Tag Archives: teach!


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???


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.

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

No Laughing Matter

Quiz Time! Ready?

#1. Who is this?

If you answered Martin Luther King, you are correct. Pat yourself on the back for being educated and racially sensitive.

If you answered “OOOBAMAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!”, you are incorrect and you may also be a Korean 6th grader.

Reviewing American holidays in class this week, I got the answer “Obama” from all but one student out of 120. I gave them the correct info in a ten second spiel, you know, about how Martin Luther King led one of the most important civil rights movements in America and how, as a result, he has his own holiday on January 17th. Over the course of those ten seconds my students’ faces went from disappointed (that it wasn’t Obama), to confused (there are other black people?), to completely disinterested (I think I have a wedgie). Continue reading

Picture This

Like most native teachers in these parts, my classroom is coated in teaching materials. The walls and windows are covered with shades that double as  huge, fully-illustrated English vocabulary flashcards. IT’S RAINING. BADMINTON. TUMMY. HAMBURGER. Useful? Only kind of. But certainly more so than the…extra-curricular shades printed with pictures of American culture. (I do hope this irritated my Canadian predecessor fiercely.)




Let’s just zoom in on this one for a moment, shall we?

Once you spot him, he's all you'll see.

Continue reading

Imma Set It Straight, This Watergate

My coteacher is undermining me. This is not Euna, the tiny, terrifying ball of badassery, but someone we will refer to as B. What you need to know about B: he had never taught a day in his life prior to mid-March, nor does he speak English. Likes: picking lint off his suit. Dislikes: Me.

I cannot figure out why we were paired together to teach young children English when we can’t even communicate with each other. (I reserve the right to punch the balls off the authority figures responsible.) In our first week of teaching together, I tried a few questions to get him to open up.

Me: So did you always want to be an English teacher?

B: No.

Me: Ha. Um.

B: <scowling at sidewalk> I have no skills. I am English teacher.

I then tried to decide if this comment was directed at me. He is Korean (thus, incapable of sarcasm or direct insults), so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. However, now that we’re over a month into the semester it is increasingly clear that B’s entire purpose is to undermine my every move and push me toward a psychological break. At first I chocked these incidents up to the language barrier, than to simple stupidity. But the trouble is too persistent…his attitude too sinister…he is here to destroy me.

Continue reading

Shitty Teacher

One of my 5th grade vocab words this week is “city”, which seems pretty benign right? Except that in the Korean language the sound “see/si” does not exist. When an “s” or “x” or soft “c” sound is followed by a short “i” or a long “e”  sound, they automatically throw an “h” in the middle. Seat is sheet. Mexico is Mek-shee-ko. Can you see where this is going?

<Begin today’s  Bingo game.>

Student #1: Towah.


Student #2: Pickauneek.


Student #3: Shitty.

Me: <pause> What?

Student #3: Shiiittttty.

Me: <pause longer> Wh-shi—ah! CITY.

Guys, it’s really hard not to laugh at this. Like really, really hard. And it’s even harder when you remember the South Park City Wok Guy. I should feel bad about this (I once heard that South Park can be slightly offensive??), but I’m an asshole so I don’t. Also, I shouldn’t laugh at my students, but I’m a shitty teacher so I do.

Update: Biography: The Life and Times of Our Washing Machine

Remember this: Washing Machine Douche Baggotry?

Last week one of my coteachers asked for five minutes at the beginning of class to take care of some admin stuff that needed to be explained in Korean. That she formerly requested this time was laughable because a.) I’m not in charge of anything enough to say, “Yeah, no, I’m sorry but I don’t think that’s possible today,” and b.) I’m incredibly lazy and OF COURSE want something/anything to eat up five minutes of class. Makes my job easier, duh.

Anyway she filled the time by talking at the kids solemnly for four minutes and then passing around some small stickers that were from Office of Ed. It wasn’t a fun sticker, rather it looked like a single sentence written in both Korean and English that they were instructed to affix to a page in the back of their text books. I was a little curious at first, but it taxes this coteacher to explain things to me and this didn’t seem like a situation worth the hassle, so I ignored it and went about my day.

This week I sat at the computer with my Awesome-O coteacher lamenting our date with the Washing Machine when she whipped out a page of those same super boring mystery stickers.  “Look!” she said, “This is for English textbook, for Washing Machine story!”

I*#%@(*% &@!

She proceeded to explain that the publishers of the textbook had failed to credit the Washing Machine Story’s author and in a very serious effort to rectify the situation, they distributed these stickers with his name to be added to the contributor’s page.

If I were responsible for this anathema  I would do everything in my power to make sure that my involvement was kept absolutely Top Secret. That said, only someone as douchey as the Washing Machine story itself would make a big fuss about recognition for said douchery. DOUCHE.