Moms?) My giddiness over being in the homestretch (IPAs…I’m coming home!) is overshadowed by how quickly time is passing. When people from home ask if I’m excited that August is so close, I’m unfailingly overwhelmed by the never-ending list of things that need to happen before then. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Visiting at least three places that I haven’t visited in Korea (like Jeju!)
  • Crossing off a few random but important things on my Korea bucket list (live octopus damnit)
  • Organizing and financing trips to Thailand and Hong Kong (traveling pre-final-departure from Korea).
  • Planning and executing weeks of English summer camps.
  • Navigating the Korean bank system so I can get my due money when I leave.
  • Extending my visa so Korea doesn’t detain me on my way out.
  • Deciding where I’m going immediately after Korea (Europe for two weeks? Europe for two months? Straight home?)
  • Arranging undecided journey.
  • Buying a ticket out of Korea, Destination: Still Unknown.
  • Packing up all the crap that can’t come to Europe with me.
  • Figuring out how to send home all the crap I will have packed.
  • Finding a job so I don’t have to turn tricks when I return to the U.S.
  • This is the list that never ends….it goes on and on my friends….

Not to mention my many mundane daily responsibilities like: Continue reading

Passion for Pashion

Korea is obsessed with fashion (known here as “pashion”). There’s an entire Style Channel devoted to America’s Next Top Model, Korea’s Next Top Model, Project Runway, Korean Project Runway. Like fashion itself, Korea is all about Western imitation. Which is why clothes with “English” words scrawled all over them are especially popular.

As a native English speaker walking around Korea or chillin’ in your classroom, you see a lot of this:

Courtesy of Amanda M.

Shirts with English (sometimes Konglish). The English is invariably mispelled, misused, and/or completely misunderstood. Sometimes the English is all correct, but the idea is totally bizarre (see above). Most of the time it’s really funny stuff. Occasionally it’s offensive, but the person wearing it doesn’t actually know what they’re wearing, so it’s still comical.

Lately I’ve been trying to keep a record of these crazyass shirts. It’s challenging though because you can’t very well take a picture. The whole ‘must save face’ thing would come into play if you suggested to a Korean that their English shirt was wronginteresting enough to document; they’d melt into a big mortified puddle. So instead I’ve tried to write a few down and recapture them for your viewing pleasure via Microsoft Paint. Continue reading

Ugly You Ain’t Got No Alibi

Along with new lessons and new activities in this year’s English textbooks came new cartoons and animations. They seem generally improved, less 1990’s and more 2000’s, which I appreciate if only because it keeps the kids’ attention a tad longer. But then I started teaching 5th grade Lessons 4 and 5, where a bumbling pair of ginger-headed waygook tourists help demonstrate how to comment on landmarks (“What a tall tower!”) and get directions to said landmarks (“Where is Gyeongbokwuilhswgkhs?”).

Meet the Mr. and Mrs. Waygook. Continue reading

Fun with 공책

The Wanderlust Diary has a slight obsession with these crazy English notebooks (공책) in Korea. Last week we found one that may take the silly cake.

Before we delve into a good old fashioned WTF?! Analysis, we’d like to invite you to study this notebook cover and see if you can find 7-15 things that are wrong with it. (7-15 because there are at LEAST 7 but could be more depending on your definition of ‘wrong’).

How many did you find? Continue reading