Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Our Triumphant Return (you did notice we were gone, right?)

I realize that everyone's just frantic to know where we've been, but don't worry! North Korea hasn't invaded yet, and Linus and I already killed the half-dozen zombies staggering around our neighborhood.

Actually, Linus and I, along with The Indispensable Kate, have embarked upon an exciting project: the complete reformation of our small hogwan. We have the technology. We can make it better. Faster. Stronger.

Previously, the school's students rotated between one Korean teacher and one waygookin teacher. I had three classes that I saw on a daily basis, and the rest studied with me every other day. But now, we're moving to a four-day rotation. That means I'll see most of my classes once a week, and the rest every other day. Stay with me - it's not as stupid as it sounds. Before this schedule change, all of the teachers were trying to teach a little of everything - grammar, writing, speaking, listening, vocabulary, etc. But now, each teacher is specializing in one subject. I teach Writing, Linus teaches Speech, and the two Korean teachers are in charge of Grammar and Reading. This way, we make sure all areas of English education are covered in depth. We're also coordinating all of our classes so that we're hitting on the same themes in different ways, instituting a huge end-of-the-month test, cracking down on homework, testing the students on twenty new vocabulary words each day, and starting a pen pal program with my old elementary school back in Fort Collins, Colorado. All of this fun starts after Chuseok -

Oh, what is Chuseok, you ask? Well, that really depends on who you ask. Some of my students will tell you that that Chuseok is a harvest festival during which one gathers with the family, visits the ancestors' tombs, bows to the grandparents, receives money from said grandparents, and plays with one's cousins. For others, Chuseok can be summarized in one word: PC bang. That means the "PC room," which is like an Internet cafe but darker, smokier, and for gamers only. Though when our students have time to game I don't know. Clearly, they require more homework.

But I can tell you what everyone is doing for Chuseok: eating. This is songpyeon, a rice cake dish that's a staple of Chuseok.

I've recently laid off the rice cakes, difficult though that is to believe. My loyalties have switched to dakgalbi (chicken, kimchi, rice cakes, chili AWESOMENESS) and shabu-shabu. Shabu-shabu is like a three course fondue meal that costs about ten dollars a person, and should be fed to me at least once a week. For health. Yours.

We also took pictures of my new necklace at this shabu restaurant. This was an incredible lucky find in Cheonbukdae, the university district. I was attracted to the skull on the front...

...but what sold this necklace was what it says on the back - which is, unfortunately, NSFW and also NSF for the kids reading this blog. Here's the link.

So, that's what we've been up to! Slaving away at our totally meaningful and fulfilling jobs, paying almost nothing to eat amazing food, and not playing with the dog enough to satisfy her.

I'm being summoned for walkies. However, regular posting will at last resume!


  1. I am really impressed that your school lets you all just re-arrange the curriculum as seems best to you. It sounds like it really works. Is that the norm in Korea? I have taught in an American-owned private school in China and American public schools and I could never imagine that flying at either place. Also it's nice to know someone is taking care of that zombie problem.

  2. To be clear, Kate is the manager of the language program, and the daughter of the director of the school. We were asked to help with reorganizing and modernizing the curiculum, and we jumped at the chance. This is definitely not the norm in Korea - at least our ex-pat buddies who teach at other academies tell us it's not. We are very excited to put some of the ideas we have into practice! We'll keep you all posted on how it goes.

  3. The innovation and motivation to enrich everyone's lives is very inspiring!

    I can't wait to hear how it all works out.

    ((( big hugs )))

  4. Thanks, Mayren! I'm just really hoping it DOES work out.